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!

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.

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.

Quarantined in Mexico

I’ve tried to sit down and write for several days now and the words just won’t come. When they do, it’s just a jumble – so many different directions that even I have trouble making sense of them all. So let’s just start with these two questions:

Where are you?

What are you doing?

When the US Department of State released the statement for all US citizens to return to the US or be prepared to shelter in place indefinitely, we had already discussed what we would do if the US issued such a statement since Canada already had. We know the safest place for us is on our boat. We’re mostly self-sufficient with our reverse osmosis water maker (even though it only makes 3.4 gallons per hour), our solar panels and wind generator. We can store quite a lot of food and we’re prepared to wait it out. But just how long might that be? “Indefinitely” could be a really, really long time.  

We’ve been heading north. It’s been slow going as the weather hasn’t been cooperating. We waited for 2 weeks in Costa Rica (sitting at anchor and only going ashore a few times – practicing quarantine before it was a thing). Then we waited in southern Mexico for another 2 weeks. We spent a few days in Zihuatenajo before we were able to sail another 200 miles north to where we are now, Barra de Navidad. We’re 100 miles short of La Cruz where we planned to reunite with several missionary friends, lots of boat friends, and Dennis planned to preach on Easter. And now, well, everything is closed, off limits, just like the rest of the world.

We’re still trying to go north. We think. At this point it’s mainly to be out of the hurricane zone before the season starts on May 15th. We’ve been here for a week waiting for our next window of agreeable weather to sail north. We came into the marina when we first arrived, planning for just a night or two. We were low on power and water. Our navigation and communication equipment pull so much power and when we’re sailing it has to be on 24/7. The direction we were sailing limited the amount of sun on our solar panels. We need power to run our water maker, so low power meant we didn’t make any water. The anchorage in Barra is located in a very muddy estuary so no making water there. When we arrived, the dock for transient boats had two other boats on it. A week later it has over 20 with only a few spaces left. We heard rumors that the ports were going to be closed so we kept our slip. Hurricane season starts in 6 weeks and the dock is much safer than at anchor. Of course being at the dock means we’re coming into contact with more people. We’ve all been practicing social distancing. We’re washing our hands constantly and taking showers daily. That’s so different than our normal routine of showering once or twice a week. That’s definitely a benefit of staying on the dock – unlimited water. Without a washing machine, we can only wash clothes a few at a time in a bucket. We’ve been alternating our clothes and hanging them on the lines in the sun and then washing after a few days. 

We’ve been weighing all our options – do we leave and go north? What if ports are closed while we’re enroute? Will we be able to get into a port? What will we find as we go north? Do we find an empty, secluded anchorage on some deserted island and wait this out? What if this lasts several months and we need more food? What if someone gets sick and we need medical care? We are stocked up on tylenol, cough medicine, inhalers, neubulizer meds, essential oils, and SO much other stuff. We have food to last probably 2-3 months if we are careful.

Two days ago the Mexican government issued an order to close all ports. Sailors are beginning to get nervous. “If we’re stuck here, we need a slip at the marina.” This marina is a designated hurricane hole, meaning the topography of the land provides protection from the brunt force of a hurricane. They took a direct hit in 2015 from a cat 5 hurricane and only suffered minimal damage. We were so glad we kept our slip and now our decision was made for us.

BUT then just a few hours later, a new order was issued that says private foreign flagged vessels are free to move from port to port within Mexico. Now we have a decision to make again. (Un)fortunately the next weather window is still looking like it’s a week away so we have time to go over the scenarios and make a decision. 

BUT then yesterday morning, the port captain here in Barra said all boats are to remain in port. We’re not sure if he just hasn’t seen the second order or if he has made his own decision. Irregardless, we do not plan to violate his order or do anything contrary to what the Mexican government declares. It’s changing moment by moment. The back and forth is mentally exhausting.

BUT if we stay here, we are smack in the middle of the hurricane zone. Our current insurance policy (which expires in August and the company is closing so we are working on find a new carrier) raises our deductible if we remain in the hurricane zone. It goes up from $2,000 to $40,000!! That’s not a typo. The boat is our home. If we lose it, we lose everything.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for the whole hurricane thing this could be an excellent place to be “stuck.” The marina is part of a huge and amazing resort. It’s almost completely shut down. The pools are open, and since they are chlorinated and we’re practically the only ones that go we’ve decided to let the kids keep going. We just discovered a business center with wifi. It’s empty too. The location is beautiful, warm during the day, but so much cooler than where we’ve been lately. I’ve actually taken warm showers for the first time in months! We’ve even turned off our fans at night and slept under covers. It only gets into the low 70s but we’ve acclimated to much higher temps so we’ve been cold. The virus is said to not like hot and humid climates so that’s good for us. The nearby small town has a few grocery stores and medical offices. It’s across the estuary so we remain even more isolated at the marina. There is a larger city about an hour away.

