Category Archives: Kenya

Take the Pledge

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Take the Pledge

In my HMA post, I tried my best to explain what our purpose for being back in the States was. I’m happy to report that I’ve accomplished on more of those goals! The boys started swim lessons on March 24, and they’re loving it!

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Another one of the goals was to build our support team. A support team is made up of people who want to invest in our lives and our ministry at Tenwek Hospital. The most common ways to support any missionary include but are not limited to the following:

1.) Praying regularly for the missionaries and the ministry they do

2.) Maintaining communication with the missionaries no matter where they might be

3.) Helping the missionaries reach their goals

4.) Donating regularly to their ministry

While we enjoyed an awesome support team during our first term in Kenya, we are finding that we need even more support now. We need people who will lift us up in prayer every day. We need people who will call us, send us messages, and check in with us. We need accountability with our goals. And we need financial partners.

This post will focus mainly on how to become one of our financial partners, because we have found that people who invest in our lives financially often do the other 3 things without much effort. They want to see how we’re using their money! Whether you can give $5 each month or $5,000 each year makes no difference. Every penny counts. God delights in the sacrificial gift!

Since the beginning of the new year, we have traveled to many churches and shared our ministry with thousands of people. We are happy to report that our support team is growing each month as we meet with these people and churches. We have seen God move many hearts to join our ministry at Tenwek, and we give God all the glory! Since we can’t meet with each one of you or visit each of your churches, I thought I’d explain what joining our support team means. We call it pledging your support.

Pledging is a commitment a supporter makes to give a certain amount of money to our ministry on a regular basis. It could be $25 each month, $5000 each year, or $500 each quarter. Your pledge can be any amount given in just about any interval you want. It can be $96.35 each week if that’s what God lays on your heart to give! Many of you are already doing this, and we are so thankful! Thank you for being obedient to the call God has laid on your hearts to be a part of our ministry!!

If you are interested in becoming a financial partner, please let us know! Here are the easiest ways to join our team:

1.) Go to www.wgm.org/kelley and fill out the form for a recurring donation.

2.) Request a prayer card from us, fill out the detachable post card, and mail it back to World Gospel Mission.

You can start your donations today, or you can indicate when you would like to begin your contributions. Since our goal is to be back in Kenya by January 2017, you could pledge today to begin your regular support at the beginning of the New Year. Regardless of when you can begin your financial support, the pledge is important! We can not return to Kenya until 100% of our monthly support is pledged.

Please let us know if you have any questions. Either leave a comment or send us an e-mail.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  1. Praise God for His abundant blessings! Please pray that we continue to trust in HIS perfect provision and timing.
  2. Praise God for a healthy pregnancy thus far! I am 31 weeks and feeling good (better than I expected). Please pray that Baby Boy #5 would be healthy and full-term.IMG_1633
  3. Praise God for all the new people and churches we have met the past few months. It has been a blessing to see the diversity of the Church and the many ways God works in the churches.
  4. Pray for all the traveling we have ahead of us. Pray that our van will remain reliable. Pray that the boys will maintain their adventurous attitudes. Pray that Aaron and I have the stamina to drive all those miles.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6

 

 

 

 

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May and June Blessings

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Both May and June have been jam packed full of travel, adventure, stress, and blessings. I’ll apologize in advance for this lengthy post, but I just have to give God glory for His handiwork in our lives the past two months!

May 10, Mother’s Day, was a great way to begin the month. May 10 is also my father’s birthday, so this day was doubly blessed this year. We ate breakfast with Aunt Barbara and a few visitors to Tenwek. Noah, Jacob, and Levi each shared something that I had taught them. Noah won the non-contest for saying that I taught him math! We celebrated that my dad is still alive as a cancer survivor. But, of course, we also mourned that I can no longer be with all my children on Mother’s Day. We took this picture in front of our Tenwek apartment. Levi is holding a pink rose in remembrance of Hannah.

