Saturday, 22 November 2014

Coming Home!

Greetings to all you beautiful people in Canada and the US.
Humblest apologies for not blogging in the last while.  And this will just be a short blog to let everyone know that we are fine.  We have enjoyed the challenges and blessings of being in this country and look forward to serving here for at least the next year. 
The last month or so has been hectic to say the least...with final exams and graduation and trying to fit into our schedule a bit of time to prepare to come home to Canada for a month's break.
So the time has come and the countdown is on.  The suitcases are all packed and things prepared at the cottage to leave them for the next month.  We are so excited to come home and see so many of our family and friends.  The year here in Zimbabwe has gone quickly but the thoughts of coming home are now taking precedence.
We are just heading off to church and then heading directly from there to the airport.  I will try to Blog once from Canada before Christmas but just in case that doesn't happen, I wish each and everyone of you a very merry Christmas and a Happy new Year.
God Bless you all.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Another Update!

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

It has been some time now since I last blogged.  So sorry.  Time just seems to be flying by.
I just came in from picking Mulberries.  They are somewhat like blackberries, and very tasty. We have them right in our yard and they make a  great addition to my apple crisp.  I have frozen some for future use.  They create a great quick desert when we have company coming.  Today I am also making my mother's ice-box cookies.  I try to treat the staff at the college with either banana bread or ice-box cookies every couple of weeks at our faculty meetings or BOA (Board of Administration) meetings.  This week it will be cookies.  I call these my mom's ice-box cookies because they were my favorite cookies when I was a kid.  My mom never cooked from recipes written out.  They were all in her head.  I had never baked these cookies until towards the end of my mom's life, when I asked her for the recipe.  She died about six months after that and they are the only cookies I bake regularly.  I think of her whenever I bake them.  When I take cookies or banana bread to share with our staff, I sometimes add Cokes as all these things are appreciated treats not affordable by our staff.

Our daughter Starla arrived on September 15th and is with us until October 14th.  See picture below to see how excited I was to see her!!! 

It is absolutely fabulous to have her here with us, although she has spent more time with her dad than with her mom. They are currently on a four day trip to Rifa, which is a hunting conservatory owned and operated by friends of ours from Bulawayo.  Unfortunately, I am not on college break and so not able to tour around the country with them. I do, however, absolutely love what I am doing here and know that this is what God has called me to do and where I am to be at this particular time in my life. It is great, though, that Glen has both the time and the means to tour Starla around, showing her much of this beautiful country that has become our second home.
The three of us, Glen, Starla and I, spent a weekend viewing the sights at Vic Falls and Starla is certainly having some unique experiences while she is here.

Mid-term exam time has rolled around again so I am busy preparing those.  Our friends the Norries have returned from Ontario and the Wilsons have returned from California.  The eight of us, being the Allan's, the Wilson's, both from AOG (Assemblies of God) in the US and the Norries and us with PAOC in Canada, along with Starla, got together for fellowship and a meal out on Thursday this past week. 

It is almost impossible to fathom that in about six weeks we will be returning to Canada and seeing many of you.  We have now been in Zimbabwe for more than a year...with our sights set on being here for at least one more year.

Here is a picture of our some of our staff at work in the Academic Dean's office (which he and I share) on our self assessment as we work towards accreditation.  Our goal is to be accredited by November, 2015. 

We have just received an invitation from the Canadian Ambassador's office to attend a Canadian Thanksgiving complete with turkey and stuffing.  We are looking forward to that and meeting some other Canadians serving in various capacities in this country. It is summer time here...about 34 degrees C today so it doesn't seem quite like Thanksgiving time, but we will enjoy celebrating in the sun.  Christmas, however, will be in Canada and we look forward to getting together with many family and friends across the country during our short month at home.

That's all for now folks!!!!
Love and Blessings


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Update from Zimbabwe!

