2010 has started in turbo! We started running in early January and although we can see the goal ahead I just pray we have enough staying power because to get there is surely going to take a lot of stamina! Thank goodness God is the referee and Jesus our captain!
Our rainfall situation has now become dire. We are well below our normal average for the year and the crops are looking very miserable, as are the people. It does not bode well for food this year, which means another year of suffering for many people. The small dam on Morning Star rose to about 6 inches from the top, but has still not spilled and already dropped several inches. For the last several years it has overflowed by New Year. Everyone seems to have a certain ‘heaviness’ about them and the first thing everyone says when meeting is, ‘Where is the rain? When is it coming?’
Tonight I managed to get shampoo in my eyes, something I haven’t done for years! While suffering through the sting I realised that sometimes we need to feel the ‘old ‘ pain to realise how blessed we are when we don’t have pain/hardship. How blessed we are when we are fit and well, full stomaches, beds to snuggle down into at the end of a long day, fresh water out of a tap, light to read by, toothpaste and brush! And what about toilet paper!!!! How easy it is to take what we have for granted with no appreciation that what we have today we may not have tomorrow.
January saw the start of the Federer Foundation funding for 7 schools in our area. Visit the Roger Federer Foundation website to see how they are supporting the Matopos schools in our area. In a nutshell, they have allocated funding for repairs and maintenance and furnishings; supply of school materials and text books; environmental and life-skills workshops. We spent several days visiting each of the seven schools to explain that they were the beneficiaries of support from the Foundation. They were delighted. The Headmaster of the only Secondary school in the area, Silobi, could hardly speak as he took in what it would mean for his school. He took over as Headmaster a year ago, when the school was in a dreadful state, but in a short time he has, with very little funding, done wonders to improve conditions and the moral of pupils and teachers alike. His first reaction was to say: ‘This will mean that we can reduce our fees so more children will have the opportunity to come to school!’
We have collected, collated and ordered most of their orders and now await delivery from the suppliers. We heard this week that teachers are on strike again over their salaries, so that may hold up our deliveries to each school. Please pray for a solution to the teachers’ salary issue. Teachers receive approximately $150 a month and they SHOULD receive a percentage of the fees paid to their schools. This is a problem in some schools in that many parents cannot afford to pay fees
On facebook a couple of weeks ago I commented that it costs between $10 and $20 to sponsor a child at school and if anyone was interested in doing so to contact me. A few people responded and then, about a week after this, we were woken up early one morning by an excited text (sms) from a friend in Bulawayo asking if we would like $5 500 for school fees! A church youth group in the USA had taken up a collection specifically for fees for children in rural Zimbabwe. Talk about an answer to prayer!
We have been loaned 2 hand-sewing machines for the Sewing Group! After Bianca has given them a good service the ladies can start learning to use them, which will increase our output. We were also asked by a recent visitor to see if and where hand machines were available. Bianca and I did a scout around the Bulawayo shops and were very pleased to discover a shop with about 15 hand machines, which is good news as we won’t need to go out the country when we are able to purchase them.
In the first week of January we had a YoungLife leaders work camp on ‘Morning Star’, organised and run by Nkosi Sampindi and his merry men (and ladies!). Great fun and lots of work was achieved spiritually and around the ranch. Mornings were given over to road repairs, alien vegetation removal and clearing up areas of the campsite. Afternoons were training times, and evenings fun and games! Nkosi, as usual, did an excellent job as leader and facilitator.
This past weekend we were visited by a team from Vertical Life who are based in South Africa (see Vertical Life-3d on the web for more information). Matt, with Erica, Andrew and Wynand ran a very special leadership training for some of the Bulawayo YoungLife leaders. A group of 6 guys took part and it was an amazing time with lots of new learning experiences. Matt has promised to be back for bigger and better things! Their visit to ‘Morning Star’ was the kick off of an African trip that will lead them up to Cairo. Along the way they will minister to groups and teach them about water sanitation as well as collecting data for the formation of a church-based Disaster Relief Response initiative.
Wynand, a missionary based in Mozambique, who was travelling with the Vertical Life team, especially blessed Diamond and Caroline by baptising them in our dam – the first baptism on ‘Morning Star’. And surely not the last!
Chris and I are off to South Africa to meet Ronelle (our daughter and main administrator of our facebook page) and her boyfriend, Glenn who are coming out from the UK for 2 weeks. We will be meeting Glenn’s family for the first time so will have to be on our best behaviour and may even have to wear shoes ……. Please pray for us!!! Seriously though, prayer for travel mercies would be appreciated! Driving in SA will be a trial for us country bumpkins! Pumba will be upset as we will have to book him into the ‘Pet Hilton’, in Bulawayo, while we are away. He had to have a claw and pad removed from his left front paw recently – what we thought was an embedded thorn causing a nasty swelling, turned out to be a cancerous growth! Praise God, he has made a complete recovery and is chasing monkeys and squirrels again. Note: back now, didn't manage to upload the newsletter before we left, will update soon, had a wonderful time!
We would like to thank all of you who supported us last year and those who have pledged to support us this year. Without you we could not be here to co-ordinate the projects which are running from ‘Morning Star’. May our Lord’s words recorded in Matthew encourage you:
‘Then the King will say to the people on His right, ‘You who are blessed by my Father, come! Come and receive the Kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the creation of the world. I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me drink.’ (Matthew 25: 34 – 35).
In His Name,