When we are exposed to totally different environments or lifestyles than the one they were raised in, are usually shocked by the experience. This happened to Norma and I when we first visited and lived in North Carolina in 1981. Coming from Africa, ‘The Land of the Free’ blew our minds. Initially we were acutely aware of the differences between our two continents, but after a few months we began to assimilate the American lifestyle (even enjoying the crazy game of American football)! When we returned to Africa a year later, we were equally shocked by what we had forgotten about ‘home’.
This experience was good in that it made us think deeply about things which we had previously taken for granted. It made us re-think and adjust our lifestyles quite dramatically.
Those of you who have visited us on Morning Star must also have been blown away in some way by what you experienced. I am sure that it made you think about and question your lifestyles back home. For example, how many of you had experienced a ‘long drop’ toilet before visiting us? I read somewhere that each American flushes about 10 gallons of water down their toilets (bathrooms) every day. That’s over two billion gallons of water a day! Where we live, it’s the job of the young girls in the household to fetch water from the river, often several miles away, every morning and evening. And they carry this in 5 gallon buckets balanced on their heads! Not much time for Facebook and cellphones!
Experiencing different cultures or living in different environments, enables us to see things from a new perspective and to critically examine how we live. The acid test, however, is whether it has resulted in us making some changes in the way we live.
Yesterday Norma and I went into Bulawayo to do our Christmas shopping. Under normal circumstances, we regard shopping as a necessary evil, but yesterday’s experience left us feeling quite awkward. A few days before we came to town, we had a visitor at our gate. She was an elderly granny who had walked 4 miles, barefoot, to get to Morning Star from her home. She told us a heart-wrenching story. Her two adult daughters, both widows, had left Zimbabwe to look for work in South Africa. They left their five young children with her, promising to send money as soon as they could. It has been over three months now and she hasn’t heard a word from them. She is a widow herself with no means of income and her food has run out. ‘Could we help?’ she asked through tear-filled eyes. This is not an unusual scenario in the community which lives near us, so you can imagine that avoiding jostling shoppers shoving loaded trolleys, full of mostly superficial Christmas trinkets, wasn’t a good experience for us after that. The tinny sound of ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’, piping stridently through the supermarket audio system didn’t help much either.
For the last few years we have been supporting 40 vulnerable families with small monthly food-packs supplied by a local church-run charity. Ideally, giving out food is not sustainable, but these families consist mainly of old grannies, some in poor health, who are looking after several orphans. In most cases both parents of the children have died or one parent is alive and either suffering from AIDS or has abandoned the children and has disappeared. We were informed last week that December 2014 will be the last food-pack delivery. We were warned that this may happen, so have been working on some ideas which we will share with you shortly.
In my next message, I would like to share more ideas on this, based on two biblical incidents in the life David.
‘It is time to awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick’
(‘Celebration of Discipline’ by Richard Foster)
We wish you all a blessed Christmas.
In His Name,
Chris and Norma
‘Dreams without action are just wishes’
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