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A few days later, we packed up a few suitcases and headed to Nairobi for one last shopping trip. Then, we trekked to Naivasha for the Samaritan’s Purse Post Resident Retreat at Enashipai. It was a fun, relaxing, and rejuvenating time. While the teaching was nourishing to our souls and the pool was refreshing for our bodies, our favorite moment of the week was hiking at Hell’s Gate. The Mitchell six plus the Kelley 6 loaded the Chupp van and journeyed to the national park. Along the way, we saw giraffe, zebra, warthogs, etc. Then, we eluded monkeys while eating our lunches. And finally, we began the ‘lovely’ hike down the gorge and back up.

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The day after we returned to Tenwek, we participated and attended the Tenwek MK Fine Arts Festival. It’s an annual event for the missionary kids to display their best schoolwork and perform their best talents. Levi and his preschool class sung some songs. (It was adorable!) Jacob and his first grade class recited some Scripture. Noah, much to his liking, didn’t perform. However, he did display many of his favorite pieces of art.

The Kelley Corner at the Fine Arts Festival

The Kelley Corner at the Fine Arts Festival

As if that wasn’t enough adventure for the month, Aaron traveled to Tanzania a week later to climb Africa’s highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro! He, along with several other guys, drove to Nairobi, took a bus to Tanzania, and then hiked up the mountain. It took 4 days up and 2 days down. If you add in the travel to and from Nairobi, that meant I was acting as a single mom for 9 days.

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Aaron at one of his many farewell parties

Well, that brings us to the beginning of June and the end of our time at Tenwek. While Aaron was gone, I was in full pack down mode. I even hired a man to help me carry the heavy boxes I was packing! Once Aaron was back, we both started packing up everything in the house. It all needed to be out! A lot was given away. Even more was stored at Tenwek. The rest was packed into suitcases to come home with us.

In all this craziness, our Tenwek family supported us so well. Someone was always available to hold Joshua and/or entertain the big 3. Many of the families hosted us for a meal or brought us a meal. Everyone prayed us through this stressful, busy time of packing. We so appreciate our Tenwek community!

Finally, after all the hard work, we smushed ourselves and our bags into a van and headed to Nairobi. After one sleep at a guest house, we were on a plane to London! For the most part, this leg of the journey was uneventful. We all slept through the majority of the first 11 1/2 hour flight from Nairobi to Switzerland. Joshua wasn’t so happy during the short hop from Zurich to London, and Jacob almost lost his lunch/breakfast/whatever-meal several times. It’s a good things that flight was so short!

Next stop: Legoland!

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In an effort to transition from one culture to another in a smooth and healthy way, we opted to spend 3 nights in England. Many veteran missionaries had suggested taking an extended layover somewhere in Europe, and we thought that sounded like excellent (and fun) idea. I found a great deal at the Legoland Resort in Windsor, England. Although the expensive food was a shock to our minds (and wallets), Legoland proved to be as fun and decompressing as we had hoped.

Me (and Joshua) with Stephanie

Me (and Joshua) with Stephanie

The food was pretty good. The brick-shaped French fries were a hit. One night we ate a buffet dinner in the resort. All-you-can-eat ice cream and a kid-level counter of food were the highlights that night.

Noah and a giant, talking pharoah

Noah and a giant, talking pharaoh

The accommodations were excellent. We chose to stay on the Adventure floor. (Think Indiana Jones.) As soon as we entered our room, the boys began to solve a puzzle that would give them a code to open a treasure chest. Inside the chest was Legos (of course)! The TV had a Lego station. Everything was covered in Legos. From the Lego parrot in the one corner to the Lego soap in the bathroom, every detail was fun for the boys to discover.

Jacob and Yoda

Jacob and Yoda

At Legoland, the rides were all tailored to younger kids. Noah could ride all the rides by himself. Jacob and Levi, however, had to have an adult with them for many of them. With Joshua strapped to my chest the entire time, I was not allowed to participate on the rides, which meant Aaron had to ride a lot of rides. Often, he and Levi would ride the same time with Noah, and then he would ride again with Jacob while Noah and Levi stood with me and Joshua.

