Merry Christmas!

December Newsletter                                                                                                   December 21, 2017

Merry Christmas to you!!  Happy New Year, too!!

The cold winds are blowing, the snow is flying, Christmas trees are all lit up. Tinsel and garlands are sparkling in the colorful lights.  NOT!  Well, at least not here in Zimbabwe.  It’s more like, the summer rains are falling, the grass is green and growing, in need of mowing.  The flowers are blooming, and it is hot!!! Still we are ready for it to be Christmas, my favorite time of year.  I’ve been baking cookies, and other treats for friends here.

Things are really moving along here!  I don’t even know where to begin.  Let’s start with Bibles!  Oh my!!!  Many, many of you participated in my “Bible Jars” project this summer.  The two pastors at our church each have a group of children that they visit and mentor each week, telling Bible stories, singing songs, reciting Scripture, etc.  There are about 110 students that are being impacted through these groups. The children have been praying for full Bibles.  My project was to get as many people at home to collect spare change to donate towards buying Bibles here to distribute.  We collected over $1100.00 to purchase Bibles to distribute to the children and young adults in the area.  At first, I was told we could get Bibles here for $10.00 each, wholesale.  Later on, with the situation here in Zimbabwe, I was told they had gone up to $17.00 each.  Imagine my disappointment that the number of Bibles we could purchase was drastically reduced. But, as Jeff is always using in his Gideon talks, “God has a plan for His Word”. (Isaiah 55: 10-11)  Pastor Morgan took us to a bookstore located at a big church in Harare.  With our US dollars and buying in bulk, we were able to purchase ESV full Bibles for as little as $3.00 each.  We were ecstatic!!  Can you imagine?  We bought 100 Bibles on our first trip there.  When we later went with Pastor Morgan to visit his “kids” and hand out the Bibles, we were able to bless the entire staff at the school and even bless students and staff at another related school in a different neighborhood.  The children and teachers were so happy!  We were so happy!  I’m sure God was very happy!! We went back to purchase another 200 Bibles.  We then went with Pastor Dube to the group of children that he ministers to.  The timing was perfect, as it was their Christmas party day.  We handed out Bibles to all the older children, grades 3-7.  This was an answer to their prayers.  They were so delighted! Before the day was over, everyone had a filling lunch and all the children received goodie bags for Christmas. ‘Twas truly a wonderful day!  We have had other requests for Bibles that we were able to grant.  Also we brought several Bibles from our Church in Archbold that were used as graduation gifts for new pastors and other students.  One of our maintenance guys led devotions one morning and his Bible was so worn out and when he was offered a nice hard covered NIV he was moved to tears.  What a blessing to give God’s word to so many that are so anxious to get it and treasure it!  Thank you all for giving such joy!  God’s Word will accomplish what He sent it out to do.  Praise Him!

 

The work on the dorm is coming along nicely.  December is a month off for the staff. (Not maint.)  We are employing some of the staff to help us get the work done sooner.  They are working very hard and the unity is wonderful to watch and be a part of.  It is our goal to get it completed on this trip.  So many things are happening at once and we can clearly see the hand of God in it all.  We have a field of corn planted (maize) and it will be used to feed families and students on campus.  They grind it to make mealie and cook it to make sazda which is their main food, maybe twice a day.

We are so grateful for your prayers for us and for Zimbabwe these last couple months.  God is on the move and we have seen His hand in all of this.  When things began to happen we looked on and prayed.  The Saturday before the former President stepped down there was a march through down town Harare and we thought, because of our western mindset, there would be trouble.  The Zimbabwe people are a peaceful people and God was present.  There were tens of thousands of people on the march and not one act of violence.  Not one window broken, not one business broken into, not one person hurt or arrested.  God is doing a new thing here and I believe He will use Zimbabwe as an example for the USA and the world.

We are missing our families and friends during this Christmas season, as you can well imagine. We will be celebrating Christmas Day with our neighboring family.

Thanks so much for your prayers and support.  We certainly wouldn’t be here if not for the generosity of so many.

Love and blessings to you all!

Jeff and Rebecca

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

We’re Back!

November 9, 2017

After a long time away, we’re back.  In Zimbabwe and on our blog.

Hello to all of our wonderful friends in the United States!

It’s hard to believe that we arrived late Thursday afternoon a week ago.  Overall, it was a good trip over, albeit long, but fortunately, we didn’t have any long layovers. We were greeted by a wonderful brother in the Lord, Tawanda. After a long flight like we had, it’s so good and welcoming to see familiar faces at the end of the journey.  We were also greeted by temperatures in the upper 80’s.

It is indeed good to be back with these wonderful people. They have become so dear to us, like family.  On our first night here we were invited to dinner at our neighbors, Nella’s house.  We were just putting food on our plates and the power went out and stayed out for twelve hours.  We laughed and said welcome to Zimbabwe.  This is very common here and we felt good that we got power back as soon as we did.