But those lingering questions keep popping up…are we safe from the virus here? Will we be safe from hurricanes here? Would we be safer if we do sail north and hide out away from as many people as possible? What is going to happen here in Mexico? There are so many unknowns. We’re praying God would make it clear. Please pray for us as we try to determine the best way to keep our family safe as we will continue praying for you. 

Ministry Statistics

If you were truthful with us, many of you wonder what exactly we’re doing out here floating on the ocean and dropping the anchor in anchorages along the Pacific side of Central America and Mexico. Are those Kellys doing anything besides taking a vacation? Come on, be honest, many of you have thought that. We’ve actually had a few people even ask us about our vacation. Well, to quote Dennis, “If we were on vacation, it would look a whole lot different.” We’ve mentioned the places we’ve been and some of the people we’ve met, but we’ve offered few details over the last couple of years. That’s mostly intentional but living off the grid makes it difficult to constantly stay in touch. AND, the very nature of our ministry is caring for those serving full time in ministry – many places, people and conversations are confidential. We do not share details with anyone, so that makes it hard to let our supporters know exactly what we’ve been up to. However, we think we’ve devised a way to share what we’ve been doing, to prove ourselves and our ministry so to speak. 

Many member care services are offered for a cost, and sometimes a very high cost. Missionaries are already funded by supporters and they just don’t have enough to pay $400 for a 3 hour debriefing or $1500 (or more!) per person for a 3 day retreat. We raise our own financial support so that we can offer our member care services for FREE!

Without further ado, here are our stats!

We divided our numbers up into 5 categories:

  • Missionaries and their families that we have personally spent time with. Most are face to face although some have been through phone/video calls during the months we are off the boat.
  • Pastors and their families
  • Lay leaders and their families
  • Cruisers, ie. boat people. We are part of a tight knit group of sailors. Having 5 kids on a small catamaran makes us stand out too. We have developed some incredible friendships over the last few years. Some are Christians, many are not. 
  • Others personally impacted such as those who attend churches where Dennis has preached and locals we have developed relationships with in places we stopped

We’ve also included how many kids there are in each of these categories. Our children are vital to our ministry and can reach other kids in ways we cannot. We were once told that our kids would get in the way of member care. The number of kids we’ve come into contact with proves that is not true. We also estimate approximately 1000+ people have been indirectly impacted through Facebook groups, in anchorages, etc. Those people who would say, “Ankyrios? Yeah, I’ve heard of them. They’re the missionary family with a lot of kids, right?”

Boat repairs and ministry in Costa Rica

A little update…

Boat – we’ve been out of the water for two weeks. Two very busy weeks! Dennis is currently in Florida picking up the needed parts and will be back here in Costa Rica at 2am. It was actually cheaper and faster for him to fly to Florida than have the parts shipped to Costa Rica and deal with the lengthy time in customs. 

The engine problem actually turned out to be pretty simple and exactly what we were expecting. The coupler that connects the upper and lower shafts of our sail drive (think transmission) had slipped down onto the lower shaft and was no longer engaging with the upper shaft. Therefore, the propeller would not turn. There is a tiny piece called a circlip that sits in the middle of the coupler to hold it halfway onto each shaft. That piece is about $2 and it was the culprit. So the failure of a $2 piece caused this whole mess. We’re replacing the coupler as well since it was worn down on the upper edge from being out of place. We are also replacing the circlip on the other engine as preventative maintenance. 

Unfortunately, we found more problems when we hauled out. We typically have to paint the bottom once every year or two (depending on how warm the water is) to prevent growth and creatures from attaching themselves to our boat. That was on our planned maintenance schedule for next hurricane season since we did not do it this past hurricane season. However, the last time the bottom was painted a different type of paint was used that was not compatible with the previous paint. So the paint is just coming off in chunks. We had different colors painted so we could tell when the layers were slowly wearing off (what it is designed to do). We knew it was flaking off but didn’t know why it was happening. I didn’t realize how much had come off until the boat was out of the water (Dennis is the one that cleans the hulls and I do NOT swim under the boat). Could it have waited until hurricane season? Well, possibly, but at risk of more paint flaking off and then the hull could have further damage from those pesky little critters. So our boat had layer upon layer of bottom paint scraped off and a new barrier coat and paint applied. She looks good and it will hopefully prevent any other damage. 

