This week was hard.

A three-month-old with pneumonia for whom Clark and the peds team fought, for whom we prayed, who seemed to be getting better, died.

Today, my friend and her two-year old son were evicted from their house. I had no idea they had failed to pay rent for the past five months.

This is when I get homesick. When the evil of this world is unignorable. When my friends and family are suffering. When I’m grieving.

I want a hug from my mother-in-law. I want to cry and laugh with my sisters. I want to pray with our church in Lexington using the language I think in.

Today as I write this, my dad, sister, and brother-in-law will arrive in Lexington, Kentucky to spend Thanksgiving week with my other two sisters and their families. Clark’s family will gather with our sister Emma’s in-laws for what is usually a near-perfectly executed Thanksgiving feast.

Our Thanksgiving feast with the interns

It’s weeks like this that I’m homesick irrespective of my daily circumstance here in Kenya.

Even when Hannah comes into our room at 4 AM saying, “I just woke up to say, “I love you.””


Even when 15-year-old Enoch–who came into the hospital weighing 15 kg (33 lbs), who Clark was sure wouldn’t make it–goes home 8 kg heavier, with a treatable diagnosis, and praising God.


Our current pediatric team at Tenwek

Even then, I’m homesick.

Imagining our family together.

Knowing this Thursday we will wake up surrounded by the blossoming jacaranda trees and vivid hibiscus flowers of the eternal Kenyan spring, with no climatic or cultural acknowledgement of our favorite holiday.



The closest to fall we get…

But this is one of the gifts we receive in Christ. In following Him we receive not only a joy that is independent of our circumstances, but also a pervasive homesickness.

This is not the world we were created for. Something deep inside us yearns for the new heaven and the new earth. For His Kingdom.


Clark walking down to the river with our friend and neighbor Geoffrey who was baptized with over 300 others last month

So, this Thanksgiving week I ask myself, “Am I really homesick for the US?” I think I am.

But when we arrive in the US in a couple of months, will I really feel settled? I hope not.

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”

Hebrews 13:14


*written by Val Sleeth

**We plan to be in the US from the end of January through August. We will be based in Lexington, KY and will be on the west coast in June. We want to testify to God’s work here at Tenwek Hospital. Feel free to contact us ( We’d love to chat over some Kenyan chai!


***Thank you to all of you who pray for, support, and enable us to be here. Our return to Kenya is contingent on adequate financial support. If you would like to join us, visit

6 thoughts on “Homesick

  1. And how I LONG to hug you, and behold Luke for the first time, and read a book to Hannah with her sitting on my lap, fresh from a bathtub, and the smell of baby shampoo wafting up from her hair, and babysit the kids overnight so you and Clark can have an evening to yourselves, and kiss my first-born son tenderly on the forehead (even if he doesn’t want to be kissed!) while he is holding his first-born son, and see Luke laugh for the first time because of Nana doing something silly, and have a long walk-talk alone with my dear daughter Val, listening to all that God has been doing to and through her these last few years.

    Oh, how we miss you, and yet oh, how joyful we are that you and your family are serving the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. Let all that I am praise the Lord. Thank you for this beautiful reflection, written by our beautiful daughter, Valerie. God willing, just sixty-two days until we hug you! Be prepared for tears of joy and gratitude from Nana and Babu!

    Amen and Amen!

    Love, Mom

    On Tue, Nov 26, 2019 at 7:06 AM For here we have no lasting city… wrote:

    > kenyasleeth posted: “This week was hard. A three-month-old with pneumonia > for whom Clark and the peds team fought, for whom we prayed, who seemed to > be getting better, died. Today, my friend and her two-year old son were > evicted from their house. I had no idea they had fail” >


  2. Love you, Val! I appreciate your honesty about being a bit homesick. That is perfectly normal! Thank you for all the sacrifices you and your family make to share God’s love at Tenwek. I’ll be praying the Lord will clearly show you the path ahead. He will direct the future as He has the past. Hugs all round to those sweet babies!


  3. Thank you for sharing honestly, from your heart, giving us verbal and pictorial images of your days in your place in the world. I love that you remind us our homesickness is part of the gift God gives as we go all in to follow Him, denying ourselves… This is beautifully written and calls us to prayer. I pray for you and your family, and look forward to seeing you when you visit in Indiana!


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