Sunday, 8 December 2013

A proliferation of "P" words...

As you all prepare for picturesque snow and roaring fires we are putting up umbrellas and using sunscreen! Predictably it makes it very difficult to feel Christmassy! Even the presence of pretty trees, decorations and even the odd snowman, doesn't seem to produce the right effect. Perhaps its just us because everyone else seems excited about a holiday.Most people don't give or receive presents as they are too poor, but Christmas is a time for families to get together which is, perhaps, how it should be. It does mean that the site at 1BD is very busy planting and selling produce for the Christmas market. Things have really turned around this month, so Dave has only had to lay one man off! Praise God.
The children waiting for the performance to start!
Handa's Surprise and Handa's Hen display
The Rainbow Fish display
We had a great Parent's open day at E.C.D. last week . Preparation was hard work as we wanted to display paintings, printing and pictures that the children had done throughout the year as well as photographs. The children also performed for the parents and every child was presented with a personalised certificate celebrating their progress and achievements by the pastor's wife, Florah. The parents were suitably proud and so were we! They sang their songs and recited their rhymes beautifully producing a tear or two at times.
Dave has been preaching a lot lately so it was nice last Sunday to have a relaxing day without the pressure. I am running Kidz Klubs every Saturday as well so we sometimes feel a bit pooped! Both Kidz Klubs have been going so well, though. It was thrilling, a few weeks ago, to see the kids at Hamara performing what they had been learning at Kidz Klub in the Sunday morning service .

The new Jungle Gym in progress
The children's paintings
The other great
development is the play area paid for by West Rise Infant School , my wonderful sister  and "Inspire". Thank you all so much. The kids love it, Previously there has been  nothing else like it here! in fact there is nothing for the children and young people of Trenance to do at all. We are pleased to see the number of young people attending the church growing all the time, though. The next step might be to make a soccer pitch for them.??
Nearly done!
Children praying at Hamara Kidz Klub

Please pray for the  church leadership here as we face continual challenges. This has probably been Mike and Taurai's most difficult year. (no not because of us, we hope!) We are also becoming more painfully aware of God's purposes in bringing us here at such a time. Thank you to all those who pray for us as we couldn't survive without it! Personal phone calls, skype contact and emails are what keep us perky! We can't profess to being happy about being here for Christmas as we will miss family and friends so much but perhaps we can find some half decent cheese and some sweets and add on a few pounds as normal!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Obviously, O

Brad Ruth and Ethan

We were overjoyed recently to meet up again with our "old" friends Brad and Ruth with their little six month old, Ethan. They had to leave Zim last December and the one thing that overshadowed the trip here was that it was to say final goodbyes to friends as they won't be back. The friends they stayed with while here have also been ousted this week!. We will soon be the only ones left!
We did manage to grab a couple of nights away with them, though. We visited Great Zimbabwe, a National Heritage site, which was very interesting, although the weather was very English while we were there.

Some of the walls in the mist.
This ruined city is the largest stone structure ever built south of the Sahara and occupies a large area. It is not really odd that occasionally we like to do something educational! They are dry stone walls and enormously thick and, in Dave's opinion, more impressive than Pevensey Castle. We also went to the game park nearby and were overwhelmed to see a whole host of rhino. (A crash of rhino I'm led to believe)
Amazing rhino, dehorned to protect them from poachers
Obviously that was a bit of a highlight as many people who have grown up here have never seen one rhino, let alone ten. They didn't seem overly  bothered by us so came outrageously close and we were able to stay in the open to watch.

Some of the guests at the celebration

It was an outstanding occasion when Edmund, the chicken out grower, and his wife Ruth invited all the leaders of the church to a celebration meal. Local people do not ordinarily do such things but they wanted to thank everyone for their help and support and to thank God for their changed lives. It was an occasion of great celebration and overflowing gratitude. They are now able to support themselves and their youngest son will soon be off to university.

