Thursday, March 10, 2016

Prayer Update

To our supporters,

Thank you so much for all the well wishes and responses. It means a lot. This was not in the plan. We have so much more to do here. Jeri's hospitalization was not how we intended to leave Africa. Our plan to leave involved establishing a reserve fund to purchase return tickets getting set up back in America. Part of Jeri's reason for returning was to fundraiser toward that investment. Now this emergency is thrust upon us. We need to get home and money we would have received and saved over time is required immediately. We likely have a month before Jeri's recuperation plan is in place and our affairs in Uganda are settled.

Would you consider a final gift to bring us home? We will always serve the kingdom but this is going to take us out of full-time service. We have a lot to process and get though before we settle back in the States but in the diminishing capacity which Jeri sees herself facing we don't see a way to continue forward as donor supported missionaries.

We felt God had a third act for us but didn't know how and when this season of service would come to a close. The return of Jeri's MS may be the most definitive answer possible, short of how we began this journey fourteen years ago. We thank all of those who have supported us through prayer and giving. You have been the most generous people we could ever know and we are humbled by your faithfulness. We will be here until we get enough so if you can't give one lump sum please continue to give monthly until we save up the total amount.

May god bless you exponentially as you have blessed us,
The Clarks

Please Pray: Jeri is in the Hospital

It was going to be a lovely brief trip back to America with the opportunity to deliver a friend's baby and connect with family and supporters. Even before Jeri really got to see people her Multiple Sclerosis (MS) put her in the hospital. She is currently at East Texas Medical Center finishing up a five day steroid treatment and looking forward to several weeks of rehabilitation.

Jeri's last bout with MS was a flare up July 4, 2011. After a summer of follow up meds and a fall of recuperation the MS went into remission and she has been symptom free for almost five years. We came to Africa with a clean bill of health and are grateful for the health God gave her for as long as He did. Without presuming too much we count it as grace that she was in America during this attack and had availability to adequate medical resources. There is no treatment here and would likely have required her to be medivacked to South Africa.

As she moves toward recovery we will try to match her progress with our next step. She cannot come back to Uganda. So if Jeri can't come to the family the family must go to Jeri. I spoke with her this morning and then sat down with the children. We talked about what our next steps might be. They miss their mom and now even more so that she is hurting. They are also very sad about leaving this place. Over the past two years of other expats coming and going they had finally began to firm up friendships. But they want to get home to be with mom.

I sat down with the Hopeland Director soon after and wept on their couch for hope and God's guidance. We are going to start settling our affairs here. We wanted to email you before we posted on Facebook because you have been so faithful to pray in the past. Please pray for Jeri. She needs healing. We'll send out another update soon. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March Update from the Clark Family

Welcome to March. If you are reading this and you have not seen my wife find her on Facebook and seek her out. When you meet her tell her we miss her in Africa. If you have the time, buy her coffee or a meal. She is on assignment now to deliver a baby and visit those who sent us but she can still take time to make connections. Please keep her busy. The more she has to do the less she might miss us. It was unforeseeable that her making this journey alone would amount to her feeling like the sole survivor of the African Expedition. It is the blessing of our era that we can reach across oceans and communicate almost daily but it isn’t the same as wrapping your arms around them and squeezing. I fear Jeri is not getting her quotient of daily hugs. She normally gets hugged daily by six different people, so y’all have to make an effort to compensate.

Keeping us busy here is the Sustainable Agriculture School. Eleven Africans and one white girl from central California have come to Hopeland to learn how to transform the agriculture practices of this nation. This is the same school that brought us here in 2014 and now I am on staff. For our family this is the fulfillment of the vision to bring transformation to Africa. Last school the ratio of foreigner to local was five to seven. Almost all of those seven students were able to direct one or two new students for this class. Clearly the white people didn’t agriculturally evangelize as effectively. This school was never intended to transform Americans. They are welcome and the skills we learned are good solid sustainable techniques but this is a school in Africa for Africans. As a staff we can’t wait to see what these new students are capable of next.

