Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Yesterday I read an article from a Zim online news site. It is called “Can I have a Dollar please?” If you want to read it, and I suggest that you do, you can find it at zimbabwejournalists.com. The gist of the story is that the writer looks at the hard times that everyone is feeling but especially in the rural areas. A cousin, who was only 37 years old dies. This brings a rare occasion for those in the city and those in the rural areas together. So the writer shares the story of how his uncle, who use to live in the village recognizes one of the grave diggers, a former classmate is elementary school. They catch up on old times and this man, aged and broken over the burdens of life in the rural areas asks for a dollar. The request makes him uncomfortable but he asks anyway. He only wanted one dollar. He had never even seen a dollar before. Why did he want a dollar? To process Maize-Meal so he could have Sadza, a thick doughy substance that is the staple food in Zim. Everyone eats Sadza. Yet he needed a dollar to process the maize meal so it could become Sadza. Since he couldn’t afford it, he and his family had been eating boiled maize meal. The only thing I can compare it to for us in the States is being used to eating mashed potatoes growing up and then having only the ability to eat raw potatoes because you lacked one thing to have it mashed. One dollar because his children want Sadza instead of boiled maize meal. Needless to say, that dollar that I looked at as I used other cash to pay for my DP’s makes me uncomfortable in my comfortable re-entry to the US.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Without him, we're kind of in a holding pattern. We went to a flea market and mall today. You can tell the economy has really impacted people here. Many shops were closed and Mrs Hodzi told me it use to be very busy here. The traffic lights don't even work in many places because there is no money to change the lights. They are using US currency but they don't print it and its hard for them to make change here. No banks and no ATM's. I actually found a 50 billion Zimbabwe dollar on the ground. It's worthless. The average income per month here is 100 US dollars a month.
Many are suffering but they are such a happy and friendly people too. If you know Thomas than you know Zimbabweans. Kind, sacrificial and very sweet. Even in the flea market where I was enjoying bartering, they were friendly and I never felt pushed (which is different for flea markets).
Well, its two more days here and I leave to come home. I am homesick but mostly I miss my wife. It will be a great Sunday! I'll try and update before I head out but I'll have much to say when I am home and able to post pictures.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
As far as updates, we visited an Aids Hospital and then an orphanage for mentally handicapped children. Both were sobering. You could sense the fear that the Aids patients were going through. We prayed with a couple of them. At the orphanage, we spent some time playing with the children. Most have been abandoned and abused. One little boy is both physically and mentally handicapped. He was living in a chicken coup when the orphanage found him. His name is "Blessing" and followed us around in his wheelchair.
What often happens is because of the economic conditions, most people cannot even get food for themselves. Often, children are without both parents because they have died of Aids. Those who are mentally handicapped are at the bottom rung and often neglected among the orphans. There is much ministry here that includes social ministries along with equipping the church to do these outreaches. It has been insightful to see Thomas and a very real sense of compassion for these people, especially the mentally handicapped.
Well, I have so much to write but I'll do so later. Again, please be praying for Thomas and for the rest of us too.
Monday, June 8, 2009
The place we stayed at was a training center that many came to from a long ways away. Some even walked miles to this. It was humbling to be there. They were more on the charismatic side of life and I don't think they even knew expository preaching. In fact, a missionary I spoke with here says that he knows of only two people in the country who preach out of the Bible in an exposition fashion. So, for me, it was a reminder of how blessed I am to have studied at Masters and how blessed I am with Pastor Bob. I hope we were an encouragement. I spoke out of Romans 12 (Don't be conformed but transformed) and Colossians 1 (learning how to pray from Paul's prayer).
On Sunday, we went to church about an hour and a half away. At this church, we praised God, heard testimonies and Thomas preached from Romans 5 and the benefits of justification. During the testimony times, one lady stood up and shared that she was HIV positive and her children are positive too. Yet she praised God for how good He is to her and her children. I talked with the pastor and many in the churches are HIV positive. In fact, 1 in 4 are positive in Zimbabwe. This made me think of what would we do if someone in our own church stood up and shared about HIV. How would we treat them, how would we respond, how would we minister to them? This is a big problem here. It is not just ministry to those who are infected outside the church but many within. It will be a big issue for Thomas to think through too.
Today is a day of rest. God knew something when He instituted the Sabbath. It was much needed and we have had good fellowship with our host families.
Thank you for praying and for leaving comments. I enjoy reading them. Also, thanks to my wife for posting for me and for allowing me the opportunity to come here.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Many thanks to all of you who are praying for him and the team. Both of us are most grateful for each one of your prayers. It's been a blessing to hear what's been going on. I believe God has a great plan for ministry in Zimbabwe! I'm so glad that Thomas wants to return home and that COC has a tremendous opportunity to be apart.
