Happy New Year from Turkana! Ericka and I are fine and have had some nice fellowship with other missionaries here during the holidays.
After Christmas I started thinking about an Eskimo custom where a well-off, contented man has a get together with his family and closest friends and gives away all his prized possessions; rifle, boat, snowmachine, ivory carvings, ect. Then Ericka and I talked about weather we would be able to give away our stuff and what would be hard to part with. From time to time I'm able to get a handle on the blessing that less is more, but am constantly thinking of new things I "need". Granted we need "tools" to get our work done, but those Eskimos are onto something.
The Sunday before last I rode the motorcycle out to visit two of our churches in south Turkana. Our Bible Institute students in those places are doing a fine job of leadership, teaching and evangelizing nearby villages. I had rode out to meet with the Christians and also try and meet Pastor Areng who has been working to start a new church in Lokapel. Lokapel is about 35 miles beyond where I had ridden to, but I knew that Pastor Areng would be passing by the two churches I visited before heading on to his home village of Lorogumu. Unfortunately, I didn't meet him, but received a report of good work at Lokapel but difficult circumstances. Please remember to pray for Pastor Areng and his family as he labors there to start a new church. Just for pastor Areng to get from his village to Lokapel he has to travel by foot or bicycle through bush infested with thieves and wild animals. He's no stranger to the area, but we certainly pray for Gods protection on him. I was so very encouraged by the churches, young leaders and Pastor Areng's vision to start a new church. I just pray that I'll continue to help push the work ahead and not bring in any weakness.
There's never a lack of interesting circumstances in Turkana. On the ride back to Lodwar I tried to follow the riverbed back to town rather than drive on the road. I left the road, drove a mile or so over to the river, but there was still some water flowing so I turned back through the bush to get to the road again. I was following a large goat trail through the bush thinking that there would be no way I could miss the road when I crossed it again, but I did. There had been so many animals using the path they wiped out all traces of the road where I passed it. Needles to say I made it back home, just had to do a bit of backtracking.
We've started on foundations for the first permanent building at the Bible Institute. The work looks first rate and hopefully we can keep it that way through completion. We're not sure if we'll be able to finish the building before classes this month, but we'll sure try. As plan "B" the Lodwar church has agreed to build a house for their pastor that we can use as a temporary classroom if we don't finish in time. I've agreed to supply local materials and the church members will provide the labor. We have also started trying to put a grade on our BI plot. When it rains there the whole place turns into a perfect mud rink. It gets so greasy and mucky it would be impossible to even play mud football. So, we're digging some drainage trenches and trying to elevate the areas we use.
Be praying for Ericka, we are planning to have a ladies class at the BI and she'll be teaching one or two lessons in Swahili. Her Swahili is pretty good and she uses it quite a bit in town and around the house, but I know she'll have to work hard to teach with it. Also, pray for Ericka's feet. She had a bout some months back with something like, "jungle rot." This is no ordinary athletes foot, last time we had to go to Eldoret to get medicine and cool weather to clear it up. The stuff is coming back now and she's doing everything to keep it at bay.
Had a meeting with the pastors this last week, we talked a bit about plans for this next year and our graduation for this year weighed heavy. We would like some stuff and hope that a few can help gather these items.
We would like GRADUATION GOWNS AND CAPS. Color isn't really an issue if we have at least six the same color with enough various other colors for the teachers and I to wear that would be great.
We would like TWO AWARD MEDALS for our best male and female students.
If anyone has a house sized bubble we could live in for the next few months it would really help us deal with dust. Just kidding. We were able to go to Lake Turkana with some friends, finally caught a Nile Perch, 25 pounds. The lake water was cool and refreshing, just remembering that the lake is only one and a half hours from our house makes Turkana feel cooler.
Pray that we will hold to Jesus' last command to go everywhere, teach and preach the things that He taught us. Only Jesus can change peoples hearts and lives. This last week the Toposa, the tribe living just north of the Turkana people, raided a group of Turkana migrating near their area. In all there were 74 people killed, most of them women and children. Evidently, the Toposa had an attack plan to hit where they wouldn't be resisted. Usually, when the Turkana migrate, all the families travel in the front behind a few scouts, all of the herds bring up the rear which is guarded by the armed men. From what we heard the Toposa attacked the front of the migration and fled before any warriors were able to get there. Don't worry about Ericka and I, we live about 5 hours drive from the area of the attack, do pray for the Turkana and Toposa people and their need for Jesus.