The children are back in the routine of homeschool, volleyball, and the local homeschool co-op. They are moving through their workbooks, some donated math textbooks, computer teaching programs, a local language teacher, reading books on their internet tablets, and once a week I lead the world history lesson. Zoe has stepped up to cover Jeri’s absence as well as finishing up her own high school curriculum. If she keeps up this pace she will graduate from school this spring and be ready for the next adventure in life. We couldn’t do this without her and also can’t wait to see what she is capable of next.

Thank you for persevering with us to see this realization of vision. It might have been enough to just be here and grow food to feed people. Seeing this school forming and repeating has gone above our expectations. When this school finishes this summer our participation (your support also makes you participants) will be a part of the blessing these Africans bring to their nation. These are relationships that have eternal consequences. Thank you for sending us to be a part of it.

Oh yeah, she is learning how to drive.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

February Update from the Clark Family

As we look forward to 2016 we find ourselves surrounded by those God sent us to serve. Whether that serving looks like sharing the Bible, teaching sustainable agriculture, or investing in our neighbors. We aren’t starting up a Ugandan Shark Tank but sometimes it does look like we are just handing out money. The reality is, we are here because people sacrificed and continue to sacrifice to fund God’s direction for the life of our family. That direction is beginning to look like sharing our resources to ease the burden of our neighbors. The big picture is to bring tools and opportunities so that the community can free themselves of poverty, more about that later.

In the shadow of the Powerball Lottery fever, which we felt even over here, we find ourselves both envying and pitying the winners. Everybody asks themselves, "What could I do with all that money" and "What would that money do to me?" It remains to be seen if the winners will defy the odds and make positive choices to improve their lives and the lives of those around them or follow the path of so many before them and allow the money to drive them to ruin. Without a single winner taking home the full billion their odds are less intimidating but substantial nonetheless. Even with Uganda’s high inflation our regular income doesn’t make us billionaires but it does give us more resources than our neighbors and with those resources come responsibilities.

Throughout the past decade of donor-supported-full-time-volunteer-service our financial solvency has had its ups and downs. We followed the Apostle Paul’s advice and learned to be content in times of less, less than less, and then times when we were just broke. We can proclaim with confidence, have faith my brothers and sisters in your most desperate moments God will be with you and send relief. You may still have to go through those seasons of shame and uncertainty, but every time God will show himself to be faithful.

We, like most other folks, often felt the squeeze during the Christmas season. In Uganda the juggernaut of spending and decorating is nowhere near America’s level of enthusiasm but they do value returning back to their home place and eating the most expensive meal of the year, the Christmas Chicken. You know Christmas is coming in the States when you see twinkle lights and hear carols here you can tell because every minivan taxi is loaded down with live chickens heading for the cities. The chickens aren’t anything special, by American standards they’re quite small, but pound for pound they are the most expensive and sought after dish. They care more about their Christmas Chicken than we care about our Thanksgiving Turkey. Last Christmas, because of the generosity of so many of you, the local ladies in Jeri’s Bible study group got to take home a Christmas Chicken. Your response was so overwhelming they also received extra shillings to truly make their holiday meals a Christmas feast. It was a small donation in American dollars but the hope it brought on this side went far and beyond. Is it a temporary fix to give these women a couple of meals to feed their families? Yes, but if you have walked through a season of financial uncertainty you know the anxiety of being overwhelmed. You look ahead for the encouragement of change and see nothing but darkness. In that dismay even the small flicker of a single candle can give you hope that you can endure and that God will provide. Your support allows us to be agents of God’s provision.

We didn’t anticipate this addition to our budget when we arrived but now eighteen months later we see how God is allowing us to contribute towards this community. Our first intention is sharing the Word and training people to use what God has given them to meet their needs. Part of that training is the next School of Sustainable Agriculture. Beginning this Friday, ten young Ugandan men will start their twenty-week journey towards stewarding the creation God has given us. Joining those young men will be one of the ladies from Jeri’s Bible study. She has a small plot just around the corner, speaks good English, and a desire to improve the life of her family. We are signing her up in faith that the funds will come for her tuition, just under $600, and know that this training will impact the entire community. If you didn’t get a chance to help with the chickens perhaps you can help Nora participate in this school.

