Today, Wednesday, we drove up and down hills, past goats and cows along the roadside, around curves that gave gorgeous views of mountains and craggy valleys to Dorowa to visit the church there and Assan, our native missionary. Assan and his wife also run a feeding center in the front yard of the home he built himself. He even made the bricks, digging the dirt from an anthill and mixing it with water to bake in a homemade kiln. Last year when we were there he'd completed the walls, but had no roof and only thorn branches at the windows to protect the structure from intruders. Today it was finished--a diminuitive small three-room home for a family of seven now that he's raising his brother's children who lost their parents to AIDS. He'd plastered the inside walls and the outside were plastered and painted a light pink. The children sleep on a reed mat on the concrete floor and a live hen nests in a bowl on the floor in the corner.
I say the feeding center is in the front "yard," but it's nothing more than dirt. They feed many children there and have constructed a canopy of small tree trunks or limbs for support and scraps of tarps overhead. It provides a welcome bit of shade as there is not one tree. The vat of sadza--a large barrel or drum--was so deep, and the mixture so thick, that it had to be stirred by men using four-inch diameter, five-feet long tree branches stripped of their bark. The children ate only sadza and beans. We were served rice, chicken and goat meat, but I was much too hot to be hungry for more than a little rice. Assan and the men have dug a well by hand on the property. They've reached water at 29 meters, but need to go to 50 for better quality, so we left some money for them to buy dynamite to blast the rest. They will need concrete to line it so that it does not collapse, though that is a commodity hard to come by as it's being bartered for grain.
We drove back to Wedza and past Imire on our way to Marondera where we met Kennedy at his home. He was able to provide us with more diesel for the Land Rover--we were nearly through the second tank that's been added to the vehicle. Fuel is very difficult to obtain in Zimbabwe, but Kennedy owns busses and was able to assist. We had a great visit with Kennedy who helped us get soccer balls as gifts for Wedza area schools and the police who made a request we can't afford to refuse if we want their continued friendship. He also obtained five bicycles for us to provide for three local preachers and two others who are dear to our hearts. We also met and visited with Clyde, the preacher in Marondera who has gone through SEMP training in the USA, for those of you familiar with the material Brian, Doyle, Bob and I have edited and re-written and elaborated on (with permission, of course) to become the "Line of Departure" seminar. Kennedy bought us cokes, which is almost as difficult to come by as fuel, so we felt very refreshed and pampered before heading on to Harare.
Alice and Washington were on their way to their Wednesday small group meeting when they saw us driving into town, so they followed us home and made sure we knew where to find the dinner she'd left for us. We're relaxing now and so glad to be back in the comfort of the Mhlanga's gracious hospitality.
We are so weary, but our hearts are full. I wish everyone could visit this place, even those who have no interest in it whatsoever, for it only takes a moment to love these people, to appreciate the beauty of this land, and to feel your heart break for the great needs that define this place and time. I'm convinced that our hearts must learn to break so that God can show us the extent of his great love, mercy, compassion, and comfort.
We continue to miss you all and are looking forward to returning this coming weekend, Lord willing. Thank you for your prayers and for taking care of our families!