Friday, September 29, 2006

Bread II

We were just at the grocery store and saw a bread mob. There was this huge line of people that extended out the door, and then the bakers pulled out a cart with fresh loaves of bread. People were grabbing and pushing and rushing the bread. It was gone within seconds. Yesterday we went to a bakery and were surprised to see many loaves. John pointed to one and asked, "how much is the bread?" "We don't sell bread." "OK, well, how much is that?" "Oh, the twisted loaf? It's $300." See, officially bread has to stay at $200, but if it's not technically bread, then other prices can be charged. But you have to be careful. Several bakers have been arrested. "Give us this day our daily bread" is quite literal in Zim these days!

Lieutenant-Colonel Mhasvi

Last night Colonel Mhasvi died. He was the personnel secretary for The Salvation Army here. He was a good, kind, righteous, respectful, gentle man. He had developed cancer in the liver and kidneys, and was in a lot of pain, and so it is good that he is now at rest - restored and completely healed. But, of course, it is also sad. I was so touched when I visited Col. Mhasvi in the hospital a couple of weeks ago. He was so frail and weak, and yet took time to ask how I was doing, and how John and my family back home were doing. In his weakness, he wanted to bless me.

Someone knocked on our door at about 9:30pm last night to tell us the news. "Col. Mhasvi has just died. We are going." So, we got dressed and went to their house. Within an hour the house was packed. Everyone shows up. The immediacy of everyone's response really marked me. Everyone hears the news, drops whatever they're doing (including going to bed), and shows up to mourn together. When we got to the Mhasvis house, we greeted all of the men outside, and then went inside and one-by-one greeted all of the women. All of the women sit in the house on the ground - lining the walls. All of the furniture is removed from the house (or at least the living room). The men stay outside, but as they arrive at the house, they come in, crouch down, clap their hands together, and pay respect to all of the women. I was touched by this act. It's the women that seem to hold most of the pain and the grief, but the men know it - and they show their respect. There was a lot of singing, and crying, and wailing. One woman was screaming all the way down the street, and then when she got inside the house she just collapsed. After awhile, everyone moved to the backyard, where we had a memorial service. Members of our corps band came and played, we sang, people shared memories, there was a sermon on Job (and how even the righteous have to suffer). We left at about 1:00am, but some people stayed throughout the night.

In the middle of the service, Colonel Mhavsi's wife and children came. They are a family of deep faith and grace and joy. I sense that they are all trying really hard to be strong for everyone else. Sam had his dad's wedding ring on his finger, and talked about how he had never stopped praying for a miracle, but now he just had to accept. He's 23. Please keep this family in your prayers. Pray that they will have strength and comfort and grace.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


We had an AMAZING weekend holiday in Kariba. We went with the Johnsons and our friend Hope, and stayed in a little cottage beside the lake. It was wonderful to be by water, and it really refreshed our spirits. Being by the water also made me feel closer to Sherri and my family, and reminded me of lots of happy family vacations. There was a swimming pool where we stayed, and it was wonderful to be able to just swim around in the sun.

We saw lots of animals. We drove up really close to an elephant that was on the road and then discovered that there were 6 other elephants surrounding us. It was cool. We also saw an elephant charging at some villagers. I think being charged at by an elephant would be quite terrifying! A 10 minute walk from where we stayed, we could watch and listen to hippos. They are majestic creatures. We saw crocodiles too. Oh, and buffaloes and zebra (but from afar). We also got to go on a boat cruise, and to walk along the Kariba dam wall (which is on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Hope was thrilled because it was her first time out of the country!)

We got some amazing photos (if I do say so myself), so have a look at the photo gallery. I've put some captions on most of them, to help tell the story.