Lots of smiles. Or are they laughing at you darling?
Dave is having more and more input into the church leadership. This includes showing them his outstanding soccer skills. (He scored the first goal) Mike the elder at Hamara Farm congregation hosted a braai for the leaders and trainee leaders of Thembalezizwe and as they are obsessed with soccer out here, it seemed a good way to get the men interacting. Naturally the game was a bit one sided and the Trenance team won by a mile. (or should that be smile).
Overcast skies and the occasional shower has been typical of the weather this week, so we hope the outlook is good for outbursts of proper rains soon. We have had some outrageously violent thunderstorms occurring too!
Okay, I'd better end here. Oops, forgot to say, we are fine, pressing and onwards, trying to overcome the many obstacles as best we can. So from us, until the next overrated blog,  its over and out!
(acknowledgements to Julliette Farrer for many O words to help my tired brain!)

Sunday, 29 September 2013

I've noticed many negative words start with N!

The offending tree which pulled down the power lines

can possibly understand the frustrations of living in a society where
cares about a job well done, or even a job done! Unless you've ever lived here that is... Three weeks ago a whirlwind ripped down the electricity lines at one of the plots, burning two acres of field and the company took three days to get around to fixing it so that the crops could be watered using the borehole pump. Last Saturday a storm brought down a tree on the power lines at 1 B D. Despite repeated requests, begging  phone calls and visits, the line was only finally fixed this afternoon, Wednesday. So the plants put in last week have received no water from the pumped irrigation since Saturday and are severely damaged. (The temperatures are in the mid 30's) we have probably lost 1,000 out of the 3,000.When the men did come eventually on Tuesday, they spent three hours sitting under a tree cooking breakfast over a fire and chatting! GRRRRR! It seems to be a National disease
Some negative happenings can have a positive outcome, though

Taking cabbages home

Never have we seen so many happy ladies as were at 1 BD last week. The cabbages, not fit to sell because of a moth infestation, were offered to the locals free. Many of the E.C.D. parents and their friends came to cut them either to feed their own families or to sell for a few rand. Several loads went to St Peters too as they are really suffering out there.   

Cutting the cabbages

It is a sad fact that many people are feeling the effects of lack of resources here and some are definitely going  hungry and starving. We monitor the children's height and weight at ECD and none have gained weight and many have lost! Nevertheless they are the happiest, most loveable children you could wish to meet. None of them ever complain and are always so obedient.                                                                                                                                                                  
Eating lunch together before the long walk home.
The number
of children attending the Hamara kidz klub has increased of late as the church has decided to feed them. Many of the kids walk at least 3k to get there and by the time we finish at 12 are unable to face the long walk home on an empty stomach. Here they are enjoying sadza, rice and half a sausage. In case you didn't know, it is traditional to eat with your hands out here but rice is a bit tricky so spoons are provided! 
Nature is running wild here now summer has arrived and the Jacaranda trees are beautiful with their purple blossom covering the streets as well as the trees. All the streets are tree-lined here so its quite a picture at times.
Jacaranda trees lining a road in Suburbs

 Nothing seems to be going right at 1 BD at the moment, so Dave is finding it particularly tough, as there is little income and the future of the plot looks bleak.. We are looking for answers but at the moment they are nowhere to be found, it seems! Neither of us can believe that it is right for guys to lose their jobs, but at the moment it looks as if there is no alternative.

Next time we hope for better  news and "O" being  positive like my blood, so until then night, night...


Tuesday, 3 September 2013


Many things have happened since our return to Zim. Mostly BAD!! How did the Missionaries of old do it without the support of friends, family and church on the internet? Mammoth problems with the crops through an infestation of Moths (at least they start with the right letter!) greeted us on our return, together with a stolen spare wheel, Money illegally taken from our bank account, a Motor vehicle ripping into the front fence at the site at 1BD, a combi backing into our stationary car, I Mean What is going on??? Well we know the Man behind it and we won't give in although Morale has been pretty low at times! Sometimes it feels as if we are Making our way through a Maze.. and we just can't find the right way. It is often hard to Motivate ourselves so please keep praying for us that we hear the Master's voice clearly. Sorry to Moan. There is some positive news in the Midst of the Muddle!
One of the groups praying for each other

Dave doing his thing at Alpha with Simanga translating

Two weekends ago we had a Magical
time with about 70 young people on their Holy Spirit weekend. They are all students at Ebenezer Agricultural Training Centre. Dave did all the talks and the response was amazing with Many salvations and people being filled with the \spirit and speaking in tongues. That was an encouraging time!
Mama June (that's what they call me here) is really looking forward to getting back to school this week as I've Missed the kids a lot. We are also back with Kidz Klub next Saturday so no More loafing about in the sun for Me!

