Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas To Remember

Two weeks ago, our Alpha topic was about church.  We extended an invitation to anyone who wanted to join us for church to see what is it like.  We made a special effort to promote going to church on Christmas day as most churches would be doing special services.

Xmas 2015One of our Alpha guests expressed an interest in going to church with us on Christmas.  We met him at Go Global this morning and had him follow us to a church in our neighborhood.  Before we left, we had time to talk and get to know him better.  He comes from a family of 25 brothers and sisters!  His father has four wives.  While this is unusual in our culture, it’s quite the norm here in Mali.  We also took the time to share some things to expect in church.  Worship and singing in particular would be a big difference for him as there is no music during services at the mosque.  He was particularly intrigued by the fact that people sing and dance in church.  We also explained how we pray in church, what the offering time is about and that he didn’t need to take part in this.  We also shared that many people would be wearing clothes made out of a special Christmas fabric.  We purposely didn’t have Christmas clothes made this year because we didn’t want him to feel intimidated by not having Christmas clothes of his own.

We arrived at church around 9am just as the service was starting.  Because it is Christmas, there was lot of special music, including musical presentations by several different ethnic groups in the church.  After 2-1/2 hours, the pastor started his message.  It was an excellent message that tied some of the current events in Mali, including the jihadist activities, to end times.  Unfortunately, our friend had another engagement and wasn’t able to stay for the entire message.  He apologized for having to leave early, but said he was very interested in coming back for more.  Please continue to pray for him as the Lord works in his life.

The Christmas service was almost 4 hours long.  But over the years, our perspective of Christmas has changed dramatically.  We no longer see it as family holiday, but rather a day to focus on celebrating the Lord’s birth with activities centered at church.

We did return home and opened a few gifts together and Julie made a beautiful Christmas dinner for the two of us.  Of course we do miss our son Cole and seeing other family during the Holidays.  But as we reflect on all that has happened this week, it has been one of the most meaningful and fulfilling Christmases we’ve had.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Twas The Night Before Christmas

Daniel Tieh, our missionary friend from Liberia, invited us to one of his churches on Christmas Eve to host a kids’ program and do a presentation for local youth in their neighborhood.  His church is only about a mile from our house, so we chose to pack up our things and walk.

Xmas Eve 2015 Kids ProgramJulie took charge of the kids’ program that stared at 4pm.  The room she had to use was much smaller than she had anticipated, but she quickly made adjustments to her plans and activities to match.  She had also been planning for 30 kids.  When the program started, there were about 30 kids in the room.  But as the afternoon went on, the attendance swelled to close to 100 kids.  Many had to observe from outside the door.  With the help of a translator, Julie talked about Jesus being the Good Shepherd. She also recounted the role the shepherds played in the nativity story and explained the symbolism of the candy cane shaped like the shepherds’ staff.

Xmas Eve 2015 Youth Program - JohnAfter the kids program ended, John hosted the youth program.  There were about 60 youth in attendance.  Most of them were not from the church and were not Christian.  John started with an artistic video that built a lot of anticipation and excitement.  He then went on to share about youth being the future, avoiding peer pressure, dealing with sexual temptations, and how to lead a life following God’s direction.  He incorporated small group discussion times to reinforce some of the items he was presenting.  At the end, he showed a Christmas video and explained the significance of Christmas and Jesus.  He closed with an invitation to receive Christ and to come and talk with the pastor or youth director with any additional questions.

Xmas Eve 2015 Youth ProgramThree of our Alpha guests came to the youth program after being invited by one of their Alpha friends.  One young man in particular was called on to lead one of the small groups.  He is not yet a Christian, however, he was eager to share many of the new things he’s learned and discovered in Alpha over the past 12 weeks.  It was exciting to see multiplication in action.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Alpha GGM Fall 2015Our Alpha Course came to a close tonight.  It was a joyful and sad time combined.  We’ve developed some powerful relationships with our Alpha guests and we have continuing opportunities to walk with them and disciple them even as Alpha draws to a close.  Unfortunately, not everyone could be present for the final class because of a Muslim holiday.  But we did have a chance to share and celebrate with 10 guests who received certificates of completion.

Overall, people were sad that the course is ending, but we’ve created several opportunities to continue meeting and sharing with them.  We’re especially excited that a few have shown interest in going to church with us to find out more about church and Christians.  Please be praying for these men and women to respond to the Lord’s call on their lives.

We’re very grateful to Carina and Dave who served as small group hosts.  Dave has an exciting new ministry starting with some of the men from his small group.  He is going to be meeting regularly with them to go through The Bible miniseries that aired on TV in the States last year.

Anticipation is building for our next Alpha Course which begins at the end of January.  Our guests are eager to share the Alpha Course with their friends.

Tim and MohamadThis morning, we had a visit from Tim and Mohamed.  They are two men who took John’s Alpha Course several years ago.  They shared how valuable it has been to them.  They still have their Alpha books and they continue to share things they learned during Alpha with people they meet.  They are also using it to do regular Bible studies with people in their neighborhood.  Mohamed also shared how the Alpha Course is what brought him to the Lord and how grateful he is for taking it.  What a huge blessing it was to have these two men share their testimony from years ago as we’re getting ready to wrap up this course. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Out With The Old, In With The New

GGM Level 4 Fall 2015John’s English class ended tonight.  His class of thirteen students had a graduation ceremony and party to celebrate.  John is very proud of all of his students who successfully passed the final exam and will be moving up to the next level of English.  John is looking forward to teaching the same class with a new group of students beginning in January.  In addition, he will also be teaching a class on business basics.

He has been honored to work with his students and has developed several relationships as a result.  Many are in influential positions, including a doctor, someone who works at one of the government ministries, and a man who’s finishing his second university Master’s degree.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Harvest Time!

Midway through the Alpha Course, there is a special weekend retreat called the Holy Spirit weekend.  For cultural and logistical reasons, we compress the weekend into a single day retreat.  We were concerned that the terrorist events last Friday would impact attendance, but we felt it was important to go ahead on Saturday as planned without canceling or postponing it.  Throughout the day, we had a total of seventeen people show up.

Our day included three different times of teaching and discussion interspersed with games and fun activities.  We also offered a full complement of meals.  For breakfast, we had French pastries, lunch was meat sandwiches and fries, and dinner was Toh, a Malian favorite made with millet and sauce made of boabob leaves.  Everyone was very excited when they found out we were having Toh.

