Saturday, 22 December 2018

Greetings once again from Zimbabwe (and Canada)

I know I have not sent out a blog for some time and for that I apologize. 
So, this blog will be a  combination of time in Zimbabwe and time since my return to Canada.

From Zimbabwe: (sometime in November)  I'm not even sure of what day I actually started to write this but will leave it in the blog as it gives you info as to what my life is like there.

This morning started out early with joining our principal for an early morning meeting, at 8:00am with the Ministry of Higher Education here in Harare.  Our meeting was to discuss the re-instate of our degree program here at PACC.  Previously we operated a degree program through PAC U in Kenya.  the program, for various reasons, was discontinued in 2013 and so now we are working towards reinstating offering degree level courses here at PACC (Pan Africa Christian college).  We are looking at different options as to how we actually go about doing that without it costing us an arm and a leg...which we don't have.  It is quite a detailed process and we have been working towards the desired end result being that we will once again offer a degree program.

Although our ultimate goal for PACC is to become fully accredited with both the Ministry of Higher Education and APTEA, we realize that the process will take us a number of years to achieve.  As I have shared previously, we received endorsement with APTEA in 2017.  That was an awesome achievement and the highest level we can achieve until such a time as we, at PACC, are able to operate independently and offer our own degree program.  Currently we are in process of applying for affiliation meaning the degree courses we offer will actually be those of the the University with whom we will be affiliated.  So, the journey continues!

Towards that end, I am offering a second level teacher education program which will run the first two weeks in November.  That accreditation has been my ultimate goal during my time here at PACC and probably at the conclusion of that I will end my work time here in Zimbabwe.  Our projected date for full accreditation is November, 2020  ("The Good Lord willing and the creeks don't rise,")  as my grandfather used to say. Not exactly sure what that meant but it sounds good.

My exams are finished and marked for the two block courses I taught and so now what remains is to mark all the papers and then submit my reports to the registrar.

My time is indeed full while I am here and exactly one month today I will be leaving Zimbabwe and flying to Houston, Texas to spend a few days with my son and his family before flying home to British Columbia.

Wow!!! It is now two weeks (or more) since I visited my blog and wrote to all.  I have now been home in BC for a few days, reconnecting with home and husband.  I keep pinching myself to see if my life is real or whether it is all a dream from which I will soon awaken.  If it is a dream, I don't want to wake up as I am so blessed.  Yes, indeed there are challenges, but amidst it all, I am so grateful for health and the opportunity to reach out and serve others.  Truly, it is in giving that we reeceive!

December 22nd, 2018

So, now to update from the above report from Zimbabwe.  All papers and exams got marked and all paperwork handed in in a timely manner.  Then we held our second level teacher training course, also in November, with 12 participants.  We had 6 teachers from the Assemblies of God and 6 from PACC (our college).  It was such fun and a time of joint learning where we all learned from each other. 
Inserted here is a picture of the group minus one person who could not be in attendance on the final day.

This second picture is of the participants from our college.  Notice we all had matching golf shirts with our PACC logo on them.  This is a first and one of the promotional things we are doing at our college.  In the future we will have all our students wearing our logo t's or golf shirts for college events and promotions.

I was privileged to have been able to take the course on-line while I was in Canada and then to be able to take it back and lead my colleagues through the course.  This was the first time this particular course had been offered in a group formate and so we were actually field-testing the course.  It was a great success and now I look forward to seeing what opportunities unfold in the future.

Here is another picture just to show you that all is not work and we have fun as well.  This is our Dean of Students and yours truly just horsing around. In the background is a poster displaying our college mission, vision and values statement.

On a more serious of my very best students, a young man who suffered from cancer and yet came diligently to classes every day, passed away recently.  I was priveleged to visit with his wife, Sensi, and their two year old son, in their home and provide some counselling to this young widow in her time of grief. It is always difficult to loose a loved one and Sensi will certainly struggle, not only with grief but also with a culture that is very different than what we experience here in Canada, where equality between the sexes is still not the predominant culture. Sensi is a teacher at the Village of Hope.  I have inserted here a picture of mother and child and would ask that you please hold them in prayer.

We, Glen and I,  have had opportunities to get together with some of our family and friends as we are here at home in BC.  The turkey will be on at our house this Christmas and Glen's sister and her husband will join us for the day.

