Warm Spring greetings from Florida,
Two weeks ago I returned home once again from the country where the Lord has given us a ministry since 1990. Due to security reasons, we are no longer using the name of the country in updates or other correspondence, but instead will refer to it as the ‘Asia-Pacific region.’
The purpose of my trip this time was not to check and approve Scripture portions that had been translated into various languages, as is usually the case. Instead I had the privilege of working with missionary teams who are newer to the Asia-Pacific region, and are just transitioning from the study of tribal culture and language into the beginning of their respective translation projects for their remote language groups. The occasion of our gathering was a Team Translation Workshop which lasted two weeks. Each day of the workshop presented training in principles and procedures for accurately translating the Word of God in a clear and natural way. There were 20 missionaries and six native speakers in attendance, representing six different people groups. These six groups, Lord willing, will soon be reading and hearing Scripture portions in their own heart languages for the very first time. The teaching was done in English, and then each afternoon the teams worked with the native speakers from their tribal areas in order to put into practice the principles and procedures, by translating Joseph’s story from Genesis into the respective tribal languages.
The amount of material covered during the two weeks of the workshop was considerable, but all the missionaries were very diligent, some of them putting in many extra hours in order to learn as much as possible. I enjoyed observing and helping them as they worked with their fellow missionaries and also with the native speakers, who came out to the city specifically to help them during the course of the workshop.
You may remember that I had originally planned to travel into the Tugutil tribe after the conclusion of the workshop in order to work on our own translation of the few remaining New Testament books. However due to the quickly deteriorating health of Debbie’s mom and the strain and grief it creates for the family, we decided that it would be best if I came home as soon as possible after the workshop. In the end the Lord opened up a seat for me on all three legs of my itinerary so that I could get home two weeks ahead of schedule and be here with Debbie and her parents during this difficult time. We are now at the stage where all of us, including Debbie’s mom, are praying for a very soon and peaceful transition for her from this earth to her permanent home in heaven.
We would love to hear from you, and we definitely appreciate your prayers for us, our family, and those to whom we minister. Thank you so much for your partnership with us!
Additional Note: Not long after this update was written, Debbie’s mom passed from this earth to the presence of the Lord. She died in her sleep, which was an answer to our prayers and hers. Thank you all who have been praying for us!
Because of Calvary,
Bob & Debbie Clark
Greetings once again from Sanford, Florida. It’s great to be back home after another long trip to Southeast Asia. As always, this trip provided some new experiences and new opportunities to trust the Lord, ranging from fancy hotels to trail biking through mud holes. It all started, not with a bang exactly, but rather with a slow hiss. As the jet I had boarded was being pushed away from the gate, the ground crew noticed a flat tire that would need to be changed before the plane was allowed to take off. Normally that would take less than 30 minutes, but due to an intense lightning storm settling over the Orlando airport and chasing the ground crew back indoors, we were stranded on the tarmac for nearly 3 ½ hours, delaying our departure for LAX. That caused me to miss my international connecting flights, a domino effect that resulted in my arrival in Indonesia being a full 24 hours behind schedule! The airlines then felt compelled to provide for my unexpected lodging needs both in L.A. and Taipei along the way, at a couple of nice hotels which I would not have experienced otherwise.
A Traditional Dance performed by the Punan people
After arriving in the location of the first translation check, things went smoothly and over the next eight days we were able to check over 900 Old Testament verses for the Punan people group. Most of the verses were from the book of Exodus, along with other sections covering the history of Israel. All of the verses we checked are used in the chronological Bible lessons which the missionary team will teach to the Punan people in order to help them understand God’s plan of redemption and salvation for all people of the world.
