Friday, December 31, 2010

They Keep Going…And Going…And Going…

King's Kids 20th AnniversaryAs 2010 draws to a close, we reflect back on all the anniversaries that have been celebrated this year.  We’ve celebrated 50 years of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and 50 years of independence for Mali.  Last night, we celebrated 20 years of King’s Kids in Mali – a YWAM kids performance ministry.  We attended a big celebration at a King’s Kids camp taking place in Bamako this week.  Over 100 kids from all over Mali were attending the camp.  There was a big performance last night with lots of songs, skits, and dances.  A special surprise was when they called all the Kings Kids alumni in the audience to participate in one of the dance numbers.  After all of the performances we were treated to a wonderful buffet of African dishes.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Alpha Omega

Alpha Fall 2010Our 10 week Alpha for ESOL Course has drawn to a close.  We had our final meeting on Wednesday night.  It’s always bittersweet when a course wraps up.  It’s satisfying to have seen the Course through to conclusion, but it’s sad to say good-bye to everyone.

We had 5 students complete the course.  Everyone was glowing about how the course had changed their lives.  Following the lesson on Wednesday night, we had a small graduation ceremony and awarded each student with a completion certificate and an NiRV simplified English Bible that were graciously provided by a church in Washington that has partnered with our Alpha Course.

We’re already planning our next course for February.  In the meantime, we’re very excited that a training team from Alpha in the UK is coming to Mali in January for an Alpha Course leader training.  We’re hoping this will increase the amount of interest and participation in Alpha Courses in Mali.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Joyeux Noël

Christmas 2010Merry Christmas from the Clarks.  Yes, the blog has been pretty quiet the past few weeks, but it’s certainly not for lack of activity in our lives.  Here’s just a quick summary:

Julie has developed more kidney stones and was in a lot of pain a couple of weeks ago.  She visited a doctor here who prescribed some medicine and advised her that they should pass naturally without any medical intervention - specifically no need to leave Mali for additional medical care.

School is currently on Christmas vacation so we are all free from school activities for a couple of weeks.

We have a YWAM short term team from Switzerland visiting Mali.  They have been staying in Bamako for the past week.  Because a majority of the team are English speakers, John has been given the responsibility of overseeing the team’s activities while they are in Bamako.  He started with an orientation program to help acclimate them to Mali.  He then accompanied them on several activities including a visit to a preschool for children of widows and orphans,  ministry at the juvenile prison, a prayer walk around the government ministry complex, shopping downtown (always a very challenging task) and other adventures.

We have been most excited about a Christmas program John organized explaining what Christmas is all about.  Even though Mali is a Muslim country, Christmas is a legal holiday.  But even so, there is very little evidence of Christmas in Mali.  A few stores that cater to Westerners have Christmas decorations, but other than that, the landscape is devoid of Holiday cheer.  We held an outdoor event on three different nights to explain Christmas.  We projected pictures of Christmas and film clips on a large screen.  The Swiss team sang a few Christmas carols and John explained what they mean.  The program was designed to explain the sights, sounds, and traditions of Christmas in the Western world.  But most importantly, the program ultimately led to the story of the first Christmas and the birth of Christ with related clips from the Jesus Film.  We explained the importance and significance of this event and shared about the most special Christmas gift of all.  The events were well attended and we passed out a lot of literature afterward and had several good conversations with people after each event.

Last night our family shared Christmas Eve in a local church.  We returned again this morning for the Christmas day service.  In all, we have been very blessed this Christmas season and we wish the same to you and your families.