Something else to Remember…

This entry is part 26 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Hi folks, Well we’ve been back for a couple of days and have had a chance to begin showing some pictures and sharing about our experiences with our families. It’s nice that it hasn’t been too hot – it’s given us a chance to adapt back to the Canadian Summer after being in the Zimbabwe Winter ;).
One more thing you all can keep in prayer if possible. Scott’s camera went missing while on the trip and there were quite a few picture on it that he would have liked to be able to share with his family. If you can pray that it’ll turn up at the village that’d be much appreciated!

Regarding recent downtime

Visitors to Unfolding Neurons in the since June 24-25th will have noticed that the website was down. I wasn’t aware of this until I checked in on my websites from a hotel in London, Great Britain on my way home from Zimbabwe. This was the explanation I got from my web-host:

Thank you for your word to the support team.

We are extremely sorry for this unacceptable situation which took place recently.
There was a major power surge in the datacenter and we lost many backup servers and some production servers. We have already restored all production servers and have set up new backups servers, but mysql15 is among one that lost both production and backup machine. We basically recreated it from scratch, and recovered server structure, which means that empty databases and mysql usernames exist on your hosting account control panel.

Unfortunately, experts who were hired have not found way to recover lost data.
We can assure you that this will never happen again as we have taken certain measures already to prevent this kind of accidents from happening in future, e.g. starting from Monday we will set brand new backup system which will allow to have backups on remote site. I am extremely sorry, that this let you and your business down so much.

Needless to say, I was not too happy! I just finished redoing the posts that I had made in between the latest backup I had on hand and the time the site went down.  However, I don’t have any of the comments that were made during that period.  If you had made a comment then and would like to put it back up I’d appreciate it!

I’m hoping I’ll get compensated for this but we’ll see.

Back on Canadian Soil and a Great Surprise!

This entry is part 20 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

We’re back on Canadian Soil! It’s good to be home and we were greeted with a pleasant surprise when some of our family members showed up to welcome us at the airport!
Now comes the difficult part of getting back into life as a Canadian without losing what we’ve learned from our time in Zimbabwe. Our team has already been talking about what we are doing now that we are home and in the coming months you’ll hear more from us. In the meantime we’re just going to take a month to think through what we’ve learned and enjoy our families. In the near future we’ll be announcing when we’ll have a presentation night of pictures and stories of our experiences – and where the Zimbabwe Project goes from here. There’s so much we have to share over and above these reports we’ve been giving you.
One more thing. Alex Pendergast’s bag didn’t arrive with us in Toronto. He’s been told there wasn’t enough room on the plane and they had to leave the bag in London. Keep this in prayer that the bag will arrive safely.
Tatenda! (Thank you)

Arrival safely in London

This entry is part 19 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Hi folks – just a quick update that we’ve arrived safely in London and have checked into the hotel for overnight. It was a pretty emotional goodbye in Harare this morning. All of us are looking forward to getting home 😉
To our families…if you want to send an email to any of us feel free to do so. We have internet access while we’re at the hotel so we will receive the emails and can reply. Just keep in mind that it is currently 9:00pm here in London (we’re 5 hours ahead of EST).