It was a long day that started at 9am and went until 8pm.  But everyone was very attentive and responsive.  The teaching times brought some interesting new ideas and the discussion times were lively.  At the end of the retreat, we invited people to come to us for private prayer if desired.  One man asked us to pray for him to change his life.  He was eager to accept Jesus as his personal Savior and begin a new life.  At the beginning of the Alpha Course, this man was a very devout Muslim and resistant to Christianity.  Today, he is a fellow believer in Jesus.  Please celebrate with us and hold him up in prayer as he begins his new walk with the Lord.  In addition, there are three other men that are showing more and more interest each week.  Please pray with us that the truth will be revealed and received and they too can begin a new life in Christ.

We still have four weeks left for this Alpha Course.  This course has been very productive and we’re seeing great things coming from it.  Although the soil appears hard upon first glance, seeds are being planted and are beginning to grow.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Business As Usual

imrs.phpThe weekend in Bamako passed calmly and peacefully after the tragic events at the Radisson Hotel on Friday.  Security forces we able to clear the hotel by late afternoon on Friday.  In the end, 19 people from several countries (including 1 American) lost their lives.  Please hold up their friends and family and they process the loss.

The US Embassy gave an all clear on Saturday, lifting the recommendation to remain at home.  Things in Bamako have pretty much returned to normal.  The President of Mali declared a state of emergency for 10 days.  This gives the police and military additional authority to respond quickly to potential threats.  The President also called for 3 days of mourning nationwide to remember those who died on Friday.  But for the most part, things on the street look like any other day.  Bamako is a bustling city of 3.5 million people.  Our horrible traffic jams, dust storms, crowded streets and shops, and regular power cuts are continuing as normal.

We’ve had many people ask us if we live close to the Radisson Hotel.  We are about 5 miles away from the hotel.  It is on the other side of the Niger River, so there’s an automatic buffer between us.  We have frequented the restaurant at the Radisson and it has been one of our favorite places to eat.  Stepping inside the Radisson is like stepping out of Mali and being back in the States.  We had lunch there a few weeks ago, but felt a sense that we shouldn’t go back.  We had an uneasy feeling about it.  As we look back, we can see it was a prompting from the Holy Spirit.  The picture above is Mali overlaid with the peace symbol. It is ironically in the Radisson lobby.

We want to assure you that we feel safe in Bamako.  We do have to take additional precautions, but for the most part, we can carry on with minimal impact to our ministry.  The world is a very different place now.  There really isn’t anywhere that can now be considered “safe”.  However, we have a strong call from God to be in Mali.  We are in the safest place we can be - in the center of God’s will.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Safe

This morning there was an attack at the Radisson Hotel in Bamako. 170 hostages are being held inside the hotel. Military and security forces and intervening.

*** WE ARE CURRENTLY SAFE AND SOUND ***

Please be praying for a peaceful end to this situation and for the hostages to be safely released.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

You’ve Got Questions?

We are continuing to run the Alpha Course at Go Global Mali.  We are about halfway through the course and we’re thrilled with the results we’re seeing.  15-20 people are coming each week.  Most are Muslim and have a lot of questions about Christianity.  Several of them are adamant about defending their faith, but yet they are eager to learn what Christians believe.  This is exactly what the Alpha Course is designed to do – to create a safe environment where everyone is free to share their beliefs without consequence while receiving the Good News about Jesus Christ.  In the process, many are beginning to open up to Christ as they learn more about the Truth.

Recently our topic of teaching and discussion was about the Bible and we gave each person their own copy of the Bible.  Everyone was VERY excited to receive it and eager to read it.  This has opened even more opportunities to share the Gospel.  Please continue to pray for the Alpha Course and all of our Alpha guests.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Breakdown

Village ChurchYesterday we were invited by Daniel Tieh, our Liberian missionary friend, to visit one of his churches and a young pastor in a local village.  The village was about 30 miles away and took us about an hour to get to.  As visiting missionaries, it’s customary to be seated with the pastor at the front of the church looking out at the congregation.  It always feels a bit awkward, but we graciously accept the seats of honor.  It’s harvest season, so a majority of the church members were working the fields only leaving about 10 people in the service.  We sang several songs, and heard special numbers from a small women’s choir and a small men’s choir.  Daniel then introduced us to the church.  At the end of his introduction, he announced John was going to bring the sermon.  John didn’t know he would be preaching and hadn’t prepared a message.  But as he walked up to the podium, the Lord provided a full message from Matthew 6:25-34.  Although we were in a poor village, the message centered on not feeling poor because God provides for all of our needs.  We should be singing for joy all day like the birds because God is always taking care of us.

After the service, the pastor invited us to sit down for 15 minutes and share tea with others from the church.  Knowing the culture, John said it’s impossible to have tea in 15 minutes.  It’s usually closer to 2 hours.  Everyone laughed as they acknowledged this observation.  We stayed and enjoyed tea and conversation with them.  They also treated us to roast sheep.  We felt very blessed.  After a while, we excused ourselves to return home.

Car TroubleOur poor little car is close to 20 years old and has put on tens of thousands of extremely hard miles in Mali.  Every trip is an adventure, and this one was no exception.  Besides having two of our outside door handles break off the night before, we also had to stop for air in one of our tires in a village on the way to church.  Then, as we were heading home and were in the middle of the bush, the temperature gauge started rising into the red zone.  We pulled off the road and found the radiator was completely empty.  We refilled it with our water bottles and hoped for the best.  As we approached the next village, the temperature was again in the red zone.  We pulled over and upon closer inspection, John and Daniel found a crack in the radiator.  Someone from the village came to help and suggested we put epoxy glue on the crack as a temporary fix.  He went to a roadside shop and picked some up for us, then undertook the repair himself.

It was hot, and as we were waiting for the glue to dry, we sat down under the shelter of a gas station that was under construction nearby.  We shared the shade with a family consisting of a mother, 3 teenage daughters and several smaller children.  After extending pleasantries, we talked amongst ourselves for several minutes.  Then John had the idea of sharing a Bible story with the kids.  He told the story of Noah and the ark with great drama and enthusiasm.  When he finished the story, Daniel shared that after Noah, God provided Jesus to become our Savior.  As he was talking, one the girls asked how she could accept Jesus.  Daniel proceeded to pray the sinner’s prayer with her.  He then took her phone number to follow-up with her.  John went on the explain that we were on our way to the city and didn’t intend to stop.  But God stopped our car there because He wanted us to share with the family and tell them how much God loves them.

