March 2024: Heading to Guadalajara!

Watch the video on our facebook page.

2023 End of Year Update
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

We are so grateful for many things this year and just one is all of you that follow and encourage us. Now that Ankyrios International is a recognized 501(c)(3), we are part of Amazon Smile. I’m sure many of you will be shopping at amazon this week. Please shop through amazon smile and support Ankyrios International. Thank you!! Happy Thanksgiving!

What is a TCK anyways and why are they important?

I’ve spent the last few months learning as much as my brain could absorb on TCKs and how we can better care for them and their parents. The momma and teacher in me love this expanded category in ministry. Read more below…

(I apologize for the overlap typing above. It’s not there when I edit, so I can’t make it go away.)

A little side note on the transition story above…I’ve learned over the last few months that saying goodbye is appropriate more times than not. I think in the military “See you later” became the preferred phrase because, well, the unthinkable could happen to your military service member and we just couldn’t bear saying goodbye. We desperately wanted to believe that they would come home and we would see them later. But saying goodbye to those friends that moved or when we moved would have in most cases helped my kids. We did see many of them again through travel or returning to the same duty stations, but our daily lives changed. The friends that we spent time with several times a week were now just a once in awhile phone call or maybe video call. Our lives changed and that needed the goodbye. Painful as it is, transition is a long process with no shortcuts. Ending one season well, and that means doing the goodbyes, helps us to start fresh in the new place.

An Overview of 2021 in Pictures (and a few words)
Fall 2021

This update was posted to our facebook group back in September 2021. I dropped the ball and failed to post it here. So to those of you that only follow our website, I am so sorry for being silent on here.

We’ve been a bit quiet over the last few months as we process a lot of changes in the Kelly family. I’ve been trying to think of how to explain it all…

The Kellys are making a shift.

We’re pivoting our ministry.

We have land under our feet.

There’s a lot of green around us and not much blue.

The end of June we put the boat away where she’ll get to rest for a year. We emptied 7 years worth of stuff. Deep compartments have been hiding all sorts of treasures and “why do we still have this?” items. Hope officially graduated high school on June 30.

We spent the month of July in Colorado with my family. We had an opportunity to meet up with two “old friend” families at 2 national parks. That was so much fun! The not so fun part of the month – I had the vein ablation procedures that had been planned for last year (before they discovered my left iliac vein was only working at roughly 14% and had to fix it first). The vein ablations didn’t go as planned…I had an odd reaction to valium causing muscle spasms during the procedure, intense swelling and numbness (still some numbness 7 weeks later), an allergic reaction to lidocaine which was used to fill the length of the veins prior to the actual laser ablation, two rounds of prednisone, an infection requiring a visit to the ER, IV antibiotic and 2 different oral antibiotics, an allergic reaction to one of the oral antibiotics. I still have some pain but it now only hurts if I’ve been sitting for awhile and the dying vein needs to be stretched again. That’s happening less and less now. I have one place where the vein is close to the skin and it seems to have scarred together. My right calf is still numb in places because the vein is against the muscle. The vein irritates the muscle and vice versa. It’s a slow, slow healing process. I still have light bruising and tenderness the entire length of the veins, but it is improving.

The end of July we packed everything from my parents’ and headed to Pittsburg, Texas (“Why Pittsburg?” you ask, an amazing story for another time). We moved into the Harmony Mission House where we’ll be for about a year. Hope started classes at Northeast Texas Community College two weeks ago. She likes her professors and is making new friends.

Dennis is using this time on land to work on his doctoral project. He plans to finish it and graduate in the spring. It’s a huge undertaking.

I’m working on new certifications working with Third Culture Kids (TCK). I’ve already completed one on debriefing. Keep an eye out for my new “certified debriefer” logo. 😉

As for our ministry to missionaries and pastors – we will continue to work with our current missionaries through online sources. We have a trip planned to La Paz, Mexico, where we’ll have the opportunity to meet with many in person. We’ll be (especially Dennis) working with/mentoring the local pastors and their families here in northeast Texas.

We ask for your prayers as this is a hard transition. We just moved to a small town where everyone knows everyone. We all feel out of place.

Do you remember my post from a couple of years ago when I talked about colors? It described how we all change when we’ve been to new and different places. We may come from a “blue country” and then spend time in a “yellow country.” We become a blend of the two, “green.” We don’t quite fit in in either place. Well, we’re not even just green anymore. We’ve experienced all sorts of colors and have become muddled.

-Pray for our kids to be true to themselves and not try to adapt to what they think people want them to be (same for me 😬).

-Pray for us to find a balance with all the good things vs great things that are offered here with homeschooling, church, other activities, and not get too busy or stretched too thin.

-Please pray for Hope as she’s walking an entirely new path. College is already proving demanding (lots of homework) and she’s also started a part time job in the bakery of the grocery store across the street.

-Pray for Dennis’ diligence in his studies and research. He finished his academic courses in 2016, but our time on the boat didn’t allow for enough study time, connectivity for research, or even a desk to work at.