We were able to get some good rest Thursday night and into Friday morning.  Rebecca was fighting a head cold before we left and we thought she was over it, however, the long flight and being on an airplane with many others who were suffering and didn’t want to suffer alone, she relapsed but is starting to come alive. Thank goodness we brought DayQuil and NyQuil with us. That’s been a lifesaver.

We went to the grocery store on Saturday and were shocked to find some of the prices as much as doubled. Things like butter, meat, and juices. There have been scarcities on some goods, like sugar and some other staples.  Right now eggs are still scarce. We found some at a roadside stand, and Jeff discovered a small grocery store that had some.  Since we eat a lot of eggs for the protein it’s good that we found a source.  Apparently, they suffered a bout of chicken flu that wiped out a large population of chickens.  But they seem to be recovering now. Some products are priced higher, like rice, cereal, flour, coffee, canned vegetables, etc.  But amazingly bread is still 90 cents a loaf.   And produce that we buy at the roadside stands are pretty much the same as before.  Tomatoes, apples, bananas, potatoes, carrots, and onions are still a good deal at 8-10 for $1.00.

It was good to be back with our fellow believers here on Sunday and renew friendships.  The first Sunday of the month is “family fellowship Sunday” which means we have tea and snacks after service.  It’s a nice time to visit. And of course, you all know how we hate snacks but we managed to force ourselves to have some cake.  Haha.

Sunday afternoon we were invited to help pull off a surprise birthday party for our friend Tawanda.  Under the guise of taking his family out to lunch, we drove him and his family to the party and were able to keep it a complete surprise.  That was a fun afternoon.  Those who have visited us over here are aware of the road conditions and how hard it can be on vehicles especially the tires.  On the way home from the party we had a flat tire with a new tire put on just before we left to come home in the spring.  That makes five new tires in the last year.  We have learned to take things in stride for two reasons; one is that’s just the way it is here, we’re not going to change that and two (and foremost) God is in control.

We have already had “chance” meetings with brothers that showed us the mighty gracious Hand of God on us and them and we are reminded that our family in Christ on your side of the world are praying for us.  What amazing answers; we see His hand in everything.  Thank you for your support in prayers and financially.  We are a team and we couldn’t be here without you.

God is making an impact here through you all. Lest I bore you too much I will end this with the promise to send more soon.

With love and unity in Jesus Christ, we remain faithfully in His grip!

Jeff and Rebecca

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

It’s been awhile…we are busy!

January, 18, 2017

Compliments of the New Year to you all!

That is how we’ve been greeted since January 1, instead of Happy New Year, like we would say at home.

I know I’ve asked you to pray for rain . . . well your prayers have been answered in a mighty way.  It has rained almost every day for several weeks now. Sometimes it’s a light but long duration gentle rain and other days it’s been pouring, pouring, pouring! The song that the Gaithers do, “Build an Ark”, comes to mind often these days.  We’re about ready to.  On Sunday, someone said we’ve had 49” of rain since the 1st of November.  Now it is Wednesday and I have no idea how much more we’ve gotten, but I’ll tell you this. . . I’m glad it isn’t snow!!

We’ve also asked for prayers for Mondreck who was hospitalized for a whole month.  He’s been home for a few weeks now and just went back to the doctor’s to do some blood work.  Hopefully, all will be restored in his body and he can maintain his health for a good long time.  He looks great! Thanks for all your prayers!

February 1, 2017

Well, that month went by really fast.  We have been busy in January!  Getting ready for Pastors/Wives conference, working on dorm #2, sewing, birthday parties, etc.

Most of January was spent getting ready for the Pastors’ Conference which was held at PACC on January 24-26.  At first they talked about having it somewhere else in the city, at one of the bigger churches, but before too long it was decided to have here on campus, as it was last year.  With so many coming from out of town on public transportation, to make it easier for them, it was decided that if the conference was on campus here, there was plenty of space for many of them to stay right here in the dorms, thus saving the issues of transportation to get them from here to wherever else they may have held it.  So the two weeks before the conference were spent largely on sprucing up the grounds, and completing enough work in the second dorm to make it presentable and more comfortable for those who would be staying there.

Now we are still in the midst of the rainy season, and it’s been a very wet one.  I believe the skies are making up for lost time, all the dry weather Zimbabwe has experienced the last few years.  There was more than one day, and more than one worker who was cutting the grass in the rain.  It had to get done!  At least it wasn’t raining too hard.  We’ve had a few days that were like a fine mist that fell all day.  I was reminded of a trip to Arizona where, at the pool of the resort, there were misters that would spray a fine mist on anyone who was sitting or basking in the sun underneath them.  Not enough to really make you wet, but more, just enough to cool your skin a bit from the searing sun’s heat. So we had some days like that, where it was a fine mist all day.  I’ve really never experienced that before.

