Category Archives: Preparations

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

 

 

 

 

HMA

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Being married to a doctor has been my reality for quite a few years now. Generally, I don’t think about it much. He goes to work. I stay home with the kids. It doesn’t really matter where his work takes him or what he does. We’re proud of him all the same. However, it’s times when we get together with other medical professionals that I notice a few things…like, the way I can’t participate in any conversations. It’s mostly my fault; I have almost no interest in medical things and therefore make no effort to learn what he does at the hospital or clinic. In my defense, though, doctors use a lot of big, fancy words and acronyms! Who is suppose to keep up with all that?!?

Not me! I just take care of the kids, making sure they have what they need or engaging them in intelligent conversation…I just can’t understand all the tests and prescription names any better than he can understand calculus or why a baby’s diaper needs to be changed when I’m not at home. Which makes me think…do I have just as many weird words in my vocabulary as he does? Probably so.

That list of acronyms and fancy words is growing, and this time it’s happening to us together! As with each profession, there is a lot of new jargon to be learned as a missionary. After spending 2 1/2 years on the field, I thought that I had learned a lot of the ‘Mission-ese’ language. However, with just 4 days of training at WGM HQ, I realized I still had a long way to go. (By the way, WGM HQ stands for World Gospel Mission headquarters.)

Don’t worry. I won’t bore you with all the new lingo I must commit to memory and then figure out how to use in an intelligent fashion. I do, however, plan to explain a few things in the next few months. I hope these informational posts will help you understand what Aaron, the boys, and I are doing while here in the States. And they might help you hold a conversation with us when we get to see you face-to-face!

So…Have you figured out what HMA stands for?

If not, that’s ok. It’s the first acronym that I’ll explain.

Home Ministry Assignment (HMA) is what WGM calls furlough. Furlough is the time when missionaries (or military personnel) leave their field of ministry and return to their homelands. Every time we leave Kenya and return to the States, we are on HMA or furlough.

You may be thinking OK, that makes sense, but what is the purpose of HMA? 

I suppose that question could be answered in several ways. And the answers might vary based on a missionaries’ agency, family situation, ministry needs, etc. I’ll do my best to explain what WE are doing on this, our first HMA.

Before leaving Kenya, Aaron and I had an unofficial list of goals for our time back in the States. Some of those goals have already been realized, but others are still a work in progress. Some of the goals were big; others were rather small and unnecessary. Regardless, we had an idea of what we wanted to accomplish here in the States. Below is at least part of that list in no particular order:

  1. Transfer to a long-term sending agency.
  2. Spend time with friends and family.
  3. Get the boys swimming lessons.
  4. Make new friends in Lynchburg, VA.
  5. Raise a support team to enable us to return to Kenya.
  6. Save as much money as possible.
  7. Enjoy America!

How are we doing on this list?? No too badly. Here is an update with prayer requests in bold.

On #1, we’re good! This goal was quickly realized. We landed in the States in June, and by the end of July we had interviewed with WGM and were excepted as long-term missionaries! However, we just did our first training with them in January, so we are feeling like our HMA time has just begun…Now that we know what we’re supposed to be doing!

#2: Spending time with friends and family (most of whom live in Pennsylvania) has been harder than we expected. It takes us at least 5 hours to drive from our home to anyone we know in PA. That’s not a day trip. While I intended to attend all the holiday celebrations and birthday parties that we were invited to, I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. We’re either traveling (I’ll get to why in a minute) or we are recuperating from traveling. We did have a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful Christmas with family, but we have missed every single birthday party…I wish I could say that I’ll do better with this for the remainder of our furlough, but I know that having a newborn won’t make the traveling any easier.

Please pray for us and our friends and family. Pray that we will take comfort in knowing that we have eternity together. Pray that we will be gracious with each other, that we can communicate openly with each other, and that we will enjoy every second we do get to spend with each other.

#3: Swimming lessons haven’t happened yet…I’m determined to make it happen, but I haven’t been successful quite yet.

#4 has proven to be more difficult than I expected too. Moving to Lynchburg, Virginia wasn’t our first choice, but it was where God was leading us. We knew we would need to make new friends, and we weren’t thrilled about it. (Being introverts has its drawbacks.) However, it’s happening! Yay! God has led us to a great church with wonderful people. We are feeling plugged in (finally), and we are encouraged.

Praise God for his people! We are thankful for the people who have reached out to us and are making Lynchburg feel more and more like home. 