Missionary life is cool!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Minute To Win It

MinuteToWinItLast night the Go Global Mali English center hosted a night of fun and games.  Our students participated in several activities including Charades, Have You Ever…, Scattergories, and Minute to Win It.  As a couple, we hosted the Minute to Win It game.  We had a ton of fun as the competition really heated up with games including keeping balloons in the air, unraveling toilet paper, building towers out of index cards, and assembling puzzle pieces in under one minute.

Leading up to the event, we promoted it as a night of Games and Snacks.  In John’s class on Friday, one of his students raised his hand with a bewildered look on his face.  His question was, “What are we going to do with snakes?”  Malians have a great fear of snakes and this man seemed quite scared that we were going to have games involving snakes.  It was an excellent opportunity for a vocabulary lesson on the difference between snacks and snakes.  The man was quite relieved to find out no snakes were involved.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Build It And They Will Come

Logo_full_colour_150dpiLast night we began hosting a new Alpha for ESOL Course at Go Global Mali.  It’s a special version of the Alpha Course for ESL students.  We’ve been hoping and praying for 25 students, however based on preregistration, we were realistically expecting 5-6 people to come.  We were overjoyed when exactly 25 people showed up!  Talk about an answer to prayer!  We did run short on food (each Alpha session begins with a shared meal) and materials, but we’ll be better prepared in the weeks to come.

The students were eager to participate in the small group discussions and were very active throughout the night.  Please be praying that they will all return and continue to participate during the next 11 weeks.

Alpha is an opportunity to explore life and the Christian faith in a friendly, open and informal environment.  It’s been attended by over 27 million people in 169 countries.  The Alpha Course is a life changing experience.  Click here for more information about an Alpha Course near you.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Shoot For The Moon

There are plenty of awesome pictures of last night’s combination super moon and lunar eclipse on Facebook, websites, and news programs.  We had a beautiful view of it here in Bamako.  It was a cloudless night and we watched it reach full eclipse at 2:43am.  In Mali, another dynamic is added to a lunar eclipse.  Local superstition has it that it is the result of a cat (which are believed to carry evil spirits) swallows the moon.  Kids run around banging on pots and pans, pounding on their neighbors doors, and yelling and screaming for the cat to let go of the moon.  We experienced this for the first time during a full lunar eclipse in 2007.  Unfortunately, we didn’t know what was going on.  We thought there was a protest or riot going on and we hid in our house hoping things would blow over.  We didn’t find out until the next day that it was just people harmlessly acting out their local folklore.

This year we were prepared for the brouhaha, but it never came.  Because of the late hour of the eclipse, most Malians weren’t aware it was happening and the kids were all fast asleep in bed.  So the cat quietly swallowed the moon and coughed it back up like a hairball without anyone noticing.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Candle In The Wind

LED Candles (2)We have a wonderful woman named Mamou that helps around our house a few days a week.  Yesterday, she stayed later than usual because she had a few extra things she wanted to do.  When we came home last night after teaching English class, she came running up to us as she saw us approaching our house.  We were confused why she was still there as she should have left hours ago.  She was franticlly talking about bougies, which is a really fun sounding French word for candles.  We calmed her down to the point where she could explain the problem.

We brought several LED decorative candles back with us from the States – the kind that mimic a flickering flame and turn on and off each night via a built-in timer.  Mamou has never seen them working as she is gone by the time they come on.  Last night, they came on automatically after we left, but while Mamou was still in the house.  She was quite confused and scared.  She didn’t see us light them before we left so she didn’t know who had lit them.  She tried blowing them out, but they wouldn’t go out.  She was afraid to leave our house with candles burning unattended, so she stayed until we got home an hour and a half later.

She was eager to get home, so we didn’t have a chance to go in the house and show her how they worked.  Hopefully, she won’t be too scared to come back on Monday and we can relieve her fears of our house being haunted or possessed by spirits.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

TexMex

Appaloosa RestaurantAfter church tonight, we visited a “TexMex” restaurant in town called Appaloosa.  We’d heard mixed reviews over the years and decided to give it a try.  Like many of the “upper scale” restaurants in Bamako, it’s owned and operated by the Lebanese.   The restaurant d├ęcor certainly had shades of the Southwest, including pictures of Native Americans and license plates from many US States on the walls.  They even had wagon wheel light fixtures.  It was hard not to laugh as waiters were dressed in stereotypical uniforms including cowboy hats, bolo string ties, and even toy sheriff badges.  Now let’s add in the juxtaposition of people smoking hookah water pipes at the bar.  It was a strange cross between Knott’s Berry Farm and a hookah lounge.

The food was interesting.  We were courageous enough to try “chicken enchiladas”.  We also ordered a side of tortillas.  The waiter said they were out of tortillas, but they had “enchiladas”.  This was our first clue that this wasn’t going to be your typical SoCal Mexican restaurant meal.  When they arrived, the “enchiladas” were filled with chicken and some other mystery ingredients rolled inside of crepes and covered with lettuce.  They were quite tasty, but certainly not what we we would consider traditional Mexican food.

The restaurant also operates as a bar (yes, there are bars in a Muslim country).  As the sun began to go down, the atmosphere changed as bartenders and prostitutes began arriving for the evening crowd.  This is when we felt it was time to bid Happy Trails to the Appaloosa.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Do You Speaka De Inglish?

We started working with a ministry this week called Go Global Mali.  It was set up by some friends of ours a few years ago to reach out to Malian college students and working professionals.  Currently, Go Global is focusing on teaching English to Malian adults and providing opportunities for people to practice English and advance their language skills.  There are currently 150 students enrolled.

We have each started teaching an English class on weeknights.  Julie is teaching a level 3 class while John is teaching level 4.  Our classes are made up of university students, doctors, lawyers, bankers, business professionals, and others.  We’re looking forward to developing relationships with our students and finding opportunities to share the Gospel in the process.

Because Bamako Christian Academy is currently closed, Go Global is using the school building for their classes and activities.  This makes it very convenient for us as it’s just a short 10 minute walk from our house.  In many ways, it just like old times, but with a whole new twist.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Brief Moment In Time

Pastor Freddy Bible School GraduationBack in 2007, we were invited to attend a graduation ceremony at a local Bible school operated by one our missionary friends from Liberia.  John was asked to help hand out diplomas and pose for photos with each of the graduates.