The work in the dorm had barely gotten started when it was decided to use it for the visitors coming.  That meant painting needed to be completed, lights fixed or replaced with new bulbs, the bathroom plumbing overhauled to make sure toilets were in good working order, sinks had hot and cold running water and showers were properly working.  Fortunately, last time we were here, we had installed a solar water tank on the roof, so there was hot water available.  The sinks needed some work.  We ended up removing 2 of them that weren’t working properly (They each had only one spigot, one sink had cold water only, the other was hooked up to the hot water only.)  Don’t ask me why they were hooked up like that, but that’s what we found. The 2 sinks that remained were much nicer, and we made each of them to have hot and cold running water, without leaks.  Two out of three toilets only needed minor repairs to make them usable, so those were repaired and the third one’s door was wired closed and out of use until such time as repairs can be made. The dorm has 4 bedrooms and then a small apartment at one end of the building.  Our focus was to get the 4 bedrooms ready enough that pastors could stay in those rooms if necessary. The men were successful in getting those bedrooms ready for visitors, and several stayed in them.

We made curtains for those bedrooms as well.  At least the 4 bedrooms are done.  There are still several (mostly smaller) windows in the hallway to finish, and then all the windows in the attached apartment need coverings as well.

The conference went very well. Many of the pastors commented favorably on how well the campus is looking these days.  They marvel at the work being done in the various buildings and the transformation that is happening here.  And that is largely due to your generous donations!  Thank you so much for your part in our work.  We could not be here if it weren’t for your support!

As of January 1, 2017, there has been a change of leadership on the campus.  A very positive change. A much needed change.  The Turn-Around-Committee (TAC) that had met for a year or so made some drastic decisions concerning the future operations of PACC.  Those ideas and plans are now being fulfilled with fresh leaders, whom I cannot say enough about.  We have a new principal, Rev. Tawanda Munaki, A new dean of Students, Pastor Craig Ndoro, and a new dean of students, Pastor Tich Chiwashira.  All three are energetic and taking the “bull by the horns”, so to speak.  They have all agreed to a voluntary term of one year to get things back on track for the school. That’s right, these 3 gentlemen are donating a year of their time to get this school back on track.  In addition to the responsibilities they have taken on here, they are pastors with preaching duties at their own churches and all the responsibilities to their church families. They come in with fresh ideas. It’s like a breath of fresh air!  A year ago we said that we believe God has sent us here for a reason.  That He wouldn’t have sent us here just to make this school fail, although there were times we questioned what we were doing.  But now, God in His graciousness is beginning to show us the next phase of the future of PACC, and we couldn’t be more excited!  They have plans. Big plans.  In August, the school will be switching from 3 terms/year to 2 semesters, like other colleges and universities. They are advertising for the school now, because debts/fines have been paid.  They are taking applications for international students to come here to be trained as ministers.  Already, they have applicants from 3 other African Countries.  We are praying for 100 students to begin classes in August.

We have a lot to do to be ready for even 60 students to live on campus. Of course, it’s very doubtful that all students will live in the dorms.  Many will come from right here in Harare and will live at home and take classes here.  Did I mention how excited we are?

February 20, 2017

The shelves in the library continue to fill up.  New shelving units have been made, varnished and filled with books. There’s been other work done in the library as well.  Besides books filling the shelves, the whole building was given a good, thorough cleaning in January.   The floor fairly sparkles, restrooms have been painted, repaired and decorated a little. A lot of the clutter that has been stacking up has been thrown out.

The maintenance department has been receiving compliments from others besides us as to their hard work in keeping the campus looking and operating nice.  They do so much behind the scenes and just kind of blend into the scenery, which is so typical, are don’t receive the recognition that we all long for.  So it’s very nice to see they are being appreciated for all their hard work.  So often they are called into duty after the normal work day to fix emergency problems.  They do it all with a smile and humbleness and so willing to help whenever needed.  And these are men who, until recently worked for virtually no pay for the last few years.

In the past we had a morning devotion and prayer time with the maintenance guys and whoever else wanted to join in.  It started with just Jeff and 2 guys two years ago.  Over our time here it has grown to include other staff members, until sometimes we’ve had 15-18 people in our circle.  Mostly Jeff brought a word to us, but several others have taken a day here and there, which we naturally found encouraging.  In January, we were invited to join the students each morning in their prayer time.  So now, the students, faculty, staff, cook, maintenance men, and Jeff and I participate in a ½ hour prayer time together before class starts for the day.  We are getting to know each other better. It’s gone a long way to create the spirit of unity within the whole campus experience.

I’ve been working on this newsletter for nearly a month.  I am going to send it on its way.  I think I could start a new one right now to catch you up on more of what is happening.  Soon.

Blessings!

Jeff and Rebecca

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       December 22, 2016

We are enjoying the month of December.  We are in our rainy season and if it were as cold here as it is in Ohio we would be buried in snow.  We have already gotten more rain this year than we had all season last year.  We are very grateful!