Nora and two of her girls

Right after the school gets started Jeri heads back to America. She is scheduled to help a previous client birth another baby. What an exciting opportunity to bring another life into this world and eat In-N-Out hamburgers, we will miss her. The children continue their homeschool journey and build relationships with local friends, Zoe and Dora even joined a volleyball team. If you’d like to see Jeri while she is stateside message her on Facebook. 

We do what we do because of you. Thank you for your continued support.

Friday, November 6, 2015

November Update from the Clark Family in Africa





A Month of Thanks

Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays. Including our Canadian brethren to the north, a day set aside to be thankful is unique in this world. We try to explain Thanksgiving here and it just sounds like we are grateful for eating a lot of food; which isn't a bad explanation, 'cause what I wouldn't give for some Greenburg smoked turkey dipped in cranberry sauce. Last year we had the distraction of the Agriculture School to keep our focus off missing candied sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows. This year Dora's birthday will occupy our end of month festivities. She wanted to have a Hawaiian Luau, which would have been an indoor event in Texas, but here it's warm enough to make fresh flower leis.

We have much to be thankful for. Jeri comes back from a successful trip to Germany tomorrow. We purchased the car that many of you contributed towards. Except for the red head getting his weekly sunburn we have all been healthy this year. Yes, we miss family and friends. Yes, the fall chill and seasonal colors are Jeri's favorite part of the year. And yes, I miss my wife spending all day cooking my favorite meal of the year. But in perspective of where we live and why we are here we couldn't be more blessed. For all the things we miss we rely on you. So post your pictures of a full table of food. Take lots of selfies with loved ones. Update your status regularly as you wait for the turkey to roast. We live through those moments and are connected to you just as you are to us when you comment our posts.

In the spirit of giving I wanted the children to be a part of your social media landscape so we photographed them and added text to make them memes that you can use in your communications. They were good sports about it, especially Zoe. It takes a very confident young woman to let her father talk her into the photo she took.

Enjoy the beginning of your Holiday season and say an extra prayer for loved ones who are separated from their families.

And just for fun...
Six years ago Jeri and the girls went to California without me and the three young'uns. The end of this October Jeri left me alone with the children for three weeks. Well I couldn't let that go without recreating that moment from 2009. I always say the key to good parenting is consistency. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

October Update 2015

Six is the Loneliest Number

This month’s update will not be about what has passed but about what we are looking forward to. In a couple of weeks Jeri has been invited to deliver a baby in Germany. A client who had a home birth previously is stationed with her family in Ramstein and is hiring her to come midwife her next delivery. Jeri is very excited and yet the journey comes with some challenges.

The most obvious challenge when going from an equatorial nation to a northern climate country where they are already starting to get snow flurries–how to dress appropriately. Unfortunately we don’t have a large outdoor chain store that sells colder climate outerwear. The best she can do is get a sweatshirt? Layers and lots of them and then when she gets there rent a coat? She will only need it for a couple of weeks!? But what can you do… there is never any need for cold weather gear here in Uganda.

The next challenge is timing the birth. This is not the couple’s first child so there is a history of delivery timing, but you never know. All parties are aware of the risks and limitations of trying to predict when the baby will come. They have given themselves a two-week window and crossed their fingers. We will pray that the timing is good and the baby comes while Jeri is there.

Because Jeri is really wants to deliver a baby. Uganda has proven uncooperative in letting just anybody deliver babies. She has been working with a local midwife, but the journey is long to the birthing center.  It is not the easiest place to get to, especially when taking a very crowded bus over a dusty road filled with potholes.  This makes it challenging to arrive at the birthing center in time.  Also, Uganda really wants their midwives to have a Uganda license.  Her licensure should be fine to work in Uganda, but she needs to serve at the local hospital for six weeks in order to receive her permit.  Part of our hesitation to get this accomplished has been due to transportation problems.  Hopefully, Lord willing, this will be resolved soon,

The other event she is looking forward to is a midwife conference that will take place during her stay and within proximity of her client’s home. Apparently this is a big international practitioner’s gathering and Jeri just happens to be able to go. Hopefully it is mostly indoors. And hopefully the baby cooperates.