Final Day in Harare

This entry is part 18 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Well here we are at last, a day that at first seemed like it was a long ways off and now has oh too quickly crept up on us. We’re at the last day of our journey here in Zimbabwe. As we’ve talked about the time here there are moments where it seems like we’ve been here for a month and then there are moments where it seems like we just arrived yesterday. One thing is for certain – we’re torn between leaving and saying our goodbyes to all the wonderful people we’ve met here and getting excited about going home to our families and friends who we are missing soooo much.
Today, we spent the morning shopping at a market in Harare. It’s similar to a flea market at home in Canada only the merchants are much more aggressive here and we were warned that as soon as they see a white person they will jack up the prices considerably so we had better barter. And barter we did! We spent a couple hours browsing and purchasing a few souvenirs and gifts for when we get home.
Following the market we had a lunch on our way to Svimba township where we visited another Orphanage that Gord and Anita Cooledge had been made aware of. The orphanage was called Vimbainesu Children’s Home. First some background to the story of what brought us to visit this particular orphanage.
Our original plans for our stay in Zimbabwe included a trip to a wildlife resort located about 3 hours away from Harare that included many activities including walking with lions. It was a two night stay. However, when we got to Zimbabwe, after our first weekend here we discussed the budget and realized that over half of our budget was going towards our staying at this wildlife resort. We agreed as a group that we really didn’t feel that it was a wise use of the money and so after going over things with Gord and looking at a number of different options we decided to cancel our trip to the resort and go to a closer Game Park that was much cheaper and still had a number of great activities to help us experience some of the animals of Africa.
The benefits of this decision were enormous! We were able to participate in the Family Day after church on Sunday which we wouldn’t have been able to had we gone to the wildlife resort. We were able to still get a great day in at the Game Park. And finally we had an opportunity to visit this orphanage that Gord had mentioned he had hoped to be able to take us too but originally wasn’t going to be able to because of our trip the Wildlife Resort. Are we ever glad we made the decision we did.
Vimbainesu Children’s Home was begun by two women who decided they wanted to do something for orphans and these two ladies have worked tirelessly and faithfully with a very minimal amount of resources to care for orphaned children. Most of this children have been orphaned because their parents died of AIDS. An organization that had regularly funded this orphanage had stopped the support and these ladies have really struggled to kep the care going for the children. We took two hockey bags full of stuff with us to the orphanage and with some of the money we saved from not going to the Wildlife Resort we were able to support the orphanage for a year at $125 USD/mo (which equals roughly ZIM $18,750,000 with current exchange rates).
What a blessing it was for us to be able to go and see this orphanage and the awesome work these ladies are doing with so little. It was also an awesome experience to see the children’s and house mother’s faces light up when we presented them with the gifts.
Currently the orphange houses 31 children which range in ages from infant to 16 or 17. All the children are in school and the orphanage itself runs a preschool for the orphans as well as other children in the community (they have an additional 58 kids that come to the preschool. There are two ladies that stay right on the property and care for the orphanage and they’ve recently had an additional two ladies come during the day to help be house moms.
As usual, a picture tells a lot more than words ever could so I’ve attached a few of the ones we took. This will be the last update from Harare. On our journey home which begins tomorrow I’ll update when we arrive safely at Heathrow and then again when we reach Toronto but that will be it. I’ll post one final update after a few days when we’ve had a chance to unwind a bit. Till then, thanks for following along on our journey and Praise God for everything he has done in us and through us while we’ve been here.
1. Barry holding the infant in the orphanage.
2. The kids showing off some of the gifts we brought.
3.One of the unique things on the orphanage is that the cows and chicken’s are alllowed to walk around freely. You can also see in this picture one of the building on the orphanage property.
4. A picture of the washrooms for the orphanage
5. The electric stove in the kitchen no longer works so they have had to start cooking over an open fire.
6. This is one of the “directors” of the orphanage with Barry.
7. Kevin with some of the kids from the orphanae.
8. The orphanage kids.
9. A picture of the classroom.
10. Doug with the kids.

“ROAR” or so the Lion says…

This entry is part 17 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Today was our “R&R” day here in Zimbabwe. We went and visited a place called “Billy Vaughn Game Park” which is located about 30 minutes outside of Harare. The journey through the countryside on the way there was a treat in and of itself. The Zimbabwe countryside is absolutely gorgeous. Many of us had that feeling again where we couldn’t believe we were on the African Continent.
The whole day was spent at the park where we saw a wide variety of African wildlife. Highlights of the day included:
– a one-armed monkey “guiding” us through the park.
– Walking through an animal sanctuary with a wide variety of animals
– Riding Elephants
– Seeing a giraffe that is rarely spotted in the park…and getting close up pictures to boot.
– Getting some close up time with a lion named Brian and hearing some lions roar!! Heartpounding…
– Canoeing on an African river in some Canadian made canoes!
Of course between the 8 of us we got a huge amount of pictures and we’ll have fun showing them when we get home. I’ve just included a few for your perusal. Many of us are starting to get antsy about getting home but we still are looking forward to visiting an orphanage tomorrow and distributing some of the items we brought with us there.
Here’s a very small sampling of some of the pictures we took today:
1. Barry and Chris and Scott on elephants
2. A very very LARGE elephant bore down on us while we were waiting for the ones we were going to ride on. It was both a little bit frightening and exhilerating at the same time.
3. Doug with a horse. For those of you who know him, you’ll know Doug’s affinity with horses.
4. Kevin and Doug on an elephant.
5. King of the Jungle
6. Scott’s new friend…the one armed monkey!
7. Alex and me on an elephant
8. James on an elephant.
That’s the report for today folks!

Family Day in Zimbabwe!

This entry is part 16 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Today we attended worship at Hope Community Church for the morning service. We were thrilled that some of the workers we had invited to church attended this morning – it was great that they joined us for the service.
I had the wonderful privilege to preach this morning and it was a real neat experiencing preaching with a translator. Pastor Zowa translated for me and he did a great job. Following the service we joined in with Hope Community Church’s Family Day. Our group was split up and two of us went to each team that was set up for family day (Blue, Red, Black, White). There were over 250 participants and at first it was quite a bedlam on the property as it appeared that no one knew what they were doing. But as the day went on we realized that they were a lot more organized than we thought. We had fun participating in all the sports and activities although most of us were pretty tired when the day was done.
It was kind of an emotional day for many of us as well as we realized that this would most likely be the last time we’d see alot of the people there. We exchanged our addresses with many people as we said our goodbyes.
That’s it for this update! Here’s some pictures:
1. The people who won the “prizes from Canada”. Each pair from our group had to pick a person from the team we belonged to who demonstrated the most “team spirit”.
2. Chris and Doug in the tug of war
3. A picture of the crowd.
4. James and Scott in the tug of war.
5. Kevin playing volleyball
6. Me in the tug of war.
7. Alex flying a kite with the kids.
8. Barry in the tug of war
9. Me preaching

