Sunday, 25 November 2012


Counting down.... U.K. Here we come! Not long now....
This will be the last blog before we get back because I will be packing!!! We are soooooo looking forward to seeing all our friends and family and.... getting water out of the taps, eating cheese, butter and lamb, driving on smooth roads with NO road blocks, not having to queue up to pay bills every month, buying with plastic! The list goes on but.... we're NOT looking forward to being COLD! Its in the high 30's here but still no rain of any consequence so the maize hasn't been planted yet and the optimum time is before the 25th of November, so please pray with us for that!
Some of the cabbages yet to be planted
Zenzo said this was worse than going to the gym! (aching legs)
Here you can see (from the left) Lewis,  Zenzo and Kilion planting 3,000 cabbages on Lewis' plot. The next day they planted bush beans, beetroot and carrots. Behind them is spinach which is just coming to an end. Its great to be able to go and pick fresh vegetables for ourselves and the workers, just like at home!
Last week I was able to visit Morning Star, a farm in the Motopos owned by Chris and Norma (surname unknown!) I went with Ruth Biddulph who has been out here for 18months with BMS. She and her husband have had their work permits refused and have their second appeal in to Immigration who seem to be refusing to make any decisions at the moment with elections pending. So poor Brad and Ruth return to The UK a week after us not knowing if they can return. They expect a baby in March so will not be back until June even if they are allowed. We will miss them alot as they come to Thembalezizwe and are great fun. Brad has also been invaluable to Dave in the building process, so we are really hoping we see them again out here.
Helping the sewing ladies.
At Morning Star, Norma has been running a sewing group with some ladies for the past 3 years, so I was picking her brains and loved seeing the things they have made. When we visited the ladies were making Christmas tree garlands using fabric, beads and seeds. They get a small share of the profits and really make a social occasion of their weekly get together. They are all HIV positive and bring their babies with them. They also take extra work home with them to sew by hand. I'd love to see a similar thing happening inTrenance in the future to empower ladies there. The most difficult thing is to find a market for what is produced as Bulawayo does not have any tourist industry to speak of any more and nobody has any cash. So it will need some thought and investigation.
The whole group plus babies

What a lovely blanket!
On her last trip home Ruth had collected some beautiful hand made blankets that her Mother-in- law had made with ladies from her village in Devon.
Here she is presenting one to a girl from the local

village. She is an unmarried mother of 17 and her little boy is 4 months old. This time last year she was still in school but had to leave in February.
Chris and Norma also do alot of work with the local schools and have won some funding from the Roger Federa Foundation for the next three years to upgrade the schools and put training in place for the teachers.

The farm is in a beautiful setting in the Motopos but they too are having difficulties with water as their borehole is very low due to the lack of rains in this area. In Harare they have had quite a bit already!

Pleased to say the children's shelter at 1BD is now complete and they have been using it for the past 2 Sundays.

The chicken at Edmunds are growing fast after a set back with diseased and are now on a countdown to Christmas! Which brings me back to the beginning........ We are definitely counting down!!
P.S. I am finishing this off on Sunday 25th and it is raining raining raining!!!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Chick, chick,chick,chi-i-i-i-i-i-icken

As I am truly English I will talk about the weather first! It has warmed up a lot this week after a cool one last week. The trees and grass are greening up after a few showers but the real rains haven't arrived yet. We are hopeful that these will come next week so that Dave (not him personally) can get the maize planted. The men at 1BD site have dug 36,700  holes and put in fertilizer ready for the seeds! That's a lot of holes.. 5 acres of land in all.

They are now trying to complete the house ready for Tendai and Taurai to move in. The wall are being painted as we speak, but not by me, this time thank goodness! I have, however, been painting walls all of last week as a young man moved into our cottage in the garden yesterday. He is a friend of X and was wanting some independence from family. He is a member of New Creation church and seems a really nice guy and has a company car so living this far out isn't a problem to him. We would have loved to offer accommodation to a member of our church but we live the opposite end of the city which would have taken them out of their community and made getting about difficult for them.
The new broiler shed. The far end is sheeted up ready for chicks

Dave (yes he did a lot of the work) has just finished building a new broiler shed at Edmund's house. Last week we put in 350 chicks in his old shed and then 4 days later 500 chicks into the new house. The netting isn't in place on all of it yet as the lady who weaves it hasn't finished! She has a type of loom and makes it for a living. How cool is that!!!
You can see how cold it was last week as the little girl in the front is wearing a dragon suit and a coat!!! But the sun still shines..

