Christmas already!

Christmas is upon us once again! The year has gone so fast and God has kept us busy.

Highlights? It is hard to put one event above another! Donations of school uniforms from a South African school which was changing its entire uniform have blessed several schools in Zimbabwe. We are still distributing them and what is not appropriate for the schools will be go to orphans in the community. The Roger Federer Foundation visit - Robbie and Lynette (Roger's parents) and the CEO of the Federer Foundation, Janine Handel spent a night and a day with us. We did a rush around the schools so all the Heads could meet them (I just could NOT only visit one or two schools, knowing how sad the unvisited ones would be!) and the y could see for themselves what the schools have done with their sponsorship. This year it looks like the sponsorship will concentrate more on support for teacher/child resources within the classes, which will make the classrooms more stimulating.

The 'lowlight' of the year was the dreadful fire which burnt 90% of the farm. It occurred on one of the hottest days of the year so the burn was really intense. Many trees were destroyed and at one stage we thought our homestead was going to be consumed as well. Much prayer was being sent up with the flames and we eventually managed to extinguish it. Good early rains have brought new life and a green covering over the land. Despite the devastating fire already new life is springing from the ashes. This Mukwa (Teak) was taller than a house with wide spreading branches. It was split in three, with its big old branches lying on the ground, charred beyond hope. Then we spied the green shoot struggling out of the burnt bark of the main stem. The undergrowth which was so dense around the rocks and kopjies was cleared by the fire and these holidays will be a great opportunity to explore areas we have never been able to access! Riding and walking is a new experience without the long grass!

Hats off to the fire-fighting team! Fortunately for us the Sewing Group was with us when we were threatened by the fire. It they had not thrown themselves into helping us I am quite sure we would have lost a lot more than we did.

Sadly two of our Sewing ladies passed away this year and another two are not at all well. Two healthy babies were born and we pray for their continued health. Please pray for this group of women who so earnestly are trying to better their lives, keep healthy and stay alive to look after their families so their children do not just become part of the orphan statistics.

The Sewing Group hit the Christmas Fair circuit this month! Bianca and I took all our stock to see what we could sell to boost the ladies Christmas income. There were some amazing stalls at the Fair and I felt we compared favourably (OK, I am probably a little biased!). We did not sell as much as we had hoped (I was quite sure our stall would be cleared in the first half hour!!!) As I write this we will be attending another Fair tomorrow to try and sell more. I hope and pray that we will have really good sales so we can start the new year with no stock, ready to tackle new projects.

We go into the Christmas season with enthusiasm as we wait for our son to join us with his family from Malawi and Chris' brother and wife from Zambia. They all love walking and picnicking and I am sure we will be doing a lot of that, as well as riding and chasing monkeys and baboons!!!

Our prayers are that you will have a very special Christmas this year, filled with the love of Jesus. I listened to a sermon today that suggested we cut back on gifts and our the busy schedules and focus on building the relationships with those we love. Create memories that will be with us forever.

Thank you for so much support and prayers this year - they have been precious gifts which have kept us going through some trying but blessed times. We are looking forward to what our Lord has in store for us in the new year.

Enjoy the Christmas season!

In His Name,

Norma and Chris

The foundations of the Community and Sports Centre. Within the first couple of months of 2011 we hope to have a basketball court here. Eventually it will have a roof and will also be used for a variety of indoor games, workshops and youth outreaches The water-tank, from where this picture is taken, is complete and will make the continuation of the building a lot easier next year.

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