Levi in driving school

Levi in driving school

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Once we experienced as much fun Legoland had to offer for 2 full days, we packed up to board the plane from London to Newark. This flight went really well. We arrived to our temporary residence around 5:30pm on June 13. After dinner, we crashed for the night.

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My parents, Aaron’s mom and stepdad, my sister and her son came to the Ellis’ to see us the next day. Later that evening, we attended our welcome home party at our church. It was so, so nice to see so many of our friends and family members. At the party, we were presented an large envelope full of gift cards, which have come in handy the last few weeks!

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Since then, we had so many play dates and dinner dates with different people. It has been fun to reconnect with so many people. The boys are doing great despite their lack of memory of these people. We also had a family welcome home picnic near our hometown. Again, it was nice to see our aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. that we haven’t seen in 2 1/2 years.

one of the perks at staying at Peaceful Dale!

one of the perks at staying at Peaceful Dale!

Aaron spoke during church on Father’s Day to give the congregation a short update on our first term as missionaries. Then, so that Aaron, Joshua, and I could go to Lynchburg for his interview, the big 3 boys went to my parents’ house for 2 sleeps and Aaron’s mom’s house for 2 sleeps. Our travels started terribly as our car overheated within the first hour of driving. My dad was able to leave work to bring us my mom’s car. We arrived to Lynchburg safely and got to see our little rental house. The interview went well. Then, we traveled back to PA to get the boys. We ended up buying a minivan and a car the next day. God is good at providing what we need at just the right time!

Noah found a new creature to catch!

Noah found a new creature to catch!

With Aaron’s start date pushed back until August 1, we moved from the Ellis’ house to our townhouse in Allentown. Since then, we have been unpacking, purging, repacking, and still visiting with as many friends and family members as possible. It’s overwhelming to be managing our townhouse in PA, our rental in VA, and our future home at Tenwek. The logistics are crazy difficult to figure out, but God is faithful. Repeat it with me. God is faithful! 

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We took our first family visit to Hannah’s grave.

Praises and Prayer Requests: 

  1. Praise God for His constant provision for us. It’s amazing to see how He keeps giving us what we need at just the right time.
  2. Praise God for His peace that surpasses understanding! While I should be so stressed that I can’t sleep, I have a peace that all these details will be fine. Our Father God is a good, faithful God. He is trustworthy. He will see us through this crazy time of transition.
  3. Please pray for wisdom in selling or renting our townhouse.
  4. Please pray for us as we travel this coming week to do our official debriefing from July 5-10. Another time zone change. Another strange place to sleep. More packing. More logistics. More flights.
  5. Please pray for us July 10-12 during our candidate review with World Gospel Mission. Another time change. Another full day of interviews. More flights. More logistics. Then more unpacking.
  6. Please pray blessings upon all those people who are helping us with all these details! We so appreciate them!!

I was reading the Bible in 1 Timothy today, so I’ll close with the words of Paul: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.” (1:12) I’ll continue to follow Him wherever He leads. “Here is a trustworthy says that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1:15-17) Amen!

 

 

 

Never at Home

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Never at Home

I’m not one to repost a lot of quotes, pictures, blogs, etc. on Facebook. However, once in a while, I come across something that speaks too strongly to my heart to ignore. Many of you saw the quote I posted recently. If not, here it is:

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” (shared from Third Culture Kids community)

Me and my littlest third culture cutie. :)

Me and my littlest third culture cutie. 🙂

This quote may not be super profound, but it is timely. As I pack up box after box and as my apartment becomes emptier each day, the reality of these words sets in more deeply. The packing becomes more than a physical chore; it is now an emotional endeavor to finish well, to find joy in the good-byes, and to be content no matter where God takes us.