We are diligently working on #5, which is the cause of a lot of our travels. As you probably know, being a missionary isn’t a profitable occupation. We are supported by churches, friends, family, and some people that we’ve never met. When we aren’t attending conferences (missionary or medical or a combination of both), we are speaking at churches, telling our story, and sharing what God is doing at Tenwek. We are asking churches and individuals to join our support team.

When people leave their careers and move to a foreign mission field, they need to have a large support base back in their home country. We are no different. We need a lot of prayer.We need people who will commit to praying for us daily, and we have been blessed beyond measure in this area so far. However, we can never have too many people praying for us, so if you feel God leading you to support us in this way, please do! Additionally, we need financial support. Monetary support comes in two goals: 1.) one-time gifts and 2.) monthly support. For us, we have reached our one-time gift goal. Now, all we need to do is reach our monthly pledge support.

A monthly pledge can come from churches or individuals. It’s as easy as informing WGM that you (or your church) would like to contribute a set amount of money to our ministry each month. Ideally, you would continue these contributions for the entirety of our time in Kenya starting as early as now or as late as January 2017 (when we intend to go back to Kenya). If you have received our prayer card, the pledge card is the part you can tear off and mail back to WGM HQ. These are tax deductible gifts, which is why they must go through WGM and not us personally. We will not be released to go to Tenwek until we have reached 100% of this goal. Right now, we’re about a third of the way there. If you have questions about this, please read the support page or just contact me.

Please pray that God will raise up a support base for us. We are trusting that our monthly support goals will be reached by December 2016 so that we can return to Tenwek in January 2017. 

#6 just isn’t happening thanks to our Allentown house. Despite Aaron working full-time, we haven’t been able to save like we wanted.

Please pray that God will provide the perfect buyer for our house! And quickly!!

That leaves us with #7: Enjoy America. Well, we have enjoyed parts of America. I’m loving the library, the pizza drive-thru on Friday nights, the consistency of electricity and clean tap water, and Target. The boys are enjoying the traveling more than I expected. Noah, Jacob, and Levi all have spirits of adventure, which makes the long car rides and new beds every other weekend so much more bearable. (If only Joshua had the same excitement!) If it were up to Noah, we would visit each of the 50 states while on HMA. That might be more fun – and more doable – if Aaron wasn’t working full-time and if we didn’t have a 1-year-old and a baby on the way!

While we are enjoying HMA, our hearts – at least parts of them – are still in Kenya. We look forward to returning to our home in Tenwek and serving God there. The traveling is fun and adventurous, but it’s also exhausting. Our bucket list is still long. There are so many people we want to see and so many places we want to visit in the next 11 months. If you would like us to visit you and we haven’t made plans for such a visit yet, please contact us (again if necessary). While our plates are full, we will do our best to put you (and/or your church) on our calendar!

Please pray for stamina during our travels and for great family memories to be made along the way.

More Praises and Prayer Requests:

Please pray for a healthy baby and momma during the remainder of this pregnancy. Pray for a full-term baby and a safe delivery. (I’m looking forward to the American hospital this time around!)

 

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It’s a boy!

Praise God for the 100th day of school! I’m thankful that He has brought us this far! Please keep our homeschooling endeavors in your prayers.

Please keep this little guy in your prayers. While he thinks he’s big enough for school, he is in rough shape right now. He has a bad cold and is recovering from a circumcision!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes! It was a great weekend of celebrating me! Aaron and I went out for dinner. The boys spoiled me with presents. My parents visited. It was a wonderful birthday!

Thank you to each and every one of you who have supported us along the way. We so appreciate you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November Blessings

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November Blessings

November was questionably the busiest month of the year. We traveled every weekend! Since I didn’t take the time to write down what I was thankful for as the month was going by, I’ll publish my list now…and I’ll include the praises and prayer requests as I go.

1 – I am thankful for my salvation and the faithfulness of God!

2 – I am thankful for my friends, both near and far!

3 – I am thankful that God is the Great Provider! He supplies over and above what we need! Praise His name!!

4 – I am thankful that I can drive to my parents’ and my in-laws’ homes in a day! It’s so nice to see family on a regular basis!!

5 – Aaron and I drove to Lousiville, Kentucky for the Global Missions Health Conference. It was a busy but blessed time of reconnecting with fellow missionaries and meeting prospective missionaries. Please pray that God would call medical professionals to fill the many openings around the world and that those who are called would go!

6 – I’m thankful for all that is going well in the world. There were so many organizations represented at the conference, and they were all serving God. I’m also thankful that I got to meet Jamie Saint!

