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.


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