Dear friends, my heart is breaking as I write this morning. Yesterday morning, while sitting in the waiting room of the hearing clinic with Sam, I received devastating news from friends in Kenya. A few weeks after we arrived at Tenwek (the hospital where Pete worked for six weeks) the Kelleys arrived from Pennsylvania and moved to the apartment right above ours and began to settle in for their two-year stay. That same afternoon, there were three little boys running around in superhero costumes in the grass out front. A short time later, out came Hannah with her mom and dad, Steph and Aaron. Hannah turned one at the end of January and was one of the most adorable little girls I had ever seen. She had a little sprig of a ponytail on the top of her head and such a sweet smile. I spent numerous mornings sitting in the grass with Steph talking about having a little girl, how much fun it is to dress them, and the struggle of keeping cute ribbons and bows in their hair. When we left, Ella gave little Hannah a couple dresses and a pair of shoes, all of which she had outgrown during our time there.
It pains me to share the news that sweet Hannah is now with Jesus. I was shocked by the sudden news yesterday and immediately paged Pete at the hospital so I could cry with the person I knew would understand. We hadn’t known the Kelleys very long, but when you’re on the mission field together, relationships grow quickly. Just a few weeks ago, we were sitting with them in their kitchen, eating ice cream sundaes on our last night at Tenwek.
Aaron explained on his blog a few days ago that Hannah had been throwing up often enough to be concerned. They began treating for worms or giardia, but her sickness progressed. She was admitted to the hospital where Aaron is an ER physician, and many tests were conducted. She eventually had a CT scan, which revealed an aggressive tumor in her brain. My friend Jen wrote on her blog, “Arrangements were made for her to go to Kijabe Hospital, another mission hospital three hours away where there was a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon – yes, in rural Africa! He was able to perform surgery that afternoon and remove most of the tumor.” It was not enough for Hannah’s little body. This is what her dad wrote on his Facebook page:
“My dear friends…God has answered our prayers and Hannah has been fully healed. She no longer has any pain or suffering. I was by her side since 2 am playing music on my phone for her (she loved dancing with daddy). As she passed the lyrics were to Jeremy Camp’s King Jesus “King Jesus, you are victorious, you paid the final debt for all of us. King Jesus, you are victorious.” He is victorious! He lives! And because of this each and every one of us have the opportunity to spend eternity with Him through a simple act of faith and acceptance of Jesus Christ. Please be praying for us today as we have to tell the boys.”
They are leaning heavily on Jesus and his strength right now. I cannot imagine the pain they are experiencing, which is why I am asking you to please, please pray for them. They are in a new country, so far away from family and all things familiar.
Jen also wrote on her blog that Stephanie posted the following on Facebook, which is our hope in a world that is not yet free of pain and suffering:
“God is good. No matter what. God is good.”
About this photo: I was telling Pete last night that one of the very clear memories I have of Hannah is when she was sitting in the grass in front of our apartment shortly after they arrived. Her daddy was lying in the grass in front of her taking pictures. It was an adorable sight. I just found the photo here on Aaron’s blog. And in her little hand was Ella’s wooden ambulance.
If you would like to read about ways you can help the Kelley family, please visit their blog here. There is even an opportunities to give to Hannah Kelley’s Homegoing Fund.
Such precious gifts we are given when God entrusts his children to us.