Dear Friends and Supporters!
We had our first months lessons at the Bible Baptist Institute of Lodwar! We began with 11 students from the villages of Juluk, Lorpur, Katilu, Lorogum, Kalemenyang, and Lodwar. I'll start from the beginning of my trip there this month.
When I arrived there on the 3rd of January the electricity had not been connected to my house yet, but by the following day the power was on and I had replaced the breaker box inside the house. Next there was a problem with water, we thought there would be enough coming on our regular water line but after the students had been there just one day we didn't even have enough water for all of us to bathe that evening, (very uncomfortable in a dusty, wind-blown, desert environment.) The next day I ran and bought extra jerry-cans, filled them in town and then set out to run a new water line directly from the water main a block away. The line I was on served many houses and the size of the pipe was too small to carry enough water. As we started to dig the new ditch my neighbor, the first wife of a member of parliament, came out and gave us a hard time saying that we couldn't dig on what she said was her plot. We were actually digging on the road right-of-way and she just needed to squak a bit. The next day the Lord helped us with many hands to dig and a good fundi to connect the new line to the house and praise the Lord we had plenty of water!
In actually starting the institute we spent the first day interviewing the students and asking them basic questions about their qualifications, desire to serve the Lord and background. One question we asked that you might find odd was, "How many wives do you have?" Here in Kenya and especially in Turkana a man having multiple wives is quite common, but we make it very clear in our churches that a pastor is to have one wife. The entire first day was filled with interviews, filling forms and taking a general Bible knowledge test. The second day we began classes and everything went quite smoothly. I had brought two good pastors from up-country to teach, one of whom is the Dean of our Bible Institute in Kapenguria, and we had a third pastor to teach from Turkana. By the end of the four days of lessons the students were very tired, but excited about what they had learned and looking forward to their future ministry. We encouraged them to teach lessons on things they had learned at the Bible Institute and several said they would be doing just that. Some of the students were so excited that they wanted to just go right out and begin new churches, but we had to remind them that they were still under their local pastors and we wouldn't start any new churches with them until after they had completed their 3 years of training and their pastors had commissioned them out of the local church. It was such an encouragement to me to see how much the students and Turkana pastors were encouraged by having their own Bible Institute and a commitment to grow together.
When I left the States I knew the Lord was calling me to go to unreached areas, but I didn't know that I would be fulfilling that call through training nationals to go where I couldn't. Already one of our pastors is traveling with his students to villages along the Turkwell River and evangelizing people who have migrated there for food. Right now there is great famine in Turkana district which has forced many people to move from very remote areas to places closer to some food source. Most bush Turkana live off of sour milk, blood and meat, but most of the herds of cattle, camels, donkeys, goats, and sheep (they eat them all) have moved very far south to try and find pasture. This has left most of the people without their herds to live on and has brought many people to live along the Turkwell River. Pastor Areng has been evangelizing in one such area and this last Sunday I was allowed to baptize 46 people who have accepted Christ as their Savior! Please pray for these new Christians that we will be rooted and grounded in Christ before they migrate back to their home areas when the rains begin in April and May, Lord willing. Also, pray that we will be able to follow them when they move.
Living in Turkana is difficult but it has some light moments to keep life fun. My guard won't open the truck door from the inside he always reaches through the window and opens the door from the outside, I've tried to show him how to open from the inside, but...... My guard also asked me to pick up a large cooking pot for him in Eldoret so he could water his goats with it, I told him I would just buy a kariah (metal wash basin) because it would be cheaper, he refused and said that he couldn't cook with the kariah. Most of the time he would water the goats with it and sometimes he would want to cook with it.
Quote from a student. "If that piki piki (motorcycle) goes so fast when it is small, it must really go fast when it grows bigger." :]
Quote from a pastor concerning scorpion stings. "It is just a bite, you will not die from it, but you may loose consciousness." Hmmm.
I've returned safely to Eldoret today, the drive was two hours shorter because of road repairs and also finding a newer paved road that isn't on any map. I'll be teaching a lesson at the advanced Bible Institute here in Eldoret on Saturday. I wasn't able to communicate from Lodwar because I don't have a phone and as of yet haven't found anyplace to connect and use E-mail.
God bless all of you and thank you for praying for the ministry here.
Tumeanza -- we have begun. Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
In Christ, Bob Clark
Just returned yesterday from southwest Turkana. I was able to visit churches at Lorugum and Kalemenyang, I also encouraged Christians in the villages of Loringipi, Lokipatet-Arengang and Neremit. This was the first time to use the motorcycle in the bush, all went well and I saved quite a bit on petrol. Some of the children called my helmet "yang au"- wild man-eating animal.
First, I went to the village of Lorogum and preached at the Sunday service. Eight people came and accepted Christ as their Savior! An older man was one of those who accepted Christ and the pastor of the church said it was a great blessing to see him saved. Many of the Christians from Lorogum had traveled to the village of Loringipi to mine for gold, (placer mining). So after the service at Lorogum the pastor and I traveled 55 kilometers up to Loringipi to try and visit them. Upon arriving we found that only a few were in the village and most were in the mountains working. We encouraged the Christians there and prayed with them hoping to come back for a longer stay in April. Loringipi is a different kind of village in Turkana. It is located 5 km. from the Uganda border and has members from four different tribes; Pokot, Turkana, Tepesi and Karamojong, all enemies. The only reason they live there in peace is so they will be able to extract the gold. While there we were told of a raid the night before where most are mining, no-one knew which tribe attacked but many suspected the Pokot. Since then we have heard there was much more fighting and the hospital in Lodwar has several wounded people from that area. Please pray that the area around Loringipi with calm down so that we can evangelize there. The Tepesi and Karamojong have had very little evangelizing and this would be a great opportunity for us to begin with them.