Greetings to all you beautiful people out there in Canada and the US.
Another month has come and gone.  (Well nearly-today is Monday, July 28th), so thought I better at least get started on my blog for this month.  Final exams for this term are Tuesday and Wednesday this week.  I'm feeling great.  My exams are all ready to go!  Praise God.
It has been busy and I am looking forward to the break-which starts right after I finish marking exams.  I may have to pull an 'all-nighter' as I need exams to be marked and all my paper work handed into the office before my sisters and my niece arrive on August 3rd.  Gee, I haven't pulled an 'all-nighter' since working on my doctoral dissertation. But I remember those times so well, and I believe, if memory serves me right, there were quite a number of those nights.  I'm wondering, as I remember back, if some of my students are doing just that these last few days.
I am so looking forward to seeing family and having opportunity to share this beautiful country of Zimbabwe with them.  And, YES, they will share in the challenges as well.  The challenges of no Zesa (electricity), no central heating and no water at times.  But having said that, I remember well, growing up in rural Saskatchewan with no electricity, no running water and no inside toilets.  (You see folks, my long-term memory is still working just fine.) All humor aside, the lack of water and power, here in Zimbabwe, is intermittent and yet not something that is unmanageable.  It's all in the mindset of how one chooses to deal with the day to day challenges.  And, I figure that seeing as how God called me to be here, He will help me to deal with anything that comes my way.  Thank-you God!!
We've spent a couple of delightful evenings with our friends, the Allans, from The Assemblies of God, this past week as they joined us one night for supper and a few games of Mexican Train.  Then I joined them at their place on Friday evening (Glen was off to Rifa Camp for a few days) as they hosted a supper for a young missionary, also from the US, who had been working with them for the past eight weeks.  Again we played Mexican Train which is fast becoming a favorite here.  Cole, the young missionary, leaves to return to the US tomorrow.
End of Part One.  Part Two to come on the week-end!
August 3rd...Part Two and it is College break time.  Two of my sisters and a niece are arriving today.  After church we went to the airport to meet their plane arriving at 12:15...only to find that the flight had been delayed about three hours.  So, as we live fairly close to the airport we returned home and I thought I would add a bit to my blog before returning to the airport. We have some fun things planned while they are here and my brain will get a well earned break.
Yesterday we had more water and sewer problems.  It really is quite laughable, there always seems to be an  'issue' with something...just about the time we think everything is running smoothly.  The entire infrastructure here in Zimbabwe is old and because of the economy not well maintained. That includes the water and sewer pipes at our cottage, along with all the buildings and the roads.  Lots of potholes on the streets for one to try to avoid.  That is not always possible.  It is not unusual to see someone out on the street trying to file potholes with broken bricks and then asking for a dollar.  That is one of the many ways Zimbabwe locals try to earn a few dollars to buy a loaf of bread or some sadsa.

Part Three - August 21st...Well, our company has been and gone.  The time went so quickly but it was absolutely fabulous having them here.  We travelled to Bulawayo and then on to Hwange National Park where we spent a couple of days doing the 'game drive/viewing' thing.  We saw elephants, giraffes, hippos, zebra, and other game.  We toured caves with stone wall carvings and I've included a picture to show you an idea of what we saw. 

We went on to Victoria Falls, did a walking tour of the Falls, the girls took the helicopter ride over the falls and of course we visited the local markets.  

Tamara and I walked across the bridge into Zambia and went to Angel Pools on the Zambian side of the Falls.  That was one of the highlights for me.  We sat in the pools and were a mere few feet from the edge of the falls.  It was an awesome feeling, kindof like living on the edge.  Quite an adrenalin rush for sure!  Thanks Tamara for sharing that experience. (See pics included here).  On the second picture, you can see the security between us and the falls, being a couple of ropes.

We took in a cultural experience with an evening at Boma, where we enjoyed great food, great company (of course) and great entertainment featuring traditional music and dance, all before returning to Harare, where we visited local markets, shopped, toured the college and the Village of Hope and all to soon our time together came to an end. 
I'm including some pictures here.  First one below is of all of us girls (ladies, or whatever) taken at the college with a couple of the kitchen staff outside where they cook when there is no Zesa.  Another is of Tamara and Laurie with some of the kids at the Village of Hope and then one of Glen with our company, taken in the huge rocks found at Cecil Rhodes grave site, which is another tour we did.  It was great to have Glen as our guide.  He's getting quite used to that role and seems to thoroughly enjoy it. 

We had such fun and now it seems almost as though it was just a dream from which I have wakened and now am asking myself, 'Where they really here?'

Now, it is back to preparing for the upcoming classes which resume September 1st. I will be teaching three courses this term.  Two of them I taught last year, being Cross Cultural Ministries and Acts of The Holy Spirit.  The third course, Apocalyptic Literature, is a new one for me to teach and I am looking forward to it.

I think I have chatted enough for this time.  Enjoy!!
Love and Blessings to all

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Greetings Again from Zim!