Monday morning I woke up early to watch the sunrise. I was sitting on a rock, enjoying the sounds of the waves lapping along the beach, and reading some Psalms. I read this verse from Psalm 143:8 "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love..." and then I looked up, and there was the bright pink sun. It was a beautiful moment, and a reminder that God brings light every single day. And then a crocodile swam past right underneath the sun - which was cool. God is good.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Zimbabweans love their bread. I have been amazed at breakfast or tea time to see people take 5 slices at a time. One guy at our church eats a whole loaf of bread to start the day. Right now there's a bit of a bread war happening in Zim. When we got here, bread was $85,000 ($85 revalued), and the price has jumped twice in 5 months to $200. The government sets the price, and so anywhere you go, a loaf of bread will cost $200. Well, last week, the bakers raised the price on their own (to above $300 a loaf) because inflation is causing the price of ingredients to go up all the time. The government ordered the price back down to $200, and so the bakers stopped producing so much, and now it's really hard to find bread anywhere. Rather than go to the blackmarket, my resourceful husband got out some good Canadian flour that we had brought and baked us a couple of loaves last night. I had heard that near-future conflicts in the world would be over resources like land and water. I hadn't expected bread! (P.S. Speaking of my resourceful husband, I must admit that it's a lovely treat to have some nice strawberries on your cereal that have come from your own garden!)

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Week's WrapUp

Good news: Our friend Sean's brother Luke is in remission from cancer! And my brother Josh got a job.

Bad news: Our friend Chris was killed in gang violence.

Cool news: Our friend Elizabeth Shepherd was on the cover of NOW magazine in Toronto. I feel so proud of her. My brother Joel blogged about it, if you want to check it out.

Interesting news: All week I've been at a Training of Trainers that our department organized. I've been so impressed with the delegates, who have come from all around the country. They've worked hard and shown commitment and vision. Some of them gave presentations yesterday. They were each asked to present on something that's a training need in their area. One guy got up and said, "My topic is the importance of men and young men shaving under the arms." I thought he was joking, and laughed, but he wasn't. It was explained to me that if men and women shave off hair everywhere, it will help them to be more clean. John says he's not up for it. I guess you can't adopt EVERYTHING in a new culture.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


One of the traditions (or practices) here is that when there is a musical presentation in church (such as a choir singing or someone playing a solo or something) and you really think they're doing a great job, you take some money from your pocket or purse, wave it in the air, ululate and walk up to the front to give the money to the church. This shows that you think the music has been top-notch. On Sunday, our young friend Brilliant was leading the timbrel/tambourine group for young people. And she's good. It made me so happy (and emotional) to see her mom take out this $100 zim bill and wave it around, smiling and dancing the money up to the front. She showed her daughter that she is really proud of her. This sacrificial act of love really touched me because this family doesn't have a lot. The father makes about $15 US a month (with 2 kids). I was really touched. I thank God so much for my own parents, and I wish I could give them a big hug right now! Mom & Dad - thanks for being proud of me - I love you!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Yesterday I participated in a very interesting conversation about forgiveness. Forgiveness is something I've thought about a lot, but rather than give my own thoughts at this time, I'll share a couple of the comments from yesterday:

"Forgiveness is a subject that is close to my heart. At one time I killed 5 people in one family. It was hard, but I knew that I had to go ask for forgiveness. So, I went to the family home, and was taken to the 5 graves. I asked the surviving kids for forgiveness, but they refused. I asked them if I could bring them anything or do anything for them. But they said that all they wanted was to see their parents again. It is very hard not to be forgiven." (I found out later that this happened in the context of the war, and that this man has been mentally tortured ever since this experience).

"I think it's hard to forgive when your husband takes on a second wife. I used to have a great life, and was well respected. Then my husband took on a new wife. Now, I live in a separate house with my children. I cannot forgive that second wife. She took everything from me. I still say "The Lord's prayer" but I can't say the part about forgiving others, because I won't forgive her."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Old Man John

Good news: We've had hot water three mornings in a row and our phone is working again. Not so good news: We still experience power cuts and our ceiling seems to be caving in. There's a big crack down the middle and every morning we pick up pieces of plaster. I should probably check into that.

After four months of laziness, I've finally got into a consistent running routine. In Canada I used to run after work, but it gets dark too early here without street lights, there's crazy dogs roaming the streets and it's getting hotter now that winter's over. So, I get up at 5:15 every morning to run. It took me a long time to adjust from being a night owl to an early riser, but now I wake up quite easily. Sadly, once 9 pm hits, I start falling asleep like an old man (no offense to my father-in-law).

