We enjoyed a visit the week leading up to Easter by Carolyn Hall and her husband Russ McFarlane, daughters Grace and Juliet and son Emanuel. They spent 3 days here at the mission and then went to Rhino Camp with Major and his wife Patience to see some animals. On Thursday on their way home from Rhino I met them in Karoi and took them the rest of the way into Harare where we spent a day and half before they flew home on Easter Saturday.
Carolyn first came in 1996 to Chidamoyo and spent 3 months with us. She was a nurse in NYC. Then she and "boyfriend" Russ came and spent 2 months with us in 2004. Life has changed since then as they married and had 3 children. They took a job with CDC in Pretoria, South Africa in 2015 and they finally got to come up and see us and introduce their children to Zimbabwe and Chidamoyo! They liked it and wanted to move here!
After I dropped them at the airport I drove straight to Chidamoyo, put my groceries away and repacked and left in 30 minutes to Batanai for the Easter meeting which had started the night before and went until Sunday morning church. Batanai is where my village is with Major.
After I drove our terrible dirt road I drove the 1+ hour worse road to Batanai. The little rains we have had this year have made the road more like a river bed! Many of the bridges had places where the bridge just washed away! By the time I got to the meeting my arms were aching and my whole body was shaken! I thought I was on one of those machines that shakes fat away! I wish! My foot was on the brake more than the gas! It took 1 hour and 10 minutes for the 16 miles to our village!
I got there in time for dinner and by 9 p.m. I left to go to the village and sleep. I was up by 5:30 a.m. so that we could get to church on time. They had a "pungwe" on Saturday night where they stayed up all night singing and dancing and preaching. Church started at 0700 with many tired people! Major preached and he had stayed up all night too! We finished at 10:00 a.m. and they feed people sadza and meat before they headed for home!
There were 6 churches represented and over 500 people were there for Saturday night. They killed a cow and cooked it all! It was great to see all of our church people and participate in the meeting with them.
Easter is a 4 day holiday here from Friday through Monday and every year our churches enjoy having Easter meetings. We had 5 different meetings going on in our churches with many churches meeting together. This is a great time of fellowship they all look forward to each year!
After church we spent a quiet, relaxing day at the village. It was very hot and dry! We went to see my fields where the Sorghum is looking great--although the birds are enjoying it too! We got some maize from the field to bring home and roast in the fire! We just enjoyed time as a family in the village. Chantel, the little girl who had her spleen removed in January was at the Easter meeting and came to spend the day with us at the village. She was dancing away and running now! Something she hadn't been able to do for over a year. We are so thankful she is much better! Her last blood count she has normal platelets and Hemoglobin!
This morning after tea and porridge I left to come home and catch up on laundry and housework before we start work tomorrow. I got 4 loads of wash done so far. When we have electricity and water we have to take advantage of it. The Easter decorations came down for another year! Hope you had a good Easter weekend!
Last night we got electricity back at 11:08 p.m.! In the last 32 days we have had electricity 1 ½ days in between blackouts of 14 days and 16 days! We began to think it would never come back!
Since we got back from the US 10 days ago, I got my first warm shower this morning! I stayed in longer than usual just to enjoy it! I could move fridge things back to the fridge from the freezer and clean out all the fridges and freezers that had not been working! Of course we always lose some food. I have one freezer that keeps very frozen if you don’t open it a lot and my fridge in the kitchen works on my solar back-up at least most of the day. We have been having rain (yeah!) so the cloudy days don’t help to charge my back-up well and it runs out by 7 p.m. each day and comes on with the sun about 8 a.m.
This past week on Friday we got our solar back-up working at the hospital for the first time in months! Friends of Chidamoyo in Seattle helped us to put in a bigger and better system with more panels and more batteries! Since then the hospital has had electricity 24/7 and we even did a C/Section without turning our generator on—yeah! The night duty staff was so happy—they were jumping up and down and ululating a lot when it came on! Now they can do deliveries with strong lightening instead of candles or solar lights—that always go out quickly! We are so thankful and this is a real blessing to us. Before this came about we were using a lot of diesel to get our lab tests and X-rays done each day and surgery cases. Now I have a fan blowing in my office all the time—wow what a JOY that is in our hot summer weather.
This week has not been so busy at the hospital so we have had time to catch up on paper work and other business. We are thankful for that! We have started putting the toilets and walls in the new Waiting Mothers Shelter which should be opened soon for use.
How great is to have some rain. The two weeks we were gone they had a lot of rain. After we got back it has continued and almost every 2 days we get a downpour. My maize is looking good and we are eating some green mealies from it today. My Sorghum is excellent—now just to keep the birds away from it! Pray for the rest of the country which is not getting rain and there are no crops.