Nate Saint's grandson!

Nate Saint’s grandson!

7 – I’m thankful for lunch meat. I had the best ham and cheese on rye sandwich while at GMHC. I wish I had a picture!

8 – I’m thankful for Tenwek Hospital. Please pray for the hospital staff, administration, patients, and all involved in the ministry there.

9 – I am thankful for Aaron and the boys. While it’s nice to get away without kids, it’s always nice to be under one roof again!

10 – Levi had his wellness visit and failed both his vision and hearing screenings. We have followed up on his eyes…Praise God that he doesn’t need glasses! Please pray that his hearing is fine too.

11 – I’m thankful for freedom and all the men and women who paid for it. Veterans are awesome!

12 – Aaron and I traveled to Asheville, NC for a time of debriefing at the Cove. It was another fun time of meeting new people and reconnecting with friends.

13 – The Summit team took us to a ropes course. It was fun to work together as a team and then eat a yummy meal as a large group.

14 – I’m thankful for naps and date nights!

15 – I’m thankful for the way God has kept us safe during all our travels!

16 – I am very thankful for new life! We are expecting Baby #6 on June 10, 2016!!

taken at 10 weeks

taken at 10 weeks

17 – Jacob and Noah had their wellness checks, and they both passed with flying colors! Praise God for healthy boys!!

18 – I had an eye appointment. When I first went to the eye doctor, he discovered an infection on my left eye. At this follow-up appointment, the infection had cleared but it uncovered a ‘cornea infiltration’ in both eyes. I’m not sure what they means, but I do know that it requires me to where my glasses for another 3 months! Please pray that my eyes would heal completely.

19 – We studied Norway for 2 1/2 weeks this month, and we celebrated with open-faced fancy sandwiches and potato soup. It’s a blessing to homeschool! (Sometimes I must remind myself of this, but it IS true.)

Noah's sandwich creation was simple and unique.

Noah’s sandwich creation was simple and unique.

20 – I’m thankful for my sister! (I’m thankful for my brother too, but November 20 is my sister’s birthday.)

21 – I’m thankful for Salem Bible Church!! It is the best sending church a missionary could ask for! It was a pleasure to see so many Salem ladies on this day!

22 – We spoke at Upper Path Valley Presbyterian Church! We pray blessings upon this congregation as they seek God’s will and obey.

Aaron sharing God's plan for our next term.

Aaron sharing God’s plan for our next term.

23 – I’m thankful for family time. I love seeing my boys play with their cousins!

Pappy trying to build a Lincoln Log house with 3 little people!

Pappy trying to build a Lincoln Log house with 3 little people!

24 – I’m thankful for this time of rest! While Aaron had to work, the boys and I stayed in PA to have more family time, which meant I could rest!

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25 – I’m thankful for Noah’s creativity. Here is his Lego creation of our family.

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26 – I’m thankful for seeing so many of my extended family members today! What a great day of food and fellowship!!

27 – I am thankful for the warm weather. The boys have enjoyed lots of time outside.

28 – I am very thankful that the rest of the year slows down a bit. We should spend the majority of nights in our own beds in December!

29 – I’m thankful for a live Christmas tree! I missed that smell!

30 – I’m thankful for the Advent season. May Christ be at its center!

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

July Blessings

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Oh, July has been a busy month! It’s hard to believe how much traveling and craziness we were able to fit into our second month in America, so here is a brief overview of how we saw God moving in, through, and around us.

July 5-10: Debriefing and Renewal (DAR) in Colorado Springs, CO

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We scheduled this time in Colorado Springs at least 6 months ago. It’s a good thing we already paid for it, because when July 5 rolled around it felt like an unnecessary interruption to all the work we were in the middle of doing. We got up before dawn on July 5 to fly to Chicago and then to Colorado Springs in order to get to the Hideaway, a bed and breakfast in the Black Forest. As soon as all the traveling was over and we were able to settle into the room for the night, we took a sigh of relief and were glad for the getaway. The week proved to be very refreshing and fruitful. God, in HIs ultimate wisdom, showed up just when we needed it most. We left the Hideaway remembering that God is bigger than all our problems, struggles, and apprehensions.

July 10-12: Candidate Review at World Gospel Mission (WGM) Headquarters

We left DAR a few hours early in order to get to WGM before Friday’s end. Although we missed the Friday evening session and dinner, we jumped right into the ‘work’ of the weekend on Saturday morning. Really, it was a great time of meeting some people who we’ve been e-mailing for months and reuniting with some other people who have already become friends. We left Marion, Indiana with a peace that God was with us and that He would direct our paths as missionaries. Sure enough, God is taking us back to Tenwek. We got the official acceptance as career missionaries with WGM just a few days after our interview. We are super excited!

