Tag Archives: home

Going back home

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The first three weekends of April kept us very busy last month! Both our sending church and our hometown church celebrate missions in the month of April, so we headed to Pennsylvania several times to go “back home.”

The first weekend of April called for us to travel to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. Allentown was our home before moving to Kenya. Aaron completed internship, residency, and fellowship there. I birthed three children there. We found a wonderful church and great Christian friends there. We loved our time in the Lehigh Valley, and it was where we had planned to return to serve this Home Ministry Assignment. Of course, we all know that didn’t happen, but we were excited to return to this home.

Leaving Goode, VA early Saturday morning, we were on our way to Macungie, PA to help kick off our sending church’s missions festival. Salem Bible Church set aside the month of April to focus on missions. They not only highlighted the missionaries they support but also encouraged members to get involved. We were privileged to be a part of this massive endeavor.

Aaron was scheduled to give the sermon to both Sunday morning services. Then, we were planning to stay for the international lunch and festival. As one of several missionaries on furlough, we were just a portion of the ‘entertainment.’ We set up a mock Tenwek Casualty department with the help of our pit crew (the group designated by the church to be our main support people). Everything was planned and re-planned and prepped.

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God had different plans however. There was a strong wind storm in the mountains of the Lehigh Valley Saturday night, and it knocked out the power to thousands of residents in the area. Unfortunately, Salem Bible Church had no power and therefore had to postpone the Sunday morning activities. Aaron, having to work early Monday morning, left for home. The boys and I stayed and re-planned our weekend.

Power was restored by Sunday evening, and the missions lunch/festival was turned into the missions dinner/festival. This was great news, except that it meant that I had to perform the Tenwek skit without Aaron. Pit crew to the rescue again!

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One friend acted on Aaron’s behalf, and even wore his white coat. Other friends read the lines for the patients and students. Noah volunteered to be the Masai injured by a hippo. Everyone pitched in at the last minute…And it was great!

The boys and I spent the week in PA. Half of our time was spent catching up with friends in the Lehigh Valley, and half of our time was spent with my parents in central PA. We were reunited with Aaron on Saturday back in Macungie. He delivered his sermon to both services on Sunday morning, and then we travelled back to Goode.

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Believe it or not, Joshua LOVED the baby chickens!

Our week at (our Goode) home was super busy with appointments and school and life as usual. Then, we loaded the van again for another trip to PA. This time we returned to our hometown, Mifflintown. Mifflintown, PA is where Aaron and I both grew up. We started dating in high school and attended Cedar Grove Brethren In Christ Church together before heading off to college. We were excited to visit this other home church and to see so many familiar faces.

Again, our weekend was fully planned. We attended the missions dinner and had the opportunity to share what God had done in our lives during our first term at Tenwek. The theme was Kamping with the Kelleys, and several people brought their RV’s or tents to camp out in the church parking lot. My dad and his friend roasted a pig, and we ate way too much food.

The next morning, we were scheduled to speak during the Sunday School hour. Aaron spoke to a combined adult class, while I taught a combined children’s class. I’m sure Aaron gave a great presentation, but I know that I had a lot of fun with the K-5 class! We sang in Swahili, ate yummy treats, looked at pictures of our daily life on the field, and learned about the Kenyan flag and mandazi.

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As soon as we were finished with our presentations, we packed up and raced back home, our current home. School and daily life always come too quickly when we spend the weekends away from home.

Since these three weeks of travel, we have enjoyed more downtime. In fact, we don’t have any more travel plans until late June. July will be another busy month with many nights away from home, but until then we will treasure our time in Goode. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our newest family member, and we all need this time to rest.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1.) Praise God for His sovereignty! He is a good, good Father. May we run to Him even when we don’t understand what He is doing.

2.) Please pray for the Nichols and Hentzel families as they mourn the loss of Harold and Randy. If you haven’t heard this sad news, please read Aaron’s blog post about it.

3.) Please pray for us as we continually seek God’s will for our lives. May we trust in His timing, His provision, and His plans.

4.) Please continue to pray for homeschooling and my pregnancy. I’m feeling good, and I’m hopeful that I’ll finish up the majority of school in the next 2-3 weeks and that I won’t go into labor before then.

Psalm 33:4-11

For the word of the LORD is right and true;

he is faithful in all he does.

The LORD loves righteousness and justice;

the earth is full of his unfailing love.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,

their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;

he puts the deep into storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD;

let all the people of the world revere him.

For he spoke, and it came to be;

he commanded, and it stood firm.

The LORD foils the plans of the nations;

he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,

the purposes of his heart through all generations.