Warm greetings to all
More than 1/2 of the month of June is gone so it is probably time to begin my next blog.  Life has been pretty ordinary for us the last while, with classes, meetings regarding accreditation of our college and life in general. 
Mid-term exams are coming up this week and then more than half this semester is gone.  I'm busy putting together final exams for end of July.  It is easy to be out of touch with what's happening in Canada and the US.  Talking with Geoffrey (our son) on telephone and our niece Michelle via email, this week reminded me that the school year in both The United States and Canada is either over or quickly drawing to a close.  Our school year runs until the end of November and then we are seriously considering coming home to Canada for Christmas again this year.

As usual I am including a few pictures.  The first one is the little neighbor girl (living with her great aunt Grace on the same property as us).  She has just begun school and this was her first day.  The next picture is one of shucking corn (maize).  I talked, in my last blog, about that process but had lost my camera so was unable to send a picture.  Luckily Glen took some pictures so this is from his camera.  The third picture is of a young lady we are sponsoring.  Her mom is a single mom and they struggle to be able to afford for Makanaka to attend school.  I first met Maka, as she is called by family and friends, when she was working at the corner market selling vegetables and other miscellaneous items.  She was not at school at that time.  Maka is eleven years old.  She really touched my heart and has become very dear to us.  Last week we helped Linda (Maka's mom) to move some of her property, that had been sitting outside at the place where she is the house maid, to her stand.  A stand is what we in Canada would call a lot. Linda's lot is a small piece of property in a high density area (very poor) and was where she and her husband planned to have their home.  The husband died when Maka was only a baby and so Linda and Maka currently live in one room where Linda serves as maid.  It is still Linda's intention to build on her stand when and if she can.  We will do what we can to help.

The sadness for us comes in realizing that there are many, many, Lindas and Makas in this country and we cannot help them all.  Even our school staff, such as our principal and academic dean struggle to pay their children's school fees.  So, we do what we can and trust it is pleasing to God.


Here now are a couple of pictures of the high density area where Linda and Maka have their stand.  That is where we moved their belongings to.  One of the pictures is of Maka standing on their empty stand (lot) with her back to the neighbor's property.  That neighbor is the one who is allowing them to store their belongings in a room there.  The other two pictures are simply of the area.  There are high density areas in and around Harare and throughout Zimbabwe which don't have any semblance of housing as you see it here.

Wow...time does slip by.  It has been a couple of weeks since I sat down to write on my blog.  It is now July 2nd, so yes, indeed, Canada Day has come and gone.  2014 is half over. We had a delightful Canada Day celebration yesterday, July 1st.  We attended a reception hosted by the Canadian Ambassador at her residence.  It was an informal garden party and felt good to meet with others from Canada, and elsewhere, serving with various NGO's or missions here in Zimbabwe and in particular, in Harare. 
Mid-terms are over and now it is on to finalizing prep work for final exams for this semester. I am truly looking forward to the break. Plans are well underway for hosting two of my sisters and my niece who will arrive August 3rd. 
I'm inserting a few pictures of the Canada Day Celebrations. The first one is of me with our Canadian Flag outside our home.  There is one of the garden party at the Ambassador's residence and one of her giving her address and Canadian greetings to the gathering.

 It is cold here today and overcast.  Of course it is winter time.  The temperature is about 14 degrees and it is almost eleven am.  Here is a picture Glen snapped one day as I was trying to keep warm in our cottage.  Enjoy!!

With much love and many blessings to all

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

News from Zimbabwe

Greetings to all

Wahoo!!!!  I am taking a step backwards to put this great news at the beginning of this blog that I started at least a week ago.  Our Temporary Work Permit has, at long last, been approved.  The approval is for one year ending in May of 2015 at which time we would have to apply for an extension.  However, we will take it one step at a time and we thank God for the opportunity to be here and serve in this beautiful country.  So, Thank-you! Thank-you! all of you who have been praying for us in that regard.  We so appreciate the prayers and ask you to continue to pray for Zimbabwe and its people.

Now back to where I left off:
Classes resumed May 12th after a slight delay of one week.  The delay came about due to the economic situation in which it is very difficult for students to pay their fees.  That in turn makes it difficult for the school to operate.  The current situation at our college is that we are without Zesa (electricity) most of the time.  Churches sponsoring students cannot pay tuition for their students as the churches themselves are in dire straights.  College policy states that students can not come to  classes until their fees are paid, but that is not the practice and so everyone shares in the difficult times.  Just some of the struggles here in Zim.  Other schools, colleges and Universities face the same problems.  We do have a generator at the college but it only runs for a few hours during the day as fuel to operate it is also very costly.

Having said all of that, Zimbabwe is truly a beautiful country and the people are beautiful, happy people in the midst of their struggles.