On Monday I traveled to the villages of Lokipatet-Arenang and Neremit. As far as I know our national pastor is the first one to hold regular meetings in those villages. Both of these villages are very primitive and only a few people spoke Swahili, the national language of Kenya. Yet in both places the Christians were eager to learn more about Christ and how God would have them to live. There were even some young men wanting to come and attend our Bible Institute in Lodwar, please pray for these young men that we can help them learn to read and teach their own people. In Neremit, an older man came to our service hiding one of his hands. Later the pastor told me he had injured it beating his wife for coming to the services there. He had since repented, accepted Christ and become a faithful believer! After we finished preaching I took what little medicine I had and treated the wounds on his hand. Please pray that he would heal up and continue to be a faithful Christian.
On Tuesday, I traveled to the village of Kalemenyang and visited the Church there. It is one of the oldest churches our mission has started in Turkana, but has really struggled in years past. We had about 20 adults attend the service and they seemed to be encouraged by our presence. One of our students at the Bible Institute is living there in the village, holding prayer meetings and working with the youth. After the service I met with a man who had bought the church garden from the former pastor. We discussed returning it to the church for the same price he had paid the pastor, 12 young, live goats, about $50 US. By the church having this small irrigated garden it will allow the future pastor to have a means of food and income there in the bush.
I finished up on Wednesday back at Lorogum encouraging the Christians to continue to trust the Lord even during famine. Some of our Christians are really suffering from the drought right now. Churches we fellowship with in the highlands of Kenya have begun sending food with me and I'm doing what I can to buy food for the churches I am working with. Please pray the Lord to give me wisdom in helping and also that He would give us opportunities to evangelize during this drought.
Everything is fine here in Lodwar. Our Bible Institute is doing well and the students seem to be studying their lessons. Please pray for one of our teachers, Pastor Thumbi, I believe he is suffering from high blood pressure, he thinks he has Malaria. Anytime a Kenyan gets sick he says he has Malaria, so pray we can get him checked out and that he will be able to continue with us. I now have a phone in Lodwar! From the time I made application to the time of connection was one week! I think it is a national record for installation. Another missionary here told me it took him 3 months to get a phone. My number is, 0393-21248 just in case you want to call.
God bless you all and thank you for your prayers.
In Christ, Bob Clark
Everything went very well these past few weeks in Turkana. I've been very encouraged by growth in churches and the desire of pastors to evangelize. In Lodwar the church has only been meeting for about 6 months. In December they decided to meet in a rented storefront type building, 850 shillings - $11.50 per month. For December I paid most of the rent, but since then the church has paid the rent themselves, not coming to me asking for assistance. You might think this is no big deal, but a large part of our ministry is trying to get the churches to become self sufficient and indigenous, not looking to the missionary whenever there are problems or bills. Well, almost from the beginning this young church has started paying its own rent. Now they are wanting to buy a plot, they came to me and wanted me to negotiate for a very nice plot they found, I put the matter back to the church. Please pray for them as they work on this, the church is Berea Bible Baptist Church, Lodwar. Also, pray for me as I seek to assist them in buying a plot, but at the same time help them continue on the path of a strong indigenous church.
I traveled to Lopur last Saturday and visited with the pastor about getting a door for them, Termites ate the first two. Again, the church gave money for the door and I'll have it made in Eldoret for a much better price and then take it to them. On Sunday I rode a bicycle to Juluk to visit our church there. Juluk is usually in the news at least once a month because the Pokot tribe raid there and steal cattle, sheep and goats. Every time they raid several Turkana herdsmen are killed or wounded. Anyway, they usually don't raid in the morning while we hold services.
The church there is eager to build and so I've asked them to bring sand from the river to use making concrete. They have since carried about two tons of sand 1 mile from the river, one small bag at a time! Also, they have said they would make palm leaf mats and have me sell them in Eldoret, the proceeds going to help build the new building. Please pray for the Bible Baptist Church in Juluk! On the way back from Juluk the bicycle I was riding had a flat and the pastor didn't bring his repair kit. So, it was a long walk through the desert back to where my truck was in Lorpur, about 6 miles. It's been so encouraging to see the churches make efforts to do things themselves, please pray for me that I will keep every promise to assist them as well as encourage them to look to our Lord for every need.
I'm in Eldoret for two weeks to buy supplies, make repairs, prepare for Bible Institute week, a crusade and ladies meeting this month. The poor little truck I'm using gets beat to death on the road between Lodwar and Eldoret. One shock absorber mount has broken twice and now I'm working on brakes and tie-rod ends. Please pray for the Truck, it's efficient but maybe a bit light for the roads in Turkana. I thank God for the motorcycle, it's saving gas and wear on the truck.
Received a blessing this week in the form of pictures and newspapers from home; Crane, Missouri. It's amazing how pictures of a barn full of cats, birthday gatherings and loved-ones can cheer you up. It's also a blessing to read a hometown paper, knowing that folks in my home place still hold tightly to things like HONOR, unselfish service for community and country, JUSTICE and Christian values that we know make our lives joyful and content. Many times these commodities are in very short supply here and I become jaded to the hope that things can ever be better in Kenya. Somehow, just reading about peaceful life around my home place cheers me and I know that our community was built on a fear for God and His Word. That's the starting place for Kenya.