Thank you all for praying for us, continue to pray the Lord to give us safety and health to continue in the work He has called us to. Thank you all for being such a blessing to us, may God richly bless your lives in this new year.
In Christ, Bob Clark
Ericka and I have been fine here in Turkana, it's warm, but the clouds keep getting closer and closer to us and we know the rains can't be too far away.
This last week we had our first Bible Institute classes for 2002. We have 6 third years students and 13 new students in our first year class. Everything went well, we had just enough classroom space to accommodate everyone. Pastor Areng took over my responsibilities with the budget and did a fine job of keeping tabs on everything.
Pray for our new students, we have 6 men and 7 ladies, 6 of whom have small babies. The ladies with their little ones have presented new challenges, but they're quite eager to learn more about God's Word and help impart that knowledge to the children and ladies back in their home churches. Just pray that the classes will remain effective even with all the distractions that six little ones bring. Among the new students, there are several who aren't able to read very well, pray the Lord will give them the desire to read better and that they will be able to understand all the printed material we are passing out.
Our third year students are proving to be faithful. Two of them have committed to living part time in villages where we have preaching points that we hope will grow into new churches. Marko Ekonon is going to Lokapel and Michael Lolimo is going to Napong, please remember these two young men in prayer. I would ask you pray the Lord to give me wisdom in how to help them. Definitely, I'm able to provide them with all the money they would need, but in doing that I would be taking ministry and blessings away from their home churches. Just pray we come to the right balance between their home churches helping them and how I help them.
Another ministry our third year students have started is an Adult Education class (reading and simple math) at our Lodwar church. After church the students announced they would begin teaching the classes this week, there were about 8 church members who have committed to attending the classes. The government hires teachers to do the very same thing, but it seems the vast majority of these teachers are drunks who rarely show up to teach their classes. Pray that our students will be faithful and stick with their class until they realize success with their new pupils. We hope the students in Lodwar will encourage students from the other churches to start Adult Education classes as well.
Building. Our new Bible Institute classes are coming along well. The block walls have been built up to the height where we need to pour a concrete lintel/ring-beam on the top of the wall before building higher. I'm not sure if we'll finish before next month, but we hope to.
Ericka's ministry is going very well. The market ministry was done completely by the church members of Lodwar this last week, four came to accept Christ and of those two came to church this Sunday! Ericka is really pushing ahead in learning Swahili and I know the ladies at the Bible Institute certainly appreciate her teaching and desire to communicate with them.
Thank you all for remembering to pray for us, please continue to pray the Lord give us wisdom and strength to do His work here in Turkana.
In Christ, Bob Clark
Sorry for not writing in so long, I've let my E-mail duties slide a bit. Ericka and I are fine, it is beginning to rain around Turkana which is a great blessing. On the other hand it brings out the scorpions and spiders. Pray we don't get stung or bitten.
We just came back to Turkana from a trip to Eldoret. While there I had some work done on our vehicle. I went to buy some new gear oil in town and was needing help carrying it back to where my mechanic works when I spotted a street boy, Emanuel, who looked like he needed some help. I asked him to help carry the oil and in return paid him a little and bought him lunch. I then began sharing Jesus with him and his need for Salvation. Emanuel soon accepted Christ! Later I had my mechanic, who is a deacon in his church and very strong Christian to visit with Emanuel and make sure he was serious about his decision. The mechanic and I worked with Emanuel to send him back to his home in Kitale and get him off the streets in Eldoret. Pray for Emanuel that the Lord would show Himself strong in his life.
Another interesting occurrence was meeting up with a couple of Mormon missionaries. They wanted to share some things with us, so we invited them to go eat Chinese in order to share together. The missionaries, Reese and Mainganye, had their bags full of Mormon literature and their guns loaded with construed Scripture and verses out of context. The Lord was certainly with Ericka and I, we were able to quote Scripture to every aspect they were trying to falsify and twist. Pray for these two young men, that their eyes may be opened to the True Word of God and that the lies they have put their trust in will be exposed. Thank you Dave for leaving me your file on Mormons.