For whatever multitude of reasons, God has called the Kelley family to be a missionary family. In an effort to be obedient children of God, we follow wherever God leads. Two and a half years ago, God told Aaron and I to go to Africa, to Tenwek Hospital in rural Kenya to be exact. We did it. Joyfully. We sold and gave away the majority of our possessions, and we moved our family of 6 from our happy life in Pennsylvania to a life unknown in a place unseen. So much has happened since that first plane trip across the ocean. We said “good bye” to one member of our family and welcomed a new member into our family. So many lessons learned, so my friendships made, so many changes experienced. After a very full 2 1/2 years, we are different people. And that’s part of the emotional roller coaster I’m on.

I am a different person. The events of my life at Tenwek have shaped me into a new person, for God uses all things to mold us into the person He wants us to be. That’s exciting and encouraging because I want to grow in righteousness and to mature in my Christian walk. I see evidence of this growing and maturing process as I reflect on the past 2 1/2 years of my life. However, that means I return to my friends and family (who have also changed in my absence!) a different person. My mind spins with curiosity. Will my friends understand me? Will I understand them? Have we changed too much? Have we grown apart? Will I fit into the same circles of friends? Or should I just wear a sign that says “warning: weird missionary” on my forehead? Will I remember how to drive? How to get from point A to point B? Will I be able to figure out all the new technology? And what about my kids?? 

With all those thoughts and worries racing through my mind, I must push those anxieties aside and focus on the job at hand. In the next week, I must finish the packing. Every single possession that we accumulated while here must be tossed, given to someone, or stored in a container. The old curtains have replaced my pretty ones. The pantry is looking rather bare. The boys are forced to purge, purge, purge! It’s a lot of work, and to be honest, I was quite grumpy about it for the entire month of April. Fortunately, Father God spoke gently to my heart earlier this month. After we spent a day in Nairobi buying gifts for friends and family, he convicted me of my bad attitude and blessed me with a better one. Now, instead of resenting that I must do this packing and good-bye thing over and over, I’m trying to find joy in it.

No, it isn’t much fun to pack and purge every few years. No, it isn’t fun to say good-bye to those you love. BUT it’s a blessing to have two completely different homes, both filled with lots and lots of people who love me. We love the Tenwek community and the work God has called us to do here. They are showering us with love and support as we face our first furlough. In fact, we eat with a different family almost every day until we leave! We also love our American home. For the next year, I get to fill my time with playdates, birthday parties, and holidays with the family. I can’t wait to see my boys play with their cousins again…and to meet the newest ones! This year in the States will surely be just as full as our life has been here at Tenwek. It’s just different, and that’s ok.

Lots of third culture BOYS!

                 Lots of third culture BOYS!

As Aaron mentioned in his last blog, God has shut the door for us to return to the Lehigh Valley as we had hoped. We are trusting that He knows what’s best for us as we relocate once again. This time we will be moving to Lynchburg, Virginia. That means a new church, new friends, too many other news to mention. We are sad that daily life won’t happen in Pennsylvania. However, we are excited to see what God has for us in Lynchburg!

All this moving is a great, recurring reminder that our real home isn’t anywhere on this earth. We were made for something more, some place eternal. Heaven is where my heart belongs, and I can’t wait to finally be there! I hope you’re there with me!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for our heavenly home!

2. Praise God for the church! We are so blessed by the body of believers!

3. Praise God that Aaron is well. He has made it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and is on his way back down. We hope to see him soon!

4. Please pray for us as we anticipate a lot of travel, reverse culture shock, and just plain craziness in the coming months.

5. Please pray for MKs (missionary kids) everywhere. Satan seems to target them in efforts to thwart God’s work through missionaries all over the world. Just pray for God’s sovereign, protective hand to rest heavily on these kids.

6. Pray for all 6 of the Kelley clan. We’ve been battling head colds for over a week now. It’s taken a toll on me as I’m playing single mom and on Aaron as he’s climbing the highest mountain in Africa! Please pray for healing.

I’ll close with the Great Commission, because I need to be reminded of it when things get tough. It’s found in Matthew 28:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

April Blessings

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Another month has come and gone. It was a FULL month. Easter, retreat, vacation, and much more. Here are the highlights…with lots of pictures! (May is turning out to be just as full…hence the late April post!)