I'm running six days a week (when scheduling permits) with a longer run on Saturdays. It's taking a while to get back into shape, but I'm feeling better each day in spite of a sprained ankle. I've decided to run the Comrades Marathon that takes place in South Africa on June 17. It's an 89 km race, but I have nine months to train for it. I'm joining a running club next Friday so that I can train and qualify for the event. It will be nice to meet with people from outside of Salvation Army world. We're both suffocating a bit from the whole Salvation Army ghetto experience.

Every morning I run by a protected woodlands about 4 km from our home. I usually see zebra and impala and sometimes even wildebeest and giraffe. How cool is that? Much more exciting than squirrels.

Now that it's hotter, the lizards are roaming all over the place. I enjoy lizards and there's quite a variety living all around (and in) our home. I'm hoping not to see any snakes, though, as they are very poisonous here. The over-friendly dog living next door has left with his family, so no more scratches on our skin or ripped clothing. But he also kept the nasty neighborhood dogs away, and they have started roaming near our property again.

I was watching Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith on my laptop yesterday with one of the kids from the neighborhood. Whenever the scene shifted to a new planet, he asked if that was Canada. Close, but not quite. But I was forced to admit that I was a Jedi.  

We held a newborn baby this week. She was small and delicate and beautiful. She was born premature, and her mom has AIDS. When Rochelle joked that she wanted to take the baby home with her, a family member said that she may just have to. Very sad. It was tough seeing how weak her mother was, especially since we spent the night before at another home where a young woman had just died from AIDS. So much death and suffering.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cell Phone Culture

Cell phone culture is quite different here in Zim. (Geoff - we think you'd love it!) A lot of people in Harare have cell phones, because they tend to be a bit more reliable than landlines. It is unusual to be in a meeting where someone's cell phone doesn't go off. And it's not a reaction of, "oh dear, I left my cell phone on, I'm so sorry." It's just like, "well, I had better answer this immediately and right here." Monday night I went over to our neighbours' to offer them a little farewell gift. In the middle of my prayer of blessing for them, the Major's cell phone went off. So, he answered it (I guess, just in case it was God, giving some sort of response!) Wednesday night, John and I went on a date (it was very romantic!) We saw a movie and so many people answered their cell phones during the movie - having a full conversation. I have a friend named Beauty who is Zimbabwean, but moved to Canada a few years ago; where I met her. Thursday night I went to go visit her parents. Communication was difficult because of language, so I sang a song for them. And a cell phone went off (to the tune of "Jingle Bells") in the middle of the song. Oh yeah, I should have mentioned, no one uses the "vibrate" function here.

Friday night, I learned that my friend's sister was not feeling well. The sister had been staying with them, and was quite sick, so I decided to go pay them a visit. I discovered upon arrival that she had just died. I was told to go into the room where the sister was lying on the bed. I know it's wrong, but I only stayed about 2 minutes in the room. I was feeling a bit faint. It's like you could feel death in the air. My friend was obviously really upset, and it was hard to see her anguish. Thankfully, she had tonnes of visitors. The whole community comes out to support one another. Again, cell phones were a feature. People's cell phones were going off in the room of the deceased. One thing I did find quite significant was that in the family's living room, many people were coming and laying their cell phones on the table - so that they could be used to let various relatives and friends know the news. We all just kind of sat and offered our presence to the family as we waited for the police to come and collect the body. It felt weird to me to have "Auld Lang Syne" or a samba beat coming loudly from a cell phone in the middle of our prayers and songs for someone who had just passed away. Cell phone culture is just different here. Please keep the Jamu family in your prayers/thoughts.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Deep Well of Love

"We are often unaware of the deep well, the sanctuary of love, within us, and our capacity to love with the very love of God. We may in fact be frightened of this loving tenderness that we sense rising within us because we see it as weakness." Jean Vanier (John's hero).

