Very soon after the Atlanta group left, our son Brent and grandson Brad, arrived for a very special 5 days. We fitted in as much as possible, from walking, rock-climbing (going on a walk automatically includes climbing rocks on Morning Star!), horse-riding, boating, target shooting and the highlight had to be fighting a bush-fire! Brad is new to horse-riding so we spent every morning working with Banner. Brad took to riding like a duck takes to water so we were soon hacking out for rides around the ranch. Nice to have company on a ride for a change.
Brent hasn’t been to the ranch for some years now so wanted to explore as much as possible so we walked a lot, ‘reclaiming the land’, finding the highest points we could climb to and then enjoying the views. Brent dragged us through thorn bushes as we climbed to impossible spots ‘for a view’! On the one day we spotted smoke on the horizon so decided to walk in that direction to see where the fire was, thinking it was far from Morning Star. As we climbed up the first escarpment we discovered the fire was blazing right there! Chris rushed back to the homestead to get more help and some picks and shovels, leaving Brent and me to ‘do what we could’. We stripped leafy, green branches and began beating the fire where we were able. The grass on the land is very long at the moment so the flames were leaping high. Fortunately with the lay of the land we have a lot of large revealed granite rock, which act as natural fire-breaks. The wind kept changing direction, which gave us a bit of relief and acted like a back-burn, so within about ¾ of an hour we thought we had dealt with the worst of it and as Chris hadn’t yet returned we took a break while we ‘waited for the Cavalry to arrive’! We walked around a rock to see how extensive the damage was, only to discover another fire raging and much more fiercely. Chris arrived as we were tackling this and quite soon we had managed to get the area under control. Quite a scary few hours, but fire-fighting is such an adrenaline boosting business (and GREAT prayer time!) that we were all very hyped up when we got home, only to discover we had guests from Bulawayo. So, smelly and dirty, we sat down and visited! Pity we hadn’t spotted them driving in because we would surely have placed some fire fighting implements into their hands and had them help! If I remember correctly we had a similar fire when the first group that visited Morning Star from Texas was with us. We had many tales around the evening (home) fire that evening!
Fortunately the rest of our walks were not as exciting, just strenuous! This is an example of some of the fascinating nooks and crannies created by the granite rocks as they weather and crack.Brad enjoying a ‘free-climb’.
With their departure it was back to business and our calendar for the next couple of months is filling up. A Young Life leaders' camp came this weekend and with that came all the preparation that goes along with getting the camp ready. The camp was full and Steve Larmey, the YL Africa Director, (based in Tanzania) was with us for 2 nights. It was good to visit with him and catch up on his family news. The camp was very successful from what I could see. Lots of fun and a lots of water games! Moses, Lloyd (I think, hiding behind those glasses!) and Nkosi. Nkosi is the ‘head’ Leader and Moses and Lloyd are two of his side-kicks. All very precious and dedicated leaders.
The South African New Covenant Church (They have been providing over 25 very substantial food packs a month to families in our community) may possibly visit later this month to spend a day helping and working in the community. I hope it happens as it will be so good to introduce them to some of the families whose desperate lives have been eased by their generosity. Then we are expecting a Mission group from South Africa in October who would like to do some school maintenance and outreach in the community. Good things to look forward to. The Ladies Group need prayer as there has been a troublesome new member who has caused some trouble and the original ladies must decide how to deal with her. I think they were hoping I would make the decision for them, but it is their group, so they must decide what to do. We talked and prayed about it at the last meeting so they have some food for thought and prayer before making their decision. They have made some delightful pillow cases and little girls skirts which they are hoping to sell in the community. This will be a test for them as they will have to do the selling. It is lovely to see them settling more easily into the work and not needing so much encouragement as they gain confidence. I purchased a few pairs of scissors and a few yards of material with the ‘profit’ from their sales and our balance is once again ‘nil’! But we are smiling! It was decided at the last meeting that they will contribute towards the lunches we share and they are now going to take turns bringing vegetables to add to the ‘relish’ we make. We will supply the starch and protein, and of course the tea and sandwiches! They will also bring lemons and learn how to make lemon syrup which they can add to their drinking water! Lemons grow prolifically in this area and often drop off the trees, wasted. NEWSFLASH: Next week we have a lady tailor from Bulawayo who has volunteered to visit us for 3 days and run a Workshop on quilting and basic sewing techniques. When I asked the ladies at the last meeting if they could manage to come to Morning Star for a 3 day workshop they were very enthusiastic. So prayer, please that we can learn much and the lady, Bianca, will come back and back and back! Bianca struggles to make a living in town, and as this is a quiet time for her, she wants to give in service what she can’t give financially. Bless her, and please pray for her. Her daughter, Montana, is a very strong YL leader in Bulawayo. We are receiving more names of people in the community who need help with food or school fees, etc, etc. so Diamond is being kept busy with ‘going quietly into the neighbourhood’ to visit and ascertain the needs of these new people. Although we are unable to help more people right now, as God provides we will at least be ready. One of our visitors this week was Cornelius Moyo who operates a Home Based Orphan Trust in Bulawayo. He has been a great help with information and advice about dealing with various challenges. We are slowly setting up a network of people who are working in similar ministries as us; have years of experience and are willing to give advice where necessary. One thing we are hoping to start as we get clothes donated is a ‘Family Shop’ where everyone in the community can buy for themselves very reasonably priced clothes (Everything’s a Dollar!) and the money received from that can go back into the community and used where needed i.e. School fees, school stationery and uniforms. A small % could go towards maintenance and small projects here in the camp. Usually clothes are donated to a specific group, i.e. orphans, widows, etc, which then causes jealousy and envy with the people who receive nothing. Our thought is that a ‘Family Shop’ would be open to anyone. Once the specified groups have received everyone would then have the opportunity of acquiring clothes and in turn that money will be ‘recycled’ within their community. One of the good things about this is that people will not, once again, be losing dignity by receiving hand-outs but purchasing at very low prices or on a barter system (vegetables/crafts/work). What do you think? Feel free to give us your thoughts. We are delighted to report that we are now starting to harvest and eat vegetables from our garden! We have been mixing the Trench Garden and Farming God’s Way systems and are very pleased with how things are growing. The horses also are feasting on beetroots, spinach, pea-pods (we eat the contents of the pods!) and carrots. In a couple of weeks they should be enjoying Lucerne (alfalfa). And to cook the vegetables that make it to the kitchen uneaten we have invested in a Solar Cooker.
Although it was costly it has made a great difference to the amount of wood we were using. The kitchen staff was a bit sceptical when we brought it home, but they are seeing it is possible to do so much with no (wood) fire! The staff that go out searching for and chopping wood are VERY happy! Another step towards an environmentally friendlier life and becoming independent of fuel bills! Well, that is all for now. God bless you all, and please keep praying for us and our community. Love, Norma 'Christ’s example teaches us that we should follow Him each day. Meeting one another’s needs, though humble service be the way.' (Hess)