Great Expectations

We lost a small part of our home this week.

When we were preparing to move to Kenya, this verse was a frequent refrain: “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”” Gen 12:1-2

We rejoiced that the Lord had used us to be a blessing for His Kingdom in Lexington. And it was a comfort to know that the same God who provided for newly homeless Abraham millennia ago was with us as we too left our “country and kindred.”


Final times with family before we left for Kenya last year

But despite this, it hurt to leave. To enter a land with no seasons, with no air conditioning, with no public libraries. To raise a toddler in a land without cheerios or goldfish crackers.


Clearly I’m more bothered than Hannah by the lack of Goldfish Crackers in Kenya…

To learn to function with frequent power outages and intermittent internet. To work at a hospital without MRI, without IV pumps, without a room for every patient (or even for every dozen patients).


Clark showing off the one and only vent (which is older than he is!) in our NICU

We expected this. We expected to encounter new things. We expected that life would look different here.

But we did not expect that we would be asked to continue to give up “home” even after leaving the US.

This week we said goodbye to our neighbors. The Nugents are a family of seven who lived downstairs from us. During our transition here, they have been teachers and encouragers. And they’ve become part of our home here.


Dylan, Toby, Jess, Asher, Darby, and Eugene Nugent*

This is my first memory of Jess Nugent:

Our first week here laundry was an issue. As Hannah’s mound of soggy diapers grew I began to experience a degree of trepidation only a mother who has used the last diaper can appreciate. One night, Clark mentioned that, while taking out the trash, he’d ran into our neighbor Jess Nugent who offered to do our (at this point slightly fermented) laundry. This is what a servant looks like!

But, a little curious, I asked Clark, “Why is Jess wandering around at 10:30 at night?”

Clark: “Oh, she’s just walking around because she’s in labor.”

Me: “What?!? Do not let that laboring woman do our diaper laundry!”


Naomi Nugent hanging out in our backyard (several months after the laundry incident)*

These were our neighbors. Helpers. Servants. Friends. And things have felt empty and quiet since they’ve left. It’s hard.

But the Lord is teaching me. If I quit my job, if I leave Lexington, if I leave my family, if I leave my friends–and even if they leave me—my identity stands.

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Regardless of what you’re facing today, remember who you are in God. And since we are able, let us declare His praises!


The Lord has blessed us with many other great neighbors! Hannah is clearly comfortable with our friend Deborah Schule (her family came here from Germany) and with Joyce and her family.

[*Photos used with permission from Jess and Dylan Nugent]

7 thoughts on “Great Expectations

  1. Val, Thank you for sharing your heart–both the aches and joys–with such beautiful vulnerability. Your stories are an inspiration and a timely reminder of Who we belong to and why we are here. May the Lord surround you, Clark, and Hannah with a hedge of protection while opening doors for deep friendships and loving “family” in Kenya. Love, Mom

    On Tue, May 29, 2018 at 7:45 AM, For here we have no lasting city… wrote:

    > kenyasleeth posted: “We lost a small part of our home this week. When we > were preparing to move to Kenya, this verse was a frequent refrain: “Now > the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your > father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I wi” >


  2. I had a safe environment surrounded by research, spreadsheets, balances . . . which has morphed into washing dishes, cleaning, laundry, errands, mowing grass, encouraging others, seeing and trying to help the needs of others. You’ve reminded me that my identity in God stands, unchanged. I needed to be reminded of that. I thank you. With love, VPG


  3. Dear Val and Clark and Hannah,

    Your emails always challenge and encourage me. I pray for God’s continued blessings on you and through you.

    Love, Pamela



  4. ;,) God sure teach s us in unexpected ways. Love reading the goingson 🙏🏻 We really need good Dr.’s in our area. So you could really move on down here once you com back stateside 👍🏼


  5. ;,) God sure teach s us in unexpected ways. Love reading the goingson 🙏🏻 We really need good Dr.’s in our area. So you could really move on down here once you com back stateside 👍🏼


  6. I love receiving your input as you continue to make Kenya your home–at least while you are there. God is good–no need to change address or phone
    number, no need to wonder when will be a good time to call, when He will have time to listen. . . I have some knowledge of ” Where” or “What” is home? and in recent months, when I think so often of Mom and Dad, and
    wonder how they ever managed with ten of us, always needing something,
    always saddened by the loss of “something” or “someone” one moment and
    then excited by new places, new friends, and sometimes happy surprises in
    this place–wherever it was–that we called home–whether in the flat fields of
    eastern Colorado, the little village of Steamboat Springs, nestled in the Rocky mountains where we soon learned that from September through May we might be living with snow up to here, windows frosted completely with beautiful designs in ice. Each day we bundled up to play outside, then gave
    up when our mittens were covered with ice balls, and left hanging on a bush,
    our fingers were icy cold, our noses running, and our feet clumps of cold–and
    making snowmen, forts for snowball fights, little “jumps” for practicing our
    skills on skis no longer kept our interest outside. We’d bang on the back door,
    unable to open it ourselves, Mom would question us–where is the sled? Where are your mittens? Go down there and help each other find everything.
    Then back on the porch, pulling off our boots, and into the house, weeping in
    pain as we put our frozen fingers into COLD water to help thaw them out!
    No, she didn’t have all ten of us at once–but our dear Mom must have felt
    like weeping as she dealt with three-five of us at different times while also
    laundering cloth diapers and hanging them on lines strung throughout the
    house–anything hung outside (Dad’s longjohns) were frozen stiff before
    they had a chance to dry. Yes, Mom somehow managed to cope until the
    first sunshine of Spring began to melt the snow and she eagerly watched
    for crocuses and pansies to peek through the snow and show their happy
    faces, and she somehow found time to plant sweetpeas along the back
    I know my parents spent a lot of time in prayer and they tried to teach
    us to pray—and we did. But I know now that prayer–learning to share
    our needs with our heavenly Father and trusting him for the provision we
    need is a lifelong learning process. I seem to have a good memory–even
    though I am now finding it hard to remember names or why I am now in
    the kitchen, looking in the refrigerator or in the bedroom, rummaging in a
    drawer for something. . . .
    This is a hastily written response to your wonderful analysis of “home”–
    what makes it home, losing some and finding more. Yes, we are still His
    children and He cares for us.
    I loved having dinner one evening with Jerry and Laurin–and looking at
    some old pictures in an album of family memories. They drove to Rosarita
    Beach yesterday for an overnight. Laurin planned to fly back this morning
    and then continue “north”. Jerry will be back on Monday.
    My prayers are with you every day, also with your family in Kentucky and
    with mine, scattered far and near. Lots of needs, sometimes problems, and
    all in need of our prayers.

    Auntie Elaine


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s