Bob with Rachel Searcy and tribal believers checking
Old Testament Scripture in their language
Once the Punan check was finished I flew from there into another small airport where I was met by Tim Ullum, a member of the church-planting team who minister among the Kendawangan people group. However that didn’t mean that my journey was over yet – he had come to pick me up on his Suzuki TS trail bike, because that is the best way to travel into the tribal area. So, with my duffel bag and laptop computer strapped to the back of the trail bike and covered with a poncho to keep the mud off of them, we left civilization and semi-smooth roads. Over six hours later, I felt a little like a greenhorn might after riding a bucking bronco for the first time. Some of the road was fine, but much of it was more dirt and potholes than pavement, and then there were long stretches with no pavement at all – just dirt, gravel, and mud. In one section we had to ride through a muddy section that was at least 18 inches deep, which is especially challenging for the driver since he was basically driving blind, unable to see the ground at all. In spite of all this, the Lord kept us upright and free of mechanical problems until we reached our destination. By that time I was sore in several places and hoping against hope that somehow an airstrip might appear before I needed to leave there, sparing me the return trip over the rough road. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen…
Bob and Tim after making the trip interior on the Suzuki TS trail bike
The next morning we started checking the translation of the Joseph story from the latter portion of Genesis. This was the first ever translation check in the tribal language, as the missionary team is now gearing up to teach the chronological Bible lessons to the Kendawangan people toward the end of next year. Please be praying that the Lord would continue to work in the hearts of these people, who have not yet heard the Gospel. The native speakers that helped us evaluate the translation were enthralled with the story, thoroughly enjoying the account of how God raised Joseph from being a slave to the second most powerful man in ancient Egypt.
Bob with Tim Ullum and Kendawangan helpers checking the story of Joseph
Kendawangan became the 13th people group for which I have had the privilege of checking Scripture translation. It is a rare opportunity to be able to see how the Lord is working in so many different locations throughout the nation of Indonesia, drawing people to become His followers through the labors of those willing to serve Him in difficult circumstances.
Sharing a meal in the local traditional style – no furniture or silverware needed!
On the home front, Debbie’s mom continues to get weaker as the ALS disease takes away more of her physical abilities. She is now down to 85 pounds, but has chosen not to have a feeding tube inserted, which could possibly extend her life. We know that she very much looks forward to being with the Lord, where she will be free from all that now imprisons her. Debbie is reducing her work hours so that she can be more of a help to her parents during these difficult times.
Enjoying New Smyrna Beach with a special ‘Beach Buggy Wheelchair’
Thanks again for your interest and participation in our ministry, which has been proven once again by your perseverence in reaching the end of this rather lengthy update! Your partnership facilitates God’s Word becoming more accessible for the remote peoples of Indonesia.
Because of Calvary,
Bob & Debbie Clark
Another mustache has come and gone. I may not have mentioned it in any previous updates, but during most of my trips away from home I cut down on my shaving and let my mustache grow. Then, at Debbie’s request, on the last day before returning to the US I become clean-shaved again!
This trip consisted of travel to only one province of Indonesia, so I didn’t spend as much time in the air as is the case on some of my other trips. We did have one tricky landing in the small mission plane when we had to land with a strong crosswind during a rainstorm. The nose of the plane was blown about 30 degrees off course for almost the entire approach as the pilot tried to line up on the center marks of the runway. Thankfully by the time the landing gear touched the pavement, we were almost pointing the right way! It is certainly reassuring to know that the Lord is always watching over us, even in anxious moments that are beyond our control.
The bulk of my time was spent in the Semandang tribe where our ‘team’ was made up of thirteen Semandang believers, translator Darcy Berglund, her parents, and myself. Over the course of three weeks we completed a verse-by-verse ‘final’ check of four New Testament books: the Gospel of Luke and Paul’s epistles of 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Colossians – a total of 1,651 verses. With those four books now being approved for printing and distribution among the Semandang people, their New Testament is 64% complete. Once again the Lord gave me good health throughout my time there, and very little jet lag to deal with.
It was a joy to work with the Semandang believers and interact with them as they heard the reading of these books in their language for the first time. We had three or four of them on any given day to help us as we determined what changes, if any, were necessary in the tribal wording in order for the translation to communicate accurately and clearly to the Semandang church. Many of them had also helped us on previous checks, generously giving their time to this important job rather than their normal work of processing rubber from their rubber trees or working in their gardens. Most have never attended school beyond the 5th grade, yet they proved that when a translation is done well, a person who is considered ‘uneducated’ can still understand the complexities of the Apostle Paul’s logical arguments and exhortations.
After finishing up in Semandang, I flew back out to the city, where I worked with a missionary couple who work among a different people group. They are just reaching the fluency level in the Kendawangan language that is required in order to begin translating the Scriptures. So we spent a few days together reviewing translation principles and procedures, as well as discussing what steps should be taken in preparation for their first translation check in a couple of months. Their first assignment will be translating the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis.