Mungu akubariki -- God bless y'all
In Christ, Bob Clark
This last week in Turkana was a filled with many blessings and challenges. I arrived there last Wednesday during our Bible Institute to find all had progressed well without me. This was very encouraging because I have always been telling our teachers there to be ready to move on without me and it was good to see they had. I arrived with singers and pastors from up-country Kenya to help with our Crusade in Lodwar. Before we began the crusade we visited the area all around the church and passed out Gospel tracts. Then late in the afternoon we picked a spot with some shade and began singing and preaching. Again, the Kenyan pastors were in the lead and I simply gave my testimony in Swahili. I have to admit that training indigenous people to carry on the ministry is of utmost importance. Sometimes they do things in ways I wouldn't, but they get the job done and when it comes to following the Scripture most have learned that the Bible is our final guide no matter what culture (American, Turkana or Kenyan) dictates. The Crusade was a blessing to the Church in Lodwar and also to the many who accepted Christ as their Savior. We also met many members from Churches up-country who didn't know that we had a new church in Lodwar town. I need to add that the Berea Bible Baptist Church of Lodwar is really growing and maturing. The pastor and church had arranged to feed all 9 crusade guests for 5 days. That might not sound like much in America, but let me tell you it was a real effort on their part. They bought 3 goats, (nice tender ones I might add), plenty of fish, kunde (greens) and ugali, (corn meal mush). They even gave gifts of food to the main speakers to take home, (the district is currently in a state of famine). Please ask the Lord to really bless the church and Pastor Gitao for their giving during the crusade.
While in Lodwar I tried to make two land deals but couldn't complete either. The first owner was away the day I arrived at their village and had left word for his wife to sign over the plot. But I thought it best to wait for the Mzee to sign for himself. The second land owner didn't have any type of document at all to prove that he owned the land, his explanation was simply, "I've always lived here, everyone knows this is my plot, I don't need any papers to prove that." He was quite right, but we thought it best to wait for the plot to be registered before we buy it. Pray that both of these matters will be completed in a way that will honor God.
I'm now preparing to return to Turkana on Monday to begin building a church in the village of Juluk. I'll be doing a new kind of building with concrete pillars. It goes up quickly with minimal cost and the exterior walls are completed as the church is able to give toward building. The church has already given several things including, kichelong (small T- looking stools to sit or lay your head on), wooden bowls, abarite (wrist knives), and mikeka (palm leaf mats). The pastor had told me the church wasn't able to give any money toward building because they were so far into the bush few people had money. I told him that if the people brought ANYTHING as an offering I would take it to Eldoret and sell it, the money going to the Church. It has started well and I'm eager to show them the fruit of their giving. Many missionaries have told me working with the Turkana is more difficult than working with most other tribes. They are commonly referred to as the worst beggars in Kenya, so to see these people give to the Lord is a great encouragement.
Please pray for me as I continue to adjust to the culture and way of doing things in Turkana. I always thought of myself as a patient person able to handle most situations without blowing my top, but since I've begun working more closely with the Turkana people I've come to the end of my ability to deal with many frustrations. Please pray for me to have a love for the Turkana people that would allow me to serve them and help them grow in the Lord. Thanks so much for praying.
In Christ, Bwana Bob
Things are going well here in Turkana district. In the last two days I was able to complete two land agreements, one at the village of Kalemenyang and the other in Lodwar. In Kalemenyang we purchased about 3/4 of an acre for the pastor in that village to use as a means of supporting himself. The price agreed on was 4800/ Kenya shillings, or the equivalent of 12 live goats. It appears the rains are just starting so pray the pastor will be able to plant a crop this season. Here in Lodwar we bought about 3/4 of an acre for a church and Bible Institute. We have already sealed the deal with the owner, but the Catholics near to us are opposing the sale. I talked to one of their leaders today and asked him to speak with me directly if they had any problems. It seems the local diocese has written a letter to the District Commissioner opposing our purchase of the plot. Just pray that our work would not be hindered and I will keep a good testimony through this.
Will be leaving soon to work on a church in the bush at Juluk. We have our work cut out just getting supplies there, let alone building the church. Pray that we will be able to carry the supplies over the river without too much difficulty. Just this morning it rained here in Lodwar and from the clouds we are sure that is has rained near Juluk. You can't imagine the thrill and excitement that a sprinkle of rain brought to us. There hasn't been a good rain here for about 8 months and having rain was quite a sensation.
The longer I am here the more work I see that needs done, there are many places we need to take the Gospel and many young men needing to be trained in the ministry. Just this evening I was talking to one of our pastors about visiting a village near the Sudan border. It is very far but they say that there have never been any preachers or missionaries to that place. Please pray that the Lord will continue to guide and protect us and thank Him for all he has done.
In Christ, Bob Clark
P.S. My E-mail address will be changing to: bwanabob @africaonline.co.ke
This last week we began building a permanent meeting place for the church in Juluk. We began on Monday knowing that the chief of the area was in opposition, but we knew he had no grounds to oppose us. By Wednesday he had called the pastor to his office and chewed him out for beginning to build without his approval. After I heard of this I went to see the chief myself. The chief insisted that an irrigation scheme had been surveyed by the Catholics about 15 years earlier and was to pass some 50 meters from the present church site; therefore, we were to move to a different location. I tried to be as polite as possible and request that we proceed, but he insisted that we stop. We then finished the work we had started and traveled to Lodwar the next day.