-And for me, land based living is a lot less physically demanding than sailboat life (which is a nice break), but I am missing our home. Oddly enough, our sailboat is the most stable home we’ve ever had – 7 years onboard vs, at the most, 3 years anywhere with the Navy. We have kids that are lining up to finish high school over the next few years and spread their wings into the great big world. It’s a lot for my momma heart to deal with. Pray for me to encourage to our kids, help them grow and thrive, and to continue working myself out of a job.

Thank you!! We appreciate your friendship and prayers.

Discipline and the Disciple of Jesus

As I begin to formalize my research and study in support of my DMin major project from Knox Theological Seminary, I will be sharing my research and findings here. To begin, I’d like to give a justification or argument for my research.

We live in a frenetic world, our attentions and energies constantly vied for by spouses, families, work, church, sports, television, social media, marketers, ad infinitum. Even typing the list raised my stress level. Amidst all the chaos, we are expected to find time (make time) to spend in Bible study and prayer, not to mention other disciplines like worship, fellowship, service, fasting and the like.

Unfortunately, we often treat these “spiritual” activities as less significant, even optional. We justify their neglect with misapplied biblical doctrines like justification by grace not works and the unconditional love of God. While these doctrines are valid and true, they are primarily about justification and less about ongoing sanctification. We are most certainly saved apart from our deeds. And it is (thankfully) true that God’s love is not diminished or amplified by the depth and length of our quiet times.

In reality, the quality and richness of our lives is directly related to our faithfulness in walking with the Lord. Jesus told us that we are to abide, remain, in Him and that apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) Much like the deceptive serpent in the garden planted a seed of doubt in Eve (“surely you won’t die”), experience demonstrates that there is much that we can do apart from Christ. Just as eating the fruit resulted in spiritual death and eventual physical death, our efforts apart from Christ yield nothing significant or substantial.

Even for those in “professional” ministry, established and mature believers, this vital connection is prone to neglect. It could be argued that pastors and missionaries are more susceptible to this tendency by virtue of their ministry. Since they are about the things of God, their day is full of prayer, Bible study, evangelism, etc., and these activities can supplant personal devotional acts. Sustainable service must overflow from a well that is continually refilled through communion with God. When one pours into others without being himself refilled, the well eventually runs dry and burnout occurs.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to emulate our master and obey his commands. A disciple, by definition, is one who practices discipline. To follow Christ, we must discipline ourselves to say no to certain things and yes to others. The Bible prescribes certain activities and practices intended to make us more like our master. The more we engage in these disciplines, the closer we grow to God, the easier we are able to discern his will and the more genuinely we are able to share His love with those around us.

In a world of competing priorities, how do we justify these spiritual activities that seemingly have no tangible, concrete results or rewards? The truth is that God, the creator of the universe, has designed the human being and thus knows the optimum operating conditions for humanity to thrive. In the weeks to come, I will share some of the physiological benefits of the Christian disciplines. Perhaps, once we understand that these “spiritual” practices have physical benefits as well, we can more readily justify prioritizing them in our daily lives.

Bicycling, baby shower, and baby whales

After almost a month in La Paz, we sailed close to 400 miles across the Sea of Cortez to La Cruz near Puerto Vallarta. It wasn’t nearly as crowded in the anchorage as usual for that time of the year, but several kid boats all arrived on the same day, seemingly on command. The kids loved having others to hang out with, although everything looks different than pre-Covid. 

We planned to be there for about a month, but one month stretched into two. The first week we had lunch with one missionary couple, visited with old friends and went to the local bilingual church on Sunday. It was great to see the Pastor and so many others again. This was the same church we partnered with in previous years when we offered worship services in the nearby marina. Before we left La Cruz we were able to take the pastor’s family plus one of the key couples in the church out sailing and enjoyed seeing many baby humpback whales practicing their jumps. 

After the first couple of weeks in La Cruz, we took the boat into a marina and then took a one hour flight to Guadalajara. We spent a week with the Gozas again and had a wonderful time. We spent hours around their kitchen table as we all shared from the last year. We spent time with several from their ministry as well. Check out more details and photos in their newsletter. The kids joined in with their youth group. We went biking around the city with one of the local families. We visited a YWAM center near Lake Chapala and heard their amazing story of how God provided beyond what they even prayed for.

Back in La Cruz, we stayed busy. We continued going to the local church and got to know a few more people. We even had 3 other boat families/couples join us at church while they were there. The kids were the oldest among the boat kids – they ran the kids’ morning VHF radio net and were great leaders (in my opinion) at all the kids’ activities. The participated in a few beach cleanups and worked together to make a model sailboat out of trash to compete in the Trash Boat Regatta. Their Lighthouse II took first place. The predecessor, Lighthouse, took third place a few years ago. The kids had such a great time hanging out with other kids at movie nights, morning runs, pizza parties, birthday parties, Easter egg dyeing and egg hunt, helping make a video about beach clean up with the local Rotary Kids Club, and multiple trips to the nearby ice cream shop. We are so thankful for Katrina and Mike!!! 

Hope and I had the privilege of helping host a baby shower for the young missionary couple in Puerto Vallarta. The week before the shower we were able to take them plus one of their friends sailing (more baby whales!). There was already a plan by several other missionaries to host a zoom shower for her but no one was local. We were happy to stay and had so much fun making cupcakes and decorating. We are so excited for them as they approach the time to welcome their first little one!