We continue to do the Radical Experiment which involves reading through the Bible in a year and praying around the world in a year.  We mentioned the book,  Radical in our last letter.  In chapter 9, David Platt shares this Radical Experiment for those of you who want to take the challenge.   It also involves following Christ in another context (doing something different that you may not have done before, i.e. working in a soup kitchen, helping with donations for the destitute, volunteering , all kinds of things come to mind.  (What better season to try this one?) It means stepping out of your comfort zone perhaps and blessing someone else less fortunate than yourself.) The fourth part of the challenge is sacrificial giving.  Giving from the heart, until it hurts.  Not just giving out of your surplus.  The widows mite comes to mind (See Luke 21:1-4).  The United States was on the prayer schedule for almost a week and Zimbabwe is on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Both countries are desperate to be held before the Throne.  We believe God is going to do mighty things here and there.  Isaiah prophesied that Israel should not dwell on the past and that God was doing a new thing.  He said, “Don’t you perceive it?  I will make springs of water come out of the desert.”  We are praying for springs of living water to flow out of our hearts and to get everyone around you and us very wet.  God is going to change Zimbabwe and the United States.  He is not done with us yet!!!

***********************************************A D V E R T I S E M E N T **************************************************************************

And now, a word from our sponsor.  It is nearing the end of 2016 and you might be thinking you would like to make one more generous donation to a charitable organization before the year end to get a nice deduction on your 2016 tax return.  Well, do we have a deal for you!   That’s right, you can help support our ministry work in Zimbabwe, Africa.  It’s easy and painless.  Make your check out to “Partners Worldwide” in any amount you’d like.  Please put “PACC, ZIM” on the memo line of your check.  Our names should not appear on the check itself.  Put your generous check into an envelope and address it to :

Partners Worldwide

6139 Tahoe Dr. SE.

Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Put a first class stamp on the envelope and put it in the mail. It needs to be post marked by Dec 31.  Easy peasy.  Simple as can be.  Now, sit back and enjoy the rest of this letter.

**********************************************A D V E R T I S E M E N T **************************************************************************

Another book we’ve been reading together as a devotional is “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper.  It is challenging and asks the question: Is Jesus worth giving everything up for?  We would all say, “Yes”!  But I have to ask myself, does my life show that I really believe it?  We want to reflect the Glory of our loving God and the blazing center of His Glory is the cross of Jesus Christ.  We are most satisfied and full of Joy when we do this.

We are very grateful for your prayers.  We are not without attacks from the evil one but we are learning that God will take the effort that Satan would use to ruin us, or our witness, and turn them into growing times if we recognize them for what they are and then respond in obedience to our Heavenly Father.  Pray that we will continually be made into the image of Christ.

The guys have been busy in the next dorm to be repaired.  They have been cleaning, painting and repairing ceilings in some of the rooms.  We were finally able to secure funds to buy paint and flooring tiles.

Without going into a lot of detail, the cash flow in Zimbabwe is struggling.  We’ve had funds in the bank, but it has been difficult to access it.  We are now able to do a transfer from the bank to a business for such supplies as needed without having to actually have cash dollars on hand.  It’s a slower process and takes a few days between picking out what we need, and actually being able to collect it. But at least we are back in business after a couple weeks of very little activity in the dorm.

Thank you for praying for our friend Mondreck.  He is improving but still in the hospital.  Today marks three weeks since he was admitted.  Hopefully he will be released before Christmas, but so far, we’ve not heard that.

There were about 30 high school aged students and their adult leaders on campus for about 5 days having a retreat of sorts, since they are on break from school until mid-January.  They wanted to hear about Rebecca’s work with the sewing group that has been formed on campus.  Three of the women were invited to come to one of their gatherings to share how they got started, what it means for them and how it has impacted their families.  It was nice to be able to encourage the young people and to spur them to think of ways they might become successful in business.

We have been invited to spend Christmas day lunch with our next door neighbors.  They take such good care of us, inviting us for dinner, sharing in birthdays and other celebrations, etc.  Actually, they pretty much spoil us, and I have to admit, we love it!!  They cook and bake such wonderful meals and treats, it is hard to resist! But then, why would we want to?

We hope and pray that everyone reading this letter will experience one of the best Christmases you can remember.  On Friday, in our morning devotions with the guys, Rebecca will be reading the Christmas story from Luke, chapter 2.  May each of you take a few minutes to read it also, to yourself or sitting in front of your Christmas tree to the whole gathering of family and friends, and reflect what this season represents.  May your day be filled with blessings and friends and food and fun!

We love you all and miss you like crazy!!

Merry Christmas!!

Rebecca and Jeff

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

December newsletter, 12/12/2016

It has been an interesting couple of weeks since we last communicated.  As most of you know one of the men that Jeff works with has been dealing with swollen prostate glands and infected kidneys.  We have spent a lot of time at the hospital with him.  We praise God that he is looking and feeling a lot better but we haven’t heard from the Dr. yet and today or tomorrow they will do a needle biopsy to make sure it isn’t cancer.  Hopefully he will be released by the weekend.