The saddest part of this journey is of course the five children and husband she will be leaving for two-weeks. I don’t want to sound too pathetic but we are going to be alone. Jeri is setting up lesson plans so the children can continue their school and hopefully we’ll have a car by then …but, she is leaving us. Two years ago Jeri left me us to go to Uganda and have a missions’ experience–and fell in love with this country. Now we are here. Who knows what will happen if she goes to Europe for two-weeks?

Please pray for Jeri, and me us. The client is covering her travel and some expenses but we will need to get some incidentals, some warm clothes and stuff like that. Pray for travel safety and keep up with her on Facebook for her update posts. We’ll update you in November how it went

 The children have joined a local homeschool group. They gave presentations about their favorite things. Liesel demonstrated how to play the Cups game. Dora gave a lesson on taking blood pressure. Xander went over the details of telling a joke. Jax explained Fibonacci sequences to a bunch of grade school children. They are having a blast.

Monday, September 7, 2015

September Update 2015

They Spent a Million (shillings) to Come See Us 

They never produced the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire show in Uganda. The millionaire craze that swept the world a few years back (they even made a movie about it) never reached Uganda. Simple fact is being a millionaire here isn't much of an accomplishment. The inflation here is quite high and their base denomination, the shilling, takes three and a half thousand to equal our dollar. You can be a Ugandan millionaire just by going to the ATM. Most purchases here favor the exchange rate. This is one of the reasons we recommend Uganda as a short term mission destination.

We are Ugandan millionaires. We don't seek it out and certainly the goal of any funds we receive is to improve the opportunities of our local neighbors not get rich. We have also used support to increase the development of the base here at Hopeland both in our housing and agriculture supplies. Your giving allowed us to add to the budget of last team we hosted to buy more materials for the project at the village birthing center. Of course any financial accomplishment we have managed is because we are merely the extension of the folks in the States who send us support. So many have invested in Africa that we are constantly looking for new areas to minister.

With our most recent guests we visited a children's home in our district that has 37 disabled children. Home of Hope was founded by a mother whose son was born with cerebral palsy. With no local support she opened up her home to other children with disabilities and now ten years later she takes care of all who come. Sadly disabilities like CP, epilepsy, encephalitis, and downs are harshly judged here and many times the staff will open the front gate in the morning to find someone has abandoned their child in the dirt. It is a grim reality but it all changes when you stop hearing the history and just sit down with the children; well you can try to sit down as soon as guests arrive you are pushing children on swings, talking walks with the wheel chair able and handing out sweeties. We had a wonderful visit and hope to return often.

As we posted last month we have been loaned a car for six weeks. It was because of this car we were able to go to Home of Hope. Without a car we couldn't make it. Public transport doesn't go that far away from the village and hiring a car would be too limiting for the frequency we'd like to go. The village birthing center also falls into the category of, "We'd go more often if we had a car." So after a year of not having a car we are reaching out to ask for a vehicle. We have one in mind from a friend in Kampala that took very good care of it and is willing to give us a deal. Out the door with servicing, insurance, new tires, and registration we need $4,000 USD. We've been given $1,000 already and pray to get the rest before the middle of this month.

Many of you have seen our biggest news which is Sarah and Aaron Bunch came all the way from Texas to visit us. The children had no idea and what a surprise it was. If you haven't seen the video of the children's faces when they walked up you are in for a treat. We had a amazing ten days with them and look forward to them bringing a team next year. If you'd like to come out and do some worthwhile ministry, visit another country, and perhaps see some wild animals (and I don't mean our children) let us know; it's why we're here.
As much as we have have learned about the Ugandans and their culture from riding public transportation, it is time to own our own vehicle. If you would like to help in this process please follow through on the fundraising site by clicking here.