It was a great privilege for me to travel to Bulawayo in the month of May and visit the ongoing work of the Themba Team as they serve and care for our children. It was a time of meeting with each team member, including the volunteers Lynn and Skha, to visit in the homes of some of the children, and to share in the excitement of the Bible Quiz. I was able to travel there with long-time supporters of the ministry, Holden and Priscilla MacRae. We had a rich and productive time in all that we were able to experience in just a few days.
I was greatly encouraged, as was the team in Bulawayo. I would like to share some of our joys with you in this email.
Bible Quiz (Friday afternoon)
The annual Bible Quiz was the first day of our arrival.
6 teams, sitting in their separate areas, competed in answering questions and reciting scriptures. As Similo and Soneni walked among the teams, up front Lynn and Skha recorded the answers and kept score. There was a busy hum in the church auditorium as the children competed with excitement, also laughing and talking quietly among themselves and encouraging each other in their assigned tasks.
The winners were declared and each group received prizes, with the winning group being awarded their special honors. Both Priscilla and Holden were recruited to hand out prizes and congratulate the different children.
It really was a time of joy and excitement for all the children, and for we who watched and were amazed by the children’s enthusiasm and laughter. Truly our God was honored in this time of concentrating on his revealed Word.
The Themba team arranged a breakfast for us to begin our meeting with all the senior children, those who had graduated college and finished different trade schools, along with those who were still studying. After enjoying a great meal, we sat and listened to the seniors and graduates share their appreciation for Themba as they told stories from their own lives.
It was a great joy to me personally to see the fruit of many years of loving these children. I met with children who had come to us as young teenagers and who were now responsible parents and maturing citizens of the community.
But there was discouragement in this meeting too. There were a number of recent graduates that were not able to find jobs that fit their qualifications. One example – after receiving a degree in physics, Silence is now teaching high school sciences. No job available yet.
We need much prayer for this situation.
Visits to the homes
After a quick lunch, Priscilla and I headed out with Cornelious and Similo to visit one of the homes.
Dora Ndlovu lives in the Burumbo Flats (“Poverty Flats”) and cares for 4 grandchildren from 4 of her own children who have died. Both she and one of her grandsons are HIV+, she is doing better but her grandson is not. (Both have been close to death in this last year.) It was a time for us to encourage them and to explore possible solutions to some of the problems. The one grandson who is ill (Mayibongwe, upper middle) is discouraged. You can see it so plainly in his face. And the other grandson (not presently in the program) is without work and is constantly looking for small jobs to bring funds into the family.
Dora sells vegetables and the 3 younger children go to school. — One of the bright spots in this family, besides the obvious love of Dora for God and for her grandchildren, is her granddaughter Future (in the lower middle). She has a gorgeous smile and her face is always bright and laughing.
In spite of the distressing situation in the family, there is love for all to go around. Mayibongwe and his cousin need much prayer, as does Dora. She is a tender grandmother who struggles to care for her 4 orphaned grandchildren.
Please pray for Dora and her grandchildren.
Since the MacRae’s have supported the AOM ministry for many years, they were a part of all the church planting done by Allen and the ZCF churches. So it was wonderful when we met with two urban churches and were able to preach and share God’s Word. All of us spoke to the people, with Holden and Priscilla sharing together their encouragement for the Christians.
Some of the rural leaders traveled in to meet with us, and it was so wonderful for me to see men whom I haven’t seen since losing Allen. It was a sad but very good time of meeting together around the throne of our God.
It still amazes me how our true God can bring together our hearts in love and appreciation for one another while we are so very different and live 1,000’s of miles from one another.
God is Great and Good!
Sunday night with Denis
and Sandy Paul.
We took the opportunity to travel out to the Matopos Hills’ home of Denis Paul, a 45 minute drive out of Bulawayo, where he runs a Lodge (Shumba Shava) for tourists. A family meal with Denis is served for dinner and breakfast and then there is time to watch the sun set, and then rise again in the morning out the glass walls of our individual cabins.
Time at Shumba Shava is a special experience for most who come to visit at Denis’. We all enjoyed it and the MacRae’s were able to get to know and appreciate Denis and his wife Sandy .
The MacRae’s left for the airport on Monday, flying back to South Africa to continue their visit with friends and relatives. It was a wonderful time of sharing and seeing the children, Themba team and churches. I was blessed by having them there, and the whole of Themba appreciated them so much.
I am very grateful for this opportunity to return to Bulawayo and to the people I love and miss so much. It was indeed a rich time.