Rebecca has been working quite a bit in the library on campus. A Bible school in the States donated 2500 books to our library.  She has learned the program for entering the new books into the system and works on it for a 3-4 hours nearly every day.  Labels have to be attached to the outside of the books, and in most cases new pockets and circulation cards are added. There are a few hundred books already shelved.

Earlier this week we had another close call when another one of our men was trying to pull some weeds that were tangled around the front wheel of the lawn mower and got his fingers too close to the blade and cut the ends of two fingers.  It was very close and while it was a pretty bad cut it could have been a lot worse.  This makes me shudder every time I think about it.  We praise God that it wasn’t worse.  Our Heavenly Father is taking care of us in a very wonderful and real way.

Our brother, Mundreck, is still in the hospital but seems to be doing better.  It seems that his system is responding to the antibiotics and medication.  We appreciate your continued prayers.  It is such an encouragement to us and to him when I tell him that people on the other side of the world are praying for him.

The children at Archbold Evangelical Church raised funds this past summer at Vacation Bible School to purchase flannel graph sets for the children of Africa.  We brought 5 kits of them with us.  Rebecca has been instrumental at getting them ready to distribute.  Two of the kits have been cut apart, sorted and put into a filing system of ZipLoc bags.  (There are close to 500 pieces for each kit to cut out and sort.) Two of the recipient churches provided lots of help to cut and sort all the felt figures. Jeff made display boards that can stand on a table, covered with flannel, to place the felt pieces on, to teach the children 182 Bible stories.  The remaining 3 kits will be distributed to rural churches throughout the country.  Already there was one kit that the team brought last January that is being shared by 5 different churches.  I imagine these 3 kits will be similarly distributed. The 3rd of 5 kits is almost ready to go.

We ask for prayers concerning the financial situation here in Zimbabwe.  They have changed over to their own currency and the banks don’t have very much in US dollars left.  They have only put out one and two dollar notes so far so it is hard to get cash to do business.  The banks are severely limiting how much cash you can withdraw each day.  Sometimes only $30 can be taken out.  And the lines at the banks are horrendously long.  We’ve heard of people standing in line for 3 hours or longer, only to be able to get such a small amount.  And then it’s not uncommon to get it all in coins.  Needless to say the business community is suffering a lot. If you have a card to swipe at the stores, it works like a debit card that we would have at home.  We have been trying to get one of those swipe cards since we got back here.  At first, the bank was out of them, then they said once they got some more, they didn’t work.  For the last couple weeks we’ve not heard anything about it.

The rains continue to fall and the ground soaks it up quickly.  Temperatures have been cooler than usual which is welcome relief.  One drawback is that we have no way to control temperatures/humidity in the house except to open and close doors and windows as needed, and put on warmer clothes when the temperature dips.  The humidity has been high with the rains that we’ve been having.  Some nights when we go to bed, everything feels damp and cool.  It reminds me of those camping trips when you crawl into bed and it just feels wettish. (I’m sure that’s a word, because I used it in a complete sentence.) So, it’s been somewhat uncomfortable on several nights, but at least we aren’t having to shovel snow like our friends at home.

A new thing we have started to do recently is to pray for the world, one country at a time.  The idea came out of our reading of Radical by David Platt.  If you Google “Operation World”, it will bring up a calendar of sorts, with the country of the day.  The page will give a map to show where the country is along with many statistics, suggestions of what to pray for the people, etc.  It’s interesting to see how God’s sense of humor shines through in the little things.  I missed this part of the Radical book the first time we read it a few years ago, probably because I didn’t want to take The Radical Experiment (See chapter 9). Anyway, it talks about the book, Operation World.  Two weeks ago it didn’t make a lick of sense to me, I wouldn’t have known the book if it jumped out in front of me.  BUT since I have been working in the library, I saw it on a stack of books and recognized it right away!  That is God’s sense of humor, don’t you think?  He puts me in the exact position to notice something that I otherwise wouldn’t have bothered with, and it’s exactly what was laid on our hearts to be doing. God is so Awesome!!!! For your information, Dec 24 and 25 are days to pray for the country of Zimbabwe.  We just finished 5 days of prayer for the United States.

The evil one would love to discourage us and all of Zimbabwe but we are renewed daily by the power of His Spirit and our joy is increased beyond measure as we reflect His Glory which is seen best in the cross of Jesus Christ.  Time is short and we feel a real sense of urgency to reflect God’s Glory to a lost and dying world.  We want to run hard toward the finish line so as to finish strong.

With that, we are signing off, and wishing you all a great week as you ready yourselves for Christmas day.  Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season!

Love and blessings,

Jeff and Rebecca

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Prayer Warriors needed!!!!

Hello, my dear prayer warriors!

One of the maintenance men that Jeff has been working with since the first day we’ve been here needs serious prayer right now!  He has been battling with multiple issues for several months now and he is in a crisis now.  Jeff took him to the hospital yesterday and they ran all kinds of blood and urine tests to see what is going on.  Today, they went back to get results.  Jeff just texted that they are admitting him for observation. He has a 50/50 chance that his kidneys will recover.  He has been in this place before and it looks like we are seeing a relapse of kidney failure, prostate problems, etc..

