Monday, September 29, 2014
Monday, September 22, 2014
We are the Clark family. We started in full-time ministry over a decade ago. Since then we have served in Mongolia, Mauritania, several cities across the States and now in Uganda, Africa. As our family has grown so has our range of ministry. We are currently focusing on community development. Jeri, a licensed midwife in Texas, is preparing to join the midwife community here in Uganda. Sean is currently training in sustainable agriculture and is already in the Niggembe community demonstrating more effective ways of growing crops; both boys, Xander and Jax, go with him. The two older girls, Zoe and Dora, are learning the language and developing friendships with a family from a neighboring village. Dora is also going in to the local town, Jinja, with Jeri once a week to serve at a crisis pregnancy center. All the girls, including Liesel, have joined a fellowship here at YWAM Hopeland that ministers to women who are HIV positive.
When we started off 2014 we were broke and without many options. We had started and stalled on serving in Africa for over eight years. We prayed daily for a direction to proceed. After the first of the year we felt God release us to go. Not go on a short-term trip but to just go. So we kept praying. Sometimes affirmation would come in the prayers the children would pray, sometimes random people would give us large sums of money, and our hope began to build. When Sean's parents were forced to sell the house we were living in the timing was perfect. Then things began to snowball and ideas began to come forth. We got featured on our local news broadcast, we had a variety show fundraiser where fantastic performers donated their talent, our church hosted a yard sale where most of our household got sold, we got invited to share at another church, people bought t-shirts, and the list goes on. After every event we would sit in shock and awe of the blessings God poured out. After every dollar someone gave us we would repeat, "We're really doing this." Two months into being on this continent we are still pinching ourselves, "We're really doing this."
We list our ministry projects, one, so people who made real sacrifices financially to get us here know their gift is doing Kingdom work; and two, because we are living examples that God can use anybody. Sure we'll brag on our children and say they have been pretty exceptional (giving up friends, beloved pets, ministry, most of their possessions, and hot showers) and we couldn't do this without them. But other than that we're still just Sean and Jeri. We only do what we ought to do. Please take our journey as an encouragement to do what you ought to do, no matter how hard or impossible it may seem. God is doing so much good in this world, you are a part of it and if willing you can do more.
Our vision and mission statement has been for some time, being family for those who need family. In Texas that took the form of hospitality for those who needed a place to live. That may not be an option here in Uganda till we get a bigger place, so the children want to start a guest house ministry. Right now we just want to focus on the things in front of us, but who are we to tell them that's not in God's plan. A year ago none of this was possible. Believe in God. We did and now we're in Africa!
None of this happens without the prayers and generosity of those who sent us. We are your representatives in Uganda. We have been obedient to our call to go and you have been obedient to your call to send. This partnership means our successes are counted towards you. We are truly humbled by your faithfulness and love for our family. We pray God blesses you above and beyond how much you bless us. We step out in faith, sustained by the prayers of our supporters. Thank you.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
These days, "just Google it," is more common than, "go ask your father." This has its pros and cons. My general knowledge of the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything isn't challenged daily but I also don't get to sow into my children's lives my vast wisdom and lifetime experience. I'll let you decide which is the pro which is the con and for who, me or the children. I'm sure somebody somewhere has made a study of how our brains are losing cognitive recall or memory storage capacity because we don't keep information at the forefront of our minds (if you don't believe me just Google it). How many phone numbers can you rattle off? Can you even remember your own? If sales tax wasn't so close to 10% could you calculate a tip without a calculator? Baking from scratch without a recipe? When is the last time anybody did that? Too much information around us necessitates us relying on technology to help us process, record, and remember. For better or for worse this is reality.
Despite the demise of our cranial capacity the ability to keep a running post of our lives is a plus. My Facebook and blog posts are forever in the "cloud" allowing me to reflect on a moments notice what I did, when I did it, and whether or not other people "Liked" it. This recall gets to be very important not only for TV shows like the Newlywed game (YouTube it) but when children want accounts of every decision and choice you've made from favorite breakfast cereal to where were you on 9/11. As I get older I am glad to have this resource available. I'd only wished I had started sooner. Well the children have.
They don't want any of these new experiences to go unrecorded not only for posterity but with so many families are coming to Uganda if the children's experience can help someone else make the transition, it will have been worth the effort.
They have started with simple intro bios and will over the subsequent weeks add all of their challenges, accomplishments, frustrations, Christmas lists, etc. This will also fulfill the constant request from the grandparents for more updates about the children, yeah Pop I'm talking about you. ;-)
We've had so many encouraging comments about the older girls' posts but we also want the youngers to get involved so look for short videos, drawings, photo diaries, small scale sculpture, flash mob choreography and safari excursions. Xander would make a fantastic safari guide all he needs is a financial backer to send him to North Uganda for training.
Pray for Jeri. Almost as soon as she got here two of the long-term gals took her under their wing and showed her the way to get things done. They have been an invaluable help and resource in getting settled and they have been good friends. As one would expect in this business both are leaving the country for a spell and Jeri is at a loss. Pray she finds new friends to share this experience with. She is already serving in two separate women's ministries, joining a homeschooling collective, and will be starting her Ugandan midwife certification this winter but a friend would be a blessing.
Thank you for your prayers. If you've missed any of our previous posts check our site at clarks2africa.blogspot.com. And visit their site at clark-kids-in-africa.blogspot.com.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Marian is one of my first friends here. We both enjoy crafts, drawing and "shoetags" (their word for nail polish). As we talk, we have cultural exchanges. Sometimes I forget most people in rural areas have no connection outside of Uganda. In America the internet gives us a widow to other places, like the post you're reading right now. Watching Africa on YouTube is rather lacking. It doesn't give you the feel of Africa, the excitement of their worship, the racket of rain pounding a tin roof through the night or the chatter of exotic birds in the morning. The window only works one-way. Marian and I have created a bridge, I share something American and she teaches me about Uganda. I get to explain hamburgers and she shares Ugandan expressions. She was shocked that we live down the road from an enormous plantation but never eaten sugarcane. So she brought some over.
Like a fancy chef from Benihana, she skinned, chopped and sliced the bamboo stalk in a matter of seconds. Swoop, chop, ka-chunk, perfect. Then the pivotal moment of failure comes as she hands me the knife. Let's just say, my obviously superb knife skills are unrefined for African cuisine. Swoop, slice, oops, ow. The knife attacked my thumb. It's fine, a mere flesh wound, but it proves the fact that even though we've been here for almost a month, we are not yet experts.
Dora and I got invited to her house Tuesday. We met her mother, older sister, younger sister and baby brother. Her simple brick house had no windows so it was very dark. The living room was already very small, no bigger than an average bathroom, but it was also the kitchen sink storage and dining room. Apparently it's a thing here, when you have visitors to show them your family photo albums. After meeting the family, we discovered more cultural exchanges by watching the Avengers movie translated to Lugandan. Later language lessons with her mother included phrases like, Wasuze otya, good morning. We removed dried corn off the cob for grounding into posho powder. They were kind enough to feed us lunch. It was a very traditional Ugandan menu: potatoes, cabbage and posho. As much as we are indifferent about posho, theirs was much better then what we're used to on the base. We also snacked on popcorn, more sugarcane and blacked corn kernels which tasted like little salty rocks yet were surprisingly good. Then it was time for Dora and I to leave, next time I'll bring my camera. It was fun to hang out with my friend and her natural teaching spirit is what I need most, just don't ask me to cut the cane.