July 13-15: Packing Frenzy at our Allentown house. Every little thing left in our townhouse had to be analyzed and then packed either for Virginia or for Kenya. All the while, I had to feed my 5 hungry men and keep them safe! God was gracious though. Noah, Jacob, and Levi have been playing really well together. They had a blast with their old stash of Thomas trains and tracks!

July 16: Hershey Park! We took a little break from the sorting and packing to spend a day with a friend at Hershey Park. The first ride: the Super Duper Looper! Yes, Levi, Jacob, and Noah all rode the roller coaster! Although they insisted that they loved it, none of them wanted to ride another roller coaster the remainder of the day. 🙂

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We ended the fun-filled day with dinner with a precious family who remains in our prayers. Thank you, Brackbill family, for such a special day!!

July 18: Church work team! A group of men from Salem Bible Church came to the rescue on Saturday. Another great friend spent Thursday and Friday building crates for our shipment to Kenya. Then, on Saturday, we packed them up and loaded a moving van. Starting with all the stuff for Kenya and ending with all the stuff for Virginia, we filled up a Ryder truck! We also got the gardens trimmed and cleaned up. What a blessing to have such great support from our home church!!

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July 20: The Big Move! The caravan set out Monday morning and arrived in Goode, VA by late afternoon. My dad drove the moving truck, while Aaron and I each drove our cars. The boys were split up, so no one went too crazy. God was good in all the logistics of getting us here and providing many hands to unload the van. Our new church, despite the fact they had never met us, rallied around us to get all the Virginia stuff in our house and then all the Kenya stuff into a storage unit. Others watched the boys, stocked our pantry, and provided dinner. Again, we were blessed by the body of Christ!

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July 21-23: Unpacking, organizing, etc. We quickly distributed boxes into the right areas of the house and then went to work unpacking and organizing the house. In the midst of all that mess, we had to make our move official with driving license transfers. The trip to the DMV went well, and we now have Virginia license plates and driving licenses! And because it doesn’t feel like home without knowing where  to shop, we located the closest Target and Lowes. Unfortunately, the Lowes is much closer…

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July 24: Levi’s 5th Birthday!! I still can’t believe this boy is 5! When did my baby grow up and get ready for kindergarten?? He was surprised with a small gift in his room and then more gifts at the breakfast table. All day was about him, and he loved every minute as the birthday boy!

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July 25: Aaron’s Birthday!! The next day was Aaron’s birthday, so we headed to Buffalo Wild Wings for some of his favorite food. Although he didn’t request that I call him “birthday boy” all day like his third born, he did request that we NOT sing to him at the restaurant. He’s always been a little party pooper. After filling up on wings, we stopped at Cold Stone Creamery for his traditional ice cream birthday cake.

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July 26-28: Trip to Boone, NC. After our first appearance at our new church, we loaded the van and headed to Boone for two nights. We ate dinner with the new class of Post-Residents headed to the mission field with World Medical Mission. Then, the next day, Aaron and I shared our experiences with them. Meanwhile, the boys got tours of Operation Christmas Child and the WMM warehouse. We all had a great time, but we were glad to be back home.

As eluded to in my previous post, my dad was sick this month. In fact, he went to the emergency room on Levi’s birthday and then was admitted into the hospital over the weekend. My mom was supposed to stay with the boys while Aaron and I went to Boone, but she stayed with my dad instead. Fortunately, he was discharged after only a few nights in the hospital. However, he is still experiencing kidney issues. God was with all of us during the time of uncertainty, and He remains with us as the doctors continue to treat my dad. I know this doesn’t sound like a blessing, but I want glorify God anyway.

When we become Christians, God doesn’t promise an easy road. He doesn’t sweep into our lives and make everything rosy and beautiful and picturesque. No, it’s often quite the opposite. It’s in these hard and uncertain moments that it’s most important to praise God. I’m not sure what blessing is hidden in my dad’s illness, but I know there will be good. We just have to keep looking for it.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  1. Please keep my dad in your prayers.
  2. Pray for the boys and I as we start school, try to make friends, and keep the house relatively clean and orderly.
  3. Pray for Aaron as he navigates his many responsibilities at work, home, and as a missionary.
  4. Praise God for a family-focused, Bible-believing and preaching church that is right next door! We can still walk to church, just like we did in Kenya!
  5. Praise God for birthdays! We celebrated Jacob’s 7th birthday today! IMG_0306
  6. Pray for our boys, that they would grow and mature into godly young men. Pray for wisdom for Aaron and I as we try to raise them to be god-honoring men of the Word.