Please pray for the doctors to know what to do for Mondrek.  Pray that God will touch Mondrek’s body and heal him.  Pray for his body to respond to treatments, and to restore the strength of his body.  Also, pray for Jeff.  He’s struggling with the thought of losing this very dear friend of ours. Mondrek is 63 years old.

Thank you all for your prayers!!!

rebecca

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Healing Rain and Thanksgiving

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is this week.  It obviously is not a holiday here, and we probably won’t do much on the exact day, but is serves to remind us that Christmas is rapidly coming also.  It’s hard to think about those holidays when it is so hot!  By now, if I were at home, I would have been listening to Christmas music for many weeks already, as I make handmade gifts for family and friends.  As it is, I only have a fraction of the Christmas albums that I own loaded in my music on computer, so I don’t want to listen to them too early and (heaven forbid) get tired of them before Christmas gets here.

About a week ago on Friday at about 3:30 in the afternoon, we felt the first drops of rain. This time it lasted more than just a few minutes.  We were praying that it would rain all the rest of Friday and through the night. And it did! Praise God!  Beautiful, wet, refreshing, cooling, healing rain!  I awoke several times in the night to hear the rain gushing off the roof into the puddle by the sidewalk.  At one point, towards daybreak, I got out of bed and stood at the living room window, just to watch it. We are truly thankful for what is the first real rainfall of the rainy season, and pray for many more of those rains to come. And now, little more than a week later, and having had a few more rains since that one, the grass is turning green again, the poinsettia bushes in the yard are leafing out, mangoes are getting close to being ripe on the trees, and I’m starting to see the tiniest avocados beginning to form.

Of course we were abruptly reminded that we live in Zimbabwe as often when it rains like that, we lose electricity.  Friday evening it left without warning.  One minute you’re sitting in the lighted room reading a book and the next you are sitting in complete darkness, not even able to see the book in your hands.  And then we laugh and say to each other, “Welcome to Zimbabwe!”  The electric was out for a couple hours, but it did come back on before we retired for the night, but went out again sometime during the night and came back on after my first cup of coffee early on Saturday morning.  It’s the difference between heating water for coffee on the gas stove (the old fashioned way), or heating it in the electric pot.

We had exterminators on the campus last week, spraying for termites, and providing rat and mice killer for all the homes on campus.  Jeff put some of the “food balls” up in the attic in the house here.  The next day I heard what sounded like some rather large mice (OK, maybe rats, I don’t want to think about it) playing a game of soccer up above our bedroom.  Like they were rolling the stuff around and chasing after it.  My hope was that they would eat the stuff.  Well, they must have, because it’s been strangely quiet since then.  That stuff works pretty well.

That pretty much brings you up to date.  Blessings to all of you on this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day!  Eat some turkey and dressing for us! And pumpkin pie for dessert.

Jeff and Rebecca

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

This is the day. . .

November 8, 2016

This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

One of my favorite times here is when I can sit on the shaded front porch in the cooling afternoon when there is a nice breeze and do some hand stitching or reading. It is there when I can listen to some good old Gospel music, tap a foot and sew the binding on my most recent wall hanging project. There is a story behind the Gospel music even.  Many years ago, our friend Judy’s dad was at Fairlawn Nursing facility.  We had gotten in the habit of going with her to take her dad to the Hymn Sings on Sunday evenings.  When we first started going, I knew very few of the hymns, and usually didn’t want to go, but went anyway, because I knew that’s what my friends wanted to do.  Gradually, as the years went by, Jeff was asked to lead it from time to time, and I helped him pick out some of the songs . . . always my favorite few.  As time went on, I learned to love the messages the songs spoke of.  Of Jesus’ unfailing love for us, of our longing to spend time with Him, and looking forward to Heaven in the hereafter, for all of eternity. At the same time I was watching Gaither Homecoming videos and listening to the various individuals and groups that sang because of Bill and Gloria Gaither’s ministry.  So I fell in love with the old hymns.  I eventually collected a large amount of CD’s and that is my favorite “go to” music now. Recently, I stumbled on a CD set that was originally recorded by some of the voices I heard on the radio that my dad listened to.  Country Gospel. It could be called “Twangy” at best, but some of my Gospel hymns anyway. So, while I still listen to my old favorite Country and folk singers, like The Statler Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys, Randy Travis (who have all recorded Spiritual records) and Gordon Lightfoot, my first choice of music is the old hymns and contemporary music.