Dave and Edmund unpacking the chicks from their boxes
There is a massive market for chicken here at Christmas so that's what these fluffy little things are destined for- -  A Christmas Feast!!    So far the chicken project hasn't made any money as there is always difficulty in getting people to pay up. They take chicken on the promise of payment the next week and next week never comes, so we have learnt the hard way! But we are beginning to build a market with a Supermarket and Hotel, so we don't think we will have any trouble getting rid of this present batch and getting paid.

500 little dickie birds sitting on the floor, one named...

As you can see they have a special drink (which is yellow), during the first few hours to help their stress levels. (I wonder if it works for humans??)     
The congregation at St Peters meeting in Anna's home (tent)
Church is going fine and we are managing to organise  things so that each week someone can get over to St Peters to preach. Graham and Sarah Giles will be the main contacts as they have a real heart for the people there but they are in England for the next 2 months so it is quite challenging for a small church like ours. Its also quite surprising to find that the tin shacks that the people of St Peters vacated are again being lived in by others. 

Playing musical chickens!
Lastly, Kidz Klub is still going well and being enjoyed by the children and adults! Here are a couple of pictures from last Saturday. We had about 70 kids this week and quite a few were new ones which was great. So I'll sign off here until next time......
Tendai and Ruth are chickens!


Monday, 8 October 2012

Exciting news!

Zenzo at 1BD
Meet Zenzo, a young man who has been working at 1BD since we started clearing the site. At first he lived in the building but now he and his wife live 2 hours walk away, but he is always at work by 7.30 when they start. Last week he asked if he could be born again and X, the site manager led him to the Lord!! A great encouragement to Dave and all of us and hopefully the first of many. He is such a hard worker and so appreciates having a job after being out of
work for so long.
                                                                                            The house is being wired and plumbed this week and is progressing well. The children have been meeting there for the past few weeks just to get them out of the sun, but now a start has been made on the children's building so hopefully they will soon have their own place to meet. 
We had an amazing time today, Sunday. Firstly we had our first meeting at St Peters, where the families have been relocated from the shacks. Taurai and Tendai, Graham and Sarah and Diva and Noma went over and they had a great time with 17 adults and 10 children there. So now Thembalezizwe has 3 congregations!
In Trenance, we had a guest speaker, an old friend of Taps, from Harare. The Holy Spirit really fell on people and many were set free and impacted by the message about healing of the heart. many people are bound by jealousy and by things from their past, so it was encouraging to see God moving so powerfully.
Sophie and Hannah outside their school
On Friday we were surrogate grandparents for Hannah and Sophie. Their Dad is an elder in the city church and each year their school has a grandparents day. We had the privilege of standing in as their grandparents are all in the UK. We were treated to tea and cakes, a short concert and then were able to look at their books. It was quite strange to see them still using the old fashioned desks with lids and to be sitting in rows, but it is a good Christian school although the fees are very high. All children have to pay fees each term here in Zim and they seem to go up all the time.

Kidz Klub number 5 went well on Saturday, although we have lost quite a few children to St Peters.
About 5 children brought friends for the first time so we keep encouraging them with extra sweets!!
The helpers are great but I am having a bit of an issue with reliability, so we will have to work on that!
We are well and doing fine. Please keep the comments coming!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Each One Reach One. Teach One

 Sunday 23rd was Vision Sunday for Thembalezizwe and everyone was very excited as both congregations met together. Dave went the extra mile and picked up the people from St. Peters where the squatters are being re-housed. a journey of about 30 k along very rough tracks. It turned out to be a very interesting journey as his brakes failed on the way to church with his loaded truck!! (it turned out that the brake pads had disintegrated in less than 3 months) Thats Zim roads for you!
Taking Communion and praying in groups at Vision Sunday
Despite that we had a great time, where the leaders summed up how far we had come in the last 18months and where we are asking God to take us in the next year or so. They had felt at the beginning of this year that God was putting in front of the church, an open door and there were testimonies of personal breakthroughs as well as a summary of the doors God had opened for us as a church.
All night prayer at Hamara
The congregation over the two sites is now 200 including children. Just 15months ago, when we first visited, it was about 60! God has been so faithful.. Whilst praying, the leaders really felt that God was saying we should be looking to be 400 by Christmas 2013 and in order to get there, Taps was encouraging us with the slogan 'Each one, reach one, teach one'.

This past Friday night we had another all night prayer meeting from 9pm to 5am. I must confess we don't always look forward to these.. It is probably our age! But it was a really powerful and blessed time and the hours just flew past. It was very much focused on reaching out and everyone is really excited about the prospect of another new congregation in St Peters!

