Saturday, 28 September 2013

Update from Zimbabwe 

Greetings to all my friends and family back in Canada and the USA.

It is hard to believe, it is nearly mid-term exam time here at PACC (Pan African Christian College).  And so I am busy with both lesson planning and preparing exams.  I hope to have the exams prepared and be a few weeks ahead with lesson plans before Glen arrives next week so he and I might spend some time together.  I look forward to a wee break and to travelling to Bulawayo where we will visit friends who are grieving the loss of their 34 year old daughter who died just a short time ago from pneumonia.  She was to have been married in March, 2014.  Glen spent time at their home when he was in Zimbabwe earlier this year and it was shortly after his return to Canada that their daughter died.

I woke up this morning and did not have to go out and start the generator in order to make my morning coffee (decaf, of course...and I even brought Tim's coffee from home.)  It is a regular occurrence to have to run the generator.  Electricity, or the lack thereof, is a real challenge here in Harare.  It seems the power is off more than it is on.  The generator is great to have.  however, when the power is off there is no running water either, even with the generator.  It kind of takes me back to my childhood, growing up in rural Saskatchewan with no power nor running water.  (Now that dates me for sure!) Drinking water here I either buy or get from the Village of Hope where it is safe to drink.   Navigating your way through traffic, especially at rush hour, can also be a bit of a challenge when the power is out and the 'Robots' as traffic lights are called, are not operational when the power is out.  There is no such thing as right of way.  It is every driver for him/herself and of course everyone is in a hurry to get where they are going.

While the college is very needy and under-equipped according to Western standards, to use a phrase I often heard my mother use, 'We just make do".  There are none of the modern technologies such as overhead projectors and screens.  Classrooms are sparsely furnished with desks worn from too many years of use.  The old chalk blackboards still decorate the front of the classroom and are wiped clean with worn out brushes.  Students struggle to pay their tuition.  Some students live on campus in very basic accommodations while others travel considerable distance to attend.  The library does not have updated resource material and as a result the course outlines I had prepared prior to leaving Canada had to be revamped to accommodate the resources available in the college library for students for use as textbooks.  I feel both humbled and blessed as I realize that my Bible College days were much different than what I am experiencing here in Harare.  The country is beautiful but certainly has been struggling economically for a number of years.  To think that Zimbabwe used to be called "The Bread Basket of Africa".  The country is in recovery but it is slow.

I am including a couple of pictures I took at a water baptism two weeks ago.  The baptismal service was held at the Norrie's (the directors of the Village of Hope providing both home and school for orphans and other underprivileged children).  There were 65 people being baptized that day and it was awesome to watch as a young mother and her children stepped into the water to be baptized together as they publically declared their decision to follow Christ. There were many others.  Two pastors performed the baptisms on this day.  The afternoon wound up with refreshments and much celebrating.

The next picture is of the cottage where I am living.  It is a beautiful spot.   And next is the area where college staff gather together for mid-morning tea/coffee and for lunch.  The fifth and sixth pictures show the Canadian connection to the college, with people such Rev. Bill Morrow and Rev. Gary Foreman being recognized for their contributions.  The next picture is taken inside the college library.  The final picture I have included is of me and a new friend.  Grace and her husband King are the caretakers for the property and work for the Bishop (head of PAOZ).  King and Grace also live on the same property where the cottage is located.  There are three residences, the Bishop's house, called the Big House,  my cottage and then King and Grace's house.  King and Grace work for the Bishop, who really lives in Mozambique and is here periodically.  The property is owned by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and we all rent from them.

I have gotten to know King and Grace.  They are a lovely couple.  They escaped from Mozambique during war time and came to Zimbabwe as newlyweds to make a new start.  King was a teacher in Mozambique but with language differences and lack of funding to recertify and learn a new language he took a job as caretaker and has been doing that for eighteen years.  The other day I took Grace to a lovely new restaurant for lunch.  She said that is the first time in the 18 years that they have been in Zimbabwe that she has been to a restaurant.  Hard to imagine isn't it?.

It is just coming into summer here and the rains will soon be making the true beauty of this place come alive.  It is beginning already.

I will be in touch again soon.

Love and blessings to all.