A couple of days ago, John was walking down the road when he was stopped by a man on a motorcycle.  It turns out this man was one of the graduates from that Bible school eight years ago.  His name is Pastor Freddy.  He was overjoyed to see John after so many years.  He is now a pastor with his own small church in Bamako.

Pastor Freddy and JohnYesterday, we visited Pastor Freddy’s church, which is held in one of the large marketplaces near our house.  He was extremely excited to see us.  He pulled out the picture of John handing him his diploma from years ago.  He told us how important the photo is to him and how he has been keeping it close to his heart.  This was a defining moment for us.  We sometimes question how effective our ministry is and if we are really making a difference.  And here was a moment in time from many years ago that we thought was a small and insignificant gesture for a friend.  Little did we know the powerful impact it had left on a future pastor and how it would continue to provide him encouragement years after.  Never underestimate the lasting impressions you will have on others.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Birthday Suit

SONY DSCCole_AngelIt’s hard to believe it’s already been 19 years since we were blessed with the arrival of Cole.  This is the first time we’ve been away from him on his birthday.  We miss him dearly and we’re proud of the way he’s matured into a fine young man.  Happy Birthday Cole!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Safe House

Several people have expressed a concern about our safety in Mali.  We want to assure you that we feel safe and secure and don’t have any qualms about being here.  There have been some stories in the international news over the past few weeks, but they haven’t affected our personal safety.

Although there are active jihadists in the country, the Malian people and authorities have taken a firm and offensive stance to defend against this threat.  We also have multinational UN Peacekeeping forces throughout Mali.  There has been a lot of intelligence that has allowed the police and military to stop attacks before they happen and they have successfully rooted out several terrorist cells.  The Malian government and US Embassy are keeping us well informed about areas to avoid.  Unfortunately, this did prevent us from participating in an evangelism campaign in a town outside of Bamako last week, but we need to take things like this into account when planning our activities to help ensure our safety.

We appreciate your prayers for the safety of our family, our colleagues, and the nation of Mali.  We have both received multiple confirmations from the Lord that He wants us here in Mali for such a time as this.  We feel VERY safe under His protection.  He wouldn’t have called us back here if it wasn’t the best place for us to be right now.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

We’ve been back in Mali a little over three weeks now.  Much of that time has been adjusting and re-familiarizing ourselves with Bamako and our neighborhood.  Last week we said an emotional good-bye to Jean-Patrick and Ruth Perrin who have left after 30 years of leading YWAM in Mali.  We are grateful they were able to watch over our house much of the time we were gone.  In addition, there were several other people who lived in our home, including a Malian pastor and his family who had to flee for their lives from the north in 2012 the week after we left.  We were happy our home was available to them for several months so they could begin rebuilding their lives.  As we reacquaint ourselves with old friends, we continue to bump into other people who were able to use our home in our absence.

Our house was well cared for by the many people living in our home.  Some things were changed around and we’re still discovering where things have been stored and gradually getting everything back in place.  In the process, we have found several pleasant surprises.

Over the past weeks, we’ve had a variety of YWAM Mali leaders as house guests much of the time.  It was good to have them here to help us re-acclimate and learn about some of the changes in Mali.  But alas, we’re happy to now have our house to ourselves before we prepare for more houseguests next week.  Perhaps you’d like to make a reservation too.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Home Is Where The Heat Is

Cows Grazing in TrashWe’ve spent the past week slowly acclimating back to life back in Mali.  We’ve wandered around our neighborhood greeting people, most of whom were surprised and happy to see us.  It’s been quite encouraging that so many people have remembered us and are treating us like we never left.  Thankfully enough Bambara came back to allow us to properly greet our neighbors.  As we’ve been shopping and exploring, we’ve discovered things are not quite the same in Bamako.  It’s interesting because things seem familiar, however there have been a LOT of changes we need to get used to.  One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is the heat.  We’re in triple digits during the day and lows are in the 80s at night.  This morning when we opened our front gate, we were greeted by a familiar site of cows rummaging through the trash in front of our house.

We’re currently sleeping in Cole’s old bed in his old room until the Perrins depart at the end of the week.  It’s strange to not have him with us, but we’re easing more into life as empty nesters.  Jetlag is still a major struggle.  Unfortunately, there have been several power cuts, and we’ve been waking up in the middle of the night when the power goes out, unable to get back to sleep.  Hopefully our body clocks will catch up in the next few days.

Yesterday, we attended an English Fellowship meeting and had an opportunity to begin reconnecting with the mission community.  There were a few familiar faces, but they were outnumbered by new people that we’ve yet to get to know.

We were also able to get our phones set up.  John was able to get the same phone number he had before.  +223 75-14-51-98.  From the US, you need to dial 011 first.  Feel free to call us, however the phone rates can be rather steep.  The cheapest rates we’ve seen in the States are phone cards that are 50 cents per minute.  Also remember that we’re 8 hours ahead of Pacific Time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Safe And Sound

We have arrived back in Mali!  It was a long, challenging trip but we’re happy to have survived.  We met with several delays which caused us to be on our first plane for over 20 hours.  Thankfully the delays did not cause us to miss our connection and we landed in Mali on time on Monday afternoon at 1:30pm.  All 8 pieces of luggage made it too.  We were happy to clear customs with very little effort.  Thankfully, the customs agent searched only one piece of luggage which happened to be our most uninteresting box and deemed everything else clear of customs charges.

We were met at the airport and welcomed into our home by Jean-Patrick Perrin.  The Perrins have been living in our home for much of the time we were gone.  We are sharing the house with them until they depart for France in two weeks.  We’re looking forward to some good times of visiting with them before they leave after serving in Mali for 30 years.  They have touched many lives and will be greatly missed.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I’ll Be Back

We’ve had a WONDERFUL furlough in  Southern California for the past four months.  We’ve enjoyed visiting and sharing in several churches, great times with friends and family, and even a couple of visits with Cole before our departure.  Thank you to everyone for your generosity, time, and encouragement.  We have been truly blessed.

One of the last items on our to-do list was to see the new Terminator Genisys film before we leave.  John’s always been a Terminator fan, and he was anxious to see Arnold reprise his role in the latest film.  He really enjoyed it when we saw it on Sunday afternoon.  Now with that out of the way, we’re clear to leave for Mali. 

