On Wednesday the 17th of February 2016 Joanne Miller Minnis went to be with the Lord and her husband Jim at the age of 86.
We were on our way to Harare to fly to the US to see her when we received the news she had died. We had hoped to be with her to help take care of her in her final days, but God saw fit to take her in His time and to help her not suffer here on earth. We are now here with her daughter, Laura and family to help where we can in planning the memorial service and encouraging the family in this difficult time.
It was just a month ago that we eulogized her husband, Jim Minnie, Pa to me. Just the day before his funeral Ma found out she had Pancreatic cancer which had spread already to her liver. The next day after the funeral for Pa she told her family she had about a month to live. All of us were in shock as she had not really had any symptoms until then.
I met Ma and Pa in 1995 when they had moved from Southern CA to Sebastopol in northern CA to "retire." They attended my home church with their oldest daughter, Daryl Anne and her family. Someone said I should meet them because they might come and help at Chidamoyo. I challenged them to come and work with me at Chidamoyo. They arrived a few months later for a 6 month stay.
The very first day Pa arrived his first job was digging out the sewer at the hospital and emptying it! Literally he was up to his armpits in "shit!" and we told him his jobs at the mission could only get better. Ma cooked for us--sometimes 8 or more people for 2 meals a day. I would do breakfast and she would cook lunch and dinner. We had several long time visitors during their first visit and Cheri, Carolyn, Lori, Sylvia and Will and I were all made a part of Ma and Pa's family and for years after they all had an effect on all of us and we all competed to be the "most favorite" of the family--of course I always won--that is what I told the others! Ha!
This visit was when they became Ma and Pa Minnis to us all and over the years they continued to come to Chidamoyo for many times until health issues made them unable to travel anymore. Ma did a lot of sewing for us over the years. She made everything from glove wrappers to surgery drapes to curtains for the hospital. She also did a lot of cooking. Everyone knows that Ma cooked wonderful meals, used up those leftovers and made the most delicious food.
They made so many trips to Chidamoyo and stayed usually 6 months most of the time. They were always happy to work and we always had a "honey do list for Pa as well as Ma."
When I talked to Ma after Pa had died I told her I looked forward to her coming back to Chidamoyo in the future. She said she would love that, but in the meantime she wanted me to tell her what sewing she could do for the hospital while she was still in the US, as she would have lots of time for that!
Unfortunately, she did not have that time. From the time of funeral on she went downhill very fast, unable to eat, she felt very nauseated and just wasted away. Her family and friends constantly surrounded her and she told her family, don't restrict anyone from coming. She spent time recalling all of her years of living and she always talked about their time at Chidamoyo.
I was able to talk to her on the phone until a few days before she died. She kept asking when we were coming and she knew we were on the way when she died but God was calling her home and she didn't wait. She very emphatically told her family and friends "don't cry for me!"
Her memorial service is on the 27th of February. We will be here until about the 4th or 5th of March and then head home.
We arrived on Friday afternoon after leaving Thursday evening from Zimbabwe. We had a 9 hour flight to Dubai and then a 16 1/2 hour flight to Los Angeles. That was a long 2 days! I watched more movies at one time then my whole life!
We seem to be over our jet lag now and enjoyed going to Target yesterday and just looking and staring at all the choices! It is always overwhelming to us! Every time we come back to the house it is so strange not to hear Ma and Pa talking to us! We expect them to be sitting in their living room watching the news. We really miss them but rejoice they are together again and just waiting to greet us all in heaven someday.
The memorial donations are to buy a van for "Jackets for Jesus" a ministry Ma and Pa have been involved in for the last several years that takes dinner and jackets to the homeless on the streets of Los Angeles, every Sunday evening. This ministry is run by their nephew, Eric Denton. You can donate: www.gofundme.com/vanforjoanne
Please continue to pray for the family. It has been hard for them to grieve when they have died so close together. We are so thankful for their life and their ministry even in their retirement. This is a great lost to Chidamoyo and we thank for your prayers and support.
What to do when ZESA (our electricity) has been off for 10 days and still counting:
Eat lots off meat and invited your neighbors as your freezers aren't keeping up with the heat!
Save your solar back-up so that you have fan for part of the night to keep you cool.
Go swimming before you go to bed to cool off!
Get all the X-rays and Lab work all ready to go before you turn on the generator so you can run it for the shortest time possible.
Get used to not reaching anyone on their phone because they can't be charged!
Take cold showers every morning and dream of warm showers!
Tell your new visitors there really is electricity at times--since they haven't seen it since they arrived a week ago!
Overhear visitors deciding they will give up electricity for lent!
Swim at lunch time to cool off because there are no fans at the hospital in your office.
Call ZESA everyday and hear from them it will be fixed by tomorrow and then when you call the next day they said it is not fixed because they sent no one to work on it that day, so it will be tomorrow!
