Friday, 13 January 2017

Notes for my next blog!!

My blog this time is a reflection of my heart and with that you might note a heaviness that I am feeling.  I write this not to discourage anyone but simply to express the reality of my experiences.   I know we are here in Zimbabwe because God called us to be here.  Perhaps He called us to be here so that we/I might come to more fully understand that the entire world does not live the way we, on the North American continent live.  Perhaps there is more I need to be doing to do my part in helping those less fortunate.

As we celebrate Christmas and the joy that brings, we are so aware that many here in this country, while we can all rejoice as we remember that Christ came as Saviour, many struggle to feed their families and send their kids to school, and there is no money for that and certainly not for any special celebrations during the holidays.

The bond notes are now in the marketplace.  The banks are limiting the amount of money one can withdraw per day.  And you have to stand in line for hours to even get to the bank.  Cash machines are not working.  There simply is no cash and people express concern that the situation might be the beginning of a repeat of what happened in 2008-09 when inflation was crazy rampant.  At the moment the stores still have food and other consumables on the shelves and indeed in the supermarkets, such as OK Mart, it is looking very much like Christmas.  The reality is Christmas will be much simpler for most people.

The other day, as I was on my way home from college, I saw a young woman and two small children going through the garbage bins...presumably looking for something to eat.

There are long lineups at the banks, as people cue up to get a small amount of cash.  And then to be told when they finally get to the front of the line.  Sorry, there is no cash.  I'm told that the banks limit the number of people to 40 per day who can enter the bank and that doesn't guarantee you'll get money.
I've inserted here a picture taken Friday of the lineups.  People begin to line up the night before to make sure they can get into the bank.
And then there are those people who rely on cash...the people who are street vendors, selling their meger vegetables, or the stone carvers, and the list goes on and on.  And there is no cash.

Maka and Linda come to our house about once a week or so and often times when they come for supper they have not eaten at all that day.  We send home any leftovers with them; so that at least tomorrow they will have something to eat.
It is a humbling experience to say the least.  We are so fortunate and yet we also realize that we cannot help everyone.  At times, I ask God what I'm supposed to be doing in this country.  And I feel so inadequate.
Maka and Linda were here last night.  Maka has to go to school tomorrow to get her marks and then travel by bus to KweKwe to get registration forms to complete for her boarding school next year. One of the things we can do in this country is to help one young lady (Maka) get an education and improve her chances of doing well.  Even, as we spoke to her she was trying to put on a brave face for her mom, but expressed to me her fears of traveling alone to a strange city (she is just thirteen) by bus.  So, we pray for her safety as she travels and leave her in God's hands.
I also feel that inadequacy as I realize the sacrifices many of my students and my colleagues face just simply because they live in this country amidst the corruption and resulting economic difficulties.  My very dear friend, Nellice, has not been paid from her regular job for about six months.  When asked why she stays, the answer is simply, where would I go?  There are no jobs.  My friend tries to make ends meet by catering and decorating some events when possible.  I humbly acknowledge that we simply have no idea (even though we live in this country) of what it is like for the majority of people.  And yet, they put on their happy, smiling faces and life goes on.  My heart breaks for the country and her people!!

Enough of my heart heaviness for now.

It is rainy season here and this year the rains have come!  Maise is beginning to pop up everywhere.  It is planted on every bit of land available, much of it along the roadsides, as can be seen in this picture...anywhere people can simply claim a bit of land.

Even though classes are out for the month of December, there is much work going on as we plan for the 2017 year.

January 12th, 2017.
Christmas and New Year's have come and gone and we are now well into the New Year.  I realize that there has been a lapse of time between when I started this blog and nowalmost halfway through the first month of the new year.  Indeed December was a very busy month.  Much work was going on at our college and the majority of our 2,500 books are now on the shelves in the library and renovations have kept both Glen and I busy.  I am so grateful for the help of Rebecca Smith in cataloguing and shelving books.

Christmas day was different in many ways but was great; starting out with celebrating Christmas with our church family here and then hosting workers on the property and their families along with Linda, Maka and Panashe as well as King, who used to work on the property.  The workers on the property actually work for Bishop who lives in the Big house on the same property where our cottage is located.  The property is owned by PAOC, Canada.  We don't have workers as we do our own thing.

We actually managed to get a turkey for Christmas from a local super store.  It was imported and cost us nearly an arm and a leg, (they really wanted our first born) but it was so good and worth every penny. I guess when I think of it the cost was much less than returning to Canada for Christmas.

We had the same Christmas tree as last year, a gift from Maka, Linda and Panashe.  We added some light to it this year.  the other picture is of some of our guests after dinner.  The dinner just kind of went on and on as we served first at 2:00 when most of our guests arrived.  Then Linda, Maka and Panashe got caught in a flood an hour or so from here and so they came later in the day and we served again.  It was such fun and I realize how much I love to host people.
Here then is a picture of Linda, Maka and Panashe opening gifts.  We put together a basket of food stuffs and other essentials which they aren't always able to get.  They were quite excited and we joined with them in that excitement.  It feels so good to be able to add to the joy of others not only at Christmas time but throughout the year.  We are so blessed to be able to do so.

As I reread the first half of this blog, I realize there were moments of discouragement, but there are more times of  anticipation of the good things to come in 2017.  So, this half of my blog will take on a more positive note.  We are now definitely moving to a semester system, which will begin in August.  Our new college leadership team is in place and I have been given the new title of Director of Quality Assurance as part of my portfolio.  I guess, the reality is, I have been acting in that role for some time and so the powers that be decided to make it an official role.  I will, of course, continue as professor and Chair of our Accreditation team.

Our students for the first two terms will be those students who are looking to complete their programs before semesterization.  Graduation for those students will be in November and then come August we will bgin with an entirely new students.

Classes officially started this week.  Monday was registration, Tuesday orientation and then Wednesday first day of class.  I am teaching both the Old Testament Survey and The New Testament Survey and looking forward to journeying with my students as they explore the entire Bible.

It was a struggle getting a school for our young lady, Maka, to begin her Level I studies but she is now in school, albeit a day school and not boarding as we had initially hoped.  However, as it turns out, the school she is at is a girl's school within walking distance from where they are living.  It will work out well as she is able to be at home with her mom still.  Am inserting a picture of her in her new school uniform.

Sunday, January 1st, 2017 started out for us with a walk to the Base Church for their service, a golf game at Chapman's course in the afternoon and then a stop at Kentucky Fried Chicken just to make us feel connected to home.  A great start to the New Year, spiritually, physically and mentally.  The spiritual and the physical obvious and the mental with simply being out in the great outdoors and enjoying God's creation all around us.
It was great fun just to be out on the golf course and have the course almost to ourselves.  That was the first time golfing since coming back to Zimbabwe.  Golfing cost us all of $5.00 per person so we thought that was quite affordable.  (Joking, of dourse, it was actually very cheap...might even do it again.)

Glen has been busy removing, or arranging to have removed, four palm trees on the property that have been undermining the foundation of the big house on the property.  I'm inserting a video of the process. Hope it comes through.  It was quite interesting to watch.  Glen was in front with the truck, that would be to the right of the picture, and pulling as the guys chopped the tree.

Glen has been keeping track of the amount of rainfall and reports we have had 18.9 inches since he arrive in November.  That is certainly good for the country as it has been very dry the last couple of years and the water table is so low.  Everything looks lush and green; so we praise God for the abundance.

That's all folks!  Till next time.
Love and blessings to all