When we arrived in Lodwar the first thing I did was make copies of our plot allocation letter. Then we stopped at a hotel for tea and doughnuts before going to the district offices. While taking tea one of our former pastors who is now a Counselor to the District Commissioner dropped in. He asked us how things were and we told him of the matter in Juluk, he immediately stated that we are going to see the DC together! The first office we went to was the District Clerk. Our friend, John Apoo, walked straight into the office full of men and cleared everyone out except for the Clerk. We stated our problem and he told us there was no reason to stop building and the Chief in Juluk had no right to stop us. After leaving that office we met another former pastor, also a Counselor, and all of us went to the Office of the District Commissioner. The DC was not in, but the District Officer #1 was and we went right into his office. He heard our problem, told us to continue and then gave me a letter to take to the Chief in Juluk to straighten him out! I must say that God works in marvelous ways, I had no idea where to take our problem at the DC offices, but God did! The Lord is directing our steps!
While I was building in Juluk, we had arranged to have a ladies meeting in the nearby village of Lopur. A veteran pastor, Thomas Alute from up-country, had come with his wife to teach the lessons. There were about 80 ladies in attendance from 3 different churches. They had a wonderful time together and pastor Alute was able to spend some valuable time in fellowship with the Turkana pastors. I believe that he was able to encourage them more than I ever could in two days. I'm not sure what all the lessons were on, but I was able to hear the last one on giving and trusting God. After the service the ladies came forward to give an offering and one of the ladies brought a chicken which in turn they gave to me. I should eat well tonight.
Please pray for us as we return to Juluk tomorrow. We have the matter settled with building, just pray that my helpers from the church will continue to work with effort. Please pray for our safety in the area of Juluk many thieves and raiders have been seen in the area.
I wish there were some way all of you could know how different this area is from America, it is even very different from the rest of Kenya. It is very much considered a frontier, many of the herders carry machine guns ( which is illegal), and when there is a skirmish the police usually show up two days later so as not to be shot. Sometimes I'm a little concerned about safety, but I know God has me here for a reason.
Thank you all for your prayers and praise God for His direction!
In Christ, Bob Clark
This last week was full of many challenges and blessings, and I want to thank all of you for praying. I traveled to the village of Juluk to begin building the church there, but met opposition from the sub-chief of the area. He told us that the Catholics wanted to build an irrigation canal near our building site and we were to be moved or wait. The sub-chief insisted that we stop building and we told him we would be going to Lodwar, the district headquarters, to seek assistance. Upon arriving in Lodwar we promptly met with two counselors from the District Commissioners office and within a short time had obtained a letter to continue building! The Lord truly worked out that arrangement because I had no idea who to see or what office to go to, but the Lord directed us where we needed to be.
Upon returning to Juluk we were met by a group of men called Ngorroko (spotted), basically they are a group of men who raid, kill and steal wherever they can. This group knew that I was in the area and had come to get money from me. The pastors I was with began explaining to this group that I didn't have much money and that they couldn't expect much. As the pastors were trying to work with some of the leaders I began calling all of them together and having them sit down. They thought I was having them sit to pass out money amongst them, but I saw it as a great opportunity to preach. Once they were all seated, about 50, I started preaching about sin, death, hell, repentance and salvation through our Lord Jesus. I did my best to preach in Swahili, but the man who interpreted to Turkana knew English, so all together I think they heard a very clear plan of salvation. One of the group was wearing a US Marine Corp Staff Sergeant insignia, so I related my time in the Marines and used the command of about face to describe repentance and turning to Jesus. I don't know if any of the men truly accepted Christ, none left their guns behind, but they did say that they had received the Word of God from me and they wouldn't be needing any money. As they were leaving I treated a couple of small wounds and gave one man antibiotics who I'm sure had meningitis. Later on, I learned that many friends of those men had been killed raiding in Baringo and Marakwet districts, those I preached to were the survivors. Only God knows what will become of those Ngorroko and the seed we planted, but we know His Word will not return void! On Sunday one of those men returned to the church service in Juluk.
After the Ngorroko left we continued building without any interference from the sub-chief and completed the first phase of building on Tuesday morning. We had made forms and poured 10 concrete columns for a building 20 by 32 feet. Most of the work was done by the pastor and the church members, the church had even given enough to pay for about half of the material. After the Christians there saw the fruit of their giving, they brought even more things for me to sell in Eldoret to buy supplies for building. They had brought wrist knives, small stools, wooden food bowls, wood and goatskin containers for butter, and wooden containers for meat. It was a blessing to see them give and made me even more eager to see their building completed.
I've now returned to Lodwar and am preparing for a youth meeting in Kalemenyang. We are planning to take about 200 pounds of corn and beans that way to help feed everyone. Pray that I'll do a good job teaching the youth and that we will have safety in that area.
Since I mentioned food, I'm not sure if you have heard in the news of the growing famine conditions here in the horn of Africa. Yes, there has been drought, but I must say that the main cause of hunger is poor governance and corruption. In all the villages I work in many children show signs of malnutrition. The amount of food that is needed is tremendous, but I feel that I would be able to help in a small way if I had enough vitamins to give out to the small children. The small ones are usually the last to eat and need the most help. In Juluk I saw a very malnourished child with only roasted donkey ear to eat. If you are willing to help with the vitamins please write me.
Please pray that the Lord will continue to bless the Church in Juluk, that the Ngorroko would one day come to understand repentance and the salvation of Jesus Christ, and also pray for the youth that they would follow the Lord and serve Him.