Here's the latest:
- Friday night Jason preached last minute to 60 youths. He gave his testimony, had a Q & A and taught out of Romans 12:1-2 with the title "Two Decisions Every Christian Should Make". The main points were: 1) Decide to Be Committed to God & 2) Decide to be Changed by God's Word.
- On Saturday morning the team will travel about 5 hours south of Harare into rural Zimbabwe to preach at a Pastors Conference. There will be about 70 - 90 pastors from around the country. They greatly desire Leadership training so Jason's messages will be geared around what Pastors should be and what Pastors should do.
That's all I have for now but I'll keep you updated as I get word of Team Z's activities. Sam Minyard should be leaving either today or tomorrow to join the group soon. Please remember him in your prayers this weekend.
Thanks again from a grateful wife!
So, I am feeling much better. I had a great nights sleep and have not had any issues at all today. I have a last minute "youth group" preaching event tonight and I'll be preaching on Romans 12 challenging the youth to be completely committed and continually changed.
So my funny story will also be a transparent story. One of the encouragments that I got from Dr. Halstead's updates in India was how he was struggling and what he was learning about himself and God. The same is true for me here. Zimbabwe is worse than I thought it would be. It really is devastated here. Sometimes I felt like I was in the movie Black Hawk down without the guns. However, although the country is in such terrible conditions, the people are sweet and generous. I enjoy them very much.
So, when we arrived in Zimbabwe it was late at night, we were tired and for Zimbabweans, it takes a really long time to do anything. Much different for us "go...go...go" Westerners. So it took forever just to leave the airport. We dropped Dany off at a wonderful older couples house. Then on the way to my place, we got lost, were in the "high density" areas which is what we would call a combination of Ghetto and Slum. On the way there, Thomas states that he thought it would be neat for me to stay here. In my mind I thought, "neat for who?" Then, he and the other people in the car mention that the place I will stay at got robbed last night. So I asked, what does that mean, robbed when they were home or away. The answer...while they slept?!?! Then, my stomach starts churning from something I ate in South Africa. I thought I was going to have an accident. By the time we arrive at my place, which they decided to change since the other place got robbed, I was in serious pain. As we approach this very torn down place, they also said the electricy had been shut off and didn't know when it would be turned on. I mentioned to Thomas that I had to use the restroom and it was an emergency. So I get into the bathroom, with no lights and the toilet doesn't work unless you pour water into the tank. So I get them to show me, finally use it and try to flush......no flush. So, with a red face I go out and ask for help. I finally am shown to my room, no light, bad stomach issues, fearful of getting robbed and now alone...to think. I start to wonder if I caught Cholera already and what would I do if I had it. Needless to say, it was a struggle but God reminded me of His control and that even though this was an extremely uncomfortable situation, I was in His plan. It also gave me time to think about how comfortable I am. Even when I have gone to places were they have serious issues, I've always stayed in decent places. Yet how fortunate we are to have so much, even a working toilet and light. The people I stayed with the first night were so kind, made sure I was okay, cooked me breakfast and will be at the pastor's conference on Saturday which is 5 hours away from them. THey have nothing yet the husband took off work and they were so kind.
So, that is my story of a difficult night. No sleep but plenty of time to think, pray, confess and praise the Lord. Why does it take things like that to be thankful?
I hope that was an encouragement. I am thankful for all of your prayers. I called Steph last night and she was such an encouragement to me. I am blessed to have such a wife. I am blessed to have great friends who will read this and pray. I am blessed to be here among people who have so little but give so much. There is much to do here, much ministry to plan out and I am thankful our church will partner here.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I am in Zimbabwe but am struggling a bit. Not sure how much I can write but I'll try to post quickly. We got in to Harare and the city is worse than I thought. There are some sweet Christians here though. Dany got to stay with a wonderful old couple in a really nice place. Thomas stayed with his mom. It was really cool to see their reunion after 7 years. I am having some stomach issues and will post more about my difficult evening later but boy are there some funny stories. I'm not feeling that well, missing my wife and am having trouble sleeping. Except for that, we have had some great meetings with people and today I was very encouraged as we met with a like minded national missionary who has been doing ministry in Harare for 20 years. Tonight are more meetings so please pray for us and I would especially like your prayers for me. It really does force you to remember how comfortable you are in the states when you are in challenging circumstances. It really is an honor to be here and I am excitied for what God has in store for Zimbabwe, Thomas and our church.