It was great having Bette and Brian (Glen's sister and her husband) here with us over the school break.  We did so many things and experienced much of Zimbabwe that none of us, including Glen and I, had experienced before.  As well as experiencing Cape Town and the surrounding country in South Africa, we travelled to Vic Falls and Hwange Park here in Zimbabwe and had so many other great experiences right here in Zimbabwe. One such experience was going to the Maize fields to help Grace (who works for Bishop and lives on the same property as we do) to bring her Maize in from her fields.  Maize is the staple food of the local people.  So we traveled to her field, got our truck caught up in a huge hole and needed five strong guys and a couple of equally (maybe not so much) strong women to virtually lift the truck out of the hole.  The maize was hauled and dumped in the yard where it was left until the next day when we all helped to husk and bag it.  The maize,  once husked was put on the roof of Grace's house and left there to dry.  Once it is dry then the girls who Grace cares for, being her niece and another young lady Grace is in process of adopting, had the task of stripping the kernels off the cobs. I am including a couple of pictures of that experience.  Now, at least we know that Grace and her family have food for the winter.  Winter is now!  It gets fairly cool in the evenings and overnight but the temperatures still rise to 20 to 25C and above during the it is not winter as we, in Canada, would know winter to be.  However, my classroom is certainly chilly and I do feel the cold.  We have purchased a space heater for our home so I will be warm.  When we don't have Zesa we do have a small generator that we can run.

The first picture is one of the grain fields before planting.  I had gone out with Grace back in September as she was fertilizing and getting ready to plant.  The others are of the harvest.

I had taken a picture of the young ladies sitting outside stripping the kernels off the cobs but have just managed to loose my camera and had not downloaded those pictures.  So will have to settle for sending these.  At least it give the idea of the process.  After the maize is all stripped then Grace takes it to a local mill to have it ground.  In an earlier blog, I believe I sent a picture of that part of the process.

I am sending this Blog off to everyone today to invite you to celebrate our fabulous news with us, albeit from a distance.  Will be in touch again soon.

God's Blessings to all

Friday, 2 May 2014

Happy Easter!

Wishing a Belated Blessed Easter Celebration to all!
Easter season has come and gone since I started this Blog, but I just want to share with all of you that as the Easter Season approached, I reflected on the significance of Good Friday and Christ's death on the Cross and was, once again, thankful that things did not end at the Cross but that we serve a risen Saviour.  

Seven months have come and gone since I first arrived in Zimbabwe.  The first semester of 2014 has drawn to a close and my brain is recognizing the need for a break.  I think I'm suffering from 'brain drain'.  So, now I am enjoying a much needed break.  Classes will resume in May.
The last few weeks of school were hectic indeed.  What with exam preparation, followed by marking those exams of course, and then supervising and helping a master's student from St. Stephen's College in Edmonton, Alberta, through the final stages of her thesis and involvement with our accreditation process at Pan African Christian College life was rather hectic.  So, I am truly appreciating the opportunity to take a step back to catch my breath.

Glen and I flew on April 3rd, to Cape Town in South Africa where we met up with Bette and Brian Moen, Glen's sister and her husband.  We spent 7 wonderful days exploring the beauties of that country, including Table Mountain (pictures inserted) which is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.  The second picture is of our cable car ride up the mountain.  We also visited the most southerly point of South Africa where the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans intersect. (picture inserted).


We are now back in Harare and will explore some of the countryside here, heading off to Bulawayo tomorrow and then points beyond.

It is good to find ways to stay in touch with friends and colleagues in the various parts of Canada.  One of the ways we have done that was to participate in our CASC (Canadian Association for Spiritual Care) annual 5 K Fun Run/Walk.  Our CASAC conference was being held in Winnipeg, and we decided that we would join and participate from here in Harare.  We calculated the time difference and did the walk/run here in Harare at the same time as our colleagues in Winnipeg. It was kind of fun to do that and still feel a connection with my professional colleagues back in Canada.

Now on to college news. I have just recently prepared a power-point presentation which highlights the college and the challenges they face.  It is my intention to visit as many of the local PAOZ churches as possible in efforts to have the churches take some ownership of their college.  To date I have spoken to two of the larger congregations in Harare and with the assistance of Principal, Bruce Magavagava, we will visit as many of the churches as possible.  That is one of the ways I can help the college in these economically challenging times.