The families that have been moved there are desperate for us to start a Sunday meeting there as it is so far out it would cost them too much to come by combi (public transport) and the church does not have the finances to pay for it.
Basically World Vision have put them in tents (plastic draped around poles with a corrugated tin roof) out in the bush with the promise of their own house. The houses haven't been started yet and there are no facilities there. So it is very grim but the people are happy as it will be their own home eventually, but with the rains on the way, we can see disillusionment setting in quite soon.

Taurai is going out tomorrow to see if it is possible to hire a building or the school in the village which is about 3k from where they are living at the moment, to enable us to set up a church meeting on Sundays and on Wednesday Dave is taking him out on a pastoral visit as several of the church members are ill, which isn't really that surprising. There seems to be a lot of sickness around at the moment, probably due to the water cuts. Last week we had water for 3 hours Monday morning and it was then off until Wednesday when again we had 3 hours in the afternoon. Off then until Friday when a trickle came through for 2 hours but it was so brown you didn't even want to wash in it! Then it was off until Saturday lunchtime but on all day Sunday. That was a real blessing as we had a life group BBQ (Dave refuses to call it a braii!) With hangers on and children there were 29 here altogether. It was for Dolly who is in our life group and is leaving to take up a scholarship in the Netherlands to study for a Masters in water management.(or what to do when water eventually comes out of the tap! (joke) ) She is an environmental health officer here. She will be away for 18months and leaves her husband and 6 year old son behind which is very brave. We are thinking of planning a life group outing to visit!!
This Sunday (30th) was Gift Day. The leaders are looking to buy a vehicle for the church (a small truck) in which people can be transported as it is so difficult for the two, let alone three congregations to get together. We often have 20 or so bodies in our Navara but as the church grows the problem will only get bigger!
Spring has arrived now and many of the trees are in blossom, particularly the Jacarandas which are purple and stunning when fully out. All the roads are tree lined here so it is very pretty and amazing to me that things continue to grow after 8 months without water!
A few prayer points.. That we have good rains this year, that we can secure a venue to meet at St Peters and for protection for the families there while the houses are built. Thank you for all your support in prayer and communication. Look forward to your news and comments.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Winning and Losing

I must say, it still feels strange to have reached the beginning of September and not be thinking about a new term, new class etc. I guess that comes from a life-time of teaching and working on a September to July school year. The kids here went back to school on the 11th but their year ends in December. We are still hopeful of starting the Early Child Development Centre in January and are pressing ahead with the application and meeting with local ministers.

Our immediate concern is for the church children on a Sunday, as they have to meet out in the open at the moment and the rains will start in October. (we actually had some drizzle last night!). We have had an increasing number of kids on a Sunday, since we started Kidz Klub and would really like to split them into different age groups. The material they are doing at the moment isn't suitable for all of the children and means basically they sit and listen for about an hour or more in the blazing sun! So the plan is to put up a simple structure that will give them shelter from sun and rain but won't cost the earth. (quite a challenge as materials are so expensive here). This building will be started as soon as the house for Taurai is finished

The house at 1 BD
The house now has a roof and this week the men will start the plumbing. It will be so lovely for Tendai and Taurai to be able to turn taps to get water instead of having to fill large containers from the bore hole and to have hot water and a shower. That is assuming there is water in the taps! The cuts continue and it can be very frustrating as you can't plan showers/hair washing or even clothes washing. I will definitely appreciate these things a lot more when we get home! We are so spoilt in England...

Ears to be proud of!
I have been spending more time at home recently so am pleased to have Izzy for company, although we are having to discipline her a lot at the moment as she has completely made herself at home and thinks she's the boss! She has been waking us up several times in the night knocking at the door to come in and crying most pathetically.. As she is still only 10 months, she is still chewing things and has eaten one cushion from the veranda sofa already, so she is not always too popular with her master and is often compared to Toffee. I try to cover her ears so that her self-image isn't destroyed by these comparisons, but as you can see that's a challenge too as they are the biggest ears I've ever seen on a dog!!

Being at home, has meant that I can also spend time doing some admin. for Taps which I hope will be helpful to him and also the church as a whole. We are counting numbers on Sundays to monitor growth and have devised follow up forms for visitors. We are also asking Life group leaders to fill in attendance forms so that the Elders can see who is and who is not attending, as commitment can be a problem here. Next Sunday is Vision Sunday when we will be joined at Trenance by the Hamara congregation. This will be the first combined service since they planted out last September and we hope we all fit into the building!

