Monday, 17 January 2022

 Wow!! Indeed, it has been a while since my last blog.  Covid-19 has changed how we do things.  I have been home in Canada since June 2021 and now am looking forward to returning to Zimbabwe...God willing!

While home here in British Columbia, I have been busy teaching on-line.  Courses for the 2nd semester for 2021 have just wrapped up with PACC (Pan Africa Christian College) and all papers and exams marked.  On-line has been necessitated because of Covid for Africa just as it has been around the world.  This has been a learning curve for me, as I'm sure it has been for many.  It certainly has allowed our students to continue their studies, but in all honesty, I much prefer being on site, and interacting in person with my students.

2021 has been a challenging year for British Columbia.  Fires, floods, mud and rock slides have all been disastrous for many in our province and in many places around the world.  We, here in the South Okanagan have definitely been among the fortunate as other than roads all around us being closed, we have escaped all the disasters, including Covid-19.

Next week starts our new semester at PACC and I will be facilitating three courses.  I will begin those on-line and, hopefully, will switch to in-person when I arrive back in Zimbabwe.  My plan, God williong, is to leave Canada the end of March and be in Zimbabwe only for two months this time.  While I am there I will continue to completion the three courses started on-line in Canada, attend a graduation and offer two teacher training courses to teachers and potential teachers from both the AOG  (Assemblies of God) and the PAOZ (Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbawe).  That is the plan and we'll see how things unfold. 

I have kept fairly busy while home here in British Columbia.  I do some counselling in the capacity of 'District Approved Counsellor' and some guest preaching, in connection with a number of the churches in our district.  As well, I am involved with METP which is a ministry essentials training program offering training to people in remote areas who do not have the opportunity to attend theological colleges. My role is to review all course material with a view to constantly update and improve how we do things.  It is an exciting new challenge!  

Covid-19 has certqainly restricted what we do and how we do things.  It has been two years since we have seen our son and his family in Texas.  Glen and I have tickets booked to travel to spend a week with them beginning of February.  

I so appreciate the prayers and support of so many family and friends as I travel to the mission fields of Zimbabwe.  Indeed, that is my second home and I look forward to returning there.  Although I am in constant touch with colleagues and friends there, being physically on the ground is so much better.

Till the next time, and trusting that I still have some readers out there where-ever.

Blessings to all.

Marj


Sunday, 16 May 2021

 

May 16th. 2021

Once again, greetings to my family and friends in Canada and the US.  This may be my final blog from this side of the world before I return to Canadian soil.. My return to Canada begins on June 7th.  I will then, unless things change rapidly, have to spend 3 days in quarantine in a govenment approved hotel in Toronto which is my first point of entry into Canada.  Sadly, the way things are at the moment I have to pay for the hotel, three meals a day (which I'm sure I won't eat...I never eat three meals a day, and certainly not from menues chosen by someone else).  However, I do need to come home so guess I'll have to abide by the rules.  Even if I don't agree with them.!!!!  I did enquire to see if it was possible to only pay for the hotel room but that is not allowed.  If I had my druthers, I would prefer just to fast for three days, or order room delivery from a local restaurant to be able to order what I would like. Not allowed.  I guess our Government wants our money.  But, enough complaining.  It will be good to get home, whatever it takes.  I am keeping informed on changes regarding Covid-19 restrictions and the like, both online, through my travel agent and of course my hubbie keeps me informed on a regular basis.

Time has passed very quickly and I have been busy teaching and marking papers.  Classes ended end of April and we celebrated graduation (the first in three years) which was an awesome event.  I'm inserting a couple of pictures here.  The first picture is of our grads just as they prepared for the grad exercises.


The next couple are of the grad ceremonies.  The entire graduation, including the exercises and the grad banquet, was held outside.    Each of our grads was presented with a study Bible, along with their certificate, as they begin their ministry in the various areas throughout the country.  


Here is a photo of yours truly with one of our grads and his pastor.




Amidst all the celebrating and enjoying such a fabulous week here at PACC, there are always the reminders of the situation on the ground here in the midst of poverty and the struggles of our people.  Yesterday as Rev. Munaki (our principal), his wife Charity and I were running errors around town we drove through Mbare, one of the high density areas of the city.  Although we are not supposed to, I took a few pictures so I could share with all of you the reality of life here in Harare for so many people.  Below is a picture of the street market and this gives you an idea of how many people try to eek out a living. These street markets, as they are called, line the streets in many areas.   