As usual, I have been writing my blog on an ongoing basis.  This one is no exception.  I started before Easter which is well past now.  We are still taking advantage of the school break, which runs for the entire month of April.  We spent a few days in Bulawayo and visited the national Park where believe it or not, we went on a number of game drives where we saw plenty of game.
Please note that even though I am not an 'animal person', I did enjoy seeing some of the creatures God created.  We saw many species of animals including, but not limited to, Elephants, Giraffes, Zebra, Water Buck, Impala and Wart Hogs.  Sharing our time with Bette and Brian certainly highlighted our trip. Part of our trip included a visit to Victoria Falls. We first viewed the Falls from a helicopter and then did the hike around the falls.  As we hiked around the falls we got drenched and it was such fun!!!  In fact that was my favorite part of the trip.  I have included (above) a couple of pictures of the falls. They are absolutely magnificent.
We have had a fabulous break, lots of fun, numerous laughs and have just enjoyed our time together with Bette and Brian. 

Back in Harare the four of us, Bette and Brian and Glen and I have spent time exploring this great country...the city of Harare and the surrounding country side.  We realize we are blessed to be able to golf and travel. The country is beautiful but one would be remiss if one only visited the 'touristy' spots. It is impossible to get a true picture of Zimbabwe without seeing the signs of a once prosperous nation now struggling through difficult and troubling times.  There indeed is a sadness that can be felt amidst the smiling faces of the local people. The many corner markets, the local peddlers selling everything and anything, and the stone market displaying local creations of all kinds for sale cheap, give a more realistic picture of the struggles of Zimbabwe's people.  Tourism is almost non-existent and the struggle to earn a living is evident everywhere.

May 2nd, 2014...Me again.  Classes resume on Monday, May 5th, so I am busy preparing to keep ahead of my students.  Monday is registration day and meeting with the other profs.  Then classes resume in earnest on Tuesday.  I am actually looking forward to seeing what's in store with the new semester.  Will write more with updates on happenings at the college once we are back in class.

Please continue to pray for us.  Our work permits have still not been approved.

That's all for now folks.  More later.
Love and Blessings to all


Monday, 31 March 2014

Update from Zim!

Greetings again from Harare, Zimbabwe

Time again for another Blog.  I love being able to keep in touch this way.  I know that so many of you follow what is happening here so many miles away from Canada.  Gee, I almost wrote, "so many miles away from home", but stopped to pause and then it hit me that this too is home.  My mom, my Auntie Jean and Grannie Levasseur,  all used to say "Home is Where the Heart is".  That is so true and right now mine is in a couple of places.  I love this new home (temporary as it may be) and at the same time I miss all of you back home in Canada and the US.

When I talk about this being a 'temporary home', it is more temporary than we would like.  Officially we are still visitors here.  My work permit is still in process.  When the rep went to check on it last week (that is something he does at least once a week and has done so for the past four months or so),  he found out that it had been stuck away in a corner.  No one had even looked at it in all that time.  So, now it is at least being looked a and hopefully considered. 

Please continue to pray that if this is truly where God wants me to be then nothing or no one can stop my work visa from becoming a reality.  I am painfully aware that our friends and fellow missionaries, the Norries, have just had their application to renew their temporary work permit denied and they have been here for over two years. They are Directors of the Village of Hope.  The reality, that I hear from so many local people, is that the Zimbabwe Government does not want the 'westerners' here and I wonder what affect that has on processing our applications.  Truth be told though, the college, the village of hope and the general population certainly want and appreciate our presence and the work we do.  In fact, I have just been appointed as coordinator of the 'Accreditation Committee' to assist the college in taking that important step forward in seeking to gain recognition with the Government and throughout the continent of Africa. But, it truly is in God's hands.  We, believe we are doing His work and are here because He has called us to this place at this particular time.  So, we trust and leave it with Him, while still asking for your prayers.

As many of you know, patience is not one of my virtues, although God continues to work through that in my life.

Life has been very busy indeed.  Final exams for this semester are Tuesday and Wednesday, April 1st and 2nd and then we have a break during the month of April.  My exams are all set and ready to go so today will be a time of blogging, and then double checking to make sure all is ready for exams and that I have ample exam copies, paper, extra pens and the like.

Last week a printer/copier was purchased with funds received from those of you supporting the college from back in Canada.  Thank you so much.  The college has been without a printer/copier for over a year and so this is indeed a God-send.  I am including a couple of pictures.  One is of the printer and the other is of the printer being received by College Reps.  Included in the picture, along with me, are The Dean of students (beside me) and then the Academic Dean and our IT guy on the other side.  The printer/copier is in the IT office, just off the library and is for student use. Again, thank you!