Wayne and Wonderman playing with cars
Although the congregation at Trenance is growing and we had 5 people respond to the gospel on Sunday, we are also loosing quite a few families over the next few weeks, as World Vision are re-housing the squatters from the shacks. They are to be re-housed to the West of Bulawayo so most won't be able to afford to travel back on a Sunday.

You may remember Anna with the 9 children, who had a baby a few months ago. She is one of the families to go, but is determined to start a Life group as soon as possible and is praying for a church plant to start there. We will miss her. While Gary and Jess were here we visited her and gave two of her boys (Wayne and Wonderman) some cars that Jake had sent with his sister to give away. They were really happy to have some toys as the weather at the time was too windy for them to play out as it's so dusty here.

Well I'd better sign off here for now. More news soon. Please keep praying for us as we try to serve these lovely people, we appreciate yuor prayers so much. We are now counting off the weeks until Christmas!

Friday, 31 August 2012

More Animal Magic!

What a handsome trio..

No I'm not referring to my son and grandaughter who have just returned to the UK with this title, but the fact that we have seen more amazing animals while they were here! On a trip to Hwange National park, we saw all the usual animals plus a pride of lions with quite young cubs who had made a kill of an elephant just by the waterhole. Jessica loves animals and really enjoyed spotting them with her binoculars. I was so proud of her as she is only nine, and to leave her Mum and brother behind was quite brave of her. It was lovely for me, though as I sometimes became Mum substitute having to 'do' hair and give snuggles as required!

The amazing falls
We also took them to Vic Falls which was a first for us as well. The falls were awesome and we were not disappointed! We also got very wet even though they are not in full flood at this time of year. It was great fun, though. It sounds as if we are one long holiday but believe me it was a welcome 3 day break in a very busy lifestyle, especially for Dave.

Jess not quite enjoying a cold shower!
The house
The house we are building on the site for Taurai is well under way now and Dave is employing ten or so men now..
They are using a self-build method called Finn builder, so they are all learning new skills at the same time. One of the most skilled guys is an ex- prisoner and has been lent to us by 'Second Chance' a charity that helps to ease ex- prisoners back into society. The building has been hampered by lack of water. Although we now have municipal water at the site,( the well pump broke several weeks ago) we are experiencing major water cuts as the dams are so low after 3 years of little rain. Here at home we don't have water for 4 days a week but in the rural areas the situation is worse and people are being driven to break into pipes, so there is a lot of water still being wasted!
Here is Dave hoeing at lewis' plot. We took Gary and Jess there to help plant some beans. The rape crop is almost ready to harvest but unfortunately we lost some beans and butternut in the last frost earlier this month.                                              Lastly, we have a new addition to the Dean household. No I have not miraculously produced offspring! After having the motor of the electric gate stolen one night while asleep in our bed, we thought a dog would be a good idea. So we went to the local SPCA and here she is...(but please don't tell Toffee. She is purely for security!). Her name is Izzy and she has settled in sooooo well

Sadly Google the cat had to put to sleep the day Gary arrived. He had always had a funny walk and we suspected that he was gay, but his walking deteriorated and while we were in bed with flu (another story) he hid away and was obviously not good. I took him to the vet and he suspected a brain tumour or similar that was affecting his nervous system, poor Google, he was such an affectionate cat! But also a real scaredy cat, afraid of everything. Hopefully Izzy is not!! That's all the news for now, but please send comments. we love to hear from you with your news too.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Animal magic

Dave with Polly and Martin at Hillside Dams
Our friends Polly and Martin have just left to visit friends in Marondera and then Harare. We will miss the the connection with home. It's been so nice to be able to talk about people and places at home in proper English! We had a lot of fun (I think they did too) and it was a little break from the stresses and strains of living in Zim!
Elephants drinking at the waterhole
We managed to take them to the Hwange Wildlife area where we saw an abundance of animals in their natural environment. A great experience for us all, as was sleeping in the car for the night as the accommodation was full of school children! I honestly think Dave and Martin should have suffered most being so tall, but they seemed to manage by encroaching on Polly and my spaces!! I need to add that Dave and I were in the back of the truck and Polly and Mart in the cab on the reclining seats. It really was worth it though...

The wildlife at Hwange was amazing (no not Dave, although he and Martin were a bit wild at times!)
We also took them to Hamara school where they enjoyed playing with the children and had a glimpse of the education system here and of course they came to church with us.