The first big moment of April: Joshua got his first taste of food! We started with rice cereal, which he loved, a little before 6 months because I needed something to hide his malaria medicine in! (We needed to take the medicine to go to the coast.)

Joshua LOVES food!

Joshua LOVES food!

Easter is a special time at Tenwek. Our celebrations began with a Saturday morning egg hunt. The boys had a great time.

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Then, on Easter Sunday, a sunrise service starts the morning. Due to kid sleep issues, we did not attend this year. We were up and ready for the church service at 10, but first we had to eat bunny pancakes and check out the Easter baskets. Daddy found each boy a dragon toy, and the oldest 3 received fun things to take on vacation.

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I found the boys some presentable Easter outfits, and we headed up the hill for church. Then, we changed into regular clothes to join another family for Easter lunch. Ham, chicken, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, rolls, and corn casserole filled our tummies to overflowing. When we couldn’t fit another bite of dessert into our bodies, we returned home to do our family Easter egg hunt.

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They love wearing their ‘fancy church clothes’ to church!

Right after Easter, we packed up what seemed like our entire house for a two-week getaway. The first part of this time away from Tenwek was the WGM Retreat. At the last minute, the venue was changed, so we ended up spending several nights in the mountains of Naivasha. It was a beautiful place.

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Despite the cool mountain air, the boys enjoyed pool time.

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Noah’s favorite part of the pool: the slide from the kiddie pool to the big pool.

We also enjoyed a Levi-lead safari, watching zebras wander on the golf course, and great fellowship with lots of other missionaries.

Levi was babysitting Joshua so that I could shower...He needed to take a selfie to show me how great he was doing!

Levi was babysitting Joshua so that I could shower…He needed to take a selfie to show me how great he was doing!

Only a day after the retreat was over, we flew to the coast for a week-long family vacation. It was amazing! Joshua is a complete beach bum. Levi, Jacob, and Noah were maniacs in the pool and the ocean. Aaron enjoyed snorkeling, and I loved not worrying about meal-planning, cooking, laundry, and teaching!

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Noah, Jacob, and Levi riding camels on the beach. Really? How much better can life get?

Noah and Jacob went out on a glass bottom boat with Aaron. They found Nemo!

Noah and Jacob went out on a glass bottom boat with Aaron. They found Nemo!

He loved the ocean, the sand, and the pool!

He loved the ocean, the sand, and the pool!

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This one couldn’t get enough of the sand and water, but he doesn’t appreciate that he’s at the Indian Ocean. 🙂

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Jacob was fearless in the ocean this year. He spent a lot of time on (and falling off) this raft.

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Noah might have spent more time under the water than above the water!

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And we got a date night!! We went to a really yummy restaurant in a cave. Yes, a cave with the night sky as the roof. Amazing!

Shortly after returning to Tenwek, Joshua turned 6 months old! He’s eating food, sitting, and acting like such a big boy. I love watching him initiate interactions with his brothers. He has a really special and unique bond with each of his brothers. I took Joshua up to the hospital for a vaccine and a weight check. He weighs about 16.5 pounds. Here is a picture of how they weigh babies here at Tenwek!

Where's Joshua?

Where’s Joshua? That’s right, he’s in the sheet hanging off the scale!

We ended the month with another intern pizza night! Several of the new interns enjoyed their first EVER taste of pizza on this fun night! I made 14 pizzas this time around, and there wasn’t any left when the last intern left our house. The ladies enjoyed snuggling Joshua until he went to bed. The only sad part of the evening was when this new class of interns realized that we won’t be here to celebrate their graduation in a year. Please pray for them during this stressful, busy time of training. Also, pray that the remaining missionaries will pour into these young professionals’ lives.

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This is what your front porch looks like when your house is full of interns on pizza night.

I started memorizing 2 Peter this month too, so I’ll end with a quote from that book.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these has has given us his very good and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for rest and relaxation this month! It was much needed and so appreciated. We are blessed to live in such a beautiful country. Praise God for his creation!