As always, we appreciate the part that each of you play in helping God’s Word become more accessible for the remote peoples of Indonesia. We want to thank you specifically for making it possible for us to continue this ministry through your prayers and gifts on our behalf.
Because of Calvary,
Bob & Debbie Clark
February 2011 Update from Bob & Debbie Clark
These past few months we have enjoyed spending time with many family members. Our daughter Michelle came down from Grace College for a month-long Christmas break with us. On Christmas Eve Debbie prepared a big Christmas dinner, and for the first time ever, we had both my parents and Debbie’s parents around our table for the big holiday feast! It was great to have so much of the family together. Then in mid-February Debbie’s brother Paul McDole and his family returned from Indonesia for a two-week visit with Debbie’s parents as well as with us. During that time our son Steve came down for a quick weekend visit. And of course we see Debbie’s parents almost every day since we live so close to them.
Christmas Dinner with our parents and Michelle!
These past few months I have been reviewing Scripture translation from two tribal missionary teams in Indonesia. Soon I will be leaving to conduct on-site translation checks in both of those remote areas to ensure that the tribal language translation is communicating clearly and accurately to the native speakers of those languages. In the first location we will check much of Genesis as well as portions of other books which will be used in foundational Bible lessons for the new group of believers there. Our goal is to check over 1,200 verses. Then in the second language / people group we are preparing to check the entire Gospel of John. In each of these locations the people are very eager to have more of God’s Word printed and available in their own native tongue so that they can grow in their faith and learn more of his plan to redeem mankind. After I return from Indonesia I will have the opportunity to speak at a Missions Conference on the gulf coast of Florida.
All the McDoles plus Bob, Debbie, and Steve
Debbie continues to work two days a week as a caregiver for a senior citizen in the area who needs assistance. On the days she is not working she helps her parents, primarily by cooking meals for them. Her mom is now finding it difficult to speak, as the ALS (Lou Gehrig’s) disease continues it’s assault on the motor neurons in her system. In April Debbie will be participating in a fund-raising walk to benefit the ALS foundation as they work to provide assistance and also seek a cure for those who suffer from that disease. I would join her in that walk of course, but I will be at the Missions Conference that day.
Our Granddaughters – Maggie with twin sisters Katie & Jade
Challenges and Blessings
Although it seems that we face many challenges, we know that this is true for all of us who are still residents of this world while at the same time being citizens of heaven. We also realize that the Lord strengthens us through trials, and because of that we can be thankful and joyful in our circumstances. And of course we have experienced many blessings, certainly even more than we realize. One of those blessings is knowing that we are not on our own but rather part of a team that includes each of you who pray for us and/or support us financially. The Lord has placed each of us in the Body of Christ with a particular purpose in mind so that as we all function properly we can help each other to be effective servants of our King! Thanks to each of you for your prayers and partnership in the ministry to which He has called all of us!
Because of Calvary,
Bob & Debbie Clark
SUMMER NEWS FROM HOT FLORIDA
This summer has been a very busy time for us. Thanks so much for
your support over the past month through your prayers and finances. We are
enjoying our time with our daughter Michelle, daughter-in-law Megan, and three
granddaughters, Maggie, Katie, and Jade. Our son Steve was even able to come
and spend a weekend with us for the 4th of July. Our household has been
hopping for the past few weeks. Megan and the girls were able to come down for
a month and they have just over a week to go. Then they will be off to
Pensacola to be near Steve as he finishes up his technical training in Aircraft
Structural Maintenance as he serves our country. He will be graduating on
the 4th of August. With the kids here I have been mainly cooking and keeping
up with the needs of three little girls. It has been wonderful to have this
time with our family. We are richly blessed.
Bob has been preparing for his next trip to Indonesia by going
over the tribal translations of Scripture portions in three languages. He will
be leaving at the end of August and will be gone for six weeks. During that
time he plans to check the work of three different translators. He also plans
to work on some of his own translation in the Tugutil language.
Michelle was not able to find a job for the summer so we have
been able to put her to work doing some data entry for us. She has been typing
in a tribal language – English dictionary. That has at least given her
something to do. We thank the Lord that her grants and scholarship amounts have
increased so she will still be able to return to Grace College this fall, even
though she did not find a summer job. She has work waiting for her when she
returns to Grace so that will be a big help. Thanks for your prayers for her!