Unfortunately its back to work today.
The men have cleared 3 acres of ground now and it is exciting to think that in a few weeks we could have the church plot planted, The only trouble is .... We still don't have zesa which we will need to power  irrigation for the site. Please keep praying for the authorities to do the cheaper option as they told us originally it would be $3,500  to install a transformer!
The plot at Lewis' is progressing well and the beans are looking good despite some frost lately. Hopefully frosts are finished now and the temperature will gradually rise with the onset of spring.
The broiler project has had a bit of a rough time as we had a lot of fatalities in the last batch as well as some very small chicken, due mainly to the weather, we think, but the next batch are looking good and hopefully will make a profit, so we are trying not to be too disheartened. Edmund is working hard at marketing, but unfortunately, as no one has any cash he has to spend a lot of time collecting money, especially at the end of the month!

Sarah and Graham Giles, who Alison and Andrew Berry know, have decided to join Thembalezizwe Church. Sarah was the one who originally set up the school at Trenance and will be invaluable in getting approval for the new school. She and Taurai (our pastor) visited the head of the local primary school this week and had a very positive response from her regarding the Thembalezizwe school. So the next step is to talk to the local councillors and the education department.
One of the teams playing the eating the chocolate game!
They loved this although it took a while for them to catch on
We had our second Kidz Klub last Saturday and I was very impressed as to how the helpers were so keen and able to take responsibility for large parts of the programme. (no arguments this time!) So hopefully they will be able to continue running for many years to come... Martin and Polly joined in too.

Well thats all folks! Will be in touch again soon. Please continue to pray for us. We are concious of the huge job to be done out here and the weight of responsibility resting on our shoulders! We are trying to keep a sense of humour, which always helps and are adjusting to the slow pace of life...We keep reminding ourselves that.. 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' and know that we are not alone and supported by your prayers in so many ways.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Buildings and finance

Zesa is on and, although I have a mountain of washing up to do, after a dinner party last night, I'm choosing to write to you, our faithful followers! Zesa may well go off in the middle, so be warned this post may end very abruptly.. Supplies have been very erratic this past two weeks as the weather is distinctly cold in the evenings and mornings. We managed to track down some coal and have lit the fire a few evenings, but the chimney smokes so badly, its not a pleasant experience!!
The days are still quite hot so its a problem to know what to wear if you go out and are going to be out all day (common to you in England too).

Dave has been getting his hands (and everything else) dirty this week as he has been with the men putting down the concrete slab of Taurai's house. He had to sack the builder as he was pushing the price up all the time, so now it is a do-it-yourself build... Poor Taurai (joking)
They are going to try a new method of building using a thing called Finbuilder. Its a good thing we have Brad on board as the only thing Dave has built is a barn!!
I think he is enjoying doing something practical, although he says he is feeling his age.

I have somehow got roped into helping Taps and others develop workbooks for Foundations 4 Finance for use in life groups. (Finance is a big issue here as nobody has any money, people live by borrowing from friends, family etc.) Gottried Hetzer, who is an academic has written the books and my job is to try to bring the content down several levels for the ordinary man in the street and down again for the rural folk who possibly can't read at all. Quite a challenge, especially as I'm having trouble understanding some of Gottfried's material. Still its keeping me busy and out of mischief!

Taps and Flora are away for a well deserved holiday, without the children for a few weeks.
We are looking forward to a break when Martin and Polly arrive on Thursday and will fill you in on their visit later, hopefully with photos. Until then.....

Monday, 16 July 2012

Kidz Klub and winter has arrived!!

Well winter weather has arrived and it is much colder here, though still with cloudless skies (sorry England!) Most of the trees are bare of leaves, although there are still some colourful flowering bushes around. As we don't have a bore hole here and water is expensive our lawn is completely dried up, but will recover as soon as the rains start in October.  I've just listened to Grahams latest sermon on 'Integrity'. Brilliant, as always, and so helpful. This is a key element missing from society here and, I guess, most places.  People seem to find it easy to lie and so it makes trust a difficult issue! Reliability is also an issue here, so its hard to plan. Despite all this there are some real gems in the church and we love them anyway!

Ma Pirri doing her object lesson
It was exciting to be able to do the first Kidz Klub at 1BD on Saturday. As they had never heard of Kidz Klub or seen anything like it out here, I was a little concerned as to how it would come over, to say the least. But the team came up trumps and it was a great success with about 120 kids there by the end!!( African timekeeping !)

The only problem arose when the three team captains (middle aged ladies) disagreed over the result of a race and had a stand up argument!! It would never happen in Eastbourne...
One of the races
I think it happened because they were all soooo involved! I'm hoping that they soon get hold of the vision and take on more and more responsibility for planning and running the club. We are not officially doing home visiting at the moment as many of the kids live in tin shacks, scattered over a large area, but I'm hoping the helpers who live nearby will keep motivating them and encourage them to come to church. Also home visiting sheets would not work as the kids don't have crayons and we need to get things photocopied at a shop and it is very expensive. I'm sure it will evolve over time.