2. Praise God for health! We rejoice that Joshua is growing and developing so well. Noah, Jacob, and Levi are healthy and growing so quickly too.

3. Praise God for godly men and women in Kenya. We are privileged to work alongside them, disciple them, and rejoice with them in what God is doing in Kenya.

4. Praise God for his free gift of salvation! We are grateful for the death, life, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, who paid the ultimate price for our sins. We pray that many more people will spend eternity in heaven as a result of the work of God’s children around the world. To God be the glory!

5. Please pray for us as we pack up the house, travel, and transition back into American life. We are overwhelmed with details on both sides of the ocean! Pray that God will reign supreme in our lives, that the details won’t become idols that distract us from HIM!

We so appreciate your prayers! We look forward to seeing many of you within the coming year!!

Mother’s Day Grief

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Mother’s Day. It’s a day to honor mothers. It’s a day to say “thank you” to those women who birthed you, raised you, cheered you on, and disciplined you. Moms should get breakfast in bed, cheesy gifts from CVS, and lots of slobbery kisses and warm hugs on this special day. I hope all the moms reading this felt extra love and appreciation this Mother’s Day.

But there’s an ugly side of Mother’s Day too. There are mothers who don’t have a baby to hold. No matter how busy they make themselves or how full their arms physically are, they still feel an emptiness today. Their pictures aren’t able to capture all of the evidence that they are mothers. Whether they never got to hold an unborn child, only held a lifeless newborn, or just didn’t get to hold their child long enough, these mothers must fight for to find joy today.

If they’re like me, there were real joy moments. I dressed all of us up in our Sunday best and made us pose for a family photo. I received handmade cards and heard some of their favorite things about me. We ate at Aunt Barbara’s house for breakfast. Best of all, I didn’t wash a dirty dish all day! Aaron and the boys did an excellent job at making me feel appreciated today. Then, I get to eat at my favorite pizza restaurant tomorrow, and Aaron will take the boys shopping at one of my favorite shops. (No drug store gifts this year!) I am blessed by my guys.

Then, mingled in with these happy times, I feel sadness, a deep longing for a child that isn’t part of the gift-giving and words of affirmation. I don’t get cards, gifts, hugs, or kisses from Hannah. I’m heartbroken by the fact that I had only one Mother’s Day with her. Despite my loud, rowdy house and my many boy blessings, I’m overcome with grief today.

But God…God is forever faithful. As I was taking time this afternoon to grieve, I felt God’s presence, His comfort, and His assurance that I am a mother of five. No, my family photo doesn’t show it, but I do have a daughter. She’s enjoying another day in heaven while I’m down here on earth fighting for joy. He has blessed me with five beautiful children. My prayer is that we’ll all by in heaven together some day.

The joy and sorrow dance once again, because my heart still misses my little girl.

So, if you are a mother whose arms aren’t as full as they should be today, I want to grieve with you. I validate your feelings, and I’m uplifting you to the throne of God. He cares for you, and He longs to reunite you to your baby.

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. Pslam 27:4

Levi is holding a pink rose in memory of Hannah.

Levi is holding a pink rose in memory of Hannah.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for mothers! I’m blessed by a wonderful, loving, supportive mother who has taught me so much! I love you, Mom! I’m also blessed with a great mother-in-law. I love her too!

2. Praise God for dads too! Today is my dad’s birthday. I love you, Daddy!

3. Praise God for faster internet and more reliable electricity! It should make blogging more manageable.

4. Praise God for a very blessed April! I will fill you in as soon as I have a moment to finish that post.

5. Please pray for all the moms today who are missing a child.

March Blessings

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Wow! Where did March go? Time is ticking way too quickly, but God blessed our socks off in March. I really should have been blogging more this month, for some of these events deserve a full-length post. Too late now, I suppose! Here are the highlights:

March 4: An older missionary kid taught Noah how to play chess. Then, Noah taught Jacob. Another neighbor gave Noah this chess set, so now the boys wake up and play speed-chess before school. (It’s speedy because they aren’t too skilled yet.)