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

On the Move

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Yesterday marked one month since our re-entry into our home country. In many ways it seems like it’s been much longer than that. So much has happened. Too much to wait until the end of the month to write about!

After living with another family for the first weeks, we moved back into our townhouse. The big boys are sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags, while Joshua is in a pack-n-play in another room. We’re eating either around the kitchen island or outside on the deck since we don’t have a dining room table. Camping chairs and a card table furnish the living room. Boxes and piles of stuff are in every room. The smallish pile in the living room goes to Virginia, and the large pile in the dining room will be packed for Kenya. This living arrangement isn’t ideal, but it’s been our lives for the last few weeks as we sort, purge, and pack.

We're considering getting one of these for the basement in our Tenwek house!

We’re considering getting one of these for the basement in our Tenwek house!

Last week, we took 6 different planes and about as many cars to get from here to Colorado Springs and then from Colorado Springs to Indiana and then from Indiana back to Pennsylvania. We spent a week in Colorado to attend DAR (Debriefing and Renewal) at a little retreat center in the Black Forest. Each of the boys were in class from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. They had fun playing outside, meeting new friends, and learning how to process being a missionary living in the U.S. While they were occupied, Aaron and I processed our lives too. We didn’t get to go on field trips, but we did take time to pray, talk through life, visit with friends, and remember how big God is. It was beautiful, fun, and relaxing. So worth our time and money!

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In order to attend our World Gospel Mission interviews on Saturday, we left Colorado Springs a little early to fly to Indianapolis. Then, we had to drive almost 2 hours to Marion where the WGM headquarters are located. We reached our destination around 10 p.m. and we tried to crash. The big 3 boys did sleep right away. Unfortunately, though, Joshua had enough of the traveling and refused to sleep. Between all the attempts at getting him to sleep, Aaron and I got around 2 or 3 hours of sleep that night. While we missed the Friday evening events, we were able to attend all the meetings and interviews on Saturday despite our exhaustion. Things went really well. In fact, we felt at home at the headquarters even though we had never been there before. God was gracious to us in our sleep-deprived state. Just a few hours ago, we received confirmation that we will be going back to Tenwek with WGM! We are very excited to officially be a part of the WGM family!!

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This week is occupied with more packing as we anticipate our move to Virginia. With less than a week to go, we have a lot to do to get ourselves ready for the 6-hours of driving and the unpacking that will follow.

Today, as I was reading my devotional, God took me to Acts 20:24, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus.” What a good reminder that it’s not about me, for my life is about serving God. All the logistics, all the traveling, all the preparing and moving. It’s all for God’s glory!

Praises and Prayer Requests:  

  1. Praise God for being so big and yet so interested in every detail of our lives!
  2. Praise God for his faithfulness and trustworthiness. While we don’t know how everything will fall into place, God does. Please pray that we remember this truth in every moment of the next weeks.
  3. Praise God for the many blessings we’ve seen along the way thus far. From dinners with friends to unexpected provisions, we are so blessed. Please pray for us and the work crews helping us both here and in Virginia. Pray that all the packing and unpacking will be done safely and timely.
  4. Please pray for the boys as we move. Pray for a safe and smooth drive to Virginia. Pray for a great week of unpacking and settling into our new house.
  5. Pray for Aaron and I as we prepare for another trip at the end of July. This time we will go south and have only Joshua with us. While this will make our travels easier, it means the big 3 must sleep in yet another place. Surely, they are growing weary of the constant change! So far, they are doing so, so well in the midst of all this transition. (Even the DAR experts thought so!) However, I don’t want to push them too far! Please pray for their perseverance.

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.”

One Month Down, One Month To Go!

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Another week has flown by here in Kenya. We are so thankful for your ongoing prayers, notes and gifts! Here is a little update of the last week.

Last Friday, we skipped class to do our weekly shopping, try our hand at bartering in Swahili at the Masai Market, and meet some friends for lunch. It was a cold, rainy day. I was successful at finding two more pairs of stretchy, but not maternity, pants at the mall. We stocked up on nonperishable food at the supermarket. Then, we purchased some really cute nursery supplies for Joshua. I wasn’t planning to do anything too fancy if we were having another boy, but I changed my mind. (I already had a beautiful, fun girl nursery all planned out in my head…I guess those plans will have to wait!) I found orange, brown and ivory fabric for sheets and pillows and whatever else I decide to create. We got a cute giraffe and hippo for décor. I still have some things to find and/or make, but I think the nursery will be one of my favorite rooms when it’s finished.