Indeed, each day is a combination of joy and sadness.  It grieves my heart to see the struggles of the general population here.  The sadness comes in knowing that it is all so unnecessary.  Zimbabwe has all the resources to enable it to be a prosperous country.  Sadly the corruption runs deep.  The few at the top enjoy the rewards earned on the backs of the struggling majority.  I met a young man at church today who had been severly beaten by his landlord because he could not pay his rent.  Reality can be tough.

My joy comes in watching the young men and women graduate and knowing that I have been privileged to play a small part in their lives as I have journeyed with them through their studies.  It comes in seeing people who hold onto faith, they hold onto their trust in God and a hope for the future.  They prayer for their country, for their leadership and for God to intervene on their behalf.

As I prepare to return to Canada, I know that a piece of my heart will remain here in Zimbabwe with the people I have come to love.  

On that note I will close this blog.  I hope you hear my heart and I solicite your prayers for all of my 'family' and friends here at PACC (Pan Africa Christian College) and throughout this beautiful country of Zimbabwe. 

Sending hugs to all.

Marj


Tuesday, 23 March 2021

 March 23rd, 2021.

Greetings all you beautiful people out there.  Have been meaning to wrote for some time but time seems to have slipped through my fingers.  I can hardly believe how long it has been since I last wrote. My time here in Zimbabwe is already half over and June 6th I will be leaving to return to Canada.  I'm praying and ask for your prayers that things have settled somewhat with Covid-19 and I won't encounter any problems returning that side.

Things have been crazy busy here at PACC.  I am teaching six online classes.  Two of my first year classes  have 70 people in them.  So the majority of my time is spent teaching and marking papers.  I calculated out that by the end of our semester I will have marked over 500 papers. 

The Principal, Academic Dean, Dean of Students and I journeyed to Kwekwe (about 3 1/2 to 4 hours drive, depending on the potholes and the like) for a weekend of inperson intensive training.  This particular group of students are first year students and are enrolled in five courses.  We taught segments of all five courses beginning Friday evening and then all day Saturday.  We were blessed to join them for a prayer rally Saturday night and then join their Sunday services before being hosted for lunch and then the drive back to Harare.  


It was great to meet so many of our students who, up to this point, had just been online.  The pictures below are just some of those who were still around as we were about to leave to return to Harare.



Pastor Tich, our Academic Dean (Center in the above picture with brown and white shirt on) and I have just completed writing a text book for writing and research  and our manuscript is now in the hands of a local printer who is doing the formatting and layout.  The next step is to send off to the publisher.  Yippee. It is done!!!!  We started work on this project just over a year ago.  We are currently teaching a writing and rsearch course and our text is the official text book.  Our students are invited to give us their feedback on the user friendly aspects of the text.  All of this is part of a process in which both Pastor Tich and I will be certified as level three (highest level) teaching supervisors with  the Association for Pentecostal Theological Education in Africa (APTEA).  I have been facilitating teacher training with this group for the past five years or so and so it feels good to now be certified at the highest level.

Schools resumed for most students this past week and we, Gken and I, were able to get our young Malanaka enrolled in a boarding school near where her family live.  It was an exciting time as she, like so many students had been out of school for most of the past year.  Studnts weat uniforms at most of the schools here.  When we first met Makanaka, she was in grade four and now she is in grade eleven or form four as it is called here.  




At our college we will be finishing the semester with on-line courses.  We are planning a graduation the beginning of May and praying that things remain open for us to be able to do that.

The economy in Zimbabwe continues to be a challenge for the majority of people in this country.  With the lockdowns due to Covid-19 the challenges have increased...and I realize that is the same for much of the world.  On the positive side, the rains have come this year, after three plus years of draught.  The grounds are beautifully green and the weather is great.  

Enough of my ramble for now.  Blessings to all.

Marj



  

Sunday, 7 February 2021

 Greetings to all you beautiful people in Canada and the US.  

 Wow...lockdown in Zimbabwe!!!  Lockdown in the world!!!  Life has certainly changed over the past year.  The 2nd lockdown here in Zimbabwe came into effect while I was intransit on my way to Zimbabwe and against some advice to turn around in Toronto and return to British Columbia, I really felt to carry on.  So with a negative Covid-19 test in hand, I boarded Ethiopian air, had a brief stop in Addis, Ethiopia and then on to Harare.  Clearing customs at the airport was uneventful and then suddenly here I was, halfway across the world in Africa.  Weather is beautiful and warm.  Perfect for me.  I looove the heat!