 

 

Anniversary

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A year ago today, we – the Kelley family of 6 – boarded the plane and started our journey to our new home in Tenwek. It’s amazing what a difference a year makes. So much has changed. So much has happened…

Today, we are spending a much needed day of family fun time in Nairobi. When we get back to Tenwek, I hope to take pictures of our house for the next blog post. I need to show you all how much our apartment has become home!

Thank you for being such great supporters! Please pray for us as we venture around the big city of Nairobi and then journey back home to Tenwek. Thanks. 🙂

Home, Bittersweet Home

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Welcome Home Sign

We are back in Kenya, settling into our Tenwek home.

To say it’s bittersweet is obvious. We love that we’re back. The boys are in heaven; they jumped right back into Tenwek life. I chose to start school with Noah and Jacob and potty training with Levi right away on Monday. Plus, I’m relearning how to cook and manage life here…without Hannah. It’s easier in the sense that I only have 3 kids to pull me in 3 different directions, but it’s harder in that I have to grieve and find my new normal.

My new normal is without diapers. It is with a spare bedroom. It is without hair bows and pink. It is with a void that cannot be filled. I love it and hate it at the same time. I jumped back into a routine so quickly because I want the boys to have consistency. And I need to have a plan. Otherwise, the jet lag and grief will overwhelm me. I refuse to be shaken. I will not give Satan a foothold. Therefore, I am diving into potty training, homeschooling, cooking, shopping, having fun with the boys, meetings, Bible studies and Scripture memorization. I am re-entering community life because I need to do this. I need to feel as normal as possible.

My 3 Boys!

I think it’s working. At least for today. I mean, that’s all I can do, right? I can just take it one day at a time, counting my blessings at every step. And I have a lot to be thankful for. This Tenwek family hung a “Welcome Home” sign on our porch, showered every room in our house with Scripture, provided entertainment for the boys, gave us space and grace, and so many other things. We are humbled by their love for us, and we are so grateful. Our families back in the States are nothing but supportive. Our friends all over the world have diligently uplifted us in prayer. We feel it. God is still tenderly loving us at every turn. Thank you for the part you have played in our mission, in our mourning, and in our personal lives.

Prayer Requests:

1.) Potty training is going well, but it’s still potty training. Please pray for Levi this weekend especially. Aaron and I will be attending a conference and Levi will stay with Aunt Amy…Maybe you should pray for Aunt Amy too! Pray that Levi will not regress despite my inconsistent presence.

2.) Pray for Aaron. He still needs to revisit the hospital and return to work.

3.) Pray for wisdom. I have committed to teaching middle school math next year to several missionary kids. Pray that I will choose the best curriculum for these kids, that I will know how to best serve them without being stressed or neglecting my own children’s needs, that I will be wise in making my new schedule for the upcoming school year. (I know this school year isn’t over yet, but we are planning and preparing for next year!)

Matthew 6:33 reminds us, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Tour of the Apartment, Part 1

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Having house help is amazing. I must write about it soon, but I thought a little photo tour of our apartment was overdue…This shows several rooms, and I’ll post the other rooms later. (Uploading pictures is quite time consuming.) It stays surprisingly clean and tidy (thanks partly to the house help and partly to the fact that the boys spend most of the day outside), and it is quickly becoming home. Enjoy!

This is the front of our apartment. We’re on the second floor. The complex has 5 apartments. The 3 on the first floor are smaller (2 bedrooms each, I think), and the 2 on the second floor are 3 bedroom units. The balcony is nice. Our view is gorgeous! We sit there to watch the afternoon rain sometimes. Then, the kids play in the puddle that collects in the one spot near the gate. The clothesline (that I share with the other residents of the building) is to the right of the back stairs. The sidewalk goes the entire way around the complex, so the boys use it as a race track.

View of Front of Apartment

This is the schoolroom. I am so thankful for it! Noah and Jacob have enjoyed getting back into the routine of school, and it’s wonderful to have this organized space for them to focus. (We were using the dining room table back in PA. This is so much nicer!!) There is a closet with several shelves to the right of the black desk, and we’ll be hanging a bulletin board beside the door so we’ll have a place to hang their artwork and school papers. Notice the M&M dispenser. If you’re following us on facebook, that is a huge temptation for Levi! 🙂

schoolroom

Hannah’s room is one of my favorites, and it’s not quite finished yet. We were promised a real crib, but the crib mattresses are all being used by other kids. For now, the pack-n-play works. A dear friend painted the “Hannah” sign, and I found these coordinating decals on clearance at Pottery Barn. Hannah loves her mosquito net…I think she feels more like a princess when she’s sleeping under it. There was a cute kitty rug in the schoolroom when we arrived, so I moved it into her room. It almost matches. The lamp was purchased on my mega-shopping trip at the Kenyan version of Bed, Bath & Beyond. I think her room turned out really pretty. Hannah even said so!