Sometimes my love feels like weakness. I feel silly for crying, because when someone is hungry or grieving, what good do my tears do? But my tears come from a deep well of love that God continually puts in my heart for others. My love causes me great pain, because I feel that I always want to do more. When I visit someone who has had both legs amputated, or is on their deathbed, or who doesn't know how to pay for their hospital bills, or who is grieving their son, my prayer or my song or my few dollars or my tears seem so insufficient. But I wouldn't trade the pain of loving for anything, because it accompanies great joy - in sharing in the life and suffering and joy of others.

There is so much death and pain, but there is also hope. Last night I got to hold a 9 day old baby. She was adorable, and it did my heart good to literally hold new life. I have a persistent, unrelenting belief that there is always hope. God is good.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were arrested and beaten for protesting in several Zim cities yesterday. Of course, demonstrations are not allowed, and require police clearance. From The Herald: "Protests planned by the ZCTU in major cities and towns flopped dismally yesterday when workers ignored the strike call." The demonstrations were against the inflation rate (over 1000%), and for increased incomes and more money for HIV/AIDS. In other news, the World Bank has also announced the Zimbabwe's life expectancy is down to 30. John's 32. Please keep Zimbabwe in your prayers!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Amazing Grace

I went up to the Finance Department, and a friend was joking about how she was feeling down today, and so thought about coming to my office to have me sing to her. I told her she was welcome to come anytime. She just popped in, and chose the song, "Amazing Grace." I sang it for her, and she burst out crying, saying "You have no idea how much that meant to me." That's grace - it's unexpected and undeserved, and it means SO much. I pray grace on that friend. I pray grace on my friend Grace back home (who I've been, ironically, really missing today). I pray grace on the many women in Zimbabwe and elsewhere who have lost children and are grieving. And I pray grace for the many people who have been told that they are under a curse, or that they're being used as instruments of the devil or evil spirits. I love grace, and I love that it can free people from judgment and condemnation. Amazing grace on you today.


Growing up, the only pets we had were goldfish, and with their short lifespan, the constant funerals became a bit traumatic! Someone sent me an e-mail the other day asking if we have pets here in Zim. Well, not technically. We do have a hamster cage, but we're waiting for our friend's hamster to have babies. Our neighbours, however, have a dog named Dusty. Dusty seems to think he is our dog. He likes to sleep in front of our door, and to be truthful, Dusty loves us. I don't think I've ever had an animal love me so much, actually. Our own bunnies in Canada couldn't have cared less about us (even though we used our whole verandah as "Bunnyland" and tried to treat them so well!) As soon as Dusty sees us he runs and jumps and his tail wags like crazy. I have so many scratches all over my arms. The one on my hand from this morning is currently bleeding. I'm not huge on animals (always having been more of a people-person), but I feel badly for Dusty. I think he's quite attention-deprived. Animal rights aren't a huge priority, and dogs are for scaring people - not for cuddling as pets. So, I let Dusty jump on me - as long as I'm not in uniform. Dusty's moving tomorrow; with the rest of his real family to Bindura - a rural area where they won't have running water/electricity/phones, etc. We'll be back to being pet-less, and the house next to us will be empty.

P.S. Our garden is proving so useful. We ate fresh carrots last night, and they were delicious. We also took some lavendar and added it to our bath - how relaxing!

Monday, September 11, 2006


My parents and brothers (and other family and friends) recently spent a week at Territorial Music School at Jackson's Point on Lake Simcoe. They met a girl named Tatenda (which means "we thank you," by the way. I'm re-starting Shona classes tonight!). Tatenda is studying in Lindsay, but is from Harare. They loved her (of course), and felt that "Zimbabwe connection" with us. Tatenda and I have since been e-mailing each other, and yesterday I met her dad at Congress. How cool is that? Another small world story. Her dad rocks at hosho and is a good dancer too (my kind of guy). As we were saying good-bye yesterday, he gave us some treat money for ice cream. Now THAT'S a dad who misses his daughter! We were truly blessed by his kindness. Tatenda - I'm looking forward to meeting you when you're home for Christmas!