Your friend and missionary to "the country" of Turkana, Bob Clark
John 8:32 -"the truth shall make you free"
I have a pretty big announcement to make. I found a young lady who is all I could ever ask for in a wife. She has a real love for the Lord and a call to the mission field. I asked her to marry me and thank God she said yes! Her name is Ericka Mann and she is from Springfield, Missouri. I met her last year at a meeting while presenting my mission call to Kenya. When I met her she helped me set up and take down my display, since then we've discussed her coming to work beside me here in Kenya. Last week she came in Kenya for a two month visit and I was finally able to ask her the big question. We've set our wedding date for September 23rd in Springfield, Missouri. Ericka really wants to be married in the States, I couldn't convince her to have a Turkanan wedding, so I'm planning to go back to the States for about 6 weeks and then return to Kenya with her. I must give testimony that the Lord has supplied everything needed for my ministry here in Turkana, Ericka seems to be just the one I am needing to help round out the ministry here. Please pray for her and I as we prepare for the wedding and continue to serve the Lord.
I was only in Turkana for a short time this last month, but while there we held the Bible Institute and also had a pastors conference.
The Bible Institute classes went very well with one new Turkana teacher. I am really trying to involve the Turkana pastors as much as possible and also keep a high standard of training for the young men. Please pray that the pastors/teachers will do their best in every class. We are needing much prayer for the students of the Bible Institute. We lost one student, Solomon to immorality and another, Michael is living in a village quite some distance from any of our churches. Please pray that the one student will leave his sin and be restored to fellowship in his church, also pray that the second student will be able to move back to a village where he can assist a pastor.
After Bible Institute classes we held a pastors seminar. It seemed to be a great encouragement to our pastors and they asked if we could have seminar lessons every month. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or means to have a monthly seminar but we are going to try for once a quarter.
When my work was done in Turkana I traveled to Nairobi to buy supplies and pick up Ericka from the Airport. I ran the gauntlet of Nairobi traffic and finally found the Bible Society of Kenya. They had the Turkana New Testaments that I was looking for and I was also able to buy a case of Swahili Bibles for a good price. While in Nairobi I met some great folks who directed me to the Medicines Without Borders warehouse. There I was able to buy vitamins, dewormer and antibiotic ointment for very reasonable price. These things will go to assist drought victims in churches and villages I am working with. Please pray that we can work out an orderly distribution plan for the pastors and students to implement.
It seems my distaste for Nairobi grows every time I am there. While traveling down THE main highway in Nairobery I passed a policeman trying to redirect all the traffic around the university. Unfortunately, I saw the policeman too late and went down the street he had tried to direct me from. It didn't take long to see the problem was ANOTHER student riot with broken glass all over the street and roving bands of student thugs. It took a good hour to get around the whole mess, and thank God I didn't fall into the hands of the students.
This month I'm returning to Turkana with lots of supplies and even doors for a couple of churches. Please pray for safety as we travel with all the stuff. I'm planning to stay with a couple of pastors and put in the new doors.
Thank you all so much for your prayers. Please remember to pray for Ericka as she is getting used to the culture, learns some of the language on her visit and then prepares for the wedding.
God bless you all. Bob Clark
Hello everyone, this is Bob. I took Ericka with me to work at some churches this last week and here is the way she saw things. Most things I just take in stride now, but I thought she gave a very accurate account of our daily routine.
Well, I passed the bush and brains test.
The climate out here is hot but hot enough to handle. A life saver is during the hottest part of the day everyone lays down and takes a nap and then gets up around 3 and starts working again. We arrived in Katilu on Wednesday at 11. But we weren't able to start work until 3:30 or 4 because of the customary chai, which is hot tea with milk and sugar, that is given to anyone who stops by, then it was time for lunch, ugali and sukuma, crushed and cooked corn with collared greens and then you have to talk for a while. We went to the church and started to knock out holes in the door frame to put a metal door up. Dinner time was the same as lunch chai and ugali and sukuma. This is Africa, so we ate with our hands. I believe out of our whole trip we ate with utensils 3 times. That night I slept in a tent and Bob slept under the stars.The next morning started out with chai and talking. Afterwards we were able to go out to the church and put the door in and cement it in. Bob and I make a great working team. We finished everything for the door in 2 and a half hours. Then lunch, more chai, ugali and sukuma. We were finished in Katilu and headed on to Lopur. We were hoping to get started in the church and get some of the work taken care of that day, but again this is Africa and people move at one pace, slow. We were greeted at the pastor's house with more chai and much talk. Everybody was excited to see me and said that they had been praying for me. After a little bit a goat was led by where we were sitting and the people were excited and Bob said that was dinner. I've had goat before so I thought cool. What I didn't know was that they wanted me to watch them kill and gut the goat. Quite interesting. The first thing served to us is considered the prize part of the goat, the liver. It was delicious. After a while the chai was brought out and then ugali and the meat. It was a great meal, only one problem I don't care for fat and because I was the guest I was given a fair sum of fat, but I got all of it down. That night I slept in a little hut with the pastor's wife and Bob and the pastor slept outside.