The other maintenance item on our list for later this year was the replacement of the bearings on our rudders. We had the rudders checked and they both have quite a lot of play suggesting the bearings are indeed wearing out. Could it wait a little longer? Again, yes, but at risk of damage to the rudder shafts which would be way more expensive to replace. 

Our boat is approaching 20 years old and just like a house, several things need to be taken care of. Next big item on the list is replacing the standing rigging – this is all the wires/cables that hold the mast up and provide a solid structure for the boat. Compare it to replacing the roof on a house. We just remind ourselves that even with maintenance, we’re spending a lot less money than we would if we were living in a 20 year old house with maintenance, electric/water bills, cars, etc.

Ministry – while we’ve been very busy working on inside projects on the boat (I put away Christmas and deep cleaned among others, Dennis has worked on a very long list that he’ll have to share later), we’ve also been working with some missionaries in the Quepos area. We are staying at a new ministry center (so new that a lot is still under construction) with a missionary couple that’s been there for 14 years dreaming of the day this will be complete. We’ve joined them in some of their weekly activities, such as ESL class at a men’s recovery center. We also met another missionary family (with 5 kids!) that pastors the local bilingual church. We’ve been attending men’s/women’s Bible study, Wednesday night church dinner and Bible study, and of course, Sunday worship service. We’ve met some great people and have enjoyed getting to know them. 

Thanks to the generosity of the family in Quepos, we have a car this week! We dropped Dennis off at the airport in San Jose (3 hours from Quepos) on Tuesday. The kids and I headed up to a Life Impact Oasis house where the host family here provides member care to pastors and missionaries. I’ve enjoyed chatting with them, sharing our ministry and comparing notes on member care. The kids are having a blast with their kids too. We’re up in the mountains and having a good laugh at ourselves over how cold we are. It was in the upper 60s last night – we’ve obviously acclimated to Central American coastal temps. Dennis will get here in about 12 hours and tomorrow we’ll head back to the boat. We’re hoping to be back in the water early next week and maybe get to take some families out for a sail!

Thanks for your continued prayers for us and our ministry!

Bilingual Sunday worship service at the beach with about 25-30 others.
While chickens attend church in Nicaragua, monkeys attend church in Costa Rica.
On our way to ESL class.
Happy New Year 2020!

We want to take a moment to say thank you to those of you that support our ministry both financially and through your prayers. We have a unique opportunity to provide encouragement, counseling, preaching and teaching, training, and an extra set of hands to missionaries, pastors, chaplains, as well as expats and other boaters. We are also able to share the Gospel and our lives with unbelievers around us.

Supporting our ministry means you are also supporting:
-Church plants
-Youth ministries
-Prison ministry
-Home churches/Bible studies/discipleship for new believers
-Orphanages/abandoned children
-Transition homes for those aging out of orphanages
-ESL classes and job training to provide opportunities to youth and young adults
-Homeless ministry
-Operation Christmas Child
-Retreat centers
-Summer camps
-Building projects (schools, churches, homes)
-Addiction recovery ministries

In multiple places, such as:
-Mexico – Baja Sur, Sonora, Jalisco, Nayarit, Chiapas
-El Salvador
-Nicaragua – San Juan del Sur
-Costa Rica – Guanacaste, San José
-United Kingdom
-United States
-And many other locations as we meet and build relationships with missionaries serving around the globe.

All of our financial support goes to make it possible for us to reach these missionaries – to ensure the safety, security and reliability of our boat, taxis to ministries, and the occasional marina stay if the missionaries are inland. We do not take a salary for ourselves, nor do we use any of the funds for our personal needs (food, clothing, medical, homeschooling). We have exhausted our savings over the last few years, but we continue as we know this is what God has called us to do. We currently receive about $1200/month. We estimate our yearly ministry needs to be $35,000, less than $3000/month. Without the infrastructure of more traditional ministries, we have a broader reach and more impact with substantially less investment.

Our current plans for 2020 include ministries in Quepos and San Jose, Costa Rica; San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, La Paz, Loreto, and Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.

Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us this coming year?
Financial support (one time or monthly) can be given online through https://app.clovergive.com/app/Giving/clodo-fbcoronado.