Time waits for no man, as the saying goes, and it certainly feels like there has been no ‘catch-up’ time these last few weeks. We have had a spell of very cold weather that has seen us tucked up in bed, with hot-water bottles, winter pyjamas, duvets and icy noses, by 7.30pm on many nights! However, the days have been glorious, if not brisk!
We finished all the food deliveries 2 weeks ago and made some interesting observations while visiting several of the homes. As I may have shared before, many of the families have a generation missing, with children being brought up by the grandparents when there are no parents alive or where parents have gone away to try and find work. At one home we visited the granny and the grand-daughter were wearing warm knitted hats which, when we admired them, the grandmother proudly announced that she had knitted them. I asked if she had taught her grandchild and she said, ‘No, she isn’t too interested to learn.’ Our minds started turning and at several of the other homes the answers to that same question were pretty much the same. When the Ladies (HIV) Group visited us the following Wednesday I asked them the same question. The group has a wide age range, so it started an interesting discussion, the result being that we are all going to look into the possibility of starting various workshops where not only ‘new’ skills, like sewing and knitting, are taught, but also the older cultural skills, like basket-weaving, mat-making, clay pots, etc are offered. This could also mean that people who come out to do ‘service’ time with us will be able to see and perhaps learn some new skills. What a bonus if some of our ‘service’ people can also bring new skills into the area! Once we are able to finance a Community Centre on a corner of our land, it will be very convenient for workshops to be organised as it is much more central to the community than the Morning Star camp. It would be a dream come true to see the woman, especially, learning life- sustaining skills to help them make a living and break the cycle of prostitution that so many young girls fall into through desperation. A community centre would also enable workshops for carpentry; basic mechanics, etc. But all in God’s time… Some weeks ago we had visitors from Austria who interacted with the local community in various ways (See Newsletter 4). Annalisa ‘connected’ with 2 little girls at the one Primary School and asked us to ‘check them out’ and report back to her as she is keen to support them in some way, school fees, uniforms, etc. Diamond, Patson and I visited the family and found their situation to be quite desperate – old and not very healthy grandparents looking after their 2 sons (both sons not at all well, suffering from Aids) and the 6 young children of those sons. The wives of the sons have passed away already. The children range from 12 years old down to under 1 year! It was a very cold day when we visited and we were invited into the kitchen, where a suffocating fire was burning. In some ways it was a good thing it was so smoky and my eyes were tearing up, as it was hard to hold back the emotional tears as their story unfolded. The biggest tragedy is probably that they are not the only family in this situation. Aids and the economy in this country are destroying the family unit and creating such hardships on the older generation who should, at this stage in their lives, be being looked after by their own children – the upside down calamity! Fortunately we had taken our last food package with us so were able to leave it with them.
Annalisa is hoping to join us again some time in October to help in the community. We are busy looking at simple English programmes that we could use in the Primary Schools where spoken and written English has deteriorated over the last 15 years, despite English being the medium of instruction. This will be one of the areas where people who want to give’ time-out of their lives’ for short or long-term community service will be able to serve. We are busy putting together a programme where anyone will be welcomed to come and stay with us on the ranch and help in various ways within the community: agriculture; visiting the ill; land maintenance; construction; assisting in schools, etc. The list is endless! They would also be able to contribute their gifts and talents. Watch this spot for developments!
‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.’ Mark 9:37 On Friday Diamond visited a few of the families we have been supporting with food packages. One family was the Sibanda’s, where both parents are suffering from Aids and they have 3 daughters. The mother, Sukholuhle (See Newsletter 2, picture of her sitting on the ground being prayed for by some YL leaders), Diamond told us, had deteriorated drastically and that the family only had one blanket between them and were very cold at night. We hunted for some old blankets and sheets and sent them to the family. Then on Sunday we were told that she had passed away in the night. With these cold winter nights I fear there will be many more deaths in the weaker people. May God reveal Himself to their hearts before it is too late and may we be faithful and committed to reveal Jesus in our actions. We are very busy at the Morning Star homestead/campsite as we prepare for the arrival of a youth group from a church in Atlanta, USA. They will be in Zimbabwe from 17th to 28 July. They have a busy and exciting programme prepared for them. Old friends and new acquaintances will be coming so it is with excitement that we look forward to their arrival. We had the Zimbabwe Young Life leaders here on a ‘preparation’ camp last weekend and so enjoyed observing their enthusiasm and diligence as they prepared for the Atlanta group’s visit. Please pray for: - the Sibanda family as they adjust to a life with no wife and mother; - the Atlanta visit, for their safety and life-changing experiences; - suffering families in the community that we have not yet identified; - that we will be able to acquire the resources to help these families and the community to ‘help themselves’ back to self-sustainability and dignity. In Him, until next time. Norma