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March 5: Levi, our fearless monster, isn’t a big fan of chameleons. He screams if they touch him. However, he loves finding them and carrying them around on sticks. We also found this beautiful moth.

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March 8: We attended Joyce’s church to help them raise money to buy windows and pour a concrete floor for the church. Pastor John invited us to be the “honored guests.” Joyce, Donald (our driver), Aaron and I all gave speeches. Levi was enjoying the spotlight, but he was too shy to speak.

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March 9: SNOW DAY!! Each school year, we get a little jealous of the kids back home who are playing in the snow on snow days, so we call one despite our lack of cold weather! We made snowman pancakes for breakfast.

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Then, we bundled up for some playtime in “chemical snow.” (If you ever wonder what to send to missionaries, send them snow! We miss it.) The snow didn’t last long, so the kids ended up sledding down a muddy hill.

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After the sledding, the kids enjoyed hot cocoa followed by snow cones and cookies. Joshua couldn’t have any of these sugary treats, but he enjoyed watching everyone.

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March 14: The older two boys were away on their camping trip. Levi was enjoying time with the Bemms. Aaron and I enjoyed lots of quiet time while Joshua napped the day away. We did visit the river and threw a rock over the falls. Hannah was remembered well.

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March 17: I made yogurt for the first time! I added strawberries and homemade granola, and the boys devoured the plain, unsweetened yogurt!

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March 18: The househelpers came to greet Joshua! Instead of baby showers before a baby’s birth, Kenyans gather for a party after the baby is born. They usually bring milk, water, fire wood, and anything to help the new mama with her housework. Lots of people came over for chai, cake, banana bread, songs, sermons, speeches, and gift giving. Joshua fell asleep during the sermon (it really wasn’t boring), but he was startled by the gift-giving song. While everyone sang a “I’m so happy” song, they dressed Joshua in a new outfit, presented Aaron with a cap, and me with a kanga. The older boys each received a water bottle. It was a beautiful and special time.

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March 20: We invited the interns over for a pizza party. I made 13 pizzas, 2 cakes, and fruit salad. We also served ugali chips and soda. It was a great time of celebrating the MO’s and CO’s who are in Aaron’s care.

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March 21-22: Joshua and I took a road trip to Nairobi. It took us over 4 hours to get there due to a weird sound in the engine. After a quick fix and lots of prayer, we made it to the mall to eat lunch and shop. Joshua did great and even slept well on the floor all that night. We got up early the next morning to buy our meat in order to get back to Tenwek in time for Bible quizzing. Even though we left Nairobi at 9:30am, we didn’t reach home until 5:30pm due to TWO flat tires along the way!

I’m including this is the blessing post because God really did bless us. If we hadn’t left so early, we might have been stranded on the side of the road in the dark. Not a good idea for a carload of ladies and a baby. Through it all, Joshua was a super pleasant baby…until we got home. Then, he had a huge meltdown. I’m not complaining, though, because I’m so, so glad he held it together in the very long car ride. We did miss Bible quizzing, but God provided everything we needed and everything the quizzing needed. It all worked out in the end!

March 28: The MO’s graduated. More speeches, songs, cakes, and food! It was a nice time to celebrate the end of a year-long internship and the beginning of careers for these medical officers.

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Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for rain! We are getting rain just about every day now. We’re back on hydro! Although the power isn’t as reliable as usual, it’s getting better.

2. Praise God for a fun month. There was so much to be thankful for and to enjoy.

3. Please pray for these graduates. Pray that they would proclaim Truth wherever God takes them.

4. Pray for the families who lost loved ones in the recent tragedy.

5. Pray for us as we near the time to move back to the States! Many, many things to do here to finish well. More details to figure out and trust God for as we plan our furlough time in the States. Just pray for wisdom, clear direction, and peace in the process.

