Makanaka Mwari!

This entry is part 22 of 27 in the series, Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Greetings friends and family! We have ended day 6 of our journey in Zimbabwe and there are only 7 days left before we fly out to leave for home. Many of us have expressed that in some ways it feels like we’ve been here a month. We have experienced so much and worked so hard that time has become a bit of a nebulous fragment. A common thought among all of us is that we are greatly enjoying this experience, greatly challenged by it, and missing home as well.
Today we woke up to the sun once again. The weather is so consistent here in the winter. Overnight the temperature drops to around 1-4 degrees Celsius and as soon as the sun rises around 6:00am the temperature begins rising until it reaches around 22-24 degrees Celsius. We’ve had a lot of fun telling our new Zimbabwe friends what winters in Canada are like and have even shown pictures of our famous snowbanks to a few people. They always tremble at the thought of how cold it is and wonder how we survive!
When we arrived at the village, Barry and Alex went to the plots and participated in the feeding and education program there with two of the preschool teachers from the Village. Chris went to the preschool class and joined with them for most of the morning. He was responsible for doing the Bible lesson that morning and taught on David and Goliath. Apparently the “Davids” had a blast bringing down big old “Goliath” (Chris) hehe! The rest of us joined in with staff devotions and I participated in that with leading the devotion and opening in prayer and James closed in prayer. Every morning the staff of the Village of Hope meet together and pray for the daily activities before starting their day. Prayer is so vital and we certainly recognize how important faith in Jesus Christ has been in the success of the Village.
Following the staff devotional I stayed in the office and worked on the office computers cleaning them up from a virus infestation they had and repairing other glitches and software problems they had been having. The rest of the men went to continue working on the school block. We’ve been working with some local contractors to build the school block. These workers have been hired for the current construction work on the property and have deadlines they have to meet. If they go over the deadlines there is a reduction in the payment they will receive for the work. It is nice knowing that our coming and helping these contractors isn’t going to cost them anything but is actually a blessing to them as well as to the village as it helps enable them to finish the work faster. We’ve had a chance to build some relationships with the local workers and many of the more experienced construction guys on our team have been able to pass on some skills to them as we’ve worked along side of them. Below you’ll see some pictures of how some of the construction is coming along.
In the morning we took a break to take a picture with the team and workers from the village with a mock-up cheque representing the amount that has been raised over and above our team expenses that will be given to the Village of Hope. The cheque was for $25,000. I really can’t begin to express the emotions that we shared as we got together for that picture. We’ve talked often about the support we’ve received from friends and family and our community that has enabled us to bless the VOH in this way. We’ve also talked about the responsibility we feel to be good stewards of that trust. It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to bless the Village in this way! Thanks again so much for your support folks! We can assure you *firsthand *that the money is begin put to good use. There are two pictures of the cheque below.
This afternoon Barry went to the airport with Gord Cooledge to see about the two bags that didn’t make it to Zimbabwe. When he arrived he discovered that so far only one bag has arrived but Praise God it was the bag with tools, toys and crafts! Apparently the bag was completely ripped and torn up but it’s contents were pretty much undamaged. The hockey bag was mine but I got to tell you, I have no problems with it being torn up 🙂 It’ll make a nice souvenir of our trip to Zimbabwe!
At the end of the day we returned to the house tired but feeling good about what is being accomplished while we are here. Our team meetings in the evening are usually lasting about an hour and a half by the time each of us share the experiences of the day with each other and we pray together. It has been an incredible bonding time as a team as we go through this exprience together.
Some new facts to share: – There are nearly always lineups for fuel due to the cost and steps the people have to go through in order to get the fuel. – Gas costs $140,000 Zimbabwean per litre here. And we complain because…. – The official currency exchange rate for the Zimbabwe Dollar that you will find out from financial sources online and in the banks is listed at 1 Canadian Dollar = roughly $234 ZWD. In actual fact, as we’ve discovered while here, the exchange rate is closer to 1 CAD = about $114,000 ZWD. – The most a teacher will make in Zimbabwe is one million ZWD’s / month. Barry got three postcards today and two stamps and the cost was $335,000 ZWD. That’s it *for today* – it would cost more tomorrow. Now, you can imagine how difficult it is for people to afford to buy even the basic necessities each month! The saddest thing is that for a lot of employees in Zimbabwe the wages don’t increase inline with inflation. We were pleased to discover that the Village of Hope makes it a practice to increase wages for their staff in line with the inflation rate.
One final fact for this update: Makanaka Mwari means “God You are Good”. This is a line of a song that one of our Zimbabwe friends, Mr. Mufasa, has been teaching us. Mr. Mufasa is the headmaster of the elementary school being developed on the Village of Hope grounds. It truly is a blessing for us to witness that in spite of the devestated economy, in spite of the hardships the people here face, and in spite of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles – they still are able to say, “God You are Good”. For they understand that *real life* and *real joy* is found not in the possessions we have but in the relationships we are blessed with. Especially the relationship we can enjoy with our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. Further, believers here also readily say that they know God takes care of them. And indeed He is, indeed He does. Makanaka Mwari!
Here’s some pictures: 1. A picture of Barry at the plots with some of the children. 2. A picture of the Zimbabwe 2007 team presenting the cheque to some of the Village of Hope Staff and the pastor of the Hope Community Church located on the Village grounds (middle next to me). 3. A picture of the cheque with the Grade one and two class of CHAPS (Cornelius Hope Academy Primary School). Mr. Mufasa, the headmaster, is in the middle and the two women are the teachers. 4. A picture showing the progress being made on the school block we are working on. 5. A picture showing some of the contracted workers we are working with.
– Darren Ethier and the Zimbabwe 2007 Team






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