I was invited to a “baby welcome” on Saturday.  Like a baby shower, only after the baby has arrived.  Quite different than you would experience in the States.  The event was supposed to be from 1:00-4:00.  I went with my neighbors who suggested that we plan on going at 1:30.  Because time here is practically non-existent, nothing starts when it’s supposed to.  So we were “fashionably late”, but we were still very early.  There were only a few others there when we got there.  At first I felt bad for the new mother that only a few of us showed up.  Well, nothing happened while we were passing the baby around and time went on until about 2:30 when they decided to start the party.  More women had showed by then.  The “MC” opened with a word of prayer, then another led us in three worship songs, two in Shona language and one in English, none of which I was familiar with.  We took turns introducing ourselves, telling where we are from and where we live now. There were only a handful of us who didn’t speak Shona, so there was an interpreter, who kept looking as me as if I were the only one.  Being the only white person in the room, I guess she thought I was the only one who didn’t understand what was being said.  Anyway, after the singing, Mrs. MC gave a short Bible reading and preached about the importance of children and raising them up properly. As the new mother opened her gifts, she had to try to feel what was in the gift by feeling and squeezing it.  That was kind of fun. . . everything became a “romper”. As she opened the gifts, whoever gave the gift was encouraged to give her a bit of advice about taking care of the new little guy.  She got some good suggestions. Finally, at 3:30 they served some snacks.  But there was no cake in sight.  I thought that was odd.  While that was going on, the MC was a seller of dresses, so she had a few suitcases of dresses out on the veranda, and several women were “shopping”.  As the 4 of us worked our way to the door at about 4:15, the mother’s sister arrived with a cake. So we stayed for a bit longer and got some cake.  The whole afternoon was an experience like none other. Very interesting.

Rebecca and I have been rereading a book called “Radical” by David Platt.  We have been talking about the great commission and reevaluating the command to make disciples.  God has been dealing with us as we pray more for the individuals that He brings us in contact with, realizing that each are divine appointments.  We have watched as He brings back His word to our minds and given us what each person needs.  The most exciting thing is the promise of Christ to be with us even until the end of the age.  If we want to be next to Jesus we need to get into the battle because that is where He is.  We understand that this is going to make the evil one step up his attacks and because of the armor of Christ we are prepared and rejoice and run to Jesus.

With the elections on Tuesday, we pray thanking God that He is in control, and that whoever wins this election, that it will be God’s will.  However He chooses to use the next president, we can be assured that it will be what He allows. His ultimate plan will be played out.  In the Gospel of John, chapter 16, vs 33, Jesus tells His disciples “That you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”  Personally, we will be glad just to have elections over. Exercise your right to vote!  We did!

God bless you all richly this week.

Jeff and Rebecca

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Week 3

After such a busy last week, we were hoping for some down time on Sunday, but then we invited our Worship Pastor and his family to lunch at our house. We spent the entire day with them catching up on happenings in our absence.  It was into the evening hours when we finally said good-by.

Monday, October 24

Another busy day.  We met with Elder Samuel Grottis, who is the person we report to while we are here in Zimbabwe.  He wanted to bring us up to date on what has been happening at the college and then to catch up on what we are planning to do during our stay this time here.

Before we got back to the campus, a team from Partners Worldwide were visiting the sewing ladies and interviewing them, taking pictures and some video for upcoming publication.  When we returned from our meeting, I was called in to be in some of the photos, showing what an average day might look like working with the women. While I was being filmed, Jeff was speaking with the script writer giving him some of my background and how it happened that I began working with these women.  It will be next year before all the pieces are put together and finalized.  The small group are traveling to 4 countries doing the same thing with other groups of small business owners and savings groups.  I feel honored that they would include my group.

Tuesday, October 25

The children in our home church, Archbold Evangelical Church, collected money during this summer’s VBS (Vacation Bible School) programs for missions.  What they decided to do with the raised funds was to purchase flannel graph sets for some of the churches here.  We brought 5 kits with us to distribute, organize and train the Sunday school teachers how to use them. Today I worked with the first of 5 churches to receive the kits. There are over 350 pieces to get cut out. We didn’t finish on Tuesday, so we met again on Wednesday to finish cutting and then sort the pieces by number and category and bag them up.  Funny thing was, we had lots of little pieces left over whose numbers were unrecognizable.  I’m still not sure everything is in the correct bag.

I hope to meet with our home church here (Fountain of Hope) soon and get their kit cut and sorted out. The ones I worked with already are eager to use them, seeing the value of the visuals for the children.

Thursday, October 27

I finally got to spend some leisurely time with the sewing group.  There were only a few there for the day, but it was very nice to get back with them and spend some time sewing with them again.

The maintenance men have been working on the old greenhouse, welding some areas that have been weakened or broken.  They are making it much sturdier than it was. Once they are finished with that, it will get a new skin of plastic and they can put it into use again.  But for now, the new greenhouse that was installed while we were here earlier this year is growing tomatoes.  The crop is just beginning to ripen and they are selling them outside the front gate.  Once they begin to ripen in full force, they have an agreement to sell them to our local grocery store.