We have started a drought relief fund and are feeding many of our churches a meal every Sunday after church of cornmeal and fish for $15 for 50 people. This one good protein meal a week is helping many. If you wish to help with this please send money to Sue Beckstead P.O. Box 714 Sebastopol, CA 95473-0714 and mark it drought relief. This will be a big help to many of our drought areas.
Grandmother taking care of her grandchild at the hospital
Major and I arrived back safe and sound at 5 p.m. on Tuesday evening. It was a long flight—25 hours total but we had an overnight break of 14 hours in Dubai which helped a lot to have slept in a bed and got to eat dinner and breakfast before heading out on the flight again!
We arrived in the middle of rush hour and it took us an hour to get across town. Then we stopped for groceries and were on our way to Chidamoyo at 7:30 p.m. We got in at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and welcome back to Zimbabwe—there was no electricity for the past 5 days!
We were at work the next morning and from then on it has been busy and back into the routine of life at Chidamoyo. We were informed a team from Global Fund was coming for an audit on Friday and everyone was so nervous!
Thursday the solar team from Chinhoyi showed up to get our solar back-up running again. They worked until Friday and got it going—good thing still no electricity from ZESA—but today they are sorting out some issues with it.
We called ZESA to ask when they thought our line would be fixed and they argued with us that we had electricity. We told them we did not and they said but we fixed it a week ago! Major informed them that it only last for 1 ½ days and when it rained a line fell again! They asked us if we were sure (we were sitting in the dark!) and Major assured them we were sure—so maybe today they might start working on it! Of course we had called them for the past 5 days to get the same answer “we are working on it” when in fact they weren’t!
The audit on Friday went very well and was helpful to us. They were only here for 3 hours and left and they had helpful comments to run some of our programs better and were very happy with what they saw. We breathed a sigh of relief!
Today is a bright and sunny day—but the ground is still very wet from the rain they had when we were gone. Some of our crops will be salvaged from the drought but the southern part of the country is really suffering.
Finally got most of my suitcases unpacked and now sorted and ready to put away! The hardest part of coming home—putting things away!
The memorial service for Jo Anne Minnis was held on Saturday the 27th of February. It was very nice with pictures and videos and over 200 people came from all over to celebrate her life. They had a wonderful reception with fresh Mexican food cooked there, a dessert bar by her granddaughter and a great time to catch up with many of the family.
We were happy to see Chidamoyo alumni Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick from Washington, D.C. and Chidamoyo board members and alumni, Patty and Gary LeDonne from Sebastopol, CA.
There was no graveside service, but we took some of the beautiful flowers from the service out to put on their grave after the reception.
We left the next day to travel 2 1/2 hours North to the small city of Solvang, CA. This city is all built like a small Danish town. We met up with my brother and sister-in-law Dennis and Kathy for 3 days at their timeshare they have there. Kathy and Major visited many bakeries to try out all the goodies. We spent a day at Costco and outlets shopping and got to have a fabulous buffet at a casino nearby. It was great to see some of the family in our short stay here.
We then came back for 3 days with the Minnis's daughter Laura and her family. We did more shopping (what else!) We enjoyed a day with Bill, Reba, and Julie Harrison who drove over from San Bernardino to see us. We served together in 1972-1973 at Chidamoyo. Then they moved to Harare, when Chidamoyo closed in 1978 (then Salisbury) until 1981 and I stayed with them for almost 3 months when I came back in 1981 before I was able to move to Chidamoyo. Bill was our pilot at the mission and Reba did many sewing and Bible Study groups for the women. They are now retired and travel a lot in their camper.
Had dinner with more Minnis relatives, lunch with the best friend of Jo Anne (Aunty Lil) and spent an evening at Disneyland. We squeezed a lot in and now we are ready to go.
We leave at 3:30 p.m. to day (March 6th) to head back to Zimbabwe. We have a 16 hears flight from LA to Dubai and then an overnight there and then on to another 10 hour flight to Harare! We get home at 17:10 p.m. on Tuesday and plan to go straight home to Chidamoyo (5 hours away) and back to work Wednesday! Thanks for all your prayers and thoughts. It has been a fast but great unexpected trip home!
Memorial service for Ma--African flowers on left from Chidamoyo Hospital
Major and Kathy with Dr. Lisa
With Patty and Gary LeDonne
Major at gravesite
Major and Kathy on their tour of bakeries in Solvang
Different sites of Solvang
Kathy and Dennis with Major
Bill and Reba and Julie Harrison with Kathy
Major being Forrest Gump at Bubba's
Lil with Kathy and Major and Laurenrachel in Long Beach