And, of course, one extension leads to another and another, so we stayed through Hope, Micah and Seth’s birthdays and then through Easter. 

We had a Sunrise Easter Worship service on the boat out in the anchorage. There were 15 people who dinghied and paddled out in the dark to join the 7 of us. We had never even met 5 of them. It was such a beautiful day to worship our Risen Savior. Dennis preached on how Jesus met each of those in their needs on the morning He rose and how He continues to meet each of us. 

Hiking up to Monkey Mountain with missionary friends
Bicycling in Guadalajara
Taking a break in the park
Largest lake in Mexico (we went inland but had to find water).
The YWAM center is near here.
Ice cream!
Trash Boat Regatta
Baby shower!
Hope made beautiful cupcakes
We had so much fun decorating!
January in Mexico

2021 started off with a bang – quite literally as we were still in Puerto Peñasco and the fireworks can get pretty loud there. We left January 2nd, heading south towards La Paz. We spent a couple of weeks in the wonderful little community of Punta Chivato about halfway down the Baja Peninsula while we waited on better weather. We were able to spend that time reconnecting with friends that we met two years ago and make some new ones. Our goal is to be a light for Jesus wherever we go and whatever we do. Isn’t that what we are all called to do?

We made it to La Paz in the middle of January, a week before the missionary conference. Having a schedule on a sailboat isn’t usually a good thing – it can cause one to take chances not normally taken, so we were thankful to get there a week early. Unfortunately, due to tighter local COVID-19 restrictions, the directors made the difficult decision to move the conference to zoom. But it wasn’t a total loss. It never is when God is in the details.

We ended up spending a month in La Paz. We were able to meet with several missionaries, representing seven different ministries within La Paz. We worked within the restrictions by meeting individually, as well as in small groups. We were even able to take two groups out for daysails. Small world moment – Remember when Dennis and Caleb had to take a four hour uber ride last June to catch up with me and the other 4 in Loreto? Well, one of those that came on a daysail was their uber driver! He and his wife are an important part of the ministry of one of the missionary couples. It was a great opportunity to get to know them a little better (and work on our Spanish).

We also had an opportunity to support a local friend of one of those missionaries by using our Christmas present. My parents sent us money to do something unique and amazing. They’ve done this every year since we started sailing. Last year we went zip-lining in a Costa Rican rain forest. This year we went swimming with whale sharks. Thanks so much Mom and Dad!

Ministry Update – November 2020

We have been members of First Baptist Church Coronado for 6 years. God called us to serve as missionaries to missionaries, specifically to provide pastoral care to missionaries in the field. As I became more senior as a Navy chaplain, my ministry transitioned to pastoral care for junior chaplains. This burden for fellow chaplains became a heart for missionaries in the field without access to similar support. In the initial phases of establishing this ministry, we could find no missions agency that was willing to take us on due to our unique model, namely, utilizing our sailboat to go to missionaries in Mexico and Central America. FBCC shared our passion for missionary care and, observing our walk and confirming our call, agreed to act as our sending agency. We felt that it was very first-century, sharing with the model of the Church at Antioch sending Paul and Barnabus into the mission field. In 2016, I retired from the Navy after 21 years and now our family of seven lives full-time aboard our 38’ catamaran in a little less than 400 square feet.

Our boat is named “ANKYRIOS,” a combination of the Greek words “ankura” (anchor) and “kyrios” (Lord). Hebrews 6:19 says “We have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. . .” Knowing that our only hope is in the person and work of Jesus Christ, we seek to help missionaries remain securely set, anchored, in Christ. Hebrews 2:1 reminds us that we are to “pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” The challenge for any committed Christian is to keep Christ foremost, not allowing “ministry” to diminish our relationship with the Lord.

Over the past five years, we have served over 200 missionaries in more than 20 countries directly through counseling, mentoring, discipleship, prayer, debriefing, conferences, building projects, ministry coverage, preaching, teaching and rest & recuperation (convincing missionaries to take a break and go sailing, paddleboarding, surfing, snorkeling, etc. for a day). We have facilitated church plants, youth ministry, prison ministry, orphanages, homeless ministry, retreat centers, summer camps, addiction recovery ministries, direct evangelism and Operation Christmas Child to name a few.

We are currently in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico where we hauled out for hurricane season and are in the midst of our annual maintenance / overhaul. We are planning to launch within the next month. We have a number of missionaries in Mexico with whom we have cultivated relationships over the last few years. We are scheduled to lead a conference in La Paz, Mexico for TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission) with approximately 100 missionaries expected to attend. We will be researching and visiting a potential future ministry site near Guadalajara.

Financially, we are at approximately 30% of our monthly budget of $5000. Our personal expenses such as mortgage, insurance, food, clothing, education, medical, etc. are paid for with our military retirement pay. The financial support we receive goes to providing the services listed above at no cost to the missionaries. It is astounding how much others charge for these services. Our heart is to be able to continue to do so. However, we are facing a 25% drop in support that will directly impact our ability to serve this year.