Chai! Always chai to start our days. Bob went out to the church first thing with a couple of people and started working knocking out hole for another door at the church in Lopur. I stayed behind with the ladies learned some Kiswahili and Turkana. I have gotten to where I carry a little notebook around with me and fill it with words and try using them whenever possible. The ladies always laughed at me and were excited that I was trying to learn their language. When I arrived at the church the holes had been knocked out and it was ready to have the door put in and cemented up. Four of us worked on it and got it kicked out in no time at all. Time for lunch, it was always a guessing game to see what they would bring out. Today, it was goat head! Nothing goes to waste out here. The goat head was brought in on a platter and then they started cutting off pieces, the lips, tongue, ear, etc. I only ate the lips and tongue, Bob was so nice and put pieces of meat to one side so that I could eat them. Guess what was next. Goat brains! They had to cut open the skull with a machete and then gave me 2 overflowing teaspoons of brains on my hand and gave Bob 1 and a half. Bob said this was a special privilege because he hadn't gotten brains before. I got it down, praise God! After that the rest of lunch was served. After naps, then we were able to go back out to the church and put up wire mesh for one of the windows. Came back for dinner and chai. I haven't told you yet, about how we bathe. We usually wait until after dark and then go an area encircled with brush and a basin of water is in the middle. I strip down, squat and splash water on myself, after getting wet suds myself up and then splash water on myself to rinse off. It is quite interesting but it is refreshing to wash off all of the dust, sweat and cement from the day.
Saturday morning we headed out to Juluk to visit the church. Only 12 km but we have to dodge thorn bushes like crazy. We park the truck on one side of the river and get out, for the guys they have to roll up their pants and for us girls we have to hike up our skirts. It was never any deeper than up to my knees. We crossed safely and walked into the village, we were greeted with singing from the choir at the church. It was a wonderful day. I was able to get up and say a few words and the pastors commented that my Swahili was better than Bob's. Exciting news, Bob has started working on getting a permanent building for the church because the termite will eat any wood substance. He has pillars up for the new building and we just found out that money has been given specifically for the building in Juluk and so we will be able to get some more materials out there for that. After our visit we headed back to Lopur to work on another window. Anyplace that Bob and I are at we gain a large amount of attention because we are the only white people some of the Turkana have ever seen. There must have been 15 kids watching us work. Bob had plenty of help with the window so I sat down for a little bit, and the children, all ages 21-3, came over by me. One of the girls pointed at my hair, so I took it down out of the pony tail, flipped my head over and shook my head and they all screamed because they have never seen that before, their hair is short and curly. They absolutely loved it. Then I asked them to teach me a song, so we swapped songs back and forth. I would sing and teach them some actions, they would laugh at me and learn the actions, and they would teach me actions to the songs and I would do them and they laughed at me because a white person had never done that before. We all had a great time, and it worked out well for Bob that I was keeping the children occupied because they were able to get the work done faster without kids underfoot.
On Sunday we went back out to Katilu for the service there. It was a good time, Bob preached, we had lunch and then headed to Lopur to pack up our stuff and the people that were riding with us and then head back to Lodwar. Bob took me out to a nice hotel area for some food and cold drinks. I had a wonderful time out in the bush and am looking forward to going back again.
This is Bob again. Ericka is really doing well here in Turkana and I know that when we are married we will make a great team. She does so well with the children and ladies both. She has always eaten anything they offer to her and is always trying to learn new words.
For those of you who haven't heard we are planning a wedding for September 23rd, this year in Springfield, Missouri. I've tried many times to talk Ericka into having a wedding here, but that's one thing she doesn't want to do here in Africa.
Those of you who sent money for vitamins, thank you. I am able to buy them in Nairobi for the cost from the manufacturer. My pastors are distributing them and I'm having the pastors keep a list of all the people receiving vitamins and in what amount. The drought here is only getting worse, so please pray for rain here in Turkana.
One of my supporting churches sent money to put the roof on the church at Juluk! Please pray that we can get a good part of that done before I go back to the States for our wedding. I'd love to have it completed, but we'll just have to wait and see.
Last but not least. I've had lots of trouble with my E-mail account. I am using my old address firstname.lastname@example.org the new address @africaonline had a different server and I could never get logged on, support for the new server was nonexistent. I had tried to send some messages before telling everyone to use my old address, but I think they never made it past the server.
Please pray for Ericka, she still hasn't eaten everything Turkana has to offer. Thank you for your prayers and if you don't receive a formal invitation to our wedding know that your invited.
In Christ, Bob and Ericka
Dear Friends and loved ones,
It's been some few weeks since I've written, Ericka and I have been running quite a bit but we're doing fine. This week we were to be in Lodwar at the Bible Institute. Unfortunately, we have both come down with a cough and sinus problems. Ericka went to see a doctor and he started her on some antibiotics, so now I've started the same medication. As for the Bible Institute I arranged for the pastors to continue without me, please pray for them. A large part of my ministry is encouraging the local churches to stand strong and encouraging the pastors to rely on the Lord for strength and direction. This month of Bible Institute is a little test of their ability and willingness to go on without me. Please pray for them!
I've been wanting to start work on the roof for the church at Juluk. I have the material to begin making steel trusses and all is here for me to start, the only problem is being sick and not having electricity to weld with. We are on a very erratic rationing schedule for electricity in Eldoret. It seems I'll need to haul everything to Lodwar, assemble the rafters there, then carry them back south to Juluk. Very little ever works as planned here in Kenya. I guess one of the top qualifications for a missionary is STAY FLEXIBLE!
Last week Ericka and I visited some friends who work with the Masai near the Masai Mara game park. It was an encouragement for both of us. Ericka was able to get lots of great advice from Pam. Paul and I discussed some common problems we are having in the ministry even though we work on different sides of the country. Praise God for those who've gone before us! On the way back north Ericka and I used a different road that everyone said was fine. Come to find out it was one of the worst I have ever been on, it wore us out and made for a very long day getting back to Eldoret.
