Saturday, July 26, 2008

Knee-jerk Reactions

I've had a rough week. Not too busy, but a fair component of people that have bugged me. My ire seemed to have been showing because our Youth pastor and his girl-friend asked me if they had done anything to upset me. Oh dear! My answer was no, not at all - it was just me - and my irritation and exasperation and frustration with inconsiderate, time-wasting, selfish individuals. Grrrrr! We had a good laugh together, and that helped me!

What I really take issue with is people who have other agendas, but present with something else. I received a call from some stranger (aren't they all strangers until we meet them?) who URGENTLY wanted counselling and was on his way. I had to respond that that did not suit me because I had other appointments and could only see him at 16h00. He duly arrived with the sad story that he and his family had been living without paying rent in the Schubart building that had been burnt down the other day and they were now on the street. He was obviously in a state and needed to be calmed and given a bit of practical direction concerning getting his ID replaced, and making workable plans to get back to doing some kind of work. Together we came to the conclusion that it would be best, certainly in the interim, for him to take his family to Pietersburg and maybe get back into sales (the street corner type which he had been doing until he lost his stock in the fire) up there, and his wife could also get back into some kind of income receiving activity. But of course he needed money to get back there - so I gave him what I had because the church office was long closed and such resources not attainable at that time of day.

He had been sent to me as 'the only person who could help him and counsel him' by some lady in Menlyn. I really wish that people would take the time to listen to what is really the problem and be convicted themselves to help instead of passing the buck. In a case like this counselling is of little value - it is practical help and love that is really needed. 'When will they ever learn? when will they ever learn?'!!
Augustine and I agreed that it is not the best thing to live in condemned buildings because of the dangers of unexpected disasters happening - even though so many other people resort to that. We also bemoaned the fact that so many people were moving to the main centres in the hopes of finding employment and a better life for their families - and were seriously disappointed in the lack of work and opportunity for them.

At times like this I feel so helpless and limited and just wish that I could turn stones into bread for desperate people.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Just Sit Down

Newsletter from Cathy Buckle, Zimbabwe
Saturday 5th July 2008

Dear Family and Friends,
It is now clear that the will of the Zimbabwean people as expressed in the March 29th elections has been ignored and, as a result we find ourselves in the deepest crisis. Hundreds of people: men, women and children have started arriving at foreign embassies in Harare, begging for temporary refuge and humanitarian assistance. First it was the South African embassy, then the American embassy: crowds of people who are cold, tired, homeless, hungry and frightened and who have nowhere else to go and no one to turn to. They don't shout, scream, protest and demand, instead they simply sit down on the roadside and wait patiently for someone to help them.

Such is the tragic image of our broken, desperate people that even for those of us living here, the ruination of ordinary lives and the suffering that people are enduring is utterly heartbreaking. Everyday holds tears and trauma and the most common phrase in our lives is: "We are in God's hands."

The MDC say that a quarter of a million people have been displaced from their homes since the end of March. It is undoubtable that thousands more have by now fled for our borders and crossed over into Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa - legally and illegally. They have done this to stay alive and unless something happens to change the situation urgently, hundreds of thousands of others will have no choice but to follow the exodus to our borders.

This morning, as I write this letter, hundreds upon hundreds of people are crowded outside banks across the country desperately trying to withdraw their own money. This is because most shops no longer accept cheques and the Governor of the Reserve Bank has limited daily withdrawals per person to one hundred billion dollars. With one hundred billion dollars you can, today only, buy just three single blood pressure tablets. Or, today only, you can buy one copy of a local weekly newspaper and and two small green onions. In my home town, even if you had the money, there is almost no food left to buy. In the week since Mr Mugabe was again sworn in as President, our supermarkets have become emptier than ever. There are no dry staple goods at all, no milk or eggs and no wheat or flour. In my home town the main bakery is closed and we've had no bread for over a fortnight.

This is why hundreds and thousands of people now have no choice but to leave the country. It is truly a most desperate situation and people from all walks of life are in dire need of help - primarily for food and life preserving medicines but also for shelter and protection. We hear the words from abroad and from the AU, the UN and some of our neighbours but we don't need words, we need help and we need it now, literally to save lives.
Until next week, thank you for reading, with love, cathy

Sunday, July 6, 2008


At 04h30 this morning I left to take Allan to the airport. His flight to Cape Town left at 06h15. It only took us 30mins to get there - as opposed to the average 40mins - because there was hardly any traffic. On the way back, there was already a long line of car lights in the direction I had been travelling, but opposite to my return trip. The time was 05h50. By the time I arrived home at 06h20, I had passed two joggers, 1 man taking his dog for a walk, and a handful of people walking from bus stops towards their places of work. I was amazed at the numbers of people checking in and boarding flights. I know that people travel at 'ungodly' hours of the day, but it's only when actually seeing them there that the reality of the extent of air travel strikes home. The stupidity of the remark that the gasses burped by cattle are a major contributor to global warming strikes home at a time like this - there is no way that cattle-burp can compete with the gasses emitted directly into the strathosphere by airplanes, or with the emmissions from the traffic on our freeways as thousands of people commute to their places of work.