The other main project happening from our (being the Pettingers) end, is that Glen is refurbishing desks and chairs for the college.  Glen does the work from our place, where he sets up in the backyard and works away.  I believe I mentioned the refurbishing project in my last email, but now that some of that has been completed and the first desks and chairs returned to the college I am including a couple of pictures to give you an indication of the work Glen is doing. Of course I am quite insistent that the first refurbished desks and chairs go into my classroom (which is currently third year class).  However, he has now completed more chairs than needed in my classroom so they are being shared with other classrooms.

Both Glen and I are looking forward to the break.  We are going to South Africa, where we will meet with Bette and Brian, Glen's sister and her husband, and spend ten days sight seeing with them.  At the end of that time they will return to Zimbabwe with us and spend the rest of April here.

Classes resume the beginning of May and I will be teaching Basic Accounting, Research and Writing and the Major Prophets.  Sounds exciting!

Well, enough chatter for now.  We so appreciate all of you and your support in whatever form that takes.  We are very aware that so many of you hold us, and the work we are doing here, in your hearts, in your thoughts and in your prayers.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  

Love and Blessings to all
Doc Marj

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Hello to all you beautiful people back in Canada and the US.

As seems to be my habit, I begin to write and then wind up writing more a week or so later before I finally send off the blog.  When I began this blog, I had an unexpected day off from teaching. There was a huge pastor's conference being held at the college. Problem was no one told me about it, so I went off to the college to find out that all my students were otherwise engaged as they were all assigned duties in preparation for the conference.  No big deal, just an extra day off.  But of course that meant making up that day on what would otherwise have truly been my day off.  Things are different here and it just takes rolling with whatever is. 'Tis Africa, they say!!
Our friends, Frik and Lizette arrived from Bulawayo to spend a couple of days with us.  It was great to see them.  They are busy making plans to go to Canada to visit with their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.  Their son and his family live in Armstrong in British Columbia, not all that far from us, and we have visited with them in their home.  So, Frik and Lizette came to Harare to get their visitor's visas to enable them to go to Canada.  It is their intention to spend a few months visiting in Canada and the US.
As I have now updated what I wrote previously, I will continue on with catch-up.  A couple of weeks has passed since I initially began this blog.  It is now March 8th and much has happened since I began to write. Mid-term exams have been written by my students and marked.  We hosted the faculty and spouses from the Bible college at a Braai (BBQ)on February 15th, 2014.(I believe I mentioned in my last blog that we were going to do that.)  Such fun!! The weather co-operated nicely, in spite of it being rainy season and we managed to use the Bishop's gazebo (with his permission of course).  Bishop was not around as he has two residences.  He lives in Mutare when he is not in Harare.  The gazebo nicely accommodated all 18 of us. Our little cottage would certainly not have done that.  What a great way to celebrate valentines day with eight other couples.  (No kids).  We enjoyed hamburgers, potatoe salad, beans, green salad and all the fixin's. A regular Canadian BBQ.  I'm including a couple of pictures of the fun time.  
Shortly after that we hosted our Assemblies of God friends, the Allens and the Wilsons from different parts of the US, to supper and a fun evening of playing Mexican train.  The Allans are soon having to leave the country for a period of time to take care of some details at home in the States.

You might remember, I spoke of Grace and King who work on the property here at 22 Glen Clova.  They work for Bishop and we have gotten to know them and consider them friends.  Anyway, there have been some changes and King, who was the gardener, is no longer working on the property so we'll have to wait and see what transpires next there and who comes to replace him.  The property(PAOC owned) is fairly large and definitely needs someone to take care of it.
I recently spent a week in Kenya where along with our Principal and our Academic Dean from PACC (Pan African Christian College), we attended an APTEA (Association for Pentecostal Theological Education in Africa) conference.  There were about 140 or so of us there from many different African Countries.  Then after two days of conferences with that association we had a full day of TELTAC meetings (some more teacher's meetings but I don't have handy exactly what TELTAC stands for and no response to my phone inquiry to Joseph).  Will fill that detail in next blog, if I remember.  The next step for our college is to begin the process of moving towards Accreditation.  Our lofty goal is to have that process completed and be able to combine that celebration with graduation in November, 2014.   

After all our meetings, I spent a couple of days in Nairobi with my friend Janice Foss.  Janice came, along with Valerie Penny, last November to Harare for our graduation and they spent some time with us.  It was great to see Janice again and also to connect with many others from PAOC, some of whom I had only met via email, Skype or telephone. The PAOC have offices and missionary residences on property there in Nairobi and it was indeed special to gather with others for fellowship, an evening of prayer and meals together.

Bruce (our principal) Joseph, (our Academic Dean) and I all had the opportunity to accompany Helen McMinn to launch a new Transformational Church Leadership program.  Helen, who has served in Africa for over thirty years, heads up this program through Pan African Christian University.  The program is a different concept of distance education in that the leaders/teachers go out to the people rather than having the people come to the University. The program is a three year diploma program and certainly is beneficial for helping train local people for ministry and other church leadership roles.

Janice and I toured a pottery factory where a young lady made me a pair of earrings while I watched.  I was going to include a picture of her doing just that, but my computer is acting up...actually it is the internet acting up and that is not unusual for Zimbabwe, so I'll try to send this off as it is.  Pictures to follow.

While I was in Kenya, Glen went to Bulawayo to go fishing with his friend Frik.  They said they caught some fish but I didn't see any of them brought into our kitchen!

Glen is busy refurbishing the desks and chairs for the college classrooms.  They are looking great and it is certainly keeping him busy.  I'm thinking I might have him build me a podium for my classroom as the ones that we have, besides being old and tattered are too high for me.  (Imagine that)! 

Gay and Elizabeth Norrie, Directors from the Village of Hope, just arrived back from Canada a couple of nights ago.  They spent three months in Canada and it is good to have them back here in Zimbabwe.  The Norries, the Allans, the Wilsons and the Pettingers will get together this coming Friday...just before the Allans leave to return to the US on business there.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Greetings once again to all my friends and family back in Canada and the US.
Things are settling nicely into routine with college classes and the like.  I'm not sure some days where the time goes, but each day seems to go quicker than the one before.

We have had great opportunities to fellowship with other professors and their families from the college.  Last Friday we hosted our principal and his family to supper/dinner (whichever terminology you prefer) at our home.  So there were eight of us which is just about the maximum at our little cottage.  Tomorrow evening we are hosting our Academic Dean and his family.  There are five of them and two of us so again nearly a full house.  Then in early February we are planning to host a  braai  (BBQ back home) (gocha in Shona) for all the college teaching staff and their spouses.  We are hoping that Bishop, who rents the big house on this property and has a gazebo, will allow us to use the gazebo.  It has lots of room and has an outdoor fire-pit for the braai.  That will be great fun.  Will give you details on how that goes with my next blog.  So as you can see we are settling in nicely.  This has indeed become our second home.

I just started Shona classes  today.  Grace, whom many of you met through a previous picture that I sent, is going to tutor me.  I am told it is an easy language to learn but considering the time I have put into learning French and have yet to master it, I'm not sure how easy the learning will be.  I do listen to it being spoken everyday so that might prove to be a help as I struggle to learn.  My students and others at the college, keep urging me to greet them in Shona.  My brain does not seem to pick up on things quite as quickly as it used to.  Now that's a scary thought, but a reality non-the-less.

I am in the process of trying to plan a trip to Nairobi, Kenya to accompany our principal and academic dean for a Teacher's Conference in February.  My Temporary Work permit has not come through yet so I am still in this country on visitor's Visa.  Working out the details of what that looks like as I leave the country and return. I am praying that the work permit comes through before I go as it certainly would simplify things and reduce costs
We are taking steps to replace the existing printer/copier at the college.  The existing one has been out of operation for the past six months or more and the cost to repair it exceeds the cost of buying a new one.  So, having said that thank you to those of you who support this ministry.  Your support is going towards that purchase.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!
The college is also taking steps towards updating our library.  Our academic dean is working on that and it looks promising.  What a blessing that will be.  The library currently is very outdated and text books and the like are in short supply.  But we trust that God is good and will supply our needs.

Glen keeps busy doing much the same things as he would do if we were back home in Canada.  He has been busy repairing the lawn mower for the caretaker here on the property.  He brought some tools and supplies with him from Canada and this week will be going to the college to check out needed repairs on our desks and chairs.  He also does most of the day to day work here at our cottage and slowly it is beginning to take on the feel of truly being our home.

We are always amazed to see local women carrying huge bundles on their heads with apparently no effort.  One of the pictures I have included is of two ladies we met one day as we were out for our walk.

We spend some time just exploring the area and the other day we went to Chopungu Sculpture Park where we watched some local sculptors at their trade.   We enjoyed chatting with many of them and learning about some of the stones they work with.   The park is in the city of Harare and not very far from where we live.  I am including a picture of one sculptor taken as he was hard at work.

