I am ashamed to see that it is nearly 6 months since I last wrote a Newsletter! In the last Newsletter I spoke about the year starting in Turbo….. Well, I must tell you that it accelerated beyond Turbo and here we are in the closing days of August already! What an amazing year it has been so far. Through all the busyness God has been close and faithful. Why do I even write that, and why should I be surprised?! HE is the faithful one and HE never moves away from us – we are the ones who do that all on our own! Right now we are taking a short break with our son and his family in Blantyre, Malawi, and visiting with family and friends. It is so good to see them and be welcomed back into this ‘fold’ for a short time.
Where do I start catching up the last 6 months?!
We finally had late rains that filled our dam to overflowing, sadly though it was too late for many of our neighbours who lost their crops.
The land is now dry and it is the bush-fire season.
The Sewing Group sold about $500 to visitors and visiting groups this summer! The group took a two-month break in July and August but I know they are keen to get back to work and will be excited to find they made so many sales. A friend in Zambia gave us a sack of scrap fabric and while here in Malawi I have been purchasing fabric to re-stock in readiness for their return. A good friend and supporter in
Blantyre who is experienced with assisting local sewing groups, has given me some great new ideas to try. Erin, a new friend who is working in Tanzania, also gave us ideas while she was visiting so we should have no reason not to be in full production shortly on great new project. We can now look for local sales points as the ladies sewing has improved so much and hopefully their income will increase. It will be a great help when we are able to get more sewing machines which will increase our output.
We have had several YoungLife Leaders’ camps and J-Life, a similar organisation to YL, but based out of South Africa, used Morning Star for the first time as their venue. The highlight was the arrival of the Church of Apostles (Atlanta) youth group – STS - when they arrived in July for a really busy time interacting within the schools, at the orphan feedings and delivering food to some of the most destitute families, orphans and widows in the community. What an amazing group of young and not so young people. This is the church that started the 3 times a week Orphan Feeding 3 years ago after a visit to Morning Star and seeing the desperation and hunger within the community at that time. After spending only 10 days with them it was very sad to say farewell! We had baboon and monkey hunts, walks around the farm and special sharing times around the fire in the evenings.
YoungLife Training Team
Gary and Judy Hopkins arrived with 9 YoungLifers from America to do some training with our YoungLife leaders. It was so good to see the Hopkins again and catch up on all the family news! We learnt most of what we know about YL from Gary and Judy when they were based in Malawi while we were there several years ago. The YoungLifers who accompanied them were a delight group, Ryan Steele visiting us for the 2nd time. They helped run Zimbabwe's first truly National camp at a nearby school and had a wonderful response. We went through so many bags of Rooi(Red)bush tea I was becoming worried it was addictive! God certainly sends wonderful people to us to keep our Spirits high!
High drama recently when we heard that several elephant had been sighted in our area. Coming though Bulawayo and then into the Matopos area, they had been surprised one evening by a man walking home and sadly killed him, so the Wildlife Department were hunting them. Children were kept home from school and our sewing group numbers dropped significantly that week. Tracks and droppings were seen on Morning Star and around our neighbours' vegetable gardens. Steve Pocock, a relative from Australia, who was staying with us at the time, was enthusiastic to go and look for them on horse-back, which we (foolishly) did. (un)Fortunately we did not meet them, but had a great ride anyway! I am pleased to report that the elephants got away with their lives and they left as quietly as they came.
The Roger Federer Foundation funding is going very well with the schools enjoying their blessing (hopefully for 3 years). It is a lot of work for us, but so rewarding to see the schools taking initiative for their development.
Over 400 children in the community had their schools fees paid last term, thanks to your response to our appeal. Two families have committed to supporting children long-term and also assisting the children with school clothes. Thank you. A friend in Austria is doing a great job of raising funds through friends and businesses, but there will still be many children that may be sent home by their schools because they will not be able to find the $10 or $20 to pay fees in September. Please pray for another ‘blessing’ like the one that we had last term from John and Heather Witherow's home church in America. When they came to visit us Heather blessed the schools even more by running a very successful Infant Workshop for the schools.
Between the two camps Cindy and Peter from Switzerland arrived. Cindy was instrumental in acquiring the funding from the Roger Federer Foundation. She annually runs an English Workshop at Matopo Primary School for the local teachers in our area. Her visit each year is looked forward to with great anticipation and this year's workshop was as inspiring as the previous years.
We are now in Malawi, hoping to start our trip back to 'Morning Star' in the next day or two. Tamana, a young Afghani student who Chris taught at an International School in Malawi, is travelling back with us and we hope she will stay with us on the ranch for a few months. While we have been in Blantyre we linked up with Lusayo and Wanangwa, two of the first YL ‘converts’ when YL Malawi first started. Lusayo is now the Malawi YL National Director and Wanangwa is due to open up YL in the capital, Lilongwe shortly. So good to see the fruit of prayer! We also met a delightful young girl from the USA, Sarah Adams, who is very much a part of YL Malawi. What a great team! We had lunch together and are hatching plans for staying in contact more closely! Tamana cooked us a delicious Afghani meal and we enjoyed, not just good food and company, but also good memories and laughs! There are no borders for those in Christ! Our foundations are the same and we are able to continue building where-ever we meet!
Pray for us that this will be a season of few, if any, fires on Morning Star.
Additional sewing machines and fabric.
Sponsors for an eco-briquette project and the first phase of the Community Centre - a youth centre.
Until next time.