Friday, October 28

We got a call from our friend Dr. Marj Pettinger, from Canada, who is a professor here at the college.  She had been in an accident and was pretty shook up.  We hurried to the scene and spent the rest of the day with her until she was settled down.  She was unharmed and her vehicle wasn’t hurt either.  The other driver wasn’t hurt either but his car was damaged a lot.  God was in control and protected both.  It reminded us how much we need our Heavenly Father and to cling to him moment by moment.

Blessings to you all!

Jeff and Rebecca

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Update, October 14-24, 2016

Hello prayer warriors!

We arrived on schedule Tuesday and everything we packed made it at the same time and in great shape.  Thanks for your prayers that carried us here.  The best things about the trip was that we each had an extra check bag that we thought sure we’d have to pay for, but to our delighted surprise there were no fees for the extra bags.  One of the other blessings was that once we got here, we breezed thru the immigration line, collecting our luggage and waltzing out of the airport without any hassles!! You’d have to fly into Zimbabwe perhaps, to really appreciate that!  We were so quick getting out that our ride wasn’t even here yet.  Which was okay.  We usually plan on 15-30 minutes for all the above to take place and this time it didn’t!  Praising God for that!

Down side is there were many things I had forgotten to pack.  Some things I thought I had, others were last minute items that just got forgotten.  Some OTC things like Day Quil, Ny Quil, Allergy meds, etc.  Then there were things like sunglasses, Goo Gone, some stuff I copied off to bring for quilting, and just odds and ends. I noticed the sunglasses were missing as soon as we walked out of the airport.  The sun is bright here.  And then, somewhere along the way, I started sneezing a lot and now have a head cold.  I think because we didn’t sleep well on the planes, we were just exhausted allowing me to catch someone’s germs.  But I’m hoping to get over it quickly with some of the OTC drugs here.  We spent our first few days getting unpacked and settled, shopping for absolute necessities, and groceries so I can start cooking.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My health has improved, but my sinuses are still wreaking havoc, and a bit of a cough going on.  But I am feeling stronger.

There was an issue with the bore hole (well) when we returned.  We replaced a burned up pump and motor and the control unit.  This control unit will automatically shut off the pump if there is no water.  Within a day, all the tanks on campus were filled and running freely.  But there is a serious drought happening here. We cannot ask too much for prayers for the rains to come.

While we were gone home, the library has been undergoing a transformation.  There was a shipment of 2500 books from a Bible College in Canada arrived and new bookshelves have been built and put in place to house them all.  There is still cataloging and shelving happening to make them available to the students and anyone else on campus who choose to read them.  Many Pastors visit the campus weekly and use the reference materials for preparing Sunday sermons.  Jeff and I have also used many of the books in the past 2 years that we’ve been here. With my library experience at the church at home, I’ve volunteered to help in the process to get them done.  They have also painted walls and floors and generally spruced up the building.  I have been asked to help the women to make curtains for all the windows.  That will be a challenge that I believe we can make happen.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Jeff and I took part in a “Clean-up Day” Down at the shops.  All the PACC Faculty, Staff, Workers and students were involved.   We all received green T-Shirts to wear.  We were divided up into teams to either rake, sweep, pick up trash or hand out flyers.  It was a day planned to help beautify the shops in our area, show the love of Jesus to the people there, and also do some advertising for the school.  A lunch of chicken, potatoes and rice with coleslaw on the side was prepared for us when we returned to the school. Ice cream and cookies were for dessert.  It was a good day for building relationships between the school and community, but also to draw the participants into closer relationship.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Our church conference, PAOZ (Pentecostal Assembly of Zimbabwe) held a walk for breast cancer awareness in the morning.  Being a cancer survivor, it didn’t take long to decide to participate in the activities of the day.  During the walk (about 5K) we handed out small flyers and pink ribbons to make people aware of cancer of all kinds.  After the walk, which was held in the city of Harare, there was a program telling us about some resources for scanning that are available in the area.  After prayer we were blessed with cupcakes and fruit, coffee and water.  A very worthwhile program and we are so glad we joined in the activities.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

AS if the week wasn’t full of enough activity for us, we awoke shortly after midnight to a fire burning in the trees and bushes of our next door neighbors.  We fought the fire with a water hose from the garden and a real life bucket brigade.  I believe that if it weren’t for the new pump and motor we would have run out of water before we ran out of flames.  Not having a real fire department in the area, it was up to us to put the flames out ourselves. Jeff called for help from a maintenance man on campus who brought a large fire extinguisher from the classrooms which helped tremendously.  It has been so dry and the area had not seen rain for months, literally months!  In fact, after the last rainy season, it was officially declared a drought due to the severe lack of rains. But several of us were praying that God would send the rain and we all witnessed the miracle as we started feeling drops of water on our bare arms and then it picked up into real rain, fire squelching rain!!  Hallelujah!!  Praise our Living God!!  We also Praise God that nothing else caught fire from the embers that the wind was blowing everywhere and that no one was hurt.

Praying for a less busy week!

Blessings to you all!

Jeff and Rebecca

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized