Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Clark Children Parody a Parody

Tacky by Weird Al, as performed by the Clark Children. Enjoy!

We're Gonna Get Tacky
A music video of thanksgiving

We put out our music video cover of Weird Al's Tacky last week. It is a silly thing with no hidden spiritual relevance just a fun song the children like to sing. It took the better part of a Saturday to assemble the costumes, spackle on make-up and sort the locations for shooting. After we finished and looked at the footage we came up with so many more ideas, but isn't that always the way of things? When these things are done professionally super humorous  people plan and script out each detail—we just started with a couple of ideas and went from there. Luckily my wife and the children are pretty creative and we caught some funny bits. They are comical but not long suffering. Although we made Dora drop out that tree several times most scenes we had to get it in one take. This isn't their first parody. When Zoe was eight the three olders lip-synched Weird Al's White and Nerdy for my birthday. Jeri and our adopted daughter Sarah even came up with choreography.

Sarah was also the inspiration for this video. If you have admired the wardrobe choices in our family photos, then you have admired her influence on our family. She has contributed so much more but her fashion guidance made the selection of Tacky as a tribute uniquely appropriate. Our gratitude to Sarah, her husband Aaron, and their three boys represents our thankfulness to God and all y'all who have contributed to our transition into this country.

Two duffle bags of reminders and resources from home arrived this week. As we look toward November we prepare for our annual season of thankfulness. Yes, it is easier to be thankful when you get two duffles of new stuff but we wouldn't be here if we hadn't been thankful in the times of lack as well.

The Africans are fascinated that we have a national holiday dedicated to giving thanks. We have explained the historical and traditional significance of the event, but among the nations we are unique in our intentions. I know, Canadians have Thanksgiving too and as combined North Americans we have much to be thankful for.

A few years ago we volunteered at the Tyler, Texas Salvation Army Thanksgiving  Service. Not out of a great sense of sacrifice or volunteerism but because we had no where better to go. After we finished our assigned task we joined the feasting folks who also had no where else to go. We were served a fine meal and we were grateful. Subsequent Thanksgivings when we had the resources and relationships to host our own feast we were abundantly thankful.

In about a month we plan to share our American feast of thanksgiving with our African friends. We thank God for the resources and funds you have sent and will send to supply this feast and even possibly import some American delicacies like canned cranberry jelly, ha! Still not sure if we can find marshmallows for candied yams, maybe another trip to Kampala. We encourage you to also look ahead and start planning now for your own feast day of thanksgiving. Whether you join or host enjoy the season of thankfulness. And if you want to join our feast here, come on out—we'll keep the light on for you! Just remember to bring the marshmallows.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Country Mice Visit the Nation's Capitol

There are cities that you can walk and get to most of the places you'd like to go. Washington, D.C. can be like that and we spent a lovely day in Boston once just wandering around. Growing up in Los Angeles with communities like Manhattan Beach and Pasadena walking around could be enjoyable but most of LA is for driving. Oh sure once you got to the shopping mall you walk around but then you get back in your car and drive away. Here in Uganda, Jinja (our local town) is a good place for a walk, Kampala however requires a vehicle.
We showed up on a holiday weekend (Ugandan Independence Day) at the national stadium (home of the Uganda Cranes Soccer Team) to meet our friend who was going to show us around. Of course when we made the plans we had no idea about any celebration or that the Cranes were playing Togo's national team that day. Needless to say traffic was a mess. So much so that the taxi bringing us into the city took a preemptive detour up into the dirt roads of the outlying villages to avoid the gridlock. Skip ahead to the end of the day, getting out of the city equally put LA traffic to shame. Several times en route the driver would frustratingly turn off the engine while we waited for traffic to progress. When we drove through from the airport two months ago at 2 am the drive took an hour; Saturday's challenge took four.
While in the city our friend took us to an authentic Mexican restaurant near the American Embassy. The taste of home was definitely a check in the win column for us. To complete our adventure in the big city we went to a bookstore for homeschool supplies, a fresh bakery for treats for the children, a grocery store for hard to get items, and the KFC franchise in Uganda for take-away dinner. Each of these destinations required driving to individual shopping centers. Our friend was very generous to taxi us around the city. We spent a lot of time negotiating crosstown traffic. You need a car in Kampala just to get around but mostly you're sitting in your car waiting to go. Like living in Los Angeles without the near-sighted boda-boda drivers banging into your car every time traffic stalls.
We were gone 12 hours, classmates looked out for the children, and accomplished very little. But it is important for assessment to know all available resources. That is a standard in community development and in raising a family. Without knowing what is available to you will limit your ability to expect a higher standard. If we didn't think our children had the capacity to do hard things we would never have come to Africa. But we all read and were challenged by a book that said not only are hard things possible but that we should seek them out. We challenge you, maybe it's enough to just do the next thing or maybe there is a bigger next thing that you need to seek out. Keep moving forward. Don't turn your engine off and sit until life starts up again.
Thank you for making it possible for us to do the hard things. If you've missed any of our previous posts check our site at

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Other Car is a 24 Passenger Mini-Van

That's the record so far, which is I'm sure far less than Guinness would even acknowledge. Maybe if we also counted the live chickens they would consider the transport of that many living souls in the predecessor of the Toyota Sienna some kind of accomplishment. As it stands we just call it getting to church on Sunday. We found a church we could all get to with minimal vehicle transfers and still less expensive than hiring a private car. How remarkable is it that transportation plays such an integral part in selecting the congregation with which you choose to worship God every Sunday?

We start each Sunday testing the weather, however even if it is raining monkeys and cows at eight it could be clear skies by 9:30 when we leave (though we will have to negotiate the path of least muddiness to the main road). The past few weeks we have negotiated the taxi to take us straight to the church after all the other passengers have disembarked. There are four kinds of churches in Uganda: For Ugandans in Ugandan, Ugandan with English translation, English with Ugandan translation, and English without translation. As you can imagine most of the English only churches attract mostly English speaking folks. We managed to find one of the few churches in English with mostly Africans and only a few white faces, which is why we came to Uganda. Not only that but the sermons have been driven by scripture and not about God blessing us with more money if we give, which can be a very popular thing here. And although the sermons are in English the worship is definitely African. There is lots of dancing and jumping and maybe three songs will fill up half an hour. It was a selling point over straight mzungu worship.

Through the course of travel and ministry we have visited many churches but in my entire life of continuous church attendance I have been a member of only four fellowships, that's an average of ten years per church. We've worshipped and served in churches with over 10,000 members and loved it. The congregation that sent us to Africa had maybe 300 max. This church—though  part of a bigger network—probably only has enough chairs for 150 and in a temporary space. We anticipate being at this church for a while. How much we'll be able to participate in church activities outside of worship services is difficult to foresee, we are connected with a couple of the homeschooling families that attend so that may be enough to tie us to community because church without community is rather pointless. 

I hope you have a church community surrounding you. We strongly debated not  going to any church and we could have justified our abstaining without much effort. YWAM could have easily been our community, and in many ways it is, but there is just something about church that makes it different. We always go back to the folks that surrounded us after Wilson's death and how we would've been lost without our church. And obviously without our church back in Texas we wouldn't be in Africa today.