Yesterday Dave preached at Trenance on 'How to pray' as Taps is doing a 'How to' series at the moment. He based it on the Alpha talk and made it very visual and interactive, because that works best here. Last week Flora and Samanga (the wife of the elder at Hamara) did a tag preach on how to read your Bible which, again was very practical and a couple of people gave a testimony this week of how it had changed their quiet times which was very encouraging.

Next week Martin and Polly arrive for their visit, which is very exciting for us. We are looking forward to hearing how things are going in the Seaford church and how everyone is..We miss friends and especially family, but we know the joy of the Lord is our strength and we hold fast to Him.

Look forward to receiving some messages. (Thank you Ted, you are a star, even if your comments are a BIT CHEEKY!)

Friday, 6 July 2012

Family Fun and Hard Work

Nathy and Danny at Hillside Dams (looking a bit lost!)
Yes we have finally got our residency through and now don't need to go to immigration every month to get our passports stamped!! HOORAY... It also means we don't need to keep handing over money (we do a lot of that here!) and we get to go to the tourist sights cheaper than non residents.WOW. Seriously, it does give us a sense of being here more permanently and we can relax a bit. (but only a bit!!!) Honestly we didn't realise retirement would be so tiring or challenging! But God is good.
On Fathers Day, Heather, Dave and the family arrived for a two week holiday. We had such a lot of fun, have loads of lovely memories together with loads and loads of photos! Unfortunately my son- in- law has such a swish camera I'm having trouble uploading them!! Will keep trying.. I also had a birthday BBQ with friends we have made here.
plucking chickens
We did a variety of things while they were here to try to give them a true picture of Zim. Of course we did the touristy things and saw lots of wild animals which the children loved and also visited people from the church and some of the projects we are involved in. They met our lovely hairdressers and Edmund our broiler outgrower and even saw some chicken being slaughtered, plucked and dressed!

We also visited a small orphanage and school that is running in Trenance and Hamara school which the church has taken over the running of on Hamara Farm. The boys loved meeting the children and even asked questions in a small group to encourage the older children in grade three to use their English. Dave had brought a football from England and gave it to them after demonstrating his skills!! They loved that.

Nathy and Danny at the orphanage school

While we were staying in the Motopos, we visited Stephen and Molly Manhanga in Kezi. Stephen is the leader of the Newfrontiers Crossroads Church. It is way out in the bush and held in an amazing thatched building which the East Grinstead church financed, I believe. They have recently been given a plot of land by a local lady, who we visited as well. Stephen is developing a little farm there with chicken, cattle and pigs and a small area for agriculture. He uses this as a training ground and also a place to bless the community. Most still live in mud and thatch houses, built by the ladies, I must add! Molly regularly writes a blog and interviewed Dave and Heather which they found quite amusing.
The men working on the pipeline for water. (notice Dave is not working)
This week Dave has started employing 5 men to work on the land. Three of them were previously unemployed and one of them homeless. He is staying in the church building at the moment. It is amazing what these guys will put up with in order to have a job! They are happy to sleep on the floor and cook sadsa over an open fire outside. There is still no electricity at the building so its candles and early nights too! We have provided them with work suits which they are very proud of..
They have finished planting up Lewis' land with rape, beans, carrots and spinach and are now digging a trench to get water connected at 1BD. The council put in a meter but connected to the mains at the opposite end of the site to the building. Well This Is Africa!!  Sentences are often finished with TIA when things get a bit frustrating.
As soon as water is in the building (2 weeks?)we will start applying for permission to open an Early Childhood Development Centre. Hopefully this will be quite straightforward as we come under the rural council which has a lot less requirements than the city council.
Kidz Klub (Zimbabwe style) starts on July 14th! We will not run every week to start with but hopefully I will be able to get enough good helpers who will be keen and willing to take responsibility. Language is obviously a problem for me but thankfully Tendai and several others have very good English to be able to translate as the younger children's English is very limited. They can all say "How are you?" "I'm fine" and their name and that is about it, although all lessons are done in English in School.
Sorry not many photos. Rubbish Internet here!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Growing and growing

A mentor teaching the children
'Hello. How are you?'
Last Thursday we travelled to Harare as there was a leaders conference with Steve Tibbert. I wasn't invited (I'm a woman) but spent  my time with Deb Norton who very kindly offered to put us up. She and her husband, Alan are part of the Westgate Church and Deb has set up a small education facility for children who can't access government education for one reason or another. It is called the Lighthouse and I had a lovely time with the children and 'mentors' who work with them. Here they are practising greeting each other in English. Deb's philosophy is that it is no good filling the children's heads with knowledge if the basic social skills and character are not there so the school puts a lot of foundational principles in place first. Some of what they teach is very like our PSHE teaching in England. 

