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.