It has been a busy 10 days or so since I last reported our happenings. I will start with this weekend and then go back.
We had Elder Holland here and it was a great experience for everyone. He arrived Friday. The area president, Elder Kolliker and his wife were also travelling with Elder Holland. They had a meeting with all the missionaries for about 45 minutes before the devotional started. Elder Bullock was there for that meeting and I wanted to be but I needed to also be with the choir as they were doing sound tests with the organ and choir to get ready. They did have to make some microphone changes etc. to make it all work. There were about 200 in the choir and they sounded great. I played the keyboard (organ) and I guess I did okay – not perfect but, okay. I did get several good comments afterwards. (I was all they had – no one here really plays). It was a good meeting and Elder Holland gave a good talk and an apostolic blessing on everyone in the congregation. Merci was there and loved the whole thing. Zvikomberero (our investigator from Epworth) was there too – also the X-boyfriend, Gift (but not together). They both loved it. Our x-pastor, Seka came to town for the meeting too. We were so glad that they were all there.
Seka told us that his wife’s parents are elders in the church that he just quit recently and they are not at all happy with his decision so consequently they have taken their daughter (his wife) back and left him with the two children until he comes to his senses. He feels really bad but he says he plans to ‘press on’. He still wants to move to Harare so he can get baptized and be close to our church. He is studying the material that we gave him. We are just waiting for someone to get back to town this week that may give him a job. He is a really good man.
Gift, the guy who beat Zvikomberero, asked to talk to us last week so we went to see him. He did admit to beating her but said, “I’ve only beat her three times since 2006”. YIKES – what an answer! Elder Bullock explained the church’s stand on such behaviour and told him it was unacceptable and that he has some repenting to do. He is still coming to church and wants to continue with the discussions. It will take some time before he could be baptized. Zvikomberero is doing okay. She is staying at her brother’s father’s place for now and looking for a way to make some money. She will likely do some type of street vending.
Back to Elder Holland - After the devotional we hurried over to the mission home where we had supper pretty much ready beforehand. We served a potato bar, garlic loaf, jello salad and apple crumble with ice cream. They really liked the meal and thanked us for making “American” food. It turned out well. After the meal I got a ‘big’ hug from Elder Holland and a thank you for what we are doing here! Nice! He was really tired so they took him to the hotel and we stayed and cleaned up and were all done by 8:00. We had to get up early Saturday to head down to Mutare. I rode with Elder and Sister Deppe and we left about 7:00 a.m. and took food down so that we could have a light lunch set up and ready for them at the church when they arrived. We served chicken salad, a bun, carrot sticks, tomato wedge and pumpkin pie for dessert. At the last minute they decided they needed a bag lunch to eat on their way back to Harare on Sunday after the district conference – so Sat. we got the stuff and we made tuna sandwiches on left over buns, cookies, apple and a drink for them. It worked out good. The conference in Mutare was really good. There was training and an adult meeting on Saturday afternoon and the district conference this morning (Sunday). Elder Holland seemed relaxed and gave an excellent talk and again gave a blessing to the congregation. He said it was if he was laying his hands on each person’s head and giving each a blessing. It was really special. The people here in Zimbabwe were so thrilled to have a visit by an apostle and went to a lot of effort to make everything ready for him. It was wonderful to be part of it and to spend 3 days close to him. Saturday evening we had supper in a private room at the hotel with the missionaries from Mutare, Pres. Chadembuka (district pres.) & his wife. It was nice. While we were waiting to go down to the supper, we were in the hallway and Elder Holland invited us to come into his room for a visit (Elder Bullock and myself, his security fellow, Clint, and Pres. Dube). We just visited for 10 minutes or so. He had been to Cameroon on this tour and said that they stood on a hill and dedicated it for missionary work as no one seemed to think that had ever been done before. I told him that my parents were the first missionaries sent into Cameroon back in 1991 to get things going there. He was interested in that. (Hint for mom: He might be phoning you! I gave him your number ;)).