P.S. Last night I was at a friend's house, and she was watching "The Bachelor" and asking me questions about dating practices in my culture. Oh dear. I just had to explain that my culture can be very, very strange.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Weekend at Congress

We just got back from Congress (a big Salvation Army event for our division). It was good. And, as per usual, I learned a few things. 1. If you smile sweetly (ALMOST flirtatiously), you can get a guy to pump water for you at the borehole (because, trust me, it's tiring). 2. Don't forget your bucket (I learned this last time). You need a bucket in order to bathe out of at 3:00am outside in the dark, so that the men don't see. There was a hard and steady rule this time - "no woman is to be found bathing after 4:30am." I've got to tell you - it was FREEZING. (Actually, I felt guilty. We only have one sleeping bag, and John let me use it. He only had a couple of thin blankets - and the cement floor in the classrooms where we stayed was hard - but a few guys tried to cuddle up to him for warmth!) 3. If you're going to be using pit latrines, don't wear nylons. It's just a lot more awkward. 4. Wear sunscreen. All of the sessions are held outside, and only the officers are under a tent. Sometimes you can get shade, but sometimes you can't. 5. Be prepared to witness to cows. Salvationists here love to march. So, we had 2 marches of witness - in the field with the cows. I have to admit, it does look fairly impressive to see SO many people in uniform, marching for Jesus. I think the cows here blessed. People were asking me if Congress was similar in Canada. Hmmm, well maybe a little different.

People LOVE The Salvation Army here, and they love their uniforms. Even when people are told they can wear whatever they want, they choose uniforms. And people will save all of the money they can just to get proper uniforms. It's actually remarkable. One lady had borrowed a hat to wear for the weekend, and it was stolen. She knows that it was stolen rather than lost, because the thief had put another hat (cloth version) in its place. So, announcements were made, but the hat wasn't returned. So, this morning they took a collection. Over $45,000 was raised - enough for the girl to buy a replacement hat for the friend she borrowed it from, plus her own hat, plus some extra groceries. She wept in front of the crowd, and I was really moved too. That's grace. I was just really touched that the whole community came together to look after this one girl. It was beautiful.

Our power's back at home (hallelujah!) but they say our phones (and thus internet) will be out for at least a month. We had become spoiled by having internet at home. Oh well. We can still submit to our blog, even if we can't see it, so don't worry - you will be kept up-to-date on our adventures.

Friday, September 08, 2006

BBQ on the McAlisters!

I am truly amazed and inspired by Zimbabweans - women especially. No matter what the circumstance, they make a way. Last night I was talking with a neighbour as she was cooking over her firewood in the backyard. She had a pot in front of her with the lid overturned and a bunch of hot coals in it. I asked her what she was doing, and she explained that she was baking bread. She had created a little oven, with coals underneath the pot, and then coals on top of it. I was so impressed! Our power's been off since Tuesday. Last night we had to clear out our fridge and freezer. We were giving out chicken and beef and bread and cheese to our neighbours, so that they could cook it over their firewood before it went bad. John was calculating the thousands of dollars we lost, but hey - there was a massive BBQ on the McAlisters! Inflation causes prices to go up every week, so when we get paid, we try to buy in bulk and then freeze things. This is a clever strategy, except when there is no power for your freezer. I'm gaining a much better appreciation of why there isn't a strong "plan ahead" mentality here. It's difficult to plan ahead when the future is uncertain! I did, however, see some other people planning ahead this morning. The gas station near our house miraculously has gas (or at least is rumoured to have it), so there is a long line of cars who have been stationed up the street all night hoping to fill up. It's a whole new world!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