6. Praise God for a blessed Easter! We made it through. There were a lot of distractions. The boys enjoyed egg hunts, crafts, stories and candy! I’ll try to post pictures some time…

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever should believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Re-entering the Valley

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We survived. March 14, 2015 came and went, and everyone is still ok. We endured the 2-year anniversary of Hannah’s homegoing.

It’s interesting how our emotions can be tied to dates. There are times when a wave of grief catches me off guard. It might be provoked by a comment or song or event. Or there could be no conceivable reason for the tears…except that I miss her. For the most part throughout the past year, though, we could anticipate the grief. We expect to miss Hannah more during the holidays and her birthday and of course the anniversary of her death. As soon as I switched my wall calendar from February to March, I felt the heaviness of grief fall upon me. In fact, as the days trekked on and February was ending, I began to brace myself. I knew it was coming: the re-entry.

Two years ago, Hannah’s sudden death took us into the deepest valley we’ve ever experienced. There were times when I thought we’d never get ourselves out of that valley. Well, to be honest, we didn’t save ourselves from that pit of despair. It was God who did all the work. We just took one step at a time, following and trusting our Abba Father to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death. Eventually, we could see sunlight as we meandered our way up the hillside. Now, most days are spent on the high ground where we are able to enjoy the sun shining on our faces. It’s those special dates that tend to take us back to the darkness of the valley.

In my anticipation of March 14, I chose to embrace the heaviness. I purposed to set aside time each day to welcome the sadness, to remember the oh-so-difficult events of March 13-14, 2013, and to cry out to God. Yes, grief is hard. It isn’t fun. Not. One. Bit. However, it is healthy. Even necessary. And so, I willingly re-entered the valley of the shadow of death once again. It began on March 1, 2015. I turned around from my usual sunshine and hid in the shadows…at least for a moment every day for those two weeks. I’m not sure when it will end. Maybe it has already.

I think Friday the 13th was my low point during those two weeks. Maybe I held too much in that week. Maybe my short moments of lament weren’t enough. I certainly was busy Monday through Thursday. Snow day, Bible quizzing stuff, retreat planning meetings, prayer times with friends, Bible study, etc. kept me away from home most evenings. By the time I got myself in bed each night, I was too tired to process. I would shed a few quiet tears and pass out until the morning. So, as soon as I was able to get the boys fed and occupied, I hid in my bedroom to weep before God. I questioned His purpose for Hannah’s short life. I asked all the “How long, O Lord?” questions again. I allowed myself to feel the loss as deep as did the day we ushered her into heaven two years ago.

Then, when I awoke on March 14, I didn’t have to do it. I had already grieved as heavily as I needed. I was able to think about the precious time I had with Hannah and praise God for that time. Aaron and I walked to the river to throw Noah’s rock into the water, and we were able to endure the audience that gathered to see the white people. We could talk to the strangers without tears or contempt. Ultimately, we could walk through the valley with eyes wide open and with joy.

Yes, it’s still hard. We didn’t enjoy the return to the valley, but we did it. And now, we can face the sunshine again. Thank you for your prayers. They traveled across the ocean and comforted us in our time of grief. May God bless you for your time, dedication, and love for us!!

Several of our friends gave us pink roses. We are so blessed to be loved by so many!

Several of our friends gave us pink roses. We are so blessed to be loved by so many!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  1. Praise God for His ever-presence in our lives.
  2. Praise God for a little more rain this week.
  3. Praise God for Easter.
  4. Pray for more rain!

    A VERY low water level. Let's pray that it's a roaring waterfall by this time next month!

    A VERY low water level. Let’s pray that it’s a roaring waterfall by this time next month!

  5. Pray for us as we celebrate Easter. Easter tends to be very emotional for me. I can’t get past the fact that God chose to send His only Son to earth to die for my sins. God had to watch His Son die a brutal death. Now, after watching Hannah die, I can feel a bit of what God felt, and I can’t get used to it. Not that I want to grow accustom to this feeling. It’s just hard to attend Easter services and celebrate with the boys when my heart is hurting so badly. Pray that God would give me wisdom for how to handle the raw emotions that Easter brings.