Finishing up with a Brii

This entry is part 25 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Today was the final “work” day here in Zimbabwe. We worked in the morning on the school block and just about finished getting all the walls up to the level where the gable ends get attached. The progress made in the week here was phenomenal and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of building this school block that will be of such importance in the education of the children here.
Another important part of this week was the opportunity for us to get to know the contracted workers who will continue to build while we are gone. At the beginning of the week we were strangers and at the end of the week we’re friends. There has been an exchange of addresses and some of the workers are pretty adamant that they are going to come to Canada some day! Considering the difficulty for them in getting a passport and the huge cost for them to make the trip the reality of this happening is pretty slim. However, they will be most welcome if they make it 🙂
The names of the men we worked with are: Tir Ivaviri Chimeri (foreman), Maute Taruberekerr, Kelvin Kanyemba, Chirasha Artweii, Simon Mashash, Albert Gapu, Marake Ngwende, Jimiel Mahenga, Fidelis Mukarati, Luckstar Chikunda, Brown Nyambo, and Simon Kangara. One of the things many of our crew noticed were the awful shape some of the footwear of these workers was in – one of the workers had no footwear at all.. Through the week our guys compared shoe sizes and today some of our guys made a gift of their boots to those men who could use them the most. It was incredibly moving moments – especially as Doug, Kevin and Alex walked back from the job site in their bare feet.
Following the work day we threw a Zimbabwe Brii (prounounced Brye) which is the Zimbabwean equivalent of a Canadian BBQ. James and myself cooked steak while the guys finished up and then we shared a final meal with the workers. It was a great way to culminate our time together.
This was the final work day for us in Zimbabwe. However we still have plans to visit an orphanage next week – more on that in future updates.
This evening we went to Gord and Anita Cooledge’s house and joined in with a dinner with many of the people that we’ve spent time with this week. We also got a chance to meet three other missionaries who are in Zimbabwe – Gary and Marvelyn Schell and Cecilia Paluch. Gary is the Academic Dean at Pan African Christian College in Harare and Cecilia oversees the Child Care Plus program for all of Zimbabwe. It was great meeting them and learning a little bit about what they do here as well.
As part of the evening we held a “Canadian Birthday Party” for Gord. His birthday wasn’t today but it is coming up soon and we wanted to celebrate it before leaving. We presented him with a special mug from home and inside the mug Barry included some headache pills… a fun and useful gift hehe.
Today’s pictures:
1. Sitting in “the Green Monster”: We’ve dubbed our ride that we take every day to the Village, “The Green Monster”. It is a green colored pickup that has a covered bed and 7 of us ride in the back while 1 of us sits up front. It sucks us in in the morning and spits us out at the Village! We’ve given it that name because the fumes in the back are pretty strong and we feel every bump and jolt along the way. Even though it is a tough ride we are still grateful for it and aren’t really complaining about it – it’s just become a running joke with us as we prepare for the ride to and fro from the village. Our driver Mr. Chedokwa is a really nice guy and we’ve enjoyed getting to know him over the week. We also greatly appreciate the time he is taking to come and pick us up and deliver us where we need to be.
2. The School Block work Crew: This picture was taken from the rooftop of a school block that is almost finished. It includes our team and the work crew we did the construction with this past week. You can also see the progress we made.
3. A bigger picture of the construction project: We estimate that we laid about 9,000 bricks in this past week. We actually probably moved around close to 12,000 bricks. It is amazing to see the pile of bricks that had been dropped off shrink over the week. Originally, it was this massive amount that was intimidating to say the least, but now most of it is in place as part of the new school block. It was a tremendous feeling of accomplishment for us as a team to look at the work that had been completed over the past week and the relationships we got to make with the work crew. We can’t wait to see the pictures of the finished school block when it is done!
Well, that’s it for today’s report!
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A few words…

This entry is part 24 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

This update will be short and sweet – we had a late night tonight and I can barely keep my eyes open. Also, we’re getting up at 6am to get an early start on our last work day tomorrow so I want to make sure I get at least a few ours of sleep 🙂 What the guys did:
– Kevin went to preschool in the morning.
– Doug and James went to the plots in the morning.
– Barry did a devotion with the VOH staff in the morning.
– The rest of us continued to work on the school block
– I spent some time in the morning with Pastor Zowa going over Sunday morning’s Service and praying with Him for Sunday.
– Barry, Chris, Kevin and James participated in the after-school program today and were teaching the kids how to play baseball.
– Barry and Alex participated in a radio intervview by CFOS
– We all had supper at house number 1 of the orphanage and what a supper it was! We had a blast meeting with the kids and learning about them. They took our cameras and took pictures all over the house.
I’m about to fall off the couch and drop the laptop from exhaustion – I’m just going to attach the pictures for now.
Picture #1: Is a picrture of the Zimbabwe Construction crew we worked with while here – they were an awesome bunch to work with!!
Picture#2: Here’s the kids from the plots receiving some toys that we passed out as gifts today.
Picture #3: Here’s a picture of one of the “better” houses found on the plots.
Picrture #4: Here’s a picture of where we are in the construction equity.