Sunday, June 16, 2013

Eagles, Whales, and Sea Shore Shells

Wow!! What a first week it has been.  The weather has been absolutely marvelous.  I feel like it's God's little gift to me since I was so apprehensive about coming to a place much colder than what I am used to. The sun is so warm and comforting. We actually got in our swimsuits today. :-)

Today is Father's Day and we spent it at the beach.  All three of us saw our first whale together. What a sight!  It was pretty far off in the distance but you could see it blow water and then it's huge tail would surface and come back down. Now, we just have to make sure Michaelina sees a puffin.  That is the one animal that has been at the top of her list to see since before we actually moved here.

Monday I start work as the lead teacher in the 3-4yr old Sonshine Christian Daycare.  I will have anywhere from 12-16 students plus 2 helpers.  Josh is a helper in the 4-5 year old classroom.  We work the same hours which is nice.  Michaelina has been enjoying camp.  The mission does a summer camp for ages 6-10.  Every week there is a different theme.  I believe last week was pirate themed.  Michaelina hasn't missed a beat.  She is right there in the middle of everything going on.  Especially since we are the house parents for the college kids that are working the camps. They all love her and she loves them.

Please continue to pray for us.  It's hard to be away from our families and friends.  I would have loved to see my Dad today, but I did get to talk to him and wish him a Happy Father's Day.
We love and miss you all!!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

The move to Kodiak, Alaska

Josh and his sister left two weeks before Michaelina and I. 

I didn't think that was going to be too bad,  but boy was I wrong.  I really struggled with the separation.  Josh was meeting all of these people and having these fun experiences and I felt so disconnected with everything that was going on. It was a busy two weeks for Michaelina and me but that didn't change the fact that my heart was sad from being apart from my mate.

Not only that but then it was my turn to say good-bye to our church family, friends, and family.  That broke my heart even more.  Even though I know that we are called by God to be here, I love everyone in Arkadlephia and my family so much.  It's hard to let go.  And maybe "let go" are not the right words to use, because I don't think I will ever "let go".  Arkadelphia is a big part of me and I am so thankful for the friends and connections I have made there.  The town has helped to mold me.
But I know I'll be back for a visit and we all know that it will ALWAYS be home for The Bell's! :-)

Josh and Sarah Jane left on May 22nd and Michaelin and I on June 5th.

My parents picked Michaelina and I up on Monday, June 3rd.  We went to visit my aunt in Dallas for a couple of days before flying out of DFW on June 5th.  We arrived in Anchorage that night at 7:05, but our bodies were telling us it was 10:05pm.  Michaelina was such a trooper. 
My cousin Jamie Sue lives in Anchorage so she picked us up and took us to this amazing pizza place called The Moose's Tooth.  SO YUMMY! There was an hour wait.  By the time we ate it was 9pm (felt like midnight to us).  Michaelina fell asleep at the table, poor girl.
Then we went back to Jamie Sue's place and got a great night's rest. 
We left for the Anchorage airport at 4:45 am and we boarded our plane at 6:20am.  Landed in Kodiak at 7:05 am.  Josh picked us up and got our luggage.

Of coures 2 bags were missing, but we got them the very next day!! Praise the Lord!!!

Also another big praise is that Kodiak is awful for having fog delays.  I asked everyone I could to pray for no fog Thursday morning and let me just say---God heard those prayers!!
Michaelina and I both were so ready to see Josh we couldn't hardly stand it.

So we arrived to our house and started unpacking.  We also recieved our first shipment of 17 boxes that day as well.  So I had my work cut out for me.  I got everything unpacked and situated and even had time to do some hiking. It really is so beautiful here.

We also have an eagle nesting in a tree outside our house.  Eagles are huge! When they are in flight they are so majestic.

For those of you who don't know- we are the house parents for all the college kids who are here to work the summer camps.  So far it's going great. Michaelina, of course, loves it.  She is always in the middle of every game or converstion taking place.  She has also made some new friends and even climbed the rock wall.

I'm going to try to figure out how to post pictures on the blog so that you can see.  I will tell you though, that the pictures of the scenery do not do it justice.  It is so beautiful here.  I hope you all have the chance to visit!

Standing In Awe!