Remember the fellow we found out at the Refugee Camp a few weeks ago? Well he was at the conference. Apparently he has been into Mutare 3 times since we found him – once to church, and then helped with the service project last weekend and then again this weekend. It was good to see him and he sure seems happy to be involved in church again. I think he just didn’t know where to find it before we met him and told him.
Last weekend we went to Bulawayo to help them with their service project at the two hospitals. They did a lot of work and really made a difference with their cleaning inside and also on the grounds outside. We gave out ‘new-born’ kits to the new mothers at both hospitals. (about 130 kits) There were a lot of premature babies and there were several sets of twins. The babies were so tiny but only 2 were in an incubator. One mother had lost her baby so I went back and gave her a hygiene kit. I felt so bad for her. There was another girl who was crying because her baby had just been born and it was premature and they weren’t sure if it was going to live. It seems weird that they would let us wander around among all this but they do. Quite a bit different than at home.
Monday we met the World Vision people in Bulawayo and they took us north on the Victoria Falls road about 80 km. and then about 45 km. on a dust road. We went to the home of the little 4 yr. old girl that my friend, Florence, sponsors through World Vision. They were expecting us and there was singing and dancing as we drove up. The little girl was shy and seemed to know she was the center of attention, but she seemed to relax and smile after a little while. Her mother, father, brother and grandmother were there along with a few other relatives. Other people showed up as well. We had some blankets, soap, a few hygiene kits and some toys and balls that we took with us. Luckily there was enough for everyone to get something and they were thrilled. We were there for an hour or so and someone had to translate as they didn’t speak much English. We enjoyed our visit and I took lots of pictures for Florence. There is no work for them out there and they mostly just work in their gardens/fields to grow enough food for themselves. There were boreholes along the way for their water. We saw no vehicles out there except for carts pulled by donkeys or cattle/oxen. It was dry and dusty. Their little homestead/yard area was clean and looked nice.
Road to village
Going to bore hole to fill water jugs
On our way to visit Florence's World Vision child, Sithatshisiwe
Singing and dancing as we arrived
There she is!!!
Mom with Sithatshisiwe and her brother
With her mom, brother and grandmother
Me with the family in front of their hut
Their yard with kitchen (left) and grandmothers hut (right)
Monday afternoon we went with Pres. Makasi (Bulawayo stake pres.) to a center for handicapped children of all ages. Children come there for the day to give parents a chance to go to work or have a break. A lot of the children have cerebral palsy. They had a lot of needs at the centre – soft foods, mattresses, toys, hygiene needs, etc. etc. We had a case of soap and case of school kits in the truck and we left that with them. We also had a couple of balls that we gave the kids and they were thrilled. They would like $200,000 so that they can build a new center on some land that the city donated to them – however, we can’t do that. The people running the place are doing a good work with what they have. There are a lot of good people in this country trying to help the less fortunate in whatever way they can but they rely almost completely on ‘well-wishers’ for donations.
We are back in Harare now and will get back into our regular routine. Our garden is now producing tomatoes, cabbages, spinach and onions. We sell 20 big bundles of spinach to a near-by restaurant (50 cents/bunch) every Tuesday. We will sell onions and cabbages to Bishop Spencer who owns a SPAR (grocery) store hopefully (he gets back this week from his U.S. vacation). The gardens look good. I will go take a picture to send you. Huseni takes care of the gardens and also several members and non-members have plots where they can grow produce for themselves for their family or to sell if they want. We will likely be turning the whole garden project over to the ward to be directed by the priesthood leaders once this crop is finished and before the maize is planted in a couple of months. Zvkomberero is working in the garden for a couple of days helping with the weeding so that she can earn a little money and hopefully it will help her start her vending business. She needs $30 to start. We pay about 75 cents an hour for garden work.
Must run. We are doing fine. I have had a cold but it is better now – other than a bit of sniffles.
Love you all. Sister Bullock