Then on Sunday we had a combined service with the Hamara congregation. First of all there were dedications of children. They had never had a dedication service before, so any child under 11 could be dedicated. It was great to see all the parents bringing their children to God and entrusting them to Him. There is a lot of superstition in this culture that would tell parents that in order to keep their children safe, they have to do different things and perform different rites etc. So it was  a big thing for some to break away from those things and trust God for their families, risking the wrath of family members.
The service at Hamara
Here we are in the Hamara building singing and dancing. Do you call that dancing, Dave?

After this we went to the home of the farm manager to use his pool where 29 people were baptised!!The water was freezing and Taurai has been ill since. We have lit a fire in the evening for the past 3 days. I keep telling everyone I didn't come to Africa for this!! 
But at least there is almost guaranteed sunshine during most days as you can see from the pictures.

Waiting for the baptisms

 We are so encouraged by the growth of the church, as we realise it was almost exactly one year ago that we came to Trenance for the first time and met with the church at Richards Road where Taaurai and Tendai live now. There were about 40 adults and 30 children then. Since they planted out to Hamara in September and moved to the building in March the church seems to have exploded! We counted 120 people there on Sunday. 
More news soon, I

Monday, 28 May 2012

Mad driving / driving us mad!

Having received a complaint about the regularity of the blog (or lack of it) from, I won't say who, but their name begins with G! here we go with an update... The weather is cooling down significantly and, I must say, the locals talk about the weather even more than the English, and thats saying something!
The water and Zesa saga continues without much encouragement and a great deal of diesel being used in riding around. In order for the water to be connected we have to buy all the pipes, connectors, taps and even the water meter ourselves! We are now expert in finding plumbing equipment in Bulawayo, if anyone out there is interested.

I'm sorry to say even after all this time, Dave still can't find his way around the city without me acting like a sat. nav. "At the next robots (traffic lights) turn right" .."Oh by the way the robots are dead because there is no zesa!" "Mind that bike on the wrong side of the road" "STOP that combi is reversing out" And so it goes on.... I haven't even attempted to drive in town yet! It is very scary. I think most people bribed their licences and never did any driving lessons at all, not in a car anyway. Maybe a donkey cart.

Sundays have been very encouraging lately as Taps has been preaching on the Gifts of the Sprit and opening up for questions from the congregation. People are gradually growing in confidence in asking their questions and it is a good measure of what they are understanding. Last Sunday a whole group of young people went forward to be filled with the spirit. Taps also had a word of knowledge that there was someone there who woke up that morning and had no food to eat and was only able to have a cup of tea. Would they come forward to be prayed for as he also talked about miracles. Nine ladies responded to the word and were prayed for. It was very moving as with their husbands and children, that is a lot of hungry people. It is heartbreaking to see how some people live such a hand to mouth existence and yet they still trust in God to provide. Very humbling..

We are off to Harare on Thursday for a leaders conference with Steve Tibbett. well, actually Dave is and I'm going for the ride! We are staying with a couple we hardly know but she runs a school there, so hopefully it will be educational!!

Sorry no photos this time as I'm doing this in a rush to please, you know who!!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Lord give us power!

Well doesn't time fly when all you do is chase from one office to another trying to get electricity (fondly known as Zesa) and water (generally known as water) connected to the church building, ready for our first conference in 4 weeks time! It is proving to be a bit of a marathon...But we are still running, just about...Despite all this the church is beginning to grow. Dave is counting each Sunday (eat your heart out Chris Ashurst) and last week he recorded 66 adults and 48 kids. In addition to this we had our first youth group meeting on Saturday. No Dave and I are not running it! A couple of people from Family Impact are working with them initially and then some of our own guys will take over, with support. Here they are playing volleyball (without a net). The church are very encouraged.
On Saturday we also had some life group leaders training here at the house. They came from Thembalezizwe and Hamara church so we had 28 here in all, including babies at breast (if you know what I mean!) and children. It was a great time as Renee Cunningham came to talk about how to use the Chronological Bible Storying method of teaching people about the Bible. It was devised by Sam Poe and is very effective in an oral society.
After church on Sunday Taps and Flora bravely hosted a b.b.q. for the whole church. There were at least 80 there and was a lovely treat for many of the members as they live in very poor conditions and are officially classed as squatters.
 A charity called World Vision are in the process of building new houses for them on the west side of the city but only some have been chosen for re-housing so there are many who are desperately upset at being left behind.