We leave from LAX on Saturday just before midnight.  We have a brief stop in Dublin, then continue to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia where we change planes for our final flight to Mali.  We arrive in Mali on Monday afternoon.  It’s not the most direct route – in fact, it’s like flying from from Los Angeles to Mexico via New York.  It might not make much sense, but it’s saving us $500 per ticket.  It’s over 30 hours of travel, but hopefully we’ll be able to sleep some of the way.  Thank you for your prayers.  We look forward to greeting you from Mali in a few days.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

30 Days of Prayer

2015cover_hiresToday marks the beginning of Ramadan – the Muslim holy month of fasting.  We would like to ask you to join us for the next 30 days in prayer for our Muslim friends.  30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World is an excellent resource to help you learn more about Islam and how to best pray for Muslims around the globe.  The numbers at the top of the 30 Days website correspond to the 30 days of prayer. A new link is activated each day enabling you to view the applicable page for that day. There are additional informative articles and testimonies that only appear in the complete 50+ page booklet.  We still have copies of the printed booklet.  Please let us know if you’d like a copy and we’d be happy to get one to you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Love Boat

25th Anniversay CruiseEverybody sing the song…Love, exciting and new, come aboard, we’re expecting you…

We received an incredible gift from John’s mom – a cruise to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  We departed from Los Angeles harbor for a 7 day cruise up the coast of California to Vancouver BC aboard Princess Cruises Golden Princess.  It was the trip of a lifetime!

Sailing Ship SpiritTwenty five years ago, we were married in LA Harbor aboard a 90’ sailing yacht.  It was beautiful to reminisce about our wedding day as we passed the boat we were married on in the harbor along with Angel’s Gate Lighthouse as our cruise left Los Angeles.

We were looking forward to a chance to relax and unwind, so we didn’t didn’t get off the ship and explore many of the ports of call during the cruise.  We were also careful about limiting our daily activities to 1 or 2 a day to keep from becoming overwhelmed with the variety of things to do onboard.  We even limited our trips to the buffet trying our best to keep from increasing our BMI.

We arrived relaxed and refreshed 7 days later in Vancouver.  We did spend a couple of hours in Victoria and Vancouver at the end our cruise.  With all of our world travels, this was our first trip to Canada.  We bought a Tim Horton’s donut and totem pole souvenir magnet to mark our visit and insisted on getting our passports stamped to prove we’d been to the Great White North.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ticket To Ride

It’s official!  We just purchased our plane tickets to Mali.  We found a great price flying on Ethiopian Airlines vs. Air France or Royal Air Maroc like we’ve done in the past.  But it does mean we’re traveling 3,000 miles out of our way to get there.  We’re flying all the way to Ethiopia then doubling back to Mali which will add 10 hours to our travel time.  But the $1,000 cost savings will be worth it.  It also beats the 8 hour layover in Casablanca that we’ve done on past trips.

We’re scheduled to leave just before midnight on July 11th and arrive in Mali two days later.  As a reminder, we’re in Sothern California until our departure and we’d love to visit with as many people as possible before we leave.  If you’re in the area, let us know when would be a good time to get together.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Interview

Today we participated in a short interview during both services at Calvary Church of Santa Ana.  The pastor is starting a new series on the supernatural and we were able to share about some experiences we’ve had with the supernatural throughout our mission career.  It started with our willingness to walk away from owning a dream business and not looking back, to God’s supernatural provision and peace through trying circumstances such as our auto accident in 2003 and living through the coup in Mali.  It is a good exercise and reminder for us to look back and reflect on these things as we move into facing new challenges ahead.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

It’s In The Mail

Newsletter April 2015We just finished and sent our latest newsletter.  You can view it here:  6892 Miles From Disneyland – April 2015. This particular edition was difficult to finish as it was riddled by technical problems all along the way.  But we persisted for several days and were finally able to get it out the door.

If you’d like to be added to our newsletter mailing list, please click here or scroll down to the bottom of the right hand side and fill out the form for our mailing list.  If you’re currently on our mailing list you can also update your information and let us know if you’d rather receive it via email or US Postal Mail.

Monday, April 06, 2015

He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed

Calvary Easter ServiceHappy Easter!  Today we attended Calvary Church of Santa Ana.  It was a beautiful service that focused on Jesus being the Light.  Various light displays were incorporated into the service and the church facilities including several dramatic lighting effects on the stage which added to the theme.

Calvary Easter - Jesus LightWalking into the church, people were greeted by clusters of light bulbs hanging in the entrance.  At first, they look like they are randomly arranged.  However, when viewed from the right perspective, they form the word Jesus.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Ferrals ZooToday John crossed the half century mark in life.  As a throwback to his childhood, we celebrated at Ferrell’s Ice Cream Parlour which reopened in SoCal since we’ve been gone.  We were joined by John’s dad, mom, and brother.

Ferrell’s is famous for a menu item called the “Zoo”.  It weighs in at 7-1/2 pounds of ice cream – that’s 30 scoops of ice cream, four toppings, whipped cream, and bananas.  To celebrate the Zoo, it’s delivered to the table on a stretcher carried on the shoulders of two of the restaurant servers.  They run around the entire restaurant parading it for all to see.  To add to the pomp and circumstance, the Zoo is announced over the loudspeaker of the restaurant while an ambulance siren let’s everyone know a Zoo is on it’s way.  It’s quite a spectacle.

It turns out that 7-1/2 pounds of ice cream is a bit much for 5 people, however we were able to dish up the leftovers for everyone to take some home.  Looks like we’ll continue celebrating for quite some time.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Rest In Peace

Bunka BananaToday we attended services for John’s grandmother at Forest Lawn in Glendale.  In lieu of a memorial service, there was a viewing time open to friends and family.  At 95, grandma had outlived most of her friends, but there were still several family members and neighborhood friends who stopped in to pay their respects. We then proceeded to the gravesite for a simple service of remembrance and reflection on her life.  At the end of the service, we each released butterflies to signify the transformation into new life.

Rest in Peace Catherine Mary Clark.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Closing Time

Today was the closing of the missions conference at Calvary Church.  We met with several members of John’s family who attended the first morning service.  We then shared in the Sunday School class that we’ve been a part of before going to Africa.

We were invited to share at a Calvary home group this evening.  We had an opportunity to tell our mission story about being called to leave our business and lives in Southern California and how God changed us as we refocused our lives on being Christian missionaries in West Africa.  We also had a chance to encourage a young couple that feel the calling to go into missions too.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Final Goodbyes

Today we were very sad to receive news that John’s grandmother passed away this morning.  We are grateful we had an opportunity to visit her in her home yesterday.  She wasn’t conscious while we were there as she was in the final stages of battling pneumonia, but it was good to be by her side and see her one last time.  At 95 years old, she lived a long and prosperous life.  She will be missed dearly.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kids Will Be Kids

Calvary AMC 2015 RetreatToday we returned from a three day retreat for Calvary missionaries at Tahquitz Pines Conference Center in Idyllwild about 90 minutes away in the local SoCal mountains.  It was a wonderful time of relaxation, worship, meditation, and sharing with other Calvary Church missionaries and staff.  We were able to catch up with some old friends we haven’t seen in years along with making new friends.  The setting was relaxing, however it was almost too familiar and reminded us a lot of the last 2-1/2 years living and serving at the conference center operated by YWAM in Chico.

Calvary 4th-6th GradeTonight, we shared with a group of 50 4th-6th grade kids that meet weekly on Wednesday nights at Calvary Church.  We had a chance to share with them about our ministry in Mali.  There was a big emphasis on animals and we were able to not only share about the wildlife in Mali, but tie the animals into stories about what we do in Mali and what daily life is like.  We also met a woman who is the daughter of one of John’s teachers from Jr. High who taught at Calvary Christian School.  She was just a year old when John was in her dad’s class.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy Feet

Calvary AMC 2015 LogoToday was a busy day at church.  To mark the start of Calvary’s Missions Conference, all of the missionaries in town (including us) were introduced in both services.  We each left a pair of our shoes on the stage of the worship center to represent the theme of this year’s conference – Putting Feet to the Message.  The theme is based on Romans 10:15 – How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.

We also had a chance to catch up with some friends and talk about our ministry at the Bereans Sunday School class.  We were able to share about our departure from Mali 3 years ago, our time at YWAM Chico, our trip to South Africa, the current state of Mali, and our plans to return to Mali this summer.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Can You Hear Me Now?

Calvary Missions Banquet 2015Tonight was the main banquet dinner for Calvary Church’s missions conference.  It was wonderful to meet and share with so many friends that we haven’t seen in quite some time – both from the church congregation and fellow Calvary missionaries serving around the world.

The keynote speaker was from an organization called Faith Comes By Hearing.  They specialize in putting the Bible into audio form and distributing it around the world in many unique ways including the Proclaimer, a solar powered MP3 player that is designed for group listening.  To date, they have created and distributed the Bible in over 875 languages!  We have personally used the Proclaimers in Mali to help equip people in remote villages that don’t have access to the Bible because of literacy limitations.  It was exciting to hear about new ways they are equipping missionaries to distribute audio Bibles.

Today, Faith Comes By Hearing is focusing on new and emerging technologies including memory sticks, SD cards, smartphone apps, smart TVs, and satellite streaming.  They are using cutting edge technologies to quickly and easily distribute the Gospel to every person on the planet.  Today over 300 million people have been reached by their language recordings and they are now available to over 5.7 billion people in almost every country.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fiesta Time

Calvary Hispanic Missions BanquetOur time in Southern California is off to a busy start.  Today marks the beginning of Calvary Church of Santa Ana’s annual missions conference.  We have 8 days of events ahead of us.  Today we hit the ground running with the conference orientation, followed by a missionary dinner, then a missions banquet with Calvary’s Hispanic church.  We had to literally rush from one event to the other, but each one was a wonderful occasion.

We especially enjoyed the Hispanic banquet where we feasted on food from several Latin American countries.  Many people from the Hispanic church were dressed in traditional clothing from their native countries.  We had an opportunity to share our ministry with the church and they encouraged us in many ways.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Back In Paradise

Today we arrived safely in Tustin, California.  Thankfully our trip was smooth and uneventful.  We took a leisurely 2 days to drive from Chico to Southern California.  We rented a minivan to transport our belongings (all 6 boxes), which were too big to fit in our small car.  John drove the minivan while Julie drove the car.  We had walkie-talkies so we were able to talk with each other throughout the drive.

We are blessed to be staying at a missions house provided by our home church – Calvary Church of Santa Ana.  Ironically, it’s the same house we stayed in when we first arrived back from Mali in 2012.  It feels like we’ve come full circle.  We will be in this house through the end of June.

Our time in SoCal will be focused on meeting with people and we’d love the opportunity to get together with you.  Please contact us at your convenience and we’ll be happy to schedule a time to meet.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Signing Off From Chico

Goodbye Chico HomeThe day has finally arrived.  Today we left YWAM Chico and began driving down to Southern California.  We ventured up to YWAM Chico in July 2012 for a two week sabbatical following our evacuation from Mali.  That sabbatical soon morphed into a 2-1/2 year reassignment to YWAM Chico where we have been serving in many different roles including leading missionary training schools.

Our goodbye is bittersweet.  We’ve known this has been a temporary assignment and we’ve been looking forward to what God has waiting for us.  We were excited to learn that His plans include returning to Mali in July.  In the meantime, we’ll be spending time in SoCal reconnecting with churches, supporters, family and friends.  If you’re in the area, please get in-touch with us as we’d love to get together with you and share all that’s been happening in our lives and ministry.

We are going to miss our beautiful cottage in the woods, however John is anxiously looking forward to being back in the city once again.  Of course we’re going to miss our son Cole most of all.  He has settled into life on his own in Chico and is flourishing in his jobs at the church and the many ministries he’s involved in.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Blest Be The Tie That Binds

Chico 1st Williams & ClarksIn our season of goodbyes, today we attended our final service at Chico First Assembly of God, our church home in Chico.  We have so enjoyed our time at this church and we integrated much deeper than we expected.  The church has been so accepting of our family, including supporting us as missionaries.  We have become good friends with Pastors Scott and Colleen Williams who have played a vital role in our lives – especially Cole’s.  They have taken Cole under their wing like another son and have been pouring so much into his life.  We’re grateful Cole is continuing on at the church and filling many roles.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sk8ter Girls

Holly MayhemThere’s not a lot do in Chico so we’ve explored almost every option of activities in town.  Last year we discovered the unusual sport of roller derby.  We originally went to a match out of curiosity and we were immediately hooked on the sport.  People often have bad connotations about roller derby and the sport is usually associated with violent, enraged women brawling on skates.  We found it to be quite different.  Contrary to most people’s knowledge (or lack thereof) it is a sport with rules and there is not a lot of dirty play.  In fact, the women are quite sportsman-like and the matches are non-violent.  We found it to be a family sport with lots of kids in attendance.