There is a song called "Let My Words Be Few".  That is how I feel.  The whole song describes my feelings perfectly!  After we made the announcment of our calling, our house sold the very next week.  We never put it on the market or advertized it or anything.  Not only that, but it sold to a precious family from our church.  The chilling thing is they have been trying to sell their house for 3 years or so.  They sold it the week or two before they came to look at our house.  They came to look at it, left, drove around the circle, came back and offered our asking price!  God is amazing.  After they left I sat at the piano and just sang "Let My Words Be Few" over and over, praising God for all that is doing.

Our church recently hired a new youth pastor.  His wife is a music teacher, just like me.  Guess who was hired to fill the postition I'm leaving??? Yep, you got it.  Our new youth pastor's wife!  When you are following God's voice He will continue to open doors and not just for you but for others too.

Words really cannot express the graditude and apprecation we have for the support that has been given to us. Please continue to lift us up in prayer as this transition takes place.

.....So I'll let my words be few.
Jesus, I am so in love with you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bitter Sweet

Josh and I decided that we need to start letting people know what God is doing in our lives.  So we started with our families first.

I met with my parents and shared with them what all has been happening.  They have known that God has always stirred my heart to do mission work, so I don't think this came as a surprise,'s still hard....especially when there is a grandchild involved, the baby at that.  I am very close to my family and love them all very much.  I have a sister, 2 nieces, and 2 nephews.  I basically helped raise Spencer, Sarah, and Samantha.  Cody is the youngest and when he came along I was in  college, so I wasn't around as much when he was growing up, but he is still just as precious to me.  We always share long summer visits and Michaelina adores them.  My mother raised me to know and listen to God's voice. And Dad always encouraged me to be the best I can be. I am very thankful for the upbringing that I had.  I am definitely a Daddy's girl and he holds a very special place in my heart.  Even my mother will tell you that. :-)

Same thing with Josh's family.  The Bell's are a tight-knit family.  Mike,Tamara, Josh, and Sarah Jane-all very close.  Lucky for me, they welcomed me right into that circle and I love them for it.  They knew that God had a special calling on Josh's life.  His mother told me last year that Josh would never be content or satisfied until he was fulfilling God's calling.  She also said since the time he was 3 that God made it very clear that he was destined for special things.  Michaelina is their only grandchild right now and I think their difficulty comes from saying good bye to her, not necessarily us. No, not really, but Tamara (Josh's mom) said that she knew the day would come that Josh would leave, she just never thought there would be a precious 5 year old going with him.  Josh is almost 30 years old and has never left his hometown.  He has been on vacation and things like that, but he has never lived anywhere other than here. Where I am a Daddy's girl, he is definitely a Mama's boy (but not in a sissy way, he is just close to her just like he was with his Nana).

This will definitely be an adjustment for us all. Not only with imediate family, but extended family as well. We have some very special Aunts, Uncles, and cousins that we will also miss.

Both of our families are supportive and are even excited about what God is doing, but
all of our family and friends have lots of questions and are naturally concerned about us moving so far away.  We appreciate and are thankful for their caring hearts. I hope that we are able to answer their questions to the best of our ability and that God will do the rest to prepare them for our departure.

I wanted to tell everyone in the right sequence so that my work place and dance team would hear the news from me.  I talked with my principal first.  She was so encouraging and I appreciated the converstaion I had with her so much.  Ms. Hunley is actually the one who told me to start this blog.  I am a terrible writer, as I'm sure you have realized by now, and I wasn't sure where to start.  She told me that people would enjoy reading about how this transpired and to keep up with us.  So, thank you, Ms. Hunley for your encouragement.  I hope that our family and friends enjoy our story.

After talking with her, I talked with my superintendent.  He was sad to see me leave, but supportive, which I appreciated.  This has been such a fantastic year for me.  I was named Perritt Primary teacher of the year and then Arkadelphia School District Teacher of the Year.  What an honor!  I love my job, the people I work with, and most importantly my students.  Not only at Perrit but at the high school too. 