I arrived on Wednesday and it is now Sunday morning...nearing noon here in Zimbabwe.  We have just finished our 'family worship service' which I hosted at my home.  Home services are allowed with your family unit. Rev. Munaki (principal of our college) lives just across the way from me on on campus, and has kindly invited me to be part of their family circle.  The circle includes Charity, Munaki's wife, his sister Tendai and her young daughter Hazel, and Munaki's two teenage boys.  We are studying through a serious on evangelism, what that means to each of us, and how we do evangelism.  In the midst of lockdown it is good to have others to get together with in prayer and discuss biblical concepts.  I am truly blessed.🙏🙏

Week two...Last week was a difficult week in some ways.  At that time I did not have transportation, as my truck was not on site, but was in Mutare, a neighboring city, undergoing repair.  Although there's really no place to go anyway.😢😢.  I woke up one morning to a feeling of being trapped.  We were on lockdown, I was without transportation and I was half a world away from the comfort of my home in Canada.  It was a strange feeling but one which I had to acknowledge and work through.  I did this by simply walking around the campus, spending time in the prsesence of God and giving thanks for the many blessings I enjoy...the most important at this point in time is that I am healthy.  I have travelled halfway around the world amidst lack of social distancing in airports and yet am protected.  I am so privileged to be able to call home through WhattsApp and as I do that, my feelings of loneliness disipate.  I am connected and all is good. 👌

Later.  I'm busy with class prep and just needing a break from educational things so thought I'd ramble a bit on my blog.  Thinking of all my family and friends back in Canada.  Even though we are doing our classes online, it has been a busy time.  I think, in many ways, it is more work teaching online than it is in the actual classroom.  There are numerous challenges, not only for our students, but also for us as lecturers.  It is truly a learning experience.  Hey, I guess that means one is never too old to learn.  😂😂😂 

We have had a lot of rain here lately.  A couple of storms have left us without power.  But on the positive side, we are not without power on a regular basis as in the past.  Also there are no fuel lineups and fuel is readily available.  The rain has left everything beautifully green.  Attaching here a couple of pictures showing firstly the beautiful night sky of the impending storm and then simply the beauty all around us here after the rains.



    


Both of those pictures are taken just outside my house.  

Well, break time is over.  Must get back to responding to my students.  Will finish this off later.  

Now is later.  It is now February 7th and I have now been in Zimbabwe for more than one month.  So, I thought I'd best add a few more lines and send this out so all of you know I am still alive and well.  Ignore what I said earlier about electricity not being as challenging as in the past.  It is now an ongoing challenge.  It almost seems to be off more than it is on.  Such is live and as my mother used to say "you just make do".  

We have just had 54 students added to our first year classes.  As a way of connecting on WhatsApp and getting to know my students remotely, I am having each one post a picture of themselves and a brief bio.   I now have six classes.  Two days a weeek I am teaching from 5:30 -7:30 in the morning and then 4 days a week from 9:00 to 11:00 but of course am available at other hours.  It certainly is a different way of teaching but we make the most of it to redeem the time.  (That's an expression borrowed from one of my bible college professors long back).

Big news.  I just went and got a hair cut today.  Chico, the barber who I went to in the past when I was here. is now doing home visits.  I was first introduced to him by my dear friend Nellice as that is who cuts her hair.  So he was going to her home to cut her hair and she phoned me to let me know.  Wow, that was a biggee!.  I'm sure some of you can relate in not being able to go to hair dressers and the like.  It sure felt good.  As I said, life has changed.  Things we have in the past, taken for granted have now become almost a gift.

Well, my rambling has come to an end.  I must prepare for tomorrows classes.  So, until next time, blessings to all.

Marj 

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

 Greetings to all my friends and family in Canada and the US.

Well, I am on the journey to return to my second home...in Harare, Zimbabwe.  Interesting trip.  I flew from Kelowna to Calgary with WestJet.  Stayed at Best Western Hotle overnight then boarded Air Canada and flew to Toronto.  Had to get a Covid-19 test in Toronto and have to provide that before boarding Ethiopiuan Air and then also have to provide it to customs at arrival in Harare.  The Covid-19 test result took two days.  I arrived in Toronto on the 2nd and it is now the 4th.  I leave tomorrow morning (January 5th and will fly with a brief stopover (2 hours) in Addis, Ethiopia, arriving in Harare, Zimbabwe on Wednesday, the 6th.  

The world has certainly changed in 2020 and along with that, rules and regulations change nearly every day.  Lockdowns and the like affect everyone world wide.  I have been considered an essential service in Harare and so that kindof clears the path for me to go.  I received a personal phone call from Zimbabwe's  Presiding Bishop today just to touch base with me and let me know the situation in Zimbabwe at this particular time.  I assured him that the situation is pretty similar here in Canada, and that I'm really going on faith as I believe God has called me to be there.  Our Principal will be picking me up at the airport.  I am so looking forward to the last leg of this long journey and to discover for myself how things are on the ground at my home there.