Joshua's nursery will be orange, brown and ivory. (I just can't do blue or green anymore!)

Joshua’s nursery will be orange, brown and ivory. (I just can’t do blue or green anymore!)

Once we finished bargaining for matching Kenyan soccer outfits for the boys, we called the driver to pick us up. He didn’t understand my request, so we ended up standing in the rain for quite some time. Finally, we were on our way across town to eat at an amazing brick oven pizza restaurant with our friends, which was the main purpose for missing the entire day of class!

Aaron and the boys in their Kenyan soccer jerseys.

Aaron and the boys in their Kenyan soccer jerseys.

Although we were late (everything takes longer in Kenya!), we thoroughly enjoyed our time with our friends. They are visiting Tenwek and actually living in our house for 3 ½ weeks. While we’re sorry that Aaron and Allan won’t get to work side-by-side at Tenwek, we are so privileged to share our home with them. It was delightful to meet their daughters. I wonder if they’re sleeping in the boys’ triple bunk…

The Sawyer Family and us after filling ourselves with pizza.

The Sawyer Family and us after filling ourselves with pizza.

We are also grateful to meet them because they filled two huge trunks for us! Baby clothes, blankets, cloth diapers, toys, birthday party supplies, medical supplies, school books, etc. were overflowing the action packers. What a blessing!

The boys LOVE whoopie cushions! Thanks, Sawyer family!!

The boys LOVE whoopie cushions! Thanks, Sawyer family!!

Our weekend was quiet and restful. We enjoyed corn-on-the-cob for the first time since moving here. (I’m talking real sweet corn, not maize!) We visited the same church and enjoyed their kick-off celebration for 50 years of making disciples and teaching the Word. It’s so encouraging to be a part of such a Bible-teaching church that actually walks the talk. Although we couldn’t understand all the testimonies since they were primarily in Swahili, we were blessed by how many people could so easily share how the church had impacted their lives and their walks with God. God is doing great things here in Kenya! Praise God!

Monday and Tuesday were full days. We finished lessons 19 and 20, which meant we needed to take the first exam. Giving us much grace, the teachers gave us a day and a half to study. After an hour of test-prep on Wednesday, we started our self-study time. We spent Thursday studying. Then, on Friday we took the test!

Me, my 23-week baby bump, and my test

Me, my 23-week baby bump, and my test

I think we all did very well. Monday begins a new week. We’ve been told that we’ll learn the ‘yellow chart.’ I guess that’s a good thing, but I’m not sure. Before that, though, we’ll enjoy another quiet weekend. Hopefully, the sun will stay out and we’ll have some special family time. We are taking advantage of the cafe to celebrate Noah’s half-birthday. Since both Jacob and Levi will celebrate birthdays here at language school and will therefore be treated to Mommy-Daddy-dates, we thought we’d treat Noah to his date on his 8 1/2 birthday. We’re considering giving him half of a Lego set, but we think that would be torture for his personality type!

Psalm 146

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

Praise and Prayer Requests:

  1. Praise God for the work He is doing in Kenya! Pray that discipleship will become a main priority in all churches across this country.
  2. Praise God for our successful assessments. We are doing our best to learn as much Swahili as possible in 2 months, so it’s encouraging to get good feedback. Please continue to pray for us. We’re half way done, and we have SO much more to learn!
  3. Pray for Tenwek.
  4. Pray for wisdom in answering the boys’ questions concerning the baby and Hannah. Pray for their hearts, and ours. Aaron and I have been grieving deeply again. It’s hard to know how to answer the boys’ questions. It’s hard to process things away from home, away from our normal, away from our main emotional supporters.
  5. Pray blessings upon those people at Tenwek who have sacrificially supported us the past year and a half. We are so far from our American support system, so we appreciate our Tenwek family so much. They walked the journey of losing Hannah with us, and they haven’t forgotten. Now that we are absent from that support system, we are made more aware of how special it is. We love you all! May God bless you for your emotional and spiritual support!!
  6. Pray blessings upon Levi and Aaron this week as they celebrate their birthdays! Levi will turn 4 on Thursday, and Aaron will be another year older on Friday.