My Dance team is extremely special to me as well.  I call them mine because I have been with these girls for 5 years.  I started with them when they were in junior high and moved up with them when they entered high school.  We were competitive for the first time this year and they were fantastic! I am so proud of their work ethic.  They have risen above so many things and quite frankly, they are an inspiration to me.  Saying good bye to them was so difficult.  I feel like I have so much invested with them and it's hard to relinquish that control.  I want the next person to care about them and commit to them.  Stick with them through the stressful times, and cheer them on.  I know the girls will be fine without me.  They are a classy group of young ladies. They are smart, caring, mature, driven, and focused.  They all have a good head on their shoulders and know- when in doubt, look up.  They truly are an amazing group of young ladies and the next sponsor/coach they get will be very blessed to have them.  But I hope they all know how special they are to me and that I will be keeping up with them.  I will never forget them and the memories that we have shared.  I also hope they never forget to stick together-be 'nutty'/have fun, always be 'handi' to one another, don't be a 'dum dum' and always remember to 'cheez it'.  I love those girls and will always root for them! GO DAZZLERS!

Next I told the people I work with at school, my voice students (I'm gonna miss our talks Julie), the high school girls sunday school class I help teach (keep praying ladies and always look up! I appreciate y'all more than you know-this includes you Bailey and Abby) and friends.
Everytime I say it out loud "We are moving to Kodiak, Alaska to become missionaries" it makes it a little more real.  And that makes me realize how much I am going to miss being here. 

I know God has great things in store and I am so excited to be given this oppertunity, but long story short------
It's bitter sweet.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kodiak, Alaska

So.....Kodiak, Alaska.  How did this come about?

Well, after praying, and seeking God, I felt that we were being called to somewhere cold.  In my mind I was thinking, "Oh please, Lord, don't send us to Russia or Sibera!" Also, I'm really not all that fond of cold weather.  I was very hesitant about telling Josh what I felt was on my heart.  Nevertheless, I told him that I felt that we were going somewhere cold.  He looked at me with a look that I knew confirmed something in him.  He said, "Kelly, we are meant to be in Alaska."  I took a breath and said o.k. now what?

We continued to pray for God's guidance and wisdom.  We met with our pastor, Stan, and he had some suggestions for us and prayed with us.  Josh felt that he should be proactive, so he started doing internet searches for ministry oppertunities in Alaska.  He made contact with several people and heard back from a few.  Different people would give him different advice and tell him different things, but nothing was ever really definite.  He also contacted the Alaska Baptist Convention and they gave him some suggestions and ideas as well. 

One night, Josh could not sleep.  His spirit was so stirred.  God kept telling him to search again.  Josh was fighting getting up because he knew he had done the exact same search about 20 times and the same things kept popping up.  God kept prompting him to get out of bed and look again.  Finally, Josh listened and got up.  He did the exact same search, with the exact same words.  This time something different came on the screen and has every time since then - Kodiak Baptist Mission.  Josh read all about their mission and vision.  He contacted the guy over it and the very next day, Trevor (the guy over the KBM) emailed Josh and a few days later skyped with him.  God started opening doors! It wasn't long after that we started hearing from Kelli, who heads up staffing for the summer camps and other things.  We filled out our applications and met together with Kelli via skype.  She contacted our references and the ball started rolling.

The Kodiak Baptist Mission has a website, a facebook page and some videos on youtube if you would like to check it out.  They offer camps during the summer and during the school year they have a pre-school and after school program.  They also have a food bank that helps serve the people in the community.
During the summer the staff that works the camp is strictly volunteer.  Josh and I knew that and were fully prepared to volunteer our time for the summer, but as time passed we both felt that we were not going to be there for just the summer.  Kelli told us that there are paid positions in the fall, if we decided to stay, they would love to hire us.

I started thinking about how I could sign my teaching contract for next year, just in case things didn't work out, I would have a job to come back to. If things did work out and we decided to stay, I could always call the school in July and ask to be released from my contract.  But that was me making plans and not seeking out God's direction.  When I did start praying and asking God what I should do, he clearly let me know that I was to resign my job and start telling people that we would be moving.  Josh also felt that we should sell our house and not have anything to fall back on.  We both felt that God was telling us to take a giant leap of faith and completely surrender our lives to Him.

So here we are, with our broken, chipped, cracked, and scarred vessels ready to be used and filled up by God.  And the journey begins.....