In Turkana. Last month we helped with a DOUBLE WEDDING in Lorogumu. What an event! It was the first church wedding ever in that village. There were 430 people in attendance, all in a 20 by 40 building. Bible Institute classes are going well, we continue to build and improve on our classrooms. This week Ericka and I are going to teach at a leaders seminar in Lopur, pray for God to guide us there.
God bless you all and remember that if you ever begin talking to Mormon missionaries you'd better know The Word!
In Christ, Bob Clark
What a great weekend we've had. On Friday we went out to the village of Kalemenyang and Sarah taught a Sunday School Teachers training session. She really gave some great ideas and material. It also helped the Churches take their Sunday School classes much more seriously. Sarah has been a great blessing to all of us here in Turkana. On Saturday, Ericka and Sarah taught the ladies of Kalemenyang and Neremit for about four hours. They had a great time of teaching, and really encouraged the ladies. On Sunday we went on to the village of Neremit, Sarah and Ericka taught Sunday School, our Bible Institute student, Peter, taught a lesson to the adults and then I preached the main sermon. It was a great service all around, there were at least fifty adults in attendance along with two young men Peter has been discipling.
We met pastor Areng while in Kalemenyang and talked about looking to new villages that need evangelism and teaching. Even Peter and I talked about two villages he wants to start working in. This is a huge blessing for us! To have the Turkana pastors and students catch a missions vision for Turkana. Pray we will be able to help them and encourage them to fulfill the Great Commission.
Ericka and I are fine and healthy now. We are also very thankful for our new vehicle! Thanks CCH! You guys paid for almost half the Land Cruiser. By the way, we have the money in our account to pay off the Cruiser, I just have to get a check sent. God is so good!
Please keep praying for us. We go to our new work near Lokichokio next weekend.
In Christ, Bob Clark
Sorry it's been so long since we've written, I hope our little updates are enjoyable and encouraging rather than just more Spam. Lord knows we've had to deal with it even here, somehow we gotten onto several advertising lists.
First, I'll fill you in on odd occurrences of life here. We had a mongoose get into our chicken coop, thankfully our guard killed him before he caused too many casualties among the feathered friends. The next morning we met with our guard and a couple other guards from the community, another guard, David mentioned that mongoose was very tasty. I offered him the poor critter and no sooner had I gotten the words out of my mouth than he was producing a bag to put him in. A few weeks later a wild cat began ambushing our chicks, we'd lost quite a few. Our guard, Peter, came to the rescue again. He made a snare out of an 8 foot sapling tree next to our house. The first night the snare proved effective and we gave that cat a permanent headache. In the morning the other local guards came by to see what the commotion had been the night before. They were all pleased to see that we'd caught the local chicken thief and then began commenting on how big and meaty the cat was. Again, I offered the cat to anyone who was willing to take him and again out came a bag. Today, one of our chickens fell victim to a speeding truck. A neighbor brought the poor bird by and let us know who had hit him. We then discussed what to do with the roadkilled chicken, I agreed with our guard that giving it to our dog might give him a taste for young tender chickens. I told our guard I wasn't sure what to do with the chicken so he walked back to the neighbor who had brought the chicken and gave it to him, the next thing we heard was, "Thank you very much." On ONE trip into town today a kid tried to throw a stick at me as I passed him, a government truck came around a corner on my side, a crazy guy ran across the road in front of me watching his feet and an old Mama from the bush carrying a stack of skins on her head walked through the main roundabout (Fourway) in front of me.
