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.