Anna is one of the people being re-homed. She has just had a new baby, her 9th! He is called William and has 6 brothers all with names beginning with W-- Wayne, Wonderman, Welshman to name but a few!!
This is Edmund, our first outgrower. He has been out of work for a while so we have set up in business with him to raise 200 chicken. They are 2 weeks old now and doing very well. They will be ready to slaughter at 6 weeks. If they do well and we make a profit he can start to pay us back a bit at a time. That is the plan anyway. We saw some being slaughtered by the ladies today. They waste nothing. The ladies take the gizzards, heads and feet for payment as they love these. YUK!!!
We have another all night prayer meeting on Friday but this time its at our church building. Taps has been teaching on the gifts of the Spirit so we are praying for more power, but not Zesa this time!                                                

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Paint the town orange and brown!

As things move soooo slowly here, we decided to do something really practical and paint the inside of the church building (affectionately known as 1 BD) hoping that we would feel better as we saw some results for hard work. It turns out to be a bit like painting the Forth Bridge as the walls are very rough and need 3 coats! And you can guess why I get all the low bits to do can't you? Anyway it is already looking alot better and we hope that the water and electricity will be connected soon.

Dolly, one of the church members, is a health and safety inspector and has been handling the clearance of the building for use, so she has the contacts for the other things to be sorted. Unfortunately she has been very busy planning her wedding which took place on Saturday. The wedding was an amazing experience for us. Firstly, the person driving the bride to the school where the wedding was to be held, dropped out, so Dave was asked to step in. He was very pleased to do this as he is not a fan of weddings!! All the waiting around and trying to be polite to people just isn't his thing. He also wasn't prepared for the fact that out here a wedding is an excuse to go completely mad!

When he went to collect the bride there were about 6 cars in convoy, hooting their horns and lads hanging out of the windows waving and shouting. The other cars were also weaving in and out of each other and driving around in circles in the middle of the main high street where pedestrians cross the road at any point! Poor Dave was a quivering wreck by the time he got back, as he was sure someone would be killed...Not least of all him as his  gaurdian angel had jumped out of the car long ago!!
They really go over the top with weddings here as you can see by the decorations too. Each wedding has  a colour theme (this one was brown and orange) and not only were the 5 bridesmaid and 5 bridesmen! dressed in the colours but also the family members. There were 5 little people too all wearing white. The most interesting part was the catering as it was all done outside on open fires!(see below) I hope the Kings catering team are taking note!! Also the lady on the left is looking for a husband. Any volunteers!!
   Have to close here as the paint brushes are calling yet again!                                                                                          ( Just to add a new note here.... The internet went down just as I was about to post this and then I forgot about it next time I was on line so this is now Sunday the following week!! Hey Ho !!) Enjoy anyway.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Mama and Papa

It would appear that we have been totally accepted by the church as we are now known affectionately as Mama Dean and Papa Dean. Nothing to do with our age I might add! Dave has preached at Thembalezizwe for the past two Sundays, from Luke 10. he really enjoyed it and hopefully so did the congregation as we added in some drama and made it very interactive. Andrew Wilson would be proud!!
last Friday we had another all night prayer meeting at the Hamara church building. This time it went on from 9pm to 5 am. A bit of a marathon but very good. To show how cold it was that night, here is a picture of Ruth trying to pray!! She and her husband are the only other white couple in the church and they are in the process of appealing (for the second time) against being sent out of the country because they haven't been granted a work permit. They are here with the B.M.S. and really feel called to Zim, so we are praying for success for them. Not only are they a lovely couple, Brad is a surveyer and has been so helpful to Dave in the planning of the church site.
Here are some of the dozens of children who came to the prayer meeting and slept on the cold concrete floor!
Some of the older ones managed to keep awake the whole time, though. Fortunately they are all on holiday from school at the moment. They have nearly 5 weeks off for Easter although there are no half term holidays here.

Here we are clapping to keep warm!! The weather is now very autumnal and the evenings are getting colder although in the day it is generally quite warm. There is no heating in the houses so it is a case of wrapping up warm in clothes or blankets, or alternatively just going to bed!! And, according to the locals it will get a lot colder in the next few months. No wonder there are so many children around here...                                                   We are still busy but not always feeling we are achieving that much as everything takes so long here, but apparently it is normal to feel like this at first. I guess we need to lower our expectations and just relax!! (Try telling that to Dave, though!)