Since being in Chico, we’ve attended several matches.  Tonight we attended our final Nor Cal Roller Girls match in Chico.  We took the opportunity to pose with a few of the girls including “Holly Mayhem”.  We’re going to miss this slice of Americana.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Clocking Out

Goodbye YWAM ChicoWe’ve been laying low since our return from South Africa.  The last 2-1/2 years in Chico has been tiring and we’ve been needing a break for a long time.  We’ve spent the past couple of weeks catching up with Cole and prepping and packing for our departure.

Today, our YWAM friends threw us a goodbye party.  They shared many encouraging memories and thoughts about our time in Chico.  We knew we were in Chico for just a short season, but it’s still difficult to say goodbye - a necessary part of missionary life.  We’re going to spend the next couple of weeks doing final preparations and cleaning our home to get it ready for the next family to move in.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Good Lie

The Good LieTonight we rented the movie, The Good Lie starring Reese Witherspoon.    It’s a true story that follows the lives of four Sudanese children that are orphaned after their village is massacred during the Sudanese civil war.  They escape on foot and travel thousands of miles before reaching a refugee camp in Ethiopia where the spend the next 13 years.  Their lives are completely transformed when they are selected for resettlement in the United States.  The story focuses on them and the people in the States who help them adapt to new lives in America.

This film really struck a chord with us and reminded us of the many people whose lives we’ve been involved with in Africa.  Tragic circumstances and broken lives are part of everyday life in Africa.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Keep On Truckin’

Cole's New TruckWe have really enjoyed spending time with Cole since returning from South Africa.  We’ve had several days to catch up with him and exchange what’s been happening in our lives for the past two months.  It’s exciting to see how he has matured and is gaining a sense of being self sufficient.

He had the opportunity to use our car while we were gone, however now that we’re back, it’s time for him to find a new mode of transportation.  Over the past week, we’ve helped him look at several cars.  It’s been pretty slim pickins for cars in his price range, however we came upon a great little pickup that’s in good condition and meets the budget.  He is now the proud new owner of a 1994 Toyota pickup!  Congratulations Cole!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pomp And Circumstance

CDTS GraduationTonight we celebrated graduation time with our CDTS students.  It’s been a VERY busy 5 months including 3 months of teaching here in Chico and 2 months of international outreach ministry in South Africa.  Tonight was a wonderful time for us and our students to reflect back and remember everything God has accomplished through them.

Now that CDTS is finished, they will be embarking on the next stage of their lives.  Our students will be exploring various opportunities God has been preparing them for.  Some will be staying here to serve at YWAM Chico, some will be returning to South Africa, some will transition to mission opportunities in other nations.

As for us, we will be closing out our time here in Chico over the next month.  We will then spend a few months in Southern California meeting with family, friends, supporters and churches as we prepare for our return to Mali in July.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Eagle Has Landed

We arrived back in the States yesterday and made it home from the airport early last night.  Our travel was uneventful and flawless.  Thank you for your prayers.  It feels good to be back in California.  The next several days involve more debriefing with our team.  We’re also really looking forward to reconnecting with Cole and taking some time to catch our breath before our next transition.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Take The Long Way Home

Our time in South Africa has come to an end and today we head back to California to wrap up this Crossroads Discipleship Training School.  Our first flight today is an in-country flight leaving at 4:30 pm.  This leads to our next flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta, then our final flight to San Francisco.  It’s another 4 hour drive from San Francisco to Chico and we hope to arrive back home around 6 or 7 pm on Sunday.  With the time change, we have 36 hours of travel ahead of us.  But we’re eager to be home and reconnect with Cole.  We’re also looking forward to sleeping in our own bed, taking a hot shower in our private bathroom, and enjoying the privacy of our own home again.

We still have several days of debriefing ahead before our students graduate next Saturday.  It will be a challenge with the jetlag and exhaustion from the past 8 weeks, but we’re anticipating our team will finish strong.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Monkey Business

MakarangaWe’ve spent the past two days going through a debriefing time with our team reflecting on our 8 weeks in South Africa.  On Wednesday, we met one on one with each team member and family at a beautiful hotel and conference center called Makaranga Garden Lodge.  It features 30 acres of indigenous and exotic botanical gardens, 18 ponds, meandering streams and a waterfall.  It was a wonderful place for our team to relax when it wasn’t their time to meet with us.  Unfortunately, the two of us were meeting with people in a board room all day, so we personally didn’t have a chance to enjoy the grounds.

On Thursday, we met as a group to review each day of our time in South Africa and reflect on what we were able to accomplish, who we were able to minister to, and how we saw God working in all our team did.

Monkey TheivesWe’re leaving South Africa on Saturday morning, so our team had today off to rest, and do a final packing for our return trip.  In the morning, all of our team members went into town for some final shopping leaving the two of us alone at the house.  At one point, we heard a commotion in the kitchen and went to investigate.  We found several monkeys in the kitchen helping themselves to whatever food they could find.  We shooed them outside and watched them for a few minutes on the patio as they enjoyed their ill gotten gains.  That’s when we heard more commotion coming from the other end of the house.  We rushed to our bedroom to find several monkeys foraging through and enjoying our stash of comfort food including cookies chips, and candy.  Bad monkeys!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

With just a few days left in South Africa, today our team went on a safari adventure.  We visited the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Park – the oldest nature reserve in all of Africa.  The park is over 370 square miles and is home to many animals including what’s referred to as the Big Five.  The Big Five was a term coined in the early 1900s to categorize the 5 most dangerous animals to hunters.  Today, the Big Five are considered the top animals to see when on an African safari.  The Big Five consists of the African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros, Water Buffalo, African Lion, and the African Leopard.  Hluhluwe-iMfolozi played a key role in the preservation of the white rhinoceros.  In 1900, there were less than 20 white rhinos worldwide.  But due to preservation efforts of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, the white rhino has been saved from extinction and today there are over 10,000 white rhinos.