Just yesterday I was able to go to Tampa with my parents for my
mom’s appointment with her ALS doctor. That went well and I was really glad to
be able to go with them. Please continue to pray for my parents as they deal
with this disease each day. Mom is slowly losing strength and that is hard on
everyone. We are blessed to be able to live so close to them. We thank the Lord
for working out all the details for us! As you know we were able to purchase a
house just three minutes away from them at the end of April. Again, we thank
God for His many blessings!!!
Family It has been great to have these past six months with Steve and Megan and the granddaughters. Maggie is a little lady who loves to dance. Katie and Jade are growing so fast it is hard to believe. We are so privileged to be able to spend so much time with them. Michelle is loving school at Grace. Just this past weekend she was home for her fall break and it was fun to be together again as a family. By the time break was over, though, she was ready to get back to school. She still needs a more steady income in order for her to stay at Grace. Please be praying with us that the Lord would work that out if He wants her to continue at Grace College next year. In my previous letters I have mentioned my mother, Mary McDole, has been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). She is slowly losing some of her strength. It is hard for her to get around much and she can no longer go up and down a step. However, she just had a breathing and swallowing test and she passed both of them with flying colors. Thank you so much for your prayers for her.
Ministry News Since we last wrote we have been able to visit four churches and share some of what God is doing in Indonesia. It has been nice to get out and see people who have been praying for us and supporting us over the past several years. Change is something we are very familiar with and the Lord has been leading us in a new direction over these past few months. Due to my mother’s health we are planning on moving to Sanford, Florida. This way we will be close to my parents and be able help out on a daily basis. Bob will continue to make trips to Indonesia two times a year and the rest of the year he will be working on translation projects from his office in our home. This seems to be a good fit for us so we have put a bid on a house in Sanford just a half mile from my folks. Please be praying with us concerning this house. We would like to be moved in by the end of the year, if not sooner, but the realtor thinks it may be February before everything is finalized.
We want to emphasize that Bob will be continuing his translation and consultant ministries, only the location will be different for the time being.
Thanks for your prayers for us during this transition time.
Because of Calvary, Bob & Debbie Clark
Our son Steve has had a couple of major events in his life these last couple of months. He left to be trained for serving his country in July, and nine days later his wife gave birth to twins, their 2nd- & 3rd-born girls! Our daughter Michelle has started her college career at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. She is really enjoying her time there and has made many new friends.
The Punan people now have several hundred verses of Scripture from Genesis in their language, the very first of which is above. Over the next two weeks I (Bob) will be on Borneo as we plan to check another 700+ verses, including more portions of Genesis as well as parts of Matthew, Mark, & Luke. Please pray that the translation check would go well and that the Word of God would have a tremendous impact on the Punan people’s lives.
Recently I completed the first step of translating the book of Daniel into the Tugutil language, and look forward to being able to discuss and revise the draft with translation helpers who are native speakers of the tribal language.
Debbie has been busy with helping oversee the culture- and language-learning process for one new missionary family and four new single missionary ladies who arrived toward the end of November. She also continues to give language proficiency evaluations for missionaries who are still working at gaining fluency in Indonesian before moving on to their ministries in other areas of the country.
Michelle is now in her final semester of high school – hard to believe how fast time passes! She continues to do well academically, and is excited about basketball season, which is now in full swing. She is a starter on the varsity team, and they are 3-0 so far. Yesterday they had their most challenging game yet, but pulled away with good defense to seal the 12-point win.
We are making plans for furlough, which begins just a few days after Michelle’s graduation at the end of May. We look forward to seeing many of you again soon!
Beginning June 30th, Bob will be checking about 12 chapters of Genesis in the Hobongan language of West Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia. These chapters will include the story of Creation, the Fall of Man, and the life of Joseph. Please be praying for this first translation check for this language group. The native speakers are not used to sitting down for long periods of time, so this will be taxing for them, in addition to the fact that they will not be ‘at home’ in the jungle but rather out in the provincial capital city for these five days of intensive, verse-by-verse checking. Our goal is to ensure that the translation of God’s Word into the Hobongan language is accurate to the original and also clear and natural-sounding to the native speakers of the language. So please be praying for clarity of thought and stamina for not only the native speakers, but also the translator and the translation consultant!