Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Year's Directions...

Once again, this post is borrowing my parents’ words, and is extremely long! But please take the time to read this, it holds news of exciting new ministry possibilities for our family in the new year!


“Greetings from our family to yours at this time!

We trust that you are not too stressed rushing around in this busy season. It is strange to be hearing reports of snow, ice and freezing temperatures in Europe and Canada as we continue to bake in the African sunshine. Our doors are open, chickens wander in and out, we long for some cooler weather and Ayana and Moses run around in shorts and t-shirts all day long.  Christmas carol lyrics about “Winter Wonderland” seem so incongruous as we don’t remember the last time we put on coats!

As we approach Christmas and another New Year, we want to let you know what is happening for us. It is a season of new beginnings and new directions in many ways…

As you may know, [most of our family] visited Zimbabwe last April/May and we have very close connections with a few people that are both from there and live there. We are eager to let you know that we have an incredible opportunity to be part of founding a new work there that completely fits with the vision that we have always had and has additional elements to it that are very creative and exciting. The work will be community-based and focused on orphaned and vulnerable children, the under privileged and the "least" in the area.  While we had planned to stay in Kibaale for a longer transition period, this opportunity has come up sooner than we had anticipated, and fits with our original dream and vision perfectly.

Our Zimbabwean friends have many acres of land with established buildings in a rural area called Musana. The plans are to establish the ministry on this land. There is already permission from the area chief, which in Africa is vitally important as it means that the whole community is automatically in agreement too.

Our primary focus in our own vision has always been the emotional healing of the orphaned/vulnerable children, while simultaneously providing visible care for them in their own communities. We want to see these children being raised up, given a chance to dream, given skills that enhance their self- esteem and that elevate them from thinking they can achieve nothing…to knowing that they are skilled and valuable. Our aim is to give these children a hope, a dream for the future.

The initial goal would be to start with a simple feeding point a couple of times a week which would begin to engage the children, clearing an area of land for the children to play in, providing a few basic toys (soccer balls, “parachute” for parachute games, see saws etc)  and then to start building relationships and holding small creative classes (dance, drumming etc.)  In time and when trust is established, there would be an opportunity for the children to participate in art projects and art/play/pray therapy … looking at healing through the arts. Community visiting would also be happening simultaneously.

There are currently no services of any kind in this area; no clinics, no welfare or social services, no community centres etc., and so the snacks and play areas will be an immediate draw as the majority of the kids are living in very impoverished circumstances. In fact, in the local school, a large percentage of the children are from child-headed households or live with relatives as they are orphaned. From our initial investigations, we anticipate as many as 75 children coming for food weekly within the first month.

We will be working with a woman called Esther that lives in the house on the property (where we