Noma still looking traumatised but happy with her new teddy.
Sadly one of the children from the ECD was quite badly burnt on her feet with boiling water last weekend. The wounds got infected and she is still in hospital. So Many children are left in the care of older siblings when their parents need to try to earn some Money. We have visited, prayed for her and taken her food and toys but hospital  here is not a nice place to be!   Her grandmother, who looks after her,(her own mother had her when she was 17!) had to leave her other three children  behind in Trenance on their own and we found they had no food! The ladies from the church have since been keeping an eye on them. Medicine is also very expensive out here so we will need to make sure that Noma gets all she needs once she is at home. I'll close with a picture of our two lovely Mucky, Mischievous, Mixed - up, Mad and Muddy dogs who help to keep us sane..
(well I had to get some more M's in somehow!)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

What the L?

The boys Birthday Party
Long flight long sleep and now we are back to normal (almost)! The past three weeks has been amazing. Such a lovely time with friends and family (you know who you are!). Longing to see you all again...Laughing at some great memories that will keep us going for a while! Glad to say that Toffee the Labrador still remembers us as do many Long standing and loyal friends!
The family in Constable Country
Our long-suffering family were amazing and treated us like royalty, feeding us and treating us far beyond the call of duty. What a privilege to have such wonderful kids! We really enjoyed lying in, loafing about, and listening to your stories. 
Emily the Diva
Last but not least thanks to the leaders and members of Kings Church, the best Church family in the world, who support us in every way, especially in prayer, and for which we are eternally grateful.Looking forward now to another year with, hopefully, some let-up in the opposition and less problems! We will leave you with this thought.. "L" is not a place you want to visit and love you all!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

So now its K.

Watch out for the crocs, Adz!!
Adz Brennan has been our most recent visitor and fortunately for him he came kitted out with

 the normal goodies required by the Deans if you want to keep in our good books and don't want to be kicked out!
The offending lion.
He brought cheese and chocolate... Hallelujah! I'm only kidding of course. Its not necessary, but it certainly helps!! Adz wanted to work alongside Dave while he was here so he was up at 5.30 more than once and didn't even have a kip in the afternoons. Being a student I'm not sure he had known of this time even existing, but I'm sure he has learnt a lot from the experience. He was heard to say one day,(and I quote) "It's amazing what you can get done by 9 o'clock isn't it?" It wasn't all work while he was with us ,though. We took him to Chipangali, a wildlife rescue centre. Graham and the family had enjoyed going there to see the lions fed so we thought Adz would too. Sadly boys will be boys and Dave and he decided to wind the lions up by rattling their cage! One of them responded by turning his back and spraying them! That's what you get for messing with the king of the jungle! I know its not kind to laugh but I just couldn't help myself.

The key to wildlife spotting at Whovi Game park, we discovered is to kick back the covers and get there early. So we arrived before 7 am after a 50 minute drive and one of the first things we saw were two rhino! This is very unusual as there are only 15 in the whole park and many native Zimbo's have never even seen one! Whovi is the only place in this part of Zim that you can see them because they are poached relentlessly. So its good to know the rangers there have AK 47's with them!

Breakfast time.
very quiet we managed to observe them for about 10 minutes before a man on a bike came along and frightened them off. Another amazing spot was a baby giraffe born the previous night and still struggling to stand. A very knotty problem when you're born six
feet tall and your knobbly knees keep
Where's my Mum?
 Adz came to us a week before the rest of his team from the Kings Arms, Bedford came to lead some meetings in New Creation Church and  then churches in Harare. We had a good time with them as leaders and enjoyed the meetings in the evenings too. Lots of evidence of  Kingdom power in healings and people being set free. The team are on their way to Harare as I type...

My favourites, the hippos.
It hasn't been all play, though it may sound like it to you. Dave has been very busy selling what seems like thousands of cabbages to different outlets and I am back at school for the second half of the term. We don't break up until early August here so have a 4 week break then. We still don't know if elections will happen any time soon although registration is being carried out at the moment. Kidz Klub continues to go well each Saturday as we look at some Bible Heroes.
The Alpha course at Hamara has been awesome as the keenness of the church members  and the kindness of the farm in providing chicken each week has been amazing.  On June 23rd (kindly arranged as a birthday treat, NOT) we had the Holy Spirit day with Dave doing his usual act of telling everyone about how romantic he was when we first met and using me as his stooge. I was made to carry a bag of mealy meal on my head instead of the usual back pack in one illustration! Nine people gave their lives to Christ and several were baptised in the spirit. Who could ask for a better birthday than that? When we get back from our trip it is planned to run an Alpha in Trenance.
We are back to the U.K in just two weeks time now, to visit Kith and Kin! We can't wait to see everyone and especially to give the kids and  grandkids a kiss. And to our friends in Eastbourne get the kettle on... I'd kill for a cuppa of good English tea...I'm going to give my keypad a rest now as I spent two hours writing this last night only to lose it!! So now I'm feeling well and truly  kippered!!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

June's jolly journal!

Jumping Jehoshaphat! (well J is a very difficult letter!) The 21st century has arrived in Zim at last with a new shiny cultivator for X to play with. Many thanks to the people who gave finances and made this possible.

X playing with his new toy
The ground at 1BD is very difficult to work as it was bush less than a year ago and the machine has enabled the guys to get much better seed beds prepared for things like carrots. Some of the first carrots grown were exceedingly ugly as the ground was too solid for them to grow straight although they were able to market the jumbo ones.
We are praying for righteous judgement on the gang of ten who broke into the site and kidnapped the guard and took him away at knife point. He was later released once they had got far enough away with their six bags of maize which had only been shelled that day! The police don't seem that interested in getting anyone in jail! It is very disappointing for us and the men to see their hard work being wasted like that
Jerseys and jackets are definitely needed now in the mornings and evenings  (and jammies and hot wolly bollies in bed) as winter is here but, if its not too windy it is still quite warm in the day.We would love to send dear old England some sun because I'm sure you're all feeling a bit jealous of us....
At the beginning of the month we had Mother's Day and after the morning meeting all the mothers at Trenance contributed and we had a meal together. A very jolly time was had by all. As you can see I really enjoyed the juicy chicken and rice.

Dave introduced the novel idea of the leaders serving the ladies, (culturally unheard of in Matabeleland!) but we think it was just to get his jaws around the food, really!(No, he hasn't changed)
Our dear friends, Mark and Heather, are leaving Zim for the next two months as they have been refused residency again, (although ours has been renewed) so we have inherited another dog, temporarily at least. Nelly is eight months old and she and Izzy get on so well that its not really a hardship! We hope our friends will be allowed back in when the time comes.
We are very excited to say that an Alpha course started at Hamara Farm (one of the congregations), at the beginning of the month. Dave did the second talk to which about 90 people came. They are really fired up for it and we watch with interest to see how it works in an African culture. The ladies doing the catering start preparing at midday and cook chicken, sadza and cabbage on open fires. We are planning to start one in Trenance soon as well as St Peters. (I'm not volunteering to cook though!)
This Sunday we have a Joint meeting with all three congregations for a vision Sunday.
We are pleased to say that we will be jetting your way in July for a short visit. We miss our family and friends and the church so much, we can't wait to catch up and anyway it means I can postpone doing the letter K for a bit longer as thats worse than J! Just Joking.......

Friday, 19 April 2013

I,Aye, Eye

Izzy resting on the sofa on the  veranda
It's Impossible to describe how much pleasure Izzy, our dog gives us. She is a real character and so affectionate. As she is so large she is a great deterrant to would be intruders too! She has a habit of lying like this. We're not sure if it's to cool her undercarriage or she thinks she is human! We sometimes take her to Hillside Dams for a walk and she loves travelling in the back of the pickup.
Florah with Tinaye

Infant Chizana is the Image of his Dad and his sister Rutendo! Here he was 7 days old and is growing rapidly. Naturally Taps and Florah are delighted to have a boy after two girls. Florah's Mum is staying to help out for a while.