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Trust and Obey

When Josh was a teenager he was called to the ministry.  He always felt that God would use him in his hometown, but things just didn't work out the way Josh thought they would.
My calling to become a missionary came when I was in college.  Of course life happend for both of us and we traveled down paths that we probably shouldn't have, but I am thankful for the roads traveled. They made us better people in the end.  Every experience was learned from.  Some were good, some were bad, but nonetheless, each one helped mold us and develop us into the people we are today.

Five years ago a new preacher came to our church.  This preacher had been a missionary and was very mission minded, which is great.  When he first came, I thought, ok God, here we go....
And the battle began.  God would speak to me and I would say, my mission field is my workplace. I am a music teacher.  I teach pre kindergarten- 1st grade, I coach the high school dance team and I teach 2 very special young ladies private voice lessons.
My students need me. I kept justifying. 

Josh was in the same boat as me. He kept making excuses. Where I love my job and all that I do, Josh's struggle was with being satisfied with what he was doing.  He has never been happy or content with the jobs that he has had.  He has been very successful with the things that he has done, but knew there was more to life.

In December of 2012 we were at church and a missionary was speaking.  He shared his testimony with the church.  It was such a powerful message.  Maybe not to everyone else, but Josh and I both felt that he was speaking directly to us.  When we got in the car after the service, it was quiet.  I finally spoke up and asked, "How long are we going to run?" Josh's response was, "I don't know".
So this led us to much discussion and prayer.  We both met with our preacher and shared our thoughts, feelings and heart with him.  He guided us in the right direction and God did the rest. It only took about a month for doors to start opening, but being patient is hard.  I know that a month doesn't seem like a very long time, but when you are making life chaging decisions, 4 weeks seemed very long. I think the best advice he gave us during that time was "You're never wasting time when you're waiting on the Lord".

I have been on such an emotional roller coaster since all of this has come about. I am nervous, somewhat fearful, yet there is a peace that pours over me when fear strikes.  I feel so honored, and humbled that God would call us, as sinful and unworthy as we are, He wants US.  I can't even describe that feeling.  What a blessing that we serve such a merciful and forgiving God.  I've been reminded several times that God doesn't call the perfect, just the willing.  That's us- we are willing.  Feeling crazy and thinking What in the world are we doing but trusting Him all the way.
Trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Life is a gift

Josh and I were married on November 1, 2003.  We had a daughter in July of 2007.  Her name is Michaelina and she is such a blessing.  I am forever greatful to the Lord for giving me the gift of her.  I had no idea that having a child would be a difficult task.  Since then I have had three miscarriages in 18 months.  My first one occurred in September of 2010.  I wasn't very far along with that one, about 7 weeks to be exact.  I was completly devestasted.  It took me awhile to move past that hurt, but with the encouragement of my husband and the Lord's strenth, I made it through.  I had another miscarriage the following July (2011).  From the get go, I knew something was not right with this prenancy, plus I was a little leary from my previous pregnancy.  We lost the baby around 5 weeks.  Although, both of the losses were difficult, we never saw or heard a heartbeat, so that did make it somewhat better. 

The last one, however, was different.  It happened the next March (2012).  I was 10 weeks along and we had seen the heartbeat and just new we were in the clear.  God had different plans though.  A D&C was performed with all three micarriages, which was such a surreal thing. Our hospital is so small, there is only one surgical room.  The same place I gave birth to our daughter via a C-section was the very same place that three babies were taken from me.  Very tough to know you've been pregnant 4 times and have one child to show for it. Although, I am very blessed for my one! And extremely thankful!

After the 3rd miscarriage we decided that we should have some testing done to see if it is genetic.  I wasn't ready to try again, but wanted to know if there was something wrong.  I also decided to get back on birth control during this time. So off to the fertility clinic we went.

I started the birth control the last week of March and by May 31st I was in the hospital with pulmonary embolisms.  I stayed in the hospital for 9 days.  I had the blood clots due to the birth control pills.  And come to find out the testing we had done at the fertility clinic showed that nothing is genetically wrong.  So, we still are not sure why the miscarriages occured except for the fact that God is in control and His will was done.

Our lives do not belong to us.  This precious daughter of mine does not belong to me.  She belongs to the Lord.  She is just a gift to me.  Christ spared my life in the summer of 2012.  The blood clots could have easily moved to my heart or brain, but they didn't.  God has a purpose and plan for our lives.  We just have to listen to that still small voice, knowing that He is in control and that we are never alone.