Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lost in Translation

Last Sunday when John preached on unity at the Bamako English Fellowship, we also lead the worship time. There is a worship song in French called Nous Voulons Vivre l'Unité by Sylvain Freymond. In English the title is We Want To Live in Unity. The song has really touched us and we wanted to share it with the English speaking congregation. Unfortunately, the song has not been translated into English. So we took up the task of trying it ourselves. We ran our finished translation by one of our native French speaking YWAM friends to have her check the accuracy of the translation. She felt it was done very well. In fact, she knows the writer of the song and asked our permission to submit the translation to him. He was very pleased with the translation and felt it reflected the original French version. Wow...what an encouragement to our French learning this has been!

Click here to listen to the original French version of this song.

We Want to Live in Unity
by Sylvain Freymond - translation by John Clark

We want to live in unity
Every moment every day
Careful not to split apart
As we move ahead

Together we share the love
Love of the Lord as we worship our Savior
Together we welcome
The Spirit of the Lord, Creator of unity

We want to remain faithful
And become united as one
Bonded together in peace
As we walk in the Spirit of God

We recognize our differences
To God they are our strength
We will share in everything
While we seek the kingdom of God

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The English Patient

We are continuing to work with Malian students who are building their English skills to pass the TOEFL (English proficiency) test and attend college in the States. Julie is working on grammar and written skills and John is helping with speaking and listening skills. We've have found several great resources that have been very helpful in both arenas. John has located some wonderful podcast sources including a language institute in Los Angeles that produces English podcasts specifically for people preparing for the TOEFL exam. We have purchased some inexpensive MP3 players to allow our students to listen to these podcasts and practice their listening skills at their leisure. We've also been sharing some wonderful podcasts that talk about the culture and lifestyles in the U.S. John even found a podcast of chapel services at Asbury Seminary where one of our students has applied for a scholarship. He is really excited about getting a special sneak peek into the school each week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Independence Day

Today is Malian Independence Day celebrating Mali's break from French Colonialism in 1960. Previously, Mali had been a part of the French Soudan when military forces began occupation in 1880. Today, Mali serves as an example of a successful independent republic in Africa. We enjoy peace and harmony among different tribes and people that is rare on this continent filled with strife and conflict. Because Mali is a such a poor country, there wasn't a big national celebration. There were small parades in some parts of the country, but nothing big in Bamako where we live. We chose not to go out but to watch highlights on TV instead. Our featured video this week is Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT) placing a wreath at the Independence Monument in downtown Bamako. This monument also serves as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The perpetual flame is only lit on holidays otherwise people would be camped around the monument using the flame to cook their meals.

John preached about Church unity last night and talked at length about Independence Day. He used the Malian government and society as an example to the Church of what church unity should look like. Mali's national seal states the country's motto: One People, One Goal, One Faith. If we could only follow this same mindset in the Church. A sobering statistic he quoted is there are currently 33,700 different Christan church denominations today...and it is forecasted this number will increase to 55,000 by 2025. This is a far cry from the unity in the Church that we are taught to exhibit.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Trick or Treat

We're now a couple of weeks into Ramadan...the holy month in Islam.  During this time, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk with no eating or drinking.  The most devout Muslims consider swallowing their saliva as drinking, so there's a lot of spitting this time of year.

Obviously, people are pretty drained from the lack of eating and drinking, so things move at an even slower pace than usual.  At night, things really begin to come to life as people are re-energized after starting to eat and drink again.

Ramadan GirlsThere was a knock at our front gate around 10:30 last night.  It was pretty persistent, so we chose to answer it.  There was a group of kids at our gate with their faces painted and holding musical instruments.  They came into our yard and began singing and dancing.  It turns out this is a West African tradition associated with the midpoint of Raman.  Apparently, for 5 nights, the kids go out door-to-door entertaining their neighbors in exchange for small gifts similar to trick-or-treating in the States on Halloween.

We hadn't heard of this before, so we were caught completely by surprise.  We went into the house and found a package of cookies and soon word got around that the white people were giving out some great treats and we had more groups of kids show up.  It finally calmed down about 11:00 pm.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Swipe Your Card

We found a little unpleasant surprise when checking our credit card account on-line.  It appears someone has gotten a hold of our credit card number and has been on a gas buying spree across Florida and North Carolina.  We've called our credit card company and they've canceled the card and are in the process of reversing the charges.  In all, there were over $700 in gas purchases over a 2 day period.  We're glad we caught it early. 

Several of the charges were for $100 exactly.  Now you know why there's a $100 purchase limit at most gas stations.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

John & Julie Clark - Special 19th Anniversary Edition

Yesterday we celebrated our wedding anniversary. We went to an upscale hotel owned by Muammar Gaddafi. (He owns many hotels and big businesses in West Africa.) We had a wonderful western style meal in the hotel's restaurant on the bank of the Niger River. The menu had a lot of items that are difficult to find in Mali. They even had Diet Coke (called Coke Lite outside the US) which we normally can't get in Mali. Believe it or not, it was $9.75 for a 12oz can! It's a good thing we don't like Diet Coke.

The night also a marked a rite of passage for Cole. Now that he's getting older, we felt he'd become responsible enough to stay at home without a babysitter.

In all, we had a lovely evening together reflecting back on our marriage and laughing about how on our wedding day we could have never pictured ourselves living in Africa!

Monday, September 01, 2008

No News Is Good News

All Is Well - We Are Safe and Sound in Mali.

We have finally gotten around to updating the blog. Our last week in the States really threw us off track for some reason and we never caught up. We are sorry for the the lack of news.

We have backfilled our blog entries to help catch up on what's been happening the past month. Now that we're caught up, we'll get back to our regular posting schedule.