Imagine our amazement when local people stopped to ask X if 1BD could do a Field Day to show people how to farm! This is just what we were hoping the development of 1BD would achieve, inspiring others in the community to greater vision and opportunities. The Field day took place a week ago and was a resounding success.

Prayer before the speeches in the children's shelter
X talking to some of the visitors

Invitations were sent out to other churches, local councillors and the governor of Bulawayo. Unfortunately they couldn't all come but we had about 120 peple in all and it was a great advert for the church as well as the site. The ladies doing the catering excelled themselves, producing traditional foods over the fire as zessa was off! It was all delicious and the church hall was decorated beatifully with maize stalks and flowers from the bush. I was so proud to be part of such a great church family.
the catering team waiting to serve the amazing food
Instead of going weekly with Kidz Klub at Trenance we have decided to start one at Hamara farm and did a trial run 2 weeks ago. This Saturday we start for real! Samanga, the pastors wife, is a teacher at the school there and is very keen so has a great team organised which makes it easy for me. I plan the programme and they do it! We will do the same programme at both sites on a fortnightly basis, one week Hamara, the next week, Trenance.
Immigration have still not approved our permit yet so at the moment we are having to go to the offices every month to get our passport stamped, which isn't a problem, but with elections coming up (still no date fixed!) we're not sure if any decision will be made in a hurry! So the waiting goes on...
Is it my imagination or is this year passing quicker than ever? The leaves are falling and the mornings and evenings are cooler, so winter is definitely on the way. Perhaps spring will have arrived in jolly old England by the time you get to read this. Let's hope so..

Thursday, 4 April 2013

H is for HAPPY!

The 'men', Taurai, Graham, Wilson, Dave and X talking business!

Happy Easter! A bit late, I know, but sincerely wished all the same! We had a lovely time at Graham and Sarah's on Good Friday, eating in the garden with some of the other Thembalezizwe leaders and families. The children loved the pool and it was great just to relax.
The children having fun in the pool
Happy Day! Then on Easter Sunday we had a guest service which Dave preached at. There were at least 15 guests and 4 responses to the Gospel. I had managed to make some blinds for two of the windows so  Dave could use the projector for a powerpoint presentation for the first time. The catering team did a great job of providing cakes and serving drinks afterwards too. A really powerful morning.

Samu with the children before the wheel came off!
 Happy Holidays are now being enjoyed by the school children here including the E.C.D. We have 5 weeks off in all! 

Dave and X off to the supermarket with cabbages and tomatoes
Happy children enjoyed a donkey cart ride the day we broke up and thought it was hilarious when one of the wheels came off the cart when they were half a mile away from the school and they all tipped sideways and had to walk back. It would never happen in England!!

Here we have some Happy farmers off to the supermarket with cabbages and tomatoes. To date Dave has sold 2 tonnes of tomatoes from the church site! At Easter we gave all the guys from the site lunch of polony sandwiches, chicken and coke, as a thank you for all their hard work  Happy workers!
Dave was very put out that in the last blog I forgot to say that he was my Hero. Just before Graham and Belinda arrived we were woken  one night by Izzy barking and barking. Dave went out to find a snake on the veranda. He bravely attacked it with the broom and killed it. Happy wife! It was only when we looked it up on the internet that we found out it was a Puff Adder, the snake that kills more people in Africa than any other! I'm Happy it's the snake that bit the dust and not Dave!! Dave insisted on keeping his prize for Graham to see but it got so smelly Graham ended up burying it...

Wilson and Anna with some of their children and a niece.
This Happy family photo is of Anna and Wilson with their children in their new home in St Peters. Anna featured in one of the earliest blogs with her ninth child William who is now 11 months old. We took Phil and Sarah Varley and their four children , who are visiting New Creation church from Kings Catford as they wanted to see how the people out there are coping with all the challenges they face. The families are really pleased with their 2 roomed houses as they can call them their own and be settled for the first time in their lives. Wilson is trying to start a vegetable garden and has found water by digging a well, but has lost a lot of his plants to white ants.

The latest Happy event in the church has been the arrival of Taps and Flora's little son Tinaye Micah Chizana on Easter Sunday. Haven't seen him yet but they are all doing well and the girls love him!!
Now Happy hour is upon us. No I'm not drinking! Just a reminder that now your clocks have changed, we are only one hour ahead of you instead of two... Just in case you thought of skyping..
Well I am now Happy to sign off as uploading photos onto the blog is such a challenge here and this blog has taken two days to complete!

Thursday, 7 March 2013


Relaxing at Hillside Dams

G is for Graham and Belinda, Jake and Beth who have recently been out for  a visit. It was so lovely to spend time with them and be able to show them what we have been up to. It was such a good time of sharing our hearts and being encouraged by them. But we are seriously missing them now! Gulp!!

Sarah singing happy birthday to Pieson
They really enjoyed visiting the gorgeous children at the ECD which has now been running for five weeks. The 24 children have settled really well and love playing with the toys. Many of them are from really poor homes so won't have had toys to play with or experienced structured activities before. We run the school very much like a reception class in he UK, so the children have free play, structured play and focussed activities based around literacy and numeracy. They have begun to join in the songs (sung in English) and love Ring a Ring o Roses which must be a bit double dutch to them!!    

X talking to the children about butternut seeds
G   is for gardening. Baba X spent some time with the children this week teaching them how to plant seeds and grow them according to Farming God's way.             
So far they have planted butternut and green beans and will be watering and weeding as well as eventually eating them as part of their education. X also talked to them about how amazing God is to be able to turn one seed into many as he cut open a butternut for them to see.

G is for more growing. The cabbages you saw growing at Lewis' have now all been sold. Many of them went to local supermarkets and here we are pointing them out in TM's! I think we look pretty glamourous! Since this, about 15,000 more cabbages have been planted  on the different sites.                                                    Our application for a renewal of our Residents permit Grinds on and on! We have been asked for more details in the last two days and are madly trying to get information together. The inspection of all the projects linked to the business took place last week and now we have to wait and see what happens. Its all quite exhausting and depressing as you get the feeling you are not really believed or wanted!
I will sign off here with a   GOOD NIGHT!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Zim alphabet D,E,F

A...All is well, B...Bat safely removed. (see photo) C....Clearly its

Definitely better weather here than in the UK! Though the children (and teachers) who have been off school probably won't agree... The children here are back in full swing at school, although many of them have not been able to go as they can't afford the uniform, or the books, or the school fees and levies. I asked a lad who approached me as to whether I had any writing books at home, how many he needed to take to his new secondary school and he said 32!! He is desperate to go but his Gogo (grandmother) who looks after him can't afford the uniform or books that he needs.  His mum has gone to South Africa, a common story here. He is just one of many!!

E is for exciting news.. Hopefully the new Early Childhood Development centre will open next week. We have been busy visiting the families in the shacks that live nearest to the church building and collecting names of 4 year olds. We have a planning meeting next Monday and then its all systems go!! The school will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the mornings during term times. So that's retirement out of the window then!!

Dave playing ball with the children after church.
More exciting news is that the first of the houses at St Peters has been completed and the occupants are a man of 93 and his wife. The first house they have ever owned! We were there at church where Dave was preaching a few weeks ago and were amazed to find 33 children in the Sunday School too.

Hows this for cabbages!
Following a few heavy downpours the vegetables in Lewis plot are looking very well. (Many thanks for the prayers for rain but keep going as we still need more!) and Dave is beginning to supply the new supermarket near us regularly. It is called Food Lovers Market which is very Dave don't you think?
Tomatoes with maize in the background at 1BD
The 1BD plot is also progressing, though not ready to harvest yet. It has caused quite a stir in the community and they keep talking about what the white man is doing. Not exactly what we want!! F is for Fence thieves too! X arrived at the site one morning to find that the top two strands of barbed wire running the entire length of the site had been stolen. $200 dollars worth! The new wire has been daubed with paint and is now connected to the second strand. You learn from such mistakes!
F is for Finishing.. I have written this over a two day period as I keep getting interrupted, so I just wanted to add that this morning we were up at 4.30 to go to help pick beans at Lewis'. We picked 80 kg (that's176lbs, for the oldies who still work in old money) with the help of X and 3 others. The word that comes to mind is FOOL and now I'm Flipping stiff!
It is very satisfying, though and Lewis can't believe that he is now a producer of top quality vegetables. Now I'm falling asleep so until next time.....ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz