And Then It Was Over

What We Did

I am sitting on my couch tonight, beginning the process of reflecting on the last two months. Sherry and I and our two teams had a very productive trip. The Dine clinic foundation was reinforced and cracks were repaired. I confess that I had little to do with this project directly. I rounded up tools and supplies and made several trips, staging the guest house ready for the stay of those who did the work.

The “little house” (this one is not on the prairie) where the second team men stayed was cleaned, scraped, and painted inside and out. I delivered 14 panes of glass and putty to fix broken windows. And several someone elses installed them. Sherry and several others painted one side of the church. The members have since painted the other three sides and a shop area adjacent to the church. If there is a picture here, then I was able to upload it. If not, well, it looks nice.

And that isn’t even the most important work we shared in. There was a great revival at Dine that I had a part in. I preached the first night, Friday. Eighteen people were baptized. We also went to visit the tribal chief of the area. While there making ourselves known to him, some issues around the mission were addressed and he promised to fix the situation. Back in Chiredzi, I was privileged to preach on Easter Sunday. As part of the service, I got to ordain three elders at Chiredzi Christian Church and share in three baptisms. We helped them with some staff issues they were having. Sherry shared with the youth one night. There were many young adults there and she did a fantastic job. She also taught a ladies’ Bible study group. It was very impactful. I preached at a youth conference and somewhere every Sunday. 

We were, simply put, busy people. We had few days off. At one point I drove at least three hours, twelve days in a row. I did over 7000 kilometers in 7 weeks on my truck.

After the second team arrived, we returned to the game park with them. We had a great visit and saw lots of animals. The highlight for me was a sighting of a rhino, or the back half, rushing through the brush. I was asked if I ever tire of spending time in the park. Nope!

Time to Leave

I confess that I miss home. Again, however, I was not really ready to leave my friends in Zimbabwe, not yet anyway. Seven weeks is a long time to be away. Yet, the people there are so precious to me, to us, that leaving is hard. This year we made a new, dear friend in Mo Davey. It was her house that we stayed in when we were in Chiredzi. Her generous gift of opening her home to use is a gift we will not soon forget. Spending time with Mark and Meghan is priceless. We depend upon them for so much. We ask them where we can get things we need and taken them with us to help us. I like to think we have gifts for them (besides the stuff in the duffels we deliver to them). Another couple who has become dear to us is Bill and Julia. When in Harare, we stay with them. They open their home to us and fed us. They helped get team two to a place where they could get gifts for those back home and remembrances. At the beginning of the trip, which seems so long ago, we say Dave and Cynthia Fortescue. Our pastor, Simon, and his wife are as dear as anyone we could name.

There are so many we have come to know and love. To name them all would be impossible. For one there are so many, and for another, many of their names I can’t really pronounce or spell correctly. As I write this from my home in the US, my heart is split, some here and some there. 

The Trip Home

Many have followed on Facebook our journey home and the challenges in which we found ourselves. I suppose the first sign of trouble came as we returned home from church on Sunday. I had no clutch on my pickup and had to shift without its benefit. It can be done but it is not easy. We had a plan for getting those who were left (10) to the airport on Monday morning. Suddenly we were down a vehicle, and Julia had caught pneumonia. One of the professors at the college helped transport the first team. Bill ran to a pharmacy for an antibiotic for his wife. He then returned to the house and took Shery and I to the airport. As Julia was sick, we thought it best to go early (we were three hours behind the others and on different airlines) and get out of the way of our sick friend. Then it got serious. We hoped to check our bags and hit the airline lounge for some food and comfortable chairs and a little relaxation. That plan ended before we really got started. Our first flight out of Harare was five hours late. We sat, and sat, and sat. They worked for hours trying to find us know connections. I am not sure why, but they were challenged. So an hour before our delayed flight was to depart, they finally found us new flights and offered us food. We went to a chicken place and ate, got through ticketing, document checking, security (twice) and passport control. Then to the gate, where we were offered more chicken, in a sandwich this time. I had been worried we would be rushed to Doha, Qatar, to make our connection. I needn’t worry. Just before getting on the plane I noticed the date. It was the 15th we were starting our journey, the connection was for the 17th. Twenty hours waiting were ahead of us.

Once we arrived in Nairobi, we tried to fine some help. He suspected we were entitled to a motel, and in fact, we were, but we couldn’t find anyone to ask. Can I leave this to say that is a long, long time, and boredom and the lack of sleep take their toll. We ate three times at a little cafe and became friendly with the girls working there. Finally, the wait was over and we headed for Doha. It was five and a half hours.

I cannot tell you much about that flight. I remember taking off, Sherry waking me to eat a meal, chicken something, probably. I remember looking out the window and seeing lots of sand, and landing. I slept most of the flight. We exited the plane and walked a thousand miles from one plane to another. The Qatar Airlines waiting area was, well, interesting, but we navigated fine and found our seats: Middle section of plan, middle section, and the middle two seats. My seatmate on the aisle wasn’t very talkative and slept a lot so getting up and out was not easy. Yet, we navigated, and for 14.5 hours we went over the pole (North by the way) headed for Seattle. If you are doing the math, we had 12 hours in Harare, 5 hours flight to Nairobi, 22 hours waiting their, 5.5 hour flight to Doha, 2 hour connection, and 14.5 hour flight to Seattle. By the time it was over I was ready to be home. And home I am.

Thus ends my Zimbabwe blog. Oh, I might have one more reflection. Next stop is in May for a granddaughter’s graduation and then off to Kenya in July. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks everyone for your financial support to make all this important work possible. Thanks for the prayers throughout our time in Zimbabwe and getting home. I look forward to seeing many of you in the coming weeks as we make our reports. God bless you. He certainly blessed us.