The park is 3 hours from where we’re staying, so our bus picked us up for an early start at 5:30 am.  This is quite a feat when you’re traveling with 7 kids.  We reached the park at 9 in the morning and transferred our team to 2 open safari cars for the trip into the park.  The temperatures were in the high 90s/low 100s so most of the animals were resting and not very visible.  However, on our 3 hour trip, we still managed to see lots of animals including warthogs, zebra, giraffe, water buffalo, antelope, rhino, elephant, impala, monkeys, baboons, and more.

South Africa Safari - LionAfter lunch, our bus picked us up and headed out to the main gate for our return home.  What should have been a 20 minute drive to the gate turned into 2 hours as our guide continued diligently searching for more wildlife on our way out.  We were excited by the animals we saw during the day, however we were a bit disappointed we didn’t get to see any cats.  Than the guide spotted something in the trees – 2 female lions were sleeping in a tree just 30 feet from our bus!  Then he spotted a lioness sleeping on the other side of our bus less than 10 feet away.  We were so excited!  It is extremely rare to see cats in the afternoon.  After watching them for awhile and taking lots of pictures, our bus continued on towards the gate.  A few minutes later, we came upon a large male elephant standing right beside the road.  He was a little upset and on the verge of becoming aggressive.  We stopped and slowly started backing away.  Thankfully, he didn’t charge us and eventually let us pass.  What an amazing day!  We were able to leave the park happy to have seen 4 of the Big Five and many other animals too.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Life’s A Beach

Durban Beach SwimmersToday was our final day of ministry in South Africa.  We spent the day doing evangelism on the beach in Durban.  We had several good encounters during the day including a young homeless man that made crosses out of palm fronds to raise money.  He used to lead a criminal lifestyle including robbing houses and taking advantage of people to get money.  Several months ago, a man befriended him and led him to the Lord.  He also taught him how to make the crosses so he could earn a living while sharing his testimony with people.  We bought him lunch at a local fast food restaurant and spent over an hour talking with him and encouraging him.

Later, we met a homeless Afrikaans woman who was selling bracelets to earn enough money for her and her two kids to stay in a shelter for the night.  We had some wonderful times of sharing with her and encouraging her in the Lord.  Throughout the day, we were approached by timeshare sales people that were handing us invitations for a time share meeting.  We replicated by handing them a Gospel tract and telling them about the Lord.

Durban LifeguardsWe also took some time to shop for souvenirs and trinkets from vendors along the beachfront.  We then took the chance to dip our feet in the warm waters of the Indian ocean.  The swimming areas at the beach are small and highly controlled.  They are only about 200 feet wide and are patrolled by several lifeguards both in and out of the water.  Most South Africans can’t swim, so most people just stand waist deep in the water and jump when the waves come in.  The lifeguards ensure that people stay within the swimming area and don’t go too deep in the water.  The swimming areas are also protected by shark nets as there is a large shark population in South Africa.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Two Different Worlds

Embo Township - DorisToday we attended church with a local YWAM missionary.  She took us to a new church plant that she’s been working with.  It was a Zulu service with incredible gospel worship followed by a passionate message.  Our group led one worship song and one of our team members gave a short encouraging message for the church.

After the service, we went into the local township to visit with several people in their homes and had a chance to pray for them.  The situations varied but we found a way to bring the love of Jesus into some sad situations. These included praying for a woman who had lost her husband two weeks ago, a girl who had a bad surgery experience last week, the families of some of the church men who don’t know Jesus, and a woman whose daughter had been recently arrested.

Embo TownshipOur home visits gave us a close up view of the extreme differences in the classes in South Africa.  In the township, we visited very simple two room homes with tin roofs, no indoor plumbing, and many without electricity.  The neighborhood was strewn with garbage and there were standing pools of sewage. Such conditions reminded us a lot of daily life in Mali. It was also a dangerous area, prone to drunkenness, drug use and crime. However we felt safe due to the size of our group, the fact that we were being accompanied by men from the church that lived in the neighborhood, and that we were on a mission from God.

Hillcrest HomeAfter our home visits, we walked literally two streets over into a neighborhood of million dollar manors located on a golf course.  It was a beautiful gated community that also housed five small castles.  The contrast between the two worlds was staggering.  There’s really not a middle class in South Africa, just the juxtaposition of the extremely rich living so close to the extremely poor.  This continues to contribute to the many social issues that plague South Africa.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

On The Road To Recovery

Yesterday and today we visited Careline Crisis and Trauma Centre.  Careline’s mission is “to provide support and direction to the community in their darkest hour.”  The Careline Trauma team attend around the clock calls from police, security companies and the public regarding various trauma situations such as rape, suicide, murder, robbery, housebreaking, death, domestic violence or car accidents. Often incidents of substance abuse and chemical dependency are referred to the Halfway House for further care. The Centre offers intervention, emotional support and trauma debriefing.

Our ministry was focused on the Careline Halfway House.  It’s a long term Christian based facility for people recovering from every kind of addiction including drugs, alcohol, gambling, sexual issues, anger issues, etc.  In the case of drug and alcohol abuse, once someone completes detox at a registered rehabilitation facility, they can join the Careline Halfway House for ongoing care ranging from 3 months to 2 years.

We spent several hours talking and interacting with the Careline residents.  We enjoyed getting to know them and hearing some of their stories.  It was encouraging to hear about the progress each one of them were making.  When talking about future plans and visions, the general response was, “I’m just focusing on one day at a time right now.”  In addition to the one on one interactions, our team was also able to present a skit about addiction, lead worship, and a couple of our team members were able to share their testimonies.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Wagons Ho!

Kloof Methodist ChurchToday we loaded up our team and moved from LIV Village to YWAM Durban, our final outreach location.  Our 3-1/2 weeks at LIV have been very rewarding.  It was difficult to say goodbye to many of the kids, but we explained our need to leave and that others would be coming to continue sharing with them.

YWAM Durban is in a small town called Kloof.  The YWAM base is located on the grounds of the Kloof Methodist Church.  The single ladies on our team are staying in the youth room, while the families are in the YWAM dorm rooms.  We are sleeping in the YWAM office.  The grounds are beautiful.  Like much of South Africa, we can’t leave the grounds at night for security reasons.

Kloof MonkeysWe’re looking forward to our last few days of ministry time in South Africa and sharing the church grounds with wild peacocks and monkeys that visit frequently.