August 16th, 2019
Greetings to all my family and friends in 'Blog' Country.
Where to begin? I arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe on Wednesday, August 7th, having left Canada on August 5th. I had a long layover in Dubai, which was very pleasant as Emerates Air supply a hotel room and meals on layover of more than 9 hours. It certainly breaks up the long 'in-the-air' time and low and behold, I did not suffer from jetlag at all. Indeed that was very fortunate as I arrived Wednesday evening and Thursday morning was off to Mutare to attend a three day PAOZ (Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe) National conference. That was a four hour (more or less) drive but luckily I did not have to drive. Conference was great! One of my students hosted myself and the principal and his wife. She and her husband were such gracious hosts and I enjoyed the oppiortunity to get to know them as ordinary people and not just as my student. Also learned a new recipe for sweet buns - easy to make - and cheap in these difficult economic times.
So, I have now been on the ground here in Zimbabwe for just over a week and am busy preparing for classes. Our classes officially begin next week and I will be teaching five classes. I teach Mondy through Thursday and then have Fridays off. I will look forward to visiting with our friends in Bulawayo on one weekend and perhaps try to fit in a few other things just for a break from college.
The economy has certainly worsened since I was here last. A while back the government banned all foreign currency and only the local currency is acceptable. If US dollars are available, the banks will exchange for 7 to 10 times the amount. But of course, the local people do not have access to US dollars and so only what is brought in benefits. Most of the stores do not accept anything but local currency. Prices have gone through the roof and a loaf of bread can cost anywhere from $7.00 to $10.00. While prices have skyrocketed, salaries have remained the same and are paid in local currency. Eggs are sold individually at $.99 per egg. Butter is $79.00 to $99.00. Fuel is in short supply and people line up (Q-up) all day and perhaps even overnight. Then it is possible when you get to the end of the line that perhaps there is no fuel left. Electricity (Zesa - Zimbabwe Electrical Supply Association) better known as Zimbabwe Electricity Weldom Available is living up to its name and for quite some time there has only been electricity for a few hours in the night mening people have to be up midnight and early morning to wash clothes, iron, etc., etc., Water is also a challenge as the water table is extremely low due to drought. Kereba dam is nearly dry and said to be closing soon. It is tough for Zimbabwains but they still manage to be joyful and celebrate life.
These are just a few of the many struggles my friends here in Zimbabwe have to deal with on a daily basis. I am so fortunate and truly blessed but therecomes for me with that, a feeling of guilt knowing I can still buy while my friends and colleagues cannot. So, I simply do what I can to help and pray for God's guidance in how best to do that..
Not all is gloom and doom however, and our college is providing vegetables from our greenhouses to meet the needs of our staff and students, while hopefully, having some excess to be able to sell. I toured the gardens and was quite impressed. We are growing cove, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, cabbage, spring onions, spinach and cauliflower. We also are raising chickens to provide much needed meat for the college and hopefully to sell as well. The attitude at the college is indeed hopeful and we are trusting God for adequate provision.
I have my young adopted daughter, Makanaka, here with me for a few days before my classes start. She is home from boarding school where she is doing very well. It is good to spend some time with her. Tomorrow, being Saturdqay, I will pick up her mom and brother and bring them to my place for lunch and then drive them all home.
Rhonda and Larry Allen, missionary friends from the US are home in the US currently and returning to Zimbabwe mid-September. I really look forward to welcoming them back.
I brought with me tooth brushes, toothpaste and other tooth care items, compliments of Summerland Dental and my sister Patra's dentist office in Calgary. I went to the Village of Hope orphanage and school yesterday where I met with the mom's and children to present these items to them. There was such excitement as these things are a rare commodity at this time in Zimbabwe. I took some pictures of the kids waving their tooth brushes and tooth paste high above their heads and would so love to share those with all of you but that is not permitted.
This has been kindof a snapshot of my thoughts of things to share and so I apologize if it is a bit jumbled. I have not downloaded any pictures as yet so will include some next blog. Closing with a request for all of youthat side to hold all of us this side in prayer.
Love and Blessings