Early in the New Year we will make a flying trip to Edmonton to visit a very dear friend of ours who suffered massive strokes and is in University Hospital.  Then on January 15th we are flying to |New Zealand where we will tour and reconnect with relatives whom we have not seen in a good number of years.  Glen thought after travelling so much doing mission work, it was time to take a holiday.  I agreed and told him to go ahead and book it.  And so he did!!!!  It will indeed be different, travelling just for the fun of it. 

Having said that, I do miss Zimbabwe and all my colleagues there.  I am, however, still working with them from a distance.  Isn't technology a great thing? 

I had better sign off for now and hit send before I procraste any longer.

Wishing all a Very Merry Christmas (note I am not into the 'Happy Holiday' thing as to me Christmas is all about us celebrating once again the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.)  So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.  May you be richly blessed in 2019.

Until next time


Friday, 12 October 2018

Hi to all you beautiful people out there in canada and the US.

September 30th, 2018

Although I won't be sending this out for  a while, the next leg of my journey is underway.  I flew out of Kelowna on September 28th, taking the long way around to Zimbabwe as I chose to visit my son and his family in Houston before flying on to Zimbabwe.

My final days in Canada (for now) included a quick trip to Red Deer, where I was honoured by CASC Alberta with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  A humbling experience for sure to be recognized in such a way.  It was certainly good to see so many of my former colleagues and to meet the new faces on the block. Both Doctor Margaret Clark - supervisor, colleague and friend and Pastor Anne Zimmerman - former colleague and lifetime friend travelled specifically for the occasion.  Thankyou both; and thankyou to all those involved.  Indeed it was a great 'homecoming' to be back in Alberta reconnecting.  Thank you to all in the Alberta Association for making this a special occasion.

Spending some quality family time, having Geoffrey (my son) assist me with some technological challenges.  My granddaughter Aspen is in her highschool band and we attended the Texas High School Band competitions yesterday.  It was great to attend one of her functions and see her perform.

Weather permitting I will take advantage of Geoffrey's time off work to grab a game of golf with him before I head off to Africa.  (The weather did not permit)

October 12th, 2018
Wow!!! As usual the time has literally flown by and here it is nearly two weeks since I left Canada.  After some quality family time in Houston with our son and his family, I flew off to Harare, Zimbabwe on October 2nd.  I flew via Dubai and had a 13 hour layover there.  Flying with Emerities Air is actually, in my never to be humble experience, the best option.  If your forced layover in Dubai is more than 9 hours, the airline supplies accommodations and meals, all as part of your travel package.  It does help to break up the flying time and gives an opportunity for a good night's sleep.

I arrived in Harare on thursday evening and started classes on the following Monday.  So as I write this I am overseeing my exam for Old Testament Survey.  Next week I will be teaching on the Pentateuch and then facilitating a teacher training course in November.  Between times I will be visiting some of the local churches and perhaps having some preaching opportunities.  My major role continues to be heading up our accreditation team and we have a meeting schedueled for next Tuesday.

I am now residing right on campus in a half duplex.  Am getting some renos done to the place to make it a little more user friendly.  Just had the bathroom tiled the other day.

Things are not good here in my adopted country and it is so sad.  There were high hopes that with the change in government would come some positive changes for the people of this beautiful country.  But, alas, such was not to be and things have progressively gotten worse.  The money situation is terrible; supplies are in short supply and prices have gone through the roof.  A pound of butter was $18.00 the other day.  And, no, I did not buy it!!!  Many of the stores have closed.  Those that have stock are limiting what one can buy.  There is nearly no fuel...the line ups at the few stations with fuel are blocks long and people park in line overnight.  I am truly glad I am living on campus.  I wanted to have a glass top replaced on a table but could not get an extimate on what it would cost me as the price tomorrow will not be the same as the price today. The line ups at the banks have disappeared because there is simply no money.

Picture inserted here is of the fuel line ups (blocks long...the gas station is about a block further up the street and the line-ups seem to have no end) with the beautiful jacarand trees in the background.  Indeed this is a beautiful country and facing such trying times. 

In the midst of the doom and gloom that abounds, I am blessed to be here and doing whatever I can to be an encouragement to my brothers and sisters here.

As Director of Quality Assurance it did my heart good, as I toured around our college, to see that many positive things are happening here on the ground at our college.  Our new dean of students is working extremely hard to get donations of food and other supplies to make our students lives pleasant.  She has orchastrated many improvements in our dorms, with recovering matresses, painting and tiling.  The dorms, indeed, look 110% better.  Our students are envolved in sports programs as well as being attached to local churches with whom they work on weekends.  I am reminded of an old saying I learned from my mom.  In the hard times "we just make do".  That is so true of the spirit and the reality of the people here.