My gratitude was awakened at a deeper level that my trip to work takes 10-15mins on a good day, and 20-30mins on a bad day. Praise God for that, and that my contribution to global warming is limited in that regard.

Moz. trip 2008 - Relaxing In Espungabera

It is not all work on a mission trip. There is also time available to take in the local sights and do some shopping.
Ladies visiting the Espungabera Mall.

A visit to the fish merchant - they didn't make any purchases because the team takes all its food along for the whole trip.

Do you wish you were there?
I must say that I am missing not being there this year. Perhaps I will be able to go next year again.

Moz. trip 2008 - In Espungabera

The team arrived back in Espungabera on Thursday afternoon (3 July). They showed the Jesus film on Friday night in town, and have been busy with work in and around the mission house.
Cheryl, as kitchen coordinator, has a very responsible job in seeing to all the 'innermen' of the team.

Jeremy involved in sports ministry.

There is always maintenance that needs to be done.

Pastor Alberto has been living in the church building while it has been under construction. It is now time for his own house to be built. The foundations are being dug.

New Church at Mpengu

This is what the framework looks like. The local members will continue the construction by weaving branches along the sides and then plastering them with mud. The roof will be either thatch or corrugated iron.

The church is dedicated and handed over to the pastor and elders before the team departs.

Moz. trip 2008 - more travel

These are more pictures of the journey, and what happens to tyres - sometimes the roads are more like dongas, or have large potholes (see my earlier post on potholes)
Kathy thought it safer to cross the river in a little 'canoe' rather than on the pont with the vehicles.

Which is not surprising when you see the pont/ ferry.

The Isuzu 'lost' a tyre!

The journey to Mpengu was a trifle dusty. There have been occasions when the local people have cut a road by hand - widening a footpath - in order to accommodate the vehicles that will be coming to them, in preparation for the team. Goes to show how eager they are to hear and receive the gospel.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Unusual Farewell

I conducted a memorial service for an 83 year old lady this afternoon. As the hearse was driving away, with everyone having said 'goodbye' by placing rose petals on the coffin, two Hadedah's flew overhead and landed in a tree over the road. They were making their usual calls, which at that moment sounded like 'Good-bye, Good-bye'. Not often that we have an official send-off like that!

Moz. trip 2008 - Mupengo

This year a new church is to be built at Mupengo. There is already a pastor and a small number of members. The team set out on Tuesday morning, and travelled the 50Km (or less) to Mupengo/ Mpengu, where they spent a successful three days. Ned wrote in his email: "We showed the Jesus film twice, and hundreds attended, but is difficult to know how many in the dark. This place is a bit further north, but not as far as Chimanimani. It is about 4km from the Zim border, and someone said that it was possible that some people might come from there, as well as those who have already come across because of the trouble in Zim. We watched the men build the frame of the church structure, which was completed quite quickly. The other activities were going on at the same time: groups for the children, the men, the women, and of course the football."
Team and church members praying around the perimeter of the church-to-be.

The framework of the new church being erected.

Ladies of the team hard at work!

A teaching session. This year the team did dramatic presentations of scripture pertaining to relationships between men and women - particularly for husbands and wives. This is much needed not only in Moz but in S.A. as well!! Wife-beating is the norm in Moz.

Moz. trip 2008 - On the way to Espungabera

The team left at 04h45 on Saturday 28th June, and got to the Komatipoort border at 11h30. After 3 hours delay, they were on their way. They took the long way around this year due to the upheavals in Zimbabwe so the trip took 3 days instead of 2, and much more fuel was needed as a result. Here are a few photos of what they encountered along the way:

The Buzi River outside Dombe had to be crossed by ferry - an awesome experience when your vehicle is pulling a horse-trailer full of supplies and donations to the mission station! When the bridge upstream has been rebuilt, I wonder how these people will earn a living.

Roger (with glasses on his head) and Angela (the lady holding the fish's tail) are part of the team. A big tiger fish has been caught - a foretaste of what is to come on the Outreach?!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Household Glitches

Isn't it strange how things go 'wrong' when one or other spouse is out of the country for a while?! Ned left with the Mozambique Outreach team in the early hours of Saturday morning 28th June. On Saturday evening Richard and I noticed that the geyser was 'dripping' - and turning it off at the electricity box made no difference. So, in came the plumbers on Monday - to replace the safety valve - and on leaving informed me that there should be two vacuum release valves in the two copper pipes. If they'd told me in the beginning of their 'job' I could have got them to do that at the same time! I was left wondering whether their late information was as a result of their non-reflective status - but perhaps that's a bit unfair!

Then this evening I wondered why the food in the oven was taking so long to cook. The lights were off, which is normal when the oven is up to the temperature set. When I opened the oven I discovered that it was cold. So the fuse had to be replaced. Thank goodness I replaced the spare fuse last time. So we will have supper tonight - courtesy of the microwave which was put into use while I did the fuse replacement thing.

It makes me wonder what - if anything - will go 'wrong' when both Ned and I are on our travels to England and Mexico in August/ September and Richard and Paul are keeping the fort. Is it only a spouse thing, or is it a parent thing as well?