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