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.