No, we don't just kill animals and play driving games here, we've also been up to a little work. In August we helped with a youth meeting in the village of Juluk, there were about 120 youth attending from 3 churches. The camp was three days and was focused on encouraging the youth to be strong in the Lord and live according to His Word. After the youth camp we held a pastors seminar here in Lodwar, we also included our 3rd year students from the Bible Institute because 3 of them have already started working full time in new works. We had two guest speakers from down-country Kenya who were a great encouragement. Our theme was Discipleship and Missions! After the leaders seminar 14 of us traveled to a new work in Lokwee. I'm not sure if I've written that we have a new-to-us vehicle, it's a 1986 Toyota Land Cruiser 4 by 4, diesel, it's TOUGH and can haul about 12-20 Turkanans depending on the comfort level they are willing to endure. It's already been a great blessing and praise God it's paid for! Anyway, off to Lokwee. We held crusade meetings for 3 nights, went hut to hut visiting for 3 days and on Sunday held services with about 70 attending and baptized 7. Pastor Eregae said we had 42 professions of Faith while we were there! Pray for Pastor Eregae, Peter and Donald as they follow-up there. After Lokwee we traveled to Neremit for a crusade/leaders seminar. On the way we took 160 feet of 1 by 6 lumber to Lorogum for their benches. Thanks Connie! I didn't get a count on the professions of Faith during the crusade meetings, but we had about 20 men from 3 churches and one new work attend the leadership lessons. Pray that these men will grow in the Lord and be encouraged to start more churches. After Neremit we had Bible Institute classes and the week after that we put the roof on the church building here in Lodwar. The pastor and church members are now working to make temporary walls of palm leaves, but they already have plans for permanent cement block walls.
Now that we're all through traveling for a while I'm trying to get the 50 projects finished around the house that I've put off for the last 4 months. Ericka and I enjoy spending our days together. It's been pretty hot and dry. Hasn't rained since May, so please pray the Lord will send some soon. Ericka is fine and healthy, if you didn't know, we're expecting a little one in February. Pray that we all stay healthy.
Thank you all who have been praying for us. Thank you all who gave to help buy the Land Cruiser, we call it our Camel because it does so much more work than our little Mitsubishi "donkey." Pray for Ericka and I to continue to be an encouragement to the ministry here in Turkana and pray that we will be encouraged in the work of God.
God bless you all, Bob and Ericka Clark
We haven't written in a long time, but better late than never. These last few months we have seen fruition of three years work. We held our first graduation at the Bible Institute in Lodwar with six graduates, two weeks later the Church at Lorogumu held their first Commissioning Service!
The graduation was exciting, but even more exciting was the commissioning service! During the commissioning service the Lord gave me a peace and confirmation that all our suffering is not in vain. I also could see that this was the beginning of the end of our work in Turkana. Not that we plan to leave the field any time soon, but if churches realize their responsibility to plant new churches, send missionaries and commission more servants for the Lord, Ericka and I will be able to move on to another area.
After the commissioning service we had a wedding for one of the young men being sent out. The night before the wedding I was invited to a traditional goat roast. It was very interesting and culturally enlightening. Unfortunately, I ate too much. They fed me the liver, huge chunks of meat and a hand full of roasted fat. The next morning I didn't want to move and suffered through the 7 hour wedding service. Afterward the men began expressing sympathy for my illness and began to query my symptoms. Finally, they asked how much meat and what kinds I had eaten and then began laughing. They said if any of them had eaten that much meat and fat they would be sick too. Thankfully, they knew the antidote which was simply strong tea, two cups later I was back on my feet.
Those of you who gave to help us buy our "new to us" Land Cruiser, Thank You! After the commissioning I helped move one of the young men, his family and all their possessions to the village where he will be pastor. It looked like a scene from the Beverly Hillbillies. We loaded the roof rack with as much as we dared, then loaded the inside and finally tied bags onto the front Bull Bar. After all that we loaded with as many people as could get in. The Land Cruiser is one of our best "tools" in Turkana, Thank you!
Ericka has been busy with teaching and encouraging the ladies at the Bible Institute. Each of the ladies have started ladies meetings in their villages and are strengthening the ladies there. Ericka has also developed friendships European ladies and is sharing Christ with them. And, of course, she has been getting the house ready for our baby.
After all the graduation, commissioning and wedding, Ericka and I traveled to Eldoret. Her by air, myself by land. It took me 13 hours to cover 240 miles and thankfully Ericka wasn't with me, but we both arrived safely. Now we are awaiting the arrival of our first child. The doctor says everything is fine, and all we have to do is wait. We feel confident that the hospital here is equipped to handle just about anything.
We've been blessed here in Eldoret with great friends and fellowship. Just last night I was able to visit with a missionary who had worked in Turkana during the 80's. It was great to hear that he faced the same difficulties and problems and how the Lord overcame them.
Thank you all for your prayers and we promise to e-mail as soon as our little one arrives, hopefully in late January.
In Christ, Bob and Ericka Clark