Will update more after I arrive.

Me Again.  (And I know some of this is repetitious...but excuse my reminicing.  Indeed it took six days to get here, but arrived safe and sound on Jan. 6th,  Wow, left my BC home on January 1st.  Glen drove me to Kelowna and I flew via Westjet to Calgary.  Spent one night in hotel there, then flew AirCanada to Toronto on Jan. 2nd.  Spent 3 nights in hotel there while awaiting Covid-19 test results. Toronto is/was on lockdown.  No room service or the like at hotel, but thanks to my good friends, Elizabeth and Gaye Norrie who delivered care package of food and snacks to the hotel, I certainly did not suffer. I Departed Toronto via Ethiopian Air, with negative test results in hand, on Jan. 5th, heading for Harare, Zimbabwe.  Brief stop in Addis, Ethiopia to change planes, then straight to Harare.  Arrived in Harare on Jan. 6th.  Paperwork to complete there and of course, temperature taken at every stop...otherwise uneventful.  Cleared Customs without a hitch.  

I think the term 'social distancing' means different things to different people.  WestJet plane had every seat full.  AirCanda had a few seats empty but we were told to keep social distancing.  Not sure how that is supposed to happen with someone seated right next to you.  Toronto airport also seems to talk the talk but doesn't seem to walk the walk. Ethiopian Air was jam packed from Toronto to Addis,  then a little bit of breathing space from Addis to Harare.  I continue to believe I am here by faith and I thank God for His protection.  I am well, and so appreciate the prayers of so many for my health and safety.  🙏 Thank-you.

Rev. Munaki (Principal) and Rev. Muzenda (Dean of Students) met me at the airport and it was so good to see them.  Mask wearing is the order of the day.  Also, as I was enroute Zimbabwe imposed a temporary lockdown...but I was already enroute.  Did not need to quarantine on arrival, but basically have done that and in that respect, things are not much different from being at home in British Columbia.  

Churches and other gatherings are closed, while grocery stores are open...subject to temperature checks upon entrance and mask wearing being essential.  Small family groups can meet and on Sunday I was part of the family of our principal as six of us met for bible study in lieu of regular church services.  Also, thank to YouTube I was able to 'attend' my home church service from Bethel Church in Penticton and  also able to access church services or messages from the Park Drive Church in Oliver and Elam Church in Keremeos, both of which I am connected with and whose congregations support my mission here in Zimbabwe in various ways.  

Have been busy just getting settled, sorting out some details such as internet, telephone, electricity, banking and the like.  I have the same living accomodations as I had the last time I was here, so am on campus and it is good.  

There have been many changes while I was home in Canada, including staff changes and of course changes due to Covid-19.  I am reminded that the only constant is change.  

It is really hard to believe that Glen and I celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversay in October, 2020.  Amidst Covid-19 we celebrated with just the two of us but enjoyed calls from family and friends.  Just thought I would share that small detail with all of you and include a selfy we took on that day.  We thank God for health.


Please know that I am safe and keeping well.  And I thank God for that.  My prayer for all of you is that you stay healthy and stay safe.  

Until next time...Sending much love and blessings to all.  God is good.

Marj

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Greetings friends and family everywhere. 

I believe I started this blog in April, 2020, and never finished it so,  I will send on what I had written at that time and then resume with current updates.
Previously I wrote:
Wow!!! Live is certainly changing daily as we, all of us, face the pandemic that has presented itself. It is, indeed, a challenging time as people face loss of jobs and the reality of self-isolating.  We are called to stay home as much as possible.  As we face new realities and daily changes I just want to encourage all of us to reach out to others, to encourage each other and to realize that indeed we are all in this together.  We are not alone.
I continue to stay in touch with my friends and colleagues in Zimbabwe.  I have been home in Canada since mid December, 2019 and ask for all of you to join me as we pray, not only for our friends and family here in Canada and the US, but to also pray for people all over the world.  Let's count our blessings and look to the positives in our lives.
In my beloved country of Zimbabwe so many people live in what is called 'high density' suburbs or settlements.  What that means is that many people live in small crowded conditions where physical distancing is virtually impossible.  The country is in such chaos and economic dysaster that one prson was quoted as saying we choose food or we choose Covid - 19.  That reality is hard for us to grasp.  And, yes, I realize it is challenging times for all of us.