We had an interesting discussion at youth group on the topic "Hell: does it really exist or not?" Almost everyone agreed emphatically that Hell exists. Some people were even offended that the question was being asked. When one guy suggested that it might not exist, some people walked out. Someone said, "if Hell doesn't exist, then where do all of the disturbed souls who wander the earth to torment us because they're not at peace come from?" Someone at the meeting said, "everyone knows we are fighting to stay out of Hell every day of our lives." That's a lot of pressure and fear in every day life! There is such a STRONG culture of fear of evil spirits here. A lot of people even keep the lights on while they sleep. So much is blamed on evil spirits - from brake failures to accidents to mental illness to poverty to anything bad. I'm wondering if it's why people love to be in church all of the time - because it's safe. There was a prayer at the end where someone prayed against the Devil and evil spirits. He said a few times, "we know that right outside of these walls there are spirits waiting to attack us and destroy us, but we are safe in this house of prayer." It's become quite unfashionable to talk of Hell in the west. Street corner preachers who stand with their megaphones telling people to "turn or burn" are mostly mocked. But here, fear of Hell seems to just be part of people's every day reality. Personally (and I said this), I find it hard to understand how so many Christians feel so comfortable talking about others going to Hell. I mean, the second most important command in our Bible is to love our neighbours as ourselves. If we love every other person as much as ourself, how can we not weep uncontrollably at the mere thought that another person might be consigned to eternal punishment? A few people said that if we didn't believe in Hell, there would be no reason to become a Christian or to come to church. I found this quite sad. In my view, we shouldn't come to God for negative reasons (because we're afraid of Him, or we're afraid of the consequences of NOT following God). We should come to Him because He's good and loving and faithful and just and forgiving and compassionate. And because life that includes a relationship with God is a good thing. Even if I died tomorrow and found out there was neither Heaven nor Hell, I wouldn't have traded being a follower of Jesus. It makes my life good and complete. My belief in God gives me hope, and gives me a full heart of love for others. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Thank God for Buckets

Last night our power went off. This, of course, is a usual occurrence, except that they still have power on the other side of the street, so that means that it's not load sharing; it's a problem. Usually we're only out of electricity for a few hours, but this one could be longer. I was laughing last night, thinking about how we used to light candles to create a romantic or prayerful mood. Now we light them so we can see our way to the washroom! Lighting candles out of choice seems so different from lighting candles out of necessity. It's a shame really, about the power. We haven't had hot water since last Friday, and they fixed it yesterday - just in time for the power to go off. We were saying this morning that we used to long for hot showers. Now we're just longing for a hot bath. John says if we start longing for our bucket, it may be time to go home! John's always enjoyed camping, but it feels strange to rough it without a lake, and in your own house! It's so much effort to have to boil water (when you have electricity), pour it in the bucket and then bathe from the bucket. But I've discovered a joy. When there's a little extra hot water at the bottom of your bucket, you can mix it with some cold and then dump it on yourself. It's almost like taking a shower. Almost. Anyway, I guess someone will have to call ZESA (the electricity suppliers) about coming to fix our electricity. Except that all of our phones are down. Oh, and if we do get through, they'll say that they can't come because there's no fuel. So, someone will have to drive there and pick them up. We've heard that it happens when you call the police or ambulance too - they say they'll come assist as long as you come pick them up in your own vehicle. Oh - good news though - the government has just announced new strategies to boost tourism. Anyone up for a visit?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Day of Tears

Today I went with some other ladies from THQ to visit Colonel Mhasvi in hospital. He was still in the Intensive Care Unit, and so we were only allowed to go in one at a time. He didn't look too good. I told him about how beautiful his daughter had looked at the wedding, and he graciously asked how I was doing, and how John was doing, and said that it was more than a pleasure to see me. Like in most important moments, I didn't know what to say, so I just told him that we loved him and would continue to pray for him. And then I left the unit and cried for half an hour. It's hard to see someone you care about suffering. And it's so unfair that there are only two doctors that can do surgery, and neither of them are working right now. We then went to visit a man in another hospital who was in a bus accident two weeks ago, and got crushed in the wreckage for two hours. Now he's paralyzed. And he cried when we prayed for him, and he said "Mwari makanaka" (God is good).

Friday night I attended two screenings of movies at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival. One was out of northern Uganda and called "Lost Children." It told the story of children who had escaped from the Lord's Resistance Army. I was so angered by the stories that the children told of being forced to commit atrocities - like having to kill a mother in front of her children, or having to cut up another child into tiny little pieces, or capturing another child who tried to run away, cutting off her head, and then throwing it up and down, up and down in the air like a ball. It's horrible. Those kinds of things don't leave your mind easily. How can people leave emotional scars like that on children? The other movie was called "Faith's Corner." It was out of South Africa, and told the story of a woman who lived on the streets with her two boys; trying to make a living for them. I cried at the point where she thought she had lost hope.