Friday, 20 September 2013

Update from Zim!

Greetings to everyone.
Well, I'm still relatively new at this thing called 'Blogging."  I wrote an update the other day and then saved it.  Now I can't find it.  So here's to a fresh start.  Also, I have no idea of how many of my friends or family back home in Canada can actually access my blog.  If you can simply send me a quick email to let me know.  Those I don't hear from I will try and include again.  (Brenna, where are you when I need your expertise?)

Classes are well underway and I am quite enjoying the challenge of teaching in an entirely different culture.  My third year class on 'cross-cultural studies' is interesting to say the least.  Class members and I are all enjoying the differences in our cultures and that certainly precipitates discussion to other cultures as well.  I have a class of 20 students and they are a good mix of both men and women.  My 'ACTS' class is smaller with only ten student, all male.  That is my second year class and at first, being all men, they were not so interactive.  However, as we got into Acts and discussing the various passages, such as those regarding speaking in tongues, as referenced in both Luke and Acts, and other topics such as water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the discussion got very lively.  That opened the class up and subsequent lively discussions are taking place as we study the book of Acts together.

Last evening I had the Principal and his wife as guests at my little cottage for supper.  A very pleasant evening.  Our conversation centered around future plans for the college and what my role in those plans might be.  As our Academic Dean introduced me to the third year class on the first morning of that class, he told them that if I did not stay for the nest two years it was their fault.  Now that's a heavy to lay on a class!!  I don't know where he came up with two years as I have only ever talked about being here for the year 2014.  Maybe he knows something I don't know!

I'm finally getting fairly comfortable with getting myself back and forth to the college without fear of getting lost.  Driving on the 'wrong' side of the road has not presented any particular problems.  Yesterday I actually ventured out on my own and found my way to a very nice shopping center and back home.  All this, mind you without my usually trusted GPS.  Maps, as well are in short supply in Harare and as of yet I have been unable to purchase one.  The Norrie's have loaned me one but it is fairly old and does not have all the streets.  Some of the streets here are not very well marked which adds to the difficulty for newcomers to get around.

I am including a picture of the welcoming committee who were all there to meet me at the airport when I arrived.  Will send more pics with the next blog.
Love and Blessings


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Hi to everyone
I have been in Harare for two days now being hosted by a lovely Canadian couple, Gay and Elizabeth Norrie.  Gay and Elizabeth are the Directors of the Village of Hope and I had opportunity to visit and tour the village yesterday.  Gay and Elizabeth met me at the airport along with a party of about 10-12 others, including some officials and the Principal of the College were I am to teach.  I will move into my little cottage tomorrow.  Classes don't officially start until Tuesday, September 9th.  Monday, Sept. 8th is registration day so I will be at the college on Monday to meet some of the students and get set up for classes.  Today I met with the principal and numerous other staff members at the college and enjoyed lunch outdoors with them.  Sasza and vegetable soup or sauce (made with cooked greens...somewhat like spinach) along with rice and vegetables. I believe the rice and veggies, with a little chicken thrown in for good measure, were served simply because they had a visitor (Me.)  I'm not crazy about the local food but I'll get used to it (or not).  I will be doing my own shopping and cooking at the cottage.  They have a fabulous market not all that far from the cottage and the selections are good.  The people here are very warm and welcoming.  And the weather is great.  I love it! 

Prior to coming to Zim, I spent a few days with Geoffrey, Monique and family in Texas.  It was great to have some time with them before leaving North America.

Upon arriving in Zimbabwe there was the usual clearing customs and security and then going to immigration to apply for my Visa and then on to collect my luggage...which all arrived safe and sound...praise God.  On two previous occasions when I came to Africa (Cameroon) my luggage did not arrive with me and so I was stuck wearing the same clothes for a  number of days.  Of course I had to wash them out at night.  All worked out in the end as both times my luggage finally arrived.  Back to Zim and my current trip...At the end of a very long day and two long flights ( 10 hours from Houston to Amsterdam and then another 9 hours from Amsterdam to Harare) I arrived and was so glad to see all the smiling, welcoming faces there to greet me. 

Enough chatter for now.  Hopefully the next blog will include some photos.

Love and Blessings to all.