That's about it for this until next time
Love and blessings to you all.

Friday, 17 January 2014


Greetings again from Zimbabwe
We returned to Zimbabwe to temperatures of +27C.  Hard to take!  It is currently 10:15pm and still +20C.  I absolutely love it!!!!
Seeing as how my last Blog was short on information regarding our trip home to Canada...I will go back there first.  It was great indeed to spend time with family and friends throughout the month of December.  It literally flew by.  We arrived home on December 5th and our whirlwind started.  I made a trip to Vancouver for my peer review.  Thank you to my colleagues, Philip C and Philip W for agreeing to fit this into their busy schedules during the holiday season.  While in Vancouver we met for lunch with my cousin Doug and his wife Lorraine.

We hosted our Bethel Church Staff Christmas party at our home on December 15th.  Such fun!  16 of us gathered for a delicious meal followed by games and Chinese gift exchange.

I also had the opportunity to share our experiences with our pastor friends in Keremeos and Oliver.  It was so good to reconnect.. 

 Just before Christmas we had a water pipe burst in our home at St. Andrews.  The lower level was completely flooded and so the task of having flooring, baseboards and the like loomed ahead of us.  We left that work unfinished as we returned to Zimbabwe on January 7th.

We spent Christmas with Bette and Brian (Glen's sister and our brother-in-law) and that was lovely.  Then we left on December 26th and headed off to Alberta to connect with family and friends there.  Stayed with my brother Dick just South of Beaumont.  Had a fun time with our daughter, Starla, our grandkids and great grandkids, our oldest son, Sternie, two of my sisters, Patra and Laurie, brother-in-law Nick, our nieces, Michelle and Anessa and Michelle's family at West Edmonton water park.  It was a good way to connect with everyone at one time. Also visited my brother Terry  and his family in Ponoka. As you can see from this paragraph I come from a very large family.

We visited many friends and former colleagues around Alberta, including a visit to the Grey Nuns Hospital.  It was like old home week.  I know we missed seeing some of you and do hope my blog keeps you in touch.

On our return to British Columbia from Alberta, we spent an overnight with my sister Patra in Calgary and my sister Wilma from Saskatchewan joined us there.  On Sunday, January 5th,  I had the opportunity to share with Bethel church (our home church in Penticton) our Zimbabwe Mission experiences.  We are indeed grateful for their support.  Then the task of determining what was needed for our return to Zimbabwe to spend the next year unfolded before us and before we knew it we were on board Emerates Air for the long flight home to Zimbabwe. 

The flying time to Zimbabwe is about 26 hours.  Our flight pattern took us from Kelowna to Seattle, then from Seattle to Dubai.  What a blessing that Emerates Air supply complimentary hotel accommodations for all passengers with extended layovers.  We certainly appreciated the chance to have a rest and a shower before continuing our travel on to Harare. What a great perk. 

As we arrived at Harare airport, we were welcomed back to the reality of life in Zimbabwe.  The airport was without Zesa (electricity) so it was a lengthy procedure getting our luggage as the belts were not operational. Gratiously, Richard (music pastor from Hope community church) was at the airport to meet us with our truck.  We were grateful to finally arrive at our cottage and were ready for a good night's sleep.

Had a couple of days before classes started.  Returned to college Monday, January 13th and am teaching three courses this semester.  My classes are all third and fourth year classes and include 1.  The General Epistles, 2. The Minor prophets and 3. Research and Writing. 

We continue to meet many local people and make new friends.  Glen is going to be doing some repairs and maintenance at the college throughout the year as the desks at the college are in poor shape.  We are currently having more problems with Zesa than even is normal for Zimbabwe so he is trying to sort out some details around that.

Yes, there are challenges but in the bigger picture our challenges are minute in comparison to those of the majority of Zimbabwe people, people who struggle to put food on their tables, to pay their children's school fees and just to survive.  We ask your continued prayer support for this country and its people.  We serve a loving God and we give thanks for the knowledge that God knows the situation here and knows the needs of the people.  He will supply!

Enough said for this time.  I am including a couple of pictures.  The first one is a young girl I met a couple of days ago.  She is in grade five and this picture shows the little street market where she sets up each day to sell a few items to earn enough money to go to school.  She is delightful and has such a joyous personality in the midst of life's struggles.  Her name is Makanaka. The other picture is of some of our students at PACC weekly chapel service.  They really enjoy praise and worship times.
Enjoy.  Until later!!

Doc Marj