However, God is good and we trust He will bring Zimbabwe through this time of crises.

Until next time, Love and blessings to all


Sunday, 9 September 2018

Updates from Doc Marj and Zimbabwe

Greetings to all my family and friends

This blog will be short as it is probably past due time for an update on what is happening in my world.  In response to many of your questions, Yes, indeed, I am returning to Zimbabwe.  Albeit things have changed in how that unfolds.

Much of the work I am doing with our college in Zimbabwe can now be done via internet and other multimedia communication systems.  So for the next few years I will be working with PACC from Canada and going to Zimbabwe twice a year for two month stints.  I will spend four months each year on the ground in Zimbabwe.

After Glen and I returned to Canada in December, 2017, I returned to Zimbabwe in March/April of 2018.  I will be leaving Canada September 28th and returning to Canada December 4th, 2018.  As I will be going without Glen, my accommodations in Harare have changed and I will actually be staying right on campus.  (Glen has certainly done more than his share as he has simply gone along with my call to serve in Zimbabwe for nearly five years and I so appreciate his willingness to go with me, but now it is time for him to be home in Canada, and I am fine with that.)  Being on campus will be a good things as it means I can work late in my office and not have the concerns of driving home after dark.  (That is not considered to be safe, especially for a white woman alone.)  Do not be alarmed as I say that for I am perfectly safe on campus and surrounded with loving-caring people.  And I heed the advise that I not be out alone after dark.

Time here at home in Canada has been busy and great.  Time with family, connecting with many of our friends, being involved in ministry opportunities and the like has made the time go way too quickly.

Currently I am packing and preparing for the return to Zimbabwe.  I will be teaching block courses (intensive one week courses) during my time in Zimbabwe, along with facilitating teacher training and advancing our accreditation process.

The next blog will be an update once I am on the ground in Zimbabwe, so probably early October.

Love and blessings to all


Sunday, 22 April 2018

Greetings to all my family and friends back in Canada and the US.
My last blog was just after arriving in Zim and now here it is time to leave to return to Canada.  So this will be short (and sweet).  Much has happened in the month I have been here and indeed I have been blessed beyond measure.
The month has passed way too quickly as it seems there is much left to do.  It was great to have a visiting pastor from Keremeos, BC (good friend of Glen's and mine) come to Zimbabwe and spend time at our college and the surrounding area. He preached at a number of local churches including one in the rural area.  Thanks Jason!!  It meant a lot to our students, staff and their families,and of course to me.
But it was not all work.  On Saturday, our friends the Allen's took us on a day trip to Imiri Wild Life Park where we had an awesome time of fellowship along with seeing many of the wildlife in that area, including giraffe, elephant, zebra, warthog, gamesbuck, wildebeast elan, (I'm sure I've missed some,but we saw a lot).  For Jason, it was his first trip outside of Canada and I think he fell in love with Zimbabwe and her people.
Will blog at greater length once I am back on Canadian soil.   But right now I have to sign off as the Allens are coming to pick me up and I'm off to the airport.
Love and blessings to all of you.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Greetings Family and Friends

Well, I thought I would send out a blog to all of you to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  I trust the true meaning of Christmas will be part of your celebrations as once again we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We are home in British Columbia now and already I am making preparations to return to Zimbabwe in March.  But...time now to enjoy our canadian home and catch up with some much needed family and friend time.  We have just returned from a whirlwind trip to Alberta...seeing our children, grandchildren, greatgranchildren and as many friends as we could possibly fit into a few days.  Now back home in time to prepare for Christmas.  We will get together with Bette and Brian (sister and brother-in-law).  As well my brother Dick and our son Sternie have plans to join us.  Looking so forward to having a real Canadian Turkey Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.

As most of you are aware, Zimbabwe was going through significant change in the couple of weeks just before we left to return to Canada.  Many of you sent emails to us expressing your concern for our safety.  We appreciate all of you so much.  We actually feel the prayers sent our way.  The transition of government was very peaceful without a shot being fired and no violence whatsoever.  The military took control and the atmosphere in the contry changed.  When we arrived in Zimbabwe nearly four and one half years ago, there was a palitable feeling of  hopelessness throughout the entire country.  With the transition came a total change and hope was in the air.  There were great celebrations in the streets and everywhere people were dancing, waving flags and cheering.  what an awesome time to be in witness history making right befoe our eyes. 