There's a lot of sadness in the world.

But there is joy, too. Because there is always hope. I believe that with all my heart.
(And I had some good tears of joy today too, because I got to talk to both my parents and both my brothers, and that was nice). Mwari makanaka.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

You Can Lick the Bowl at Birthday Parties

I just ate a boiled egg with 2 yokes in it. Strange!

Today is Mac's birthday, and he turned 69. After church (3 services today - and I preached at 2 of them!) my friend Debra and I went the shops, but they didn't have cake nor birthday candles ("what are birthday candles?") and so we bought some ice cream. I also lit one of the big candles we use when the power's out, and made a card with an enclosure. We sang "Happy Birthday" and Mac was thrilled! Alice only told me about his birthday yesterday, but she said that all day they have been waiting for me to come. They knew that I wouldn't forget - because I am their daughter. It was such a nice birthday party. We sang songs (including Christmas carols and a Scottish song - since Mac was born in Scotland), Mac reflected on his life, and we ate the ice cream. Gogo even licked the bowl - she said she hadn't had ice cream in 2 years. Mac said he couldn't even remember the last time he had ice cream. And then I prayed a prayer of blessing over Mac. Debra said it was the best birthday party she'd ever been to. I couldn't help thinking about the contrast to the wedding yesterday. Yesterday there were SO many people to celebrate and give money and wish the couple well and be there to support. Today, on his 69th birthday, Mac had 4 of us - and we were the only people in this world that celebrated with him. But he sure was happy! There really is something to the whole "love your neighbour" thing.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

See You Later Alligator!

Colonel Ward (fellow Canadian) was telling me that he's trying to teach his secretary various new phrases. So, he was teaching her "See you later, alligator" but she has adapted it and says, "See you later, you old baboon!" I can just picture her saying this to an important official, or some high ranking Salvation Army person. I laughed SO hard when I heard this! I love Zimbabwe!

Rumbi's Wedding

I spent the day at Rumbi & Mitchell's wedding. I wish I had a photo, but John has our camera at youth councils. Rumbidzai (which means praise) looked SO beautiful! And she was so happy. I had heard that she was so sad all week, about her dad not being able to be there (because he's still recovering in hospital). But she was radiant. Since we moved to Zim, Rumbi has blessed me. She is a dynamic young woman, full of life and faith. She leads a lot of the praise & worship at our church, and loves to pray. The wedding was a lot like church, actually. The ceremony was 4 hours long, and included a long sermon (by the T.C.), an appeal with lots of people going forward to kneel and pray, many special music items (and Rumbi joined in with the timbrellists!), lots of prayer and speeches. After the ceremony, we went to the reception. And the food was amazing - which was quite a feat considering there were about 1000 guests! I got many compliments on my "African attire" and a few people asked when I would be getting married. See, a lot of people think that John and I are brother and sister because we look "exactly alike." When I tell people we're married, they still want to know if we're related. Because there's a ceremony that can be done with a white chicken... I must admit, I love weddings because they remind me of my own. I LOVED our wedding, and I love being married to John. He's such a good catch! I'm so thankful that he's not my brother... :)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tomatoes & Bubble Gum

The entrepreneurial spirit in Zimbabwe is incredible. It's a great testimony to the people here that when the going gets tough, the tough go into business. It seems like everyone has a business - whether it's selling wool slippers or baking cakes or making peanut butter. And there are people everywhere on the streets selling things - firewood, newspapers, rat poison, sunglasses, etc. The other day I passed by a group of young girls with a little stand outside of their house. On the little stand were a few tomatoes and some individually wrapped pieces of bubble gum. "Madam - don't you need any tomatoes or bubble gum?" Unfortunately, I didn't have any money on me. It struck me because it was just like the kid-manned lemonade stands you see at home in the summer. Only they were selling tomatoes and bubble gum, and they weren't doing it to make a little extra ice cream money - they were doing it to help support their family.