Now to move on.  It is now  October 31st and I just realized I never did complete the blog I began way back in April.  Actually, a dear friend and former colleague, mentor, supervisor and boss, just mentioned that she had not received a blog from me in a long time.  Thanks Margaret.😀😀😀  I think I needed that push.  And indeed it is past due time for me to invite all of you, once again, into my life and all that is happening.  2020 has certainly been a time of both challenge and reward, as it has been for so many. 

I was disappointed that I was not able to return to Zimbabwe in August for the start of a new semester.  However, as things unfolded, our college, like so many around the world, was on lock-down.  We, as faculty at PACC (Pan Africa Christian College) manage to have meetings and weekly get-togethers via WhatsApp.  So, we went to work to see how we could offer our classes online.  We do not currently have the capabilities in Zimbabwe to offer classes through the many classroom platforms springing up, but have managed to work through a telephone app called WhatsApp.  It is challenging, to say the least, but at least our students are able to continue their studies.  I am keeping connecting with students via WhatsApp, figuring out new ways to journey with our students as they prepare to take their place in ministry in various roles in their communities of faith.

I have booked my ticket and will be returning to Zimbabwe in January for the beginning of the next semester.  In 2021 we will have a graduation with around 70 students graduating from the various programs.

Here below, I am posting a few pictures to share a bit of who we are and what we do and invite you into my inner circle.

Our college street sign here above.
Our staff and students in picture above.
Our tea-time Gazebo!
The above picture and the one below showing our staff and students on clean-up the community day.
Our green house which helps to feed our students and provide some revenue.
Our library which was graciously enlarged with donations of over 2,500 books from both Canada Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and the U.S. Assemblies of God. 

Just enough to perhaps keep you interested in my adventures.  Please pray for me that God will open doors as I return to the place I consider to be my second home, PACC (Pan Africa Christian College, in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Well, my friends, I certainly will try to get back to blogging at least once a month.  It seems I don't have a whole lot to blog when I'm at home here in Canada.  I'm so looking forward to returning to Zimbabwe as I truly believe that is where God has called me to be.  I do not believe the work he has called me to do there is finished and until such a time as I believe he has released me from that responsibility, I will go. 
Until next month, love and blessings to each and every one of you.
Marj

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

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Greetings from British Columbia Canada.  Thought it past due time for me to update evryone on what is haappening in my life.  It is indeed a stange feeling living in two vastly different countries.  Just to show the contrast I have a picture of the weather when I left Zimbabwe in December and then in Canada in January.  Howwever, the vast differences are not limited to the weather.  Canada is such a land of abundance while Zimbabwe is a land of great need.  The reality is that the eonomic situation in Zimbabwe is on a constant decline.

I am fortunate to be a Canadian citizen and it is humbling, indeed, to have opportunities to assist those less fortunate who struggle even to provide the necessities of live for their families. I am reminded that it is truly in giving that we receive.  It is good to be back on Canadian soil; but I do miss Africa and family (adopted) and friends there.

I was blessed beyond measure to have my sister Laurie join me at PACC for a month (November -December) and she certainly was a tremendous help to me with marking papers and whatever else I asked her to do.  It was great to just have her company, enjoy daily walks and introduce her to my way of life there and to have her meet my colleagues and friends.  Inserted below is a picture of the two of us with one of my classes.

In our economic struggles, we are often times without ZESA (which is the acronim for Electricity).  The locals say it stands for' Zimbabwe Electricity Seldom Available'). That is a reality as electricity is avilable for only a few hours at night. During the day when we have no electricity and no fuel to run a generator our college cook manages to make meals for our students by cooking outside. The picture below shows Puparai cooking the noon meal.




Since returning to Canada I have had opportunities to share stories from Zimbabwe with a couple of local churches here in British columbia who are supportive of our college.  I am thankful for all who support us in so many ways.  Thank you!

March 1st is missions day at our church and I will have a display set up and have opportunity to share with many of our congregation the work and the needs of my adopted country.

February 22nd I will leave for a brief trip to Kenya where I will be attending an APTEA (Association for Pentecostal Theological Education in Africa) conference. I have been privileged to facilitate teacher training with that orgnization over the past three years or so and am looking forward to the conference and the opportunity to meet with others throughout the African Continent who are doing the same thing.

Our college enrollment is increasing inspite of the difficult economic times. We have students from Mozambique and Namibia as well as from Zimbabwe. These students are hungry to learn more of the Word of God as they either enter into ministry for the first time or enrich the ministries they are already engaged in.  It is indeed a privilege to be able to journey with them as they prepare to face life with all its ups and downs.

I am busy packing and preparing for our conference in Kenya and will update again on my return at month's end. 

Thank you for all your prayers.  May you continue to be blessed.
Marj