Ericka and I continue making plans for the wedding on September 23rd and for life when we return to Kenya. My pastor has suggested that I stay in the States for a few months and raise some extra support. Our plan is to return to Kenya in January before we start the second year of Bible Institute. I don't like being away from the work, but this is the way the Lord has directed. I won't be leaving Kenya until September 9, so keep e-mailing me here until we have a new address in the States.
Thanks for your E-mails and God bless you all.
In Christ, Bob Clark
Things have been going well here in Kenya even without electricity. Many might have heard that most of the country was without power last Saturday, but when your used to not having power for half of a day, there's no problem in loosing power all day.
On Monday my fiance, Ericka, left Nairobi and headed back to the States. She's returning to get everything ready for our wedding on September 23rd. I'm staying on here to try and get everything settled for our time in the States. It will only be for four months and I hope that while I am gone it will help the Turkana pastors to grow into some of the areas I have been working in.
I have a blessing to report, while in Nairobi I picked up vitamins to distribute in Turkana. While at the PSF (Pharmacies Without Boarders) office I asked them if they had the cure for Malaria. They said of course and gave me the price right away, less than 10 cents per dose. I was able to buy enough tablets to cure close to 400 people for about $30! The same medicine usually retails here for about $1 per dose. Malaria is probably the main cause of death in Kenya and next to that are AIDS related illnesses. This medicine should be a great help to the churches and villages where we minister in the bush. Please pray that the medicine will be used in a way that will give honor and glory to God.
I'm not sure how much news everyone gets in the States about remote areas in Africa, but this last week we had some pretty serious fighting near Turkana that could affect us in the future. Just over the border in Uganda the Karamajong people have had some "cattle wars" that left nearly 100 dead. It is reported that some Turkana were involved in the fighting as well. There is currently peace between the Turkana and Karamajong people, but if this peace breaks it could make it very insecure to work in the areas west of where our churches are. Just pray that things will settle down and that this recent conflict won't escalate and hinder the spread of the Gospel.
On Saturday I'm planning to head back to Turkana with most of the material for a church roof and a load of household items for Ericka and I. Please pray for the truck. It is a good little truck and has never left me stranded, but I'm always doing preventive maintenance and finding little problems before they become big problems.
There is quite a bit on my schedule this month that I wasn't able to do last month, so pray that I can get everything done. We have a pastors meeting in Lodwar, a youth camp, then a two day ladies meeting.
Thank you all for your prayers and hope to see some of you in the States this year.
In Christ, Bob Clark
Sorry for not writing in such a long time, but I'm trying to stay busy finishing up things before heading to the States in September.
In July, Ericka and I were sick and couldn't return to Turkana to help with a youth camp and ladies meeting. This month was the only time to reschedule those events and all turned out well. I started with the youth meeting in Katilu, we had about 100 youth from the villages of Katilu, Lopur and Juluk. It was a real blessing to me and also a blessing to the young people. Our special speakers were great pastors from down-country Kenya. They carried the main load of lessons and teaching while I held the devotions in the morning and taught a lesson on AIDS. At the end of the meeting the youth were very excited to have the next meeting and wanted to make it four or five days. This would be a great idea, but feeding everyone becomes a problem. I was able to bring most of the food this time, so pray that in the future the churches and youth can contribute to the food bill, thereby extending the number of days for the camp. I didn't get an exact count on how many were saved, but I know even one being saved is worth all the effort.
The week after the Youth Camp we held a ladies meeting with the Churches of Lorogumu, Kalemenyang and Lodwar. Again, we had special speakers from down country Kenya who were great examples to the ladies. My part was devotions and one preaching session. I've been preaching and teaching in Swahili for about four months now, but my vocabulary is limited so I'm really not up to teaching all day. I brought most of the food for the meeting, but the churches participating in the Ladies meeting did a great job of contributing their part of the food and supplies. After the meeting, one of the Turkana ladies commented that she didn't know a lady could know the Bible as well as the two ladies who came to teach from down-country. This Turkana lady said she would work to read her Bible and learn the Scriptures! You would not believe the questions that the Turkana ladies asked after all the lessons were finished. Most all the women face problems because their husbands have several other wives. The wives often fight each other and it's very common for the husband to beat them, especially when he's drunk. Even the Kenyan ladies from down-country were shocked by the difficulties these women face. There were about 50 ladies in all, some had walked 30 km to get to the meeting place. I gave these ladies a ride back to their village. You should have seen my pickup, all the ladies with babies rode in the front, 6 Momas, 6 Babies, and me. There were about 14 in the back. Please remember to pray for my truck.
I really wish you could see and experience all the things that we did in the two meetings. It's nothing like meetings in America. As for the "youth" in Kenya they consist of young people from the ages of 13 - 25, unmarried. These meetings are seen as a great opportunity for the young people to scout for prospective husbands and wives, thus we have many older "young people." It is all culturally acceptable and seems to help the youths find a Christian mate. At the ladies meeting there was no nursery, no diapers and lots of traditional dress. I think of the ladies meetings that we've had at my home church, the ladies with all their nice outfits, quiet environment, the smell of a dozen different perfumes and a well organized schedule. In Turkana, I'd say it was another world, but the same goal was accomplished, teaching God's Word and encouraging the ladies in their walk with the Lord. At both meetings the singing was tremendous! One thing Turkanans like to do is sing and do they have volume! They sing songs like, "One day, when Jesus comes, I'll fly away to heaven like a bird" and "Jesus, lead me like a shepherd."