Hannah's bedroom

The rest of the rooms are as finished as they can get too, but I couldn’t find good pictures of them. I’ll upload them soon…I hope. Besides the ugly curtains and couches, I really like how the apartment is becoming our home.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1.) Praise God that the kids are adjusting well. Yes, that means Noah is testing every new rule and boundary, Jacob is making lots of new friends, Levi is running away to the neighbor’s house or after a dog, and Hannah is screeching no matter her mood. Please pray that they will start sleeping longer at night and/or take better naps. Most of their bad behaviors and decisions and accidents are more a result of lack of sleep than disrespectfulness. All this playing outside is exhausting!

2.) Pray for the Kenyan elections. It’s a month-long process that has the potential of causing some riots and unrest. Pray for our safety and wise precautions. March 4 is the election date, but I think it’s usually a drawn out process. I don’t fully understand it yet.

3.) Praise God! We survived our first full week of Aaron working and me homeschooling with househelp. The househelper has been chosen, so please pray for good relationships to be built with her and myself and the kids.

Thank you so much for praying steadfastly for us!! We’re praying for you too!

Preview of Apartment!

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So we received some pictures of our Kenyan apartment! It’s a small 4 bedroom, second floor apartment on the hospital compound. Not sure what people are expecting our home to look like, but here it is…

Below is a picture of the living room. It has a fireplace because it gets chilly at night. I wonder what I should bring to hang above it??

Living Room

Next, we have a picture of my kitchen. The (small) stove is right beside my washing machine (no dryer). I think the stove is gas, and I’ll be hanging clothes outside to dry as long as it’s not raining. We do have a microwave!!!

Kitchen

Here is one bedroom. It will be where the 3 boys sleep. Noah and Jacob are SO excited for the bunk bed, but Noah is hoping for a side rail to keep him from falling out of bed!

Boys' Bedroom

I do have more pictures, but I thought these 3 would give you all a good idea of our standard of living in Kenya. It is small and not nearly as nice as our home in PA. However, it is a palace compared to where some of the local Kenyans live. I’ll be sure to post pictures after I make this apartment our home. (Someone else was living there when these pictures where taken.) We’ll use the 4th bedroom as an office/homeschool/craft room. (I’m planning to catch up on my scrapbooking!) Our bedroom has a queen-sized bed, which is larger than we have now. Hannah will have her own room. I can’t wait to see the garden and yard! It will be heaven for the boys to be outside everyday!!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1.) Praise God! We have renters for our house AND a buyer for our van!

2.) Please pray for the selling of our car and the remaining furniture.

3.) Praise God! Noah is nearly night trained! He has the occasional accident but is dry most nights!! Yay!!

4.) Please pray for my sanity. I am quite crazy these days. There’s SO MUCH to do.

5.) Please pray for wisdom as we pack. The list is longer than we expected, so I think we’ll have to leave some things behind that we planned on bringing…Don’t worry. We won’t leave any kids behind ‘by accident.’ 🙂

The Purge, Part 3

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And so it continues. We continue to purchase the things we need for our move as we try to purge, purge, purge all the stuff we’ve collected over the past 9 years.

Yesterday was our third yard sale attempt of the summer. This time I went to Emmanuel Assembly of God church in Allentown. I purchased a spot, set up my stuff, and sold a ton. It’s very encouraging to have selling success…and very liberating to rid our house of some of our excess. Some things are hard to let go, like the clothes Hannah just overgrew and souvenirs from some previous trips, but overall I love purging. 🙂

Perhaps the best part of the morning was that I was alone! Yes, I left all 4 kids at home with Aaron. (I know what you’re thinking…Yes. They all survived.) I woke up early and left before they had breakfast. Aaron had to take care of the blueberry poop in Levi’s diaper. He had to figure out how to give Hannah her bottle and cereal AND feed the boys breakfast. He had to remember to take Levi to the potty. He had to change Hannah’s cloth diapers and remember to feed her again at 11a.m. Plus, he had to keep the older two boys alive. No small feat, but he did manage. The house was a wreck, the older two never got dressed, and I’m pretty sure there was a lot more TV than when Mommy is in charge…But they were all alive. Good job, Daddy! (The heat was record-breaking, so I’m thankful that he was up for the challenge.)

I’m also thankful for other people selling or giving away their old stuff. We need to have enough clothes for all 4 children for 2 years, and friends are supplying that need abundantly. God is good…All the time.