Note!!  Just realized I had started to blog after I returned to Canada and this was still sitting in my 'draft' so sending it off just as it is.  It, of course, goes before the one I just sent.

Will try to update more completely and send more pictures next time around.

March 29th, 2018
A great big hello and my wish for a Blessed Easter Season to all of you.

We have moved from 2017 to 2018 since I last sent out a blog.  That was back in November, 2017  and now already it is March, 2018.  Enroute to Harare, Zimbabwe, I spent some delightful time with my niece, Tamara, in Toronto.  So enjoyed my time with her and it gave me a break in flight time.  Now, I am back in Zimbabwe, without Glen this time. Our good friends, Larry and Rhonda, from AOG, picked me up at the airport and we are managing to get together periodically to catchup.  Finally, they got their TEP (Temporary Work Permit) so now know they can be here for at least the next year.  It has been a real struggle but so happly for them that finally it has happened.

Life here is hectic and I am finding myself almost overwhelmingly busy.  I am only here for one month and already it is back in the swing of things with getting caught up, involved in various meetings, etc., working towards accreditation and preparing to teach.  I will be teaching two block courses and facilitating a Teacher Training Course.  The block courses run Monday to Friday for one week each during which time students will cover an entire semester course.  I sent out pre-course assignments and if completed that will ease the heaviness of the courses for my students.

The Teacher Training Course is offered to teachers from both PACC (our college) and AOG (Assemblies of God) college.  We have done this twice previously and it is a great opportunity to meet and work with our friends from AOG.  APTEA (Association for Pentecostal Theological Education in Africa) which is the organization we are working towards being granted accreditation with, requires all teachers to be certified through their teacher training course.  We are working towards that end.  I completed the course first time around and so now facilitate it for others.

It is the Easter season and Rev. Zowa from the Village of Hope, where the jewellry that many of you have purchased has come from, was our guest preacher at our Special Chapel which happens every Wednesday.  He is a powerful preacher and had an awesome message on the power of the Cross.

It is good to be back at this home where it is such a contrast from our home in British Columbia where at times I find myself wondering what I might fill the days with, to here wondering if I will ever complete the tasks before me.   A good friend of mine, Stan Spence, who passed away little more than a year ago, once told me I needed to find a balance in my life.  He even gave me a sticker for my filing cabinet that said "Bookkeepers are balanced".  At that stage of my life I worked in accounting.  Anyway, thanks Stan, I still think of you whenever my life seems to get out of balance and I need that reminder.

The time home in Canada was filled with family time and visits to family and friends.  We have had an unusual amount of snow in our area of Canada this winter.  I'm inserting a picture here to show you how Glen and I 'endured' the snow.  Although eventurally, I'm sure Glen got sick of plowing ans shoveling everyday.

This guy took up residence in our back year.  He's left now just like Frosty, but perhaps he'll come back again next year.

Indeed, there was not time to see everyone I would have wished to see, but phone calls added to the opportunities to connect.  When I'm in Canada I miss all our 'family' in Zimbabwe and when I'm in Zimbabwe I miss all of you. 

In Canada I have been appointed as Co-ordinator for BC-Yukon District Pastoral Counsellors and look forward to finding out what all that entails.  I will be attending our CASC conference in Deerhurst, Ontario upon my return to Canada.  Life is full of excitement and chanllenges and I look so forward to what God has in store for me at the next turn.

On Friday April 6th, Pastor Jason Wiebe from Elim Church in Keremeos is coming to visit our college.  His church, although very small, have been very supportive of our college and last year provided scholarships for a number of our students.  The board from that church decided their pastor needed to see firsthand, life at our college and in Zimbabwe so they are sending him.  I am excited to have him here for a couple of weeks and would love to have a mission team from our home church at Bethel in Penticton come to assist with some renovations or the like.  That's for down the road and the conversation is already happening.  That's a first step (after prayer, of course).

The weather here has been very rainy and it's not supposed to be rainy season.  I guess just like in Canada, the weather is unpredicable and when we think we have it all figured out, the weather patterns change.

There is probably so much more I could share but I would like to send this out as it has been so long between blogs.  Trust my ramblings give you some idea of my life here in beautiful Zimbabwe.

Sending lots of love to all.