We had 4 visitors arrive from Ohio State Medical School on Sunday night last week. Megan, Erica, Lindsay and Matt have joined us for 3 weeks at the hospital and then a week of traveling. They seem to be enjoying it--even with no electricity!
Zebedee Togarepi from Chiredzi joined us from Sunday night until Tuesday morning working with our secondary school. We enjoyed having him with us. He is a minister and works with an orphanage and churches near Chiredzi.
We had visitors on Wednesday and Thursday: Dr. David Katzenstein from Stanford, Caroline, his assistant from Harare and her son TJ who is their driver. We spent time discussing new research we want to do with viral loads for our AIDS patients.
Friday Major and Dr. Munodawafa and I left at 4 a.m. to attend our hospital board meeting in Harare for our 3 hospitals and 3 clinics at my townhouse in Harare at 9 a.m. We arrived just on time and the meeting finished at 1 p.m. when we then took off to run around and do errands before leaving about 7:30 p.m. to come home. We arrived at 1 a.m.--a long and tiring day! Of course Saturday I needed to be up by 6:30 a.m. to get breakfast ready by 8 a.m. for the students before we went to the hospital to work.
Major and I leave Thursday for the States so we are on fast mode to try and get all caught up and leave the hospital doing well when we leave, doesn't help to have no electricity!
Rain continues to be very little with some drops in between a lot of very hot days. Keep praying for rain. Our rivers and lakes need it. Also pray for ZESA to come back one of these "tomorrows!"
Megan, Kathy, Lindsay, Erica and Matt from Ohio State Medical School
We had a big day of celebration to say goodbye to our Lake Union Crew friends on Monday 25th of January. After 6 hard weeks the building was completed. We have to do some of the finishing up inside to have it functioning, but the building is in!
We started the day with special devotions to thank the team and their hard work. We then moved to the building with staff, patients and pregnant women and dedicated the building to the Lord. There was much dancing, singing, ululating as we dedicated the building to be used by all the future pregnant women of the community. Major's headman said "he was so disappointed his wife couldn't have more babies and be able to use the building!"
Then there was a special lunch a celebration to thank the 15 local volunteers who worked alongside of the Lake Union Crew volunteers for the 6 weeks. Their cook for the week, Tamara cooked a wonderful goat with sadza, rice, and vegetables. They made smores for dessert. They received certificates for the help and we had a great time eating and celebrating together.
The Lake Union Crew left the next day (the 26th) a day early--as they finished earlier than expected. It was so great having them and suddenly my house was very quiet! We thank them for their dedication and help in this wonderful project that will benefit pregnant women for years to come. I think people might just get pregnant to enjoy the new Chidamoyo Hotel!
On the 28th, Major, his son Michael and Dr. Munodawafa and I went for 3 days of rest and relaxation at Rhino Camp on Lake Kariba. Michael had been one of our busy drivers for the group and so we took him as a thank you. Major spent the 3 days fishing and caught 2 cool boxes of fish to bring home. He was so happy! The rest of us enjoyed the bush, the animals and some cool and rainy days.
We brought Shantel home from the hospital in Harare, Friday this week, and she was happy to be discharged! She had quite a big scar across her chest, but she is not having pain and she can wear "skinny clothes now!" We are so thankful for answered prayers and we will continue to watch her and make sure her liver resolves too which is also very large. They removed her spleen which was 30 kms long! Thanks for all your prayers for her!
We received very sad news after the funeral of my "Pa" Jim Minnis on the 23rd of January. His wife "Ma", JoAnne, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the day before his funeral. She went in a day after the funeral for a biopsy which confirmed pancreatic cancer with metastasis to the liver. She has been given 6 weeks to live! We were all so shocked and sad, but happy she was well enough to take care of Pa for all those years, and that he went first. We are so sad for her and her family. Major and I have decided to make a quick trip to the US--leaving here on the 18th of February and returning on the 8th of March. We want to be with her and help do some of her care through this difficult time.
She is not able to eat and is nauseated, but so far has little pain and is sleeping well. She is weak from not eating. Just be in prayer for her and her family after all they have gone through with Pa's death just recently and now have to deal with this. She is ready to be reunited with Jim and continues to witness to many people with her strong faith. Thanks for your prayers and pray for us as we are gone and for the hospital.
Week 6 volunteers local and Seattle with drivers
Celebrating inside the Waiting Mothers Shelter
Greeting line to thank the volunteers
Seattle volunteers thanking the local volunteers--inside new building
Tamar and cooks feeding at the lunch
Volunteers getting their certificates
Making amores--a first for the volunteers!
The new Waiting Mothers shelter--completed outside
Lunch for the volunteers
All of us at Rhino Camp with Stephen our guide
The three guys on an ant hill--Kings of the Hill!
New baby with mom
On the boat with Funnyboy--the captain--going across Lake Kariba
Baby hippo with Mom and Dad
View from our car on leaving Kariba
Shantel showing off her scar and new "flat" tummy
Jim and JoAnne Minnis with granddaughter LaurenRachel and Major