I am not sure how we got through this week, but here I am sitting at Morning Star enjoying a moment of rest and quiet on this beautiful, winter Sunday.
I have been for two glorious rides this morning after neglecting the horses for too many days, as most days this week have started at a run and not slowed down till late afternoon. I will be going into town tomorrow morning so thought I would put ‘fingers to keys’ (no more pen to paper!) and try to tell you a little about what has been going on here this last week.
Monday I went into town to collect bits and pieces we would need for the Sewing group and for the maintenance day with the Baptist Youth Group at Isotsha School.
Tuesday we entertained Ryan Keith (of Forgotten Voices) and four friends who were travelling with him – three men from America and Pastor Dumisani who is the FV’s liaison person here in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. We had a delightful time sharing our visions and telling them what was actually happening on the ground here. They were very encouraging and of course(!) have fallen in love with the Matopos! They sadly stayed only one night with Sandy and Denis, our neighbours, at their lodge perched on the top of a ‘dwala’ before heading off to complete their very busy schedule.
Wednesday brought some of the Aids group ladies and a few other neighbours who want to learn some hand crafts from each other. It was a very cheerful gathering with lots of teasing and laughter. They brought some of their hand crafts and we examined them for potential sales in curio shops in town and had a good discussion about what will and won’t sell. They then got busy with cutting out various items they want to make and the day rushed by. We shared lunch and the work stopped about 3pm. It was a slow beginning but I think it is the first step towards the ‘bigger picture’. We are limited with just one lady at a time able to use the hand sewing machine. I will have to spend time with a few others to teach them on my electric machines as they are all a little scared that the electric machines will ‘run away’ with them! A couple more hand or treadle machines would be ideal for our situation here. We have made Wednesday a day that any of them can come here and work with others or on the machine. I had found a couple of old knitted jersey coats that the knitters of the group unravelled and will re-knit items with the wool. I think one of the big draws of the Wednesday meetings will be the lunches! All the members of these groups are on ARV’s and if they don’t eat properly the medication makes them feel ill. Certainly a problem when you cannot afford to buy all the foods you are required to eat AND have a family to feed as well.
Thursday arrived and we were all busy getting the camp and rooms ready for the Bulawayo Youth Group that were due to arrive in the afternoon, when we had an unexpected visit with our Ward Councillor, Mr Gumbo. He came to thank us for what was starting to happen within the community and share a few concerns that had come to his notice. Little things like having a member of the Parent Body of the school with us when handing out books, pencils, etc ‘as some things sometimes disappear!’ Bless him, he did not want to say the word ‘stolen’! So we will no longer ‘slip into the neighbourhood’ but will ‘blow some horns’! He also spoke a bit about the orphan feeding scheme that has been such a God send for the community in so many ways. He was about to take his leave when in came a Pastor Cornelius Moyo, from an organization in town who are doing home-based orphan support. Despite the dreadful road from town to the ranch we still get many very interesting visitors!
Later that afternoon in rolled 3 vehicles filled with the enthusiastic team from the Bulawayo Baptist Youth (that cater to an inter-denominational group of young people in the Bulawayo area) led by Nick Simpson. They are not unfamiliar with MS, so it was good to have them on a return visit, this time with a ‘mission’ to complete! They settled in, checked out the various changes made since their last visit and of course visited our small dam.
Lovely to listen to their singing around the fire after dinner and to have their (most of the time!) gentle spirits infiltrate through the campsite!
Friday hadn’t even dawned before the sounds of the ‘breakfast team’ attempting to start the fire in the wood stove could be heard! By the time I joined them (I was a little concerned they may blow up the kitchen before the fire took!) they were well on their way to getting the fire going – not the easiest stove to ‘turn on’! Well done, ladies!
On our way to Isotsha School we did a food drop where the group prayed for the family in the early morning chill of the day. It took about ¾ of an hour to get to the school where we were welcomed enthusiastically by the Headmaster and his Deputy. We had whitewash, a tin of blackboard paint and screws, nails, etc so we asked what they would like us to do. A few parents had come to join us, so it was a merry crew that took up paint rollers, brushes, screw-drivers, pliers and saws and attacked the work!
My goodness! At first glance at the amount of furniture, mostly desks and benches, to be repaired it looked like an impossible job to get through in just a few hours! There were comments like: if we were only in town this would be SO easy…… Yep! That is why there was so much to do! Too far from the nearest shop to even maintain the easiest broken things. But within a few minutes ‘plans were being made’ and everyone had a job to do.
The ‘Blackboard Team’ started with a 5 litre tin of blackboard paint and I was sure it would probably only do a room or two…… well, God fooled me again! It was similar to the fish and loaves story! All the classrooms were done and there was still a little left in the bottom of the tin! The blackboards were one of the priorities on the school list of things to do! Unfortunately the whitewash only did one wall!!! It would seem the place where we got it from had already diluted it! Never mind, next time!
We had completed nearly everything just before 1.30, and were told that a lunch had been prepared for us! What a blessing! Sudza, (Nchima, Ncima, Pap? Basically thick maize meal porridge) with a beef stew and Chamolia vegetables. It was so welcome after non-stop work in the sun! But first the children sang to us and the Work Team responded by teaching the pupils a new song which was received with great enthusiasm! Then onto lunch, followed by two very competitive games of Netball and Soccer! I would love to put more photos on but some people may start cursing me if I make this newsletter too big with photos! I will upload them onto our Facebook Green Island Vision cause so if anyone is interested you can see them there.
We left, smiling on our faces and in our hearts…… a job well done for our Lord. I had said to Nick when we spoke on Thursday about what we would be doing, that I had no idea how the day would work, I had no expectations and just wanted the Lord to lead. Well He certainly did, in a much bigger way than I had anticipated! I must say that when I saw what had to be done I thought we should have brought tents and food for the weekend! In so few hours so much was achieved. All it took was that first step…….. Please Lord, keep us stepping forward. We don’t need to see where the road is going………keep reminding us of that!
We arrived home at 4 pm, just in time to share the birthday cake Caroline had made for her husband, Diamond, who turned 33 on Friday! He had been with us all day as part of the team! Diamond has been working for us for about 15 years now. He started working with us when he was in his late teens when he came to look a
fter his sister whose husband had died. We have seen him marry Caroline, watched their son Prince grow into a healthy 8 year old and nearly a year ago their daughter, Chiedza, was born. He has looked after the ranch in our absence, despite several difficult experiences. His knowledge of the community is invaluable. Our prayer for him and his family is that they will be blessed and prosper for the next 15 years (and more) with us here on Morning Star. But whatever the Lord calls Diamond to do, may he remain a strong disciple of His.
Saturday was packing up and departure of the Baptist Youth. More new friends and a few good contacts made for possible food for the Aids groups. Pray on!
In Him, until next time.