After the meetings were over, I traveled back to Juluk to carry the trusses for the new church building. Recent rain produced fields of mud, I had to park the truck about a mile and a half from the church. Fourteen of us started carrying the trusses to the church in the rain. The first part of the journey was through mud, then dry ground, then across the river, through the irrigation area and on to the village. It was a blessing to see such effort from the church members, wish I could have taken a picture. The whole time we were carrying the trusses it was raining, so by the time I got back to the truck most of the trail had turned to greasy mud. I made it out of the mud after lots of spinning and sliding only to be stopped at a raging rainy season river. We waited there for about an hour and when the water was about knee-hi I started across only to have the truck die in the middle of the little river, no thanks to water on the ignition system. Thank God there were enough people around to push the truck back far enough to get the engine completely above water. After lots of cranking, backfiring and two more tries across, we got through the water victorious. The rest of the day was filled with checking the water level in each wet season river, some waiting, more problems with water on the ignition system, but eventually I made it back to Lodwar. It was a difficult day, but the rain was such a blessing, we thanked God for all the water.
This last Sunday was an added blessing. I was able to travel to the church at Kalemenyang for services and baptism. I had been told there would be about 35 to be baptized, which is a great number, but I had no idea how many there actually were. I started baptizing and after about 40 people I started getting a little tired and wondered just how many there were. After we finished I asked the acting pastor how many we had baptized and he counted 66 people on his list! There is a young man named Peter working in a nearby village called Neremit, he has been going all around preaching and witnessing to people in the bush around Neremit. On that Sunday, he brought most everyone he had led to the Lord to the church in Kalemenyang. We baptized them along with the new Christians of Kalemenyang. What a blessing to work with young men who are on fire to spread the Gospel in their home places! Please pray for Peter and Hosea as they continue working in this area, God bless them for their work!
I've come to Eldoret for supplies to finish the church roof at Juluk, please pray that all will go well here and that we can finish up things in Juluk next week.
Next month I'm heading to the States for a wedding, MINE! I always thought I would be married much sooner, but I know that the Lord just wanted me to wait for Ericka. She has really made an impression on the Christians in Turkana, they can't wait for her to return and start leading ladies meetings. I can't wait for her to help me in Turkana, I'm really in need of her support and Ericka is a blessing of encouragement and joy.
I believe that I'll cancel this E-mail account after I head to the States. Please use Ericka's E-mail email@example.com starting about September 5. I leave for the States on September 9 and we return to Kenya in January.
Thank you all for your prayers and God bless you.
In Christ, Bob Clark
Dear Friends and Fellow Laborers for Christ,
We finished the roof in Juluk! Last Saturday we all carried the boards, tin, tools and accessories across the river and to the village. There was no mud or rain this time so I was able to drive right to the river. There were about 10 of us carrying everything and each one made about 3 trips. I really wish I could have gotten a picture, but I forgot my camera that day.
On Monday we began by putting up the trusses. Thank God I had measured properly and everything fit together quite easily. The Turkanans kept saying, "We've never seen a building made like this." After the trusses were up we put the perlins on. I had brought just enough boards and for a little bit we thought there wasn't going to be enough, but all was sufficient. On Tuesday, we started putting on the tin. I really had my hands full trying to explain how to nail it down properly and keep it all lined up. We did a pretty good job, and the most important thing was we worked together with the pastors and members doing the greater part. If anything I want them to know that the building is theirs and not mine.
I slept in Juluk on Monday night, that was a real experience. Even though I was in my tent and the tent was inside a little fenced area, I could hear most of the village singing about 200 feet away. They were practicing for the arrival of the District Officer. They sang until about 11 PM. I have to tell you what it was like. The way Turkanans traditionally sing is very different from any modern music, it seems they are always singing in a sharp key and the rhythm is often disjointed, like several rhythms within one rhythm. Anyway, someone got the bright idea to bring out their battery powered boom box, put on some rap style jive and let it play along with the traditional singing. There was about as much harmony and compliment as two alley cats with their tails tied together. After the singing everyone in the village stayed up and talked, it seemed like I was trying to sleep in the middle of a giant reception hall. Then at about 4:30 AM, after the first rooster crowed, someone with a whistle started running around the village waking up everyone for practice again. It was fun to experience all of that, but two nights in a row would have been too much.
The church members liked having me there. Not to blow my own whistle, but they really appreciate me eating and staying with them. Imagine someone coming to visit your place and them saying, "No I don't eat fried chicken or mashed potatoes and I don't like hot rolls." To refuse their food is quite an offence. I often have fun correcting people in the villages who call me "Father" I like to tell them that there is only one Father who is in heaven and that I am just a man like them.
I returned to Lodwar today only to find more church construction going on! The meeting place for the church here in Lodwar was much too small, so they began expanding. They hadn't asked me for help or anything, they just began. When I went by the church there were the old ladies, young men and pastor working at tearing out mud walls and putting up a new ones to make about three times more space. Well, I just so happened to be carrying 12 sheets of tin in the back of my pickup that were left over from the church in Juluk. I told the pastor that since the church had moved ahead with building and doing the work, I would contribute the tin and nails that I was carrying. You should have seen the Christians and their pastor, they just beamed.
Things are moving ahead here in Turkana. I haven't yet gone to the States and I'm already wanting to be back in the middle of the work here.
Just keep praying for the churches and pastors in Turkana and do pray for Ericka and I as we are married on September 23rd. We'll have adjustments to make and some may be a bit difficult for us.
God bless and keep you all.
In Christ, Bob Clark
No e-mail received October, November, December 2000
Bob was in the United States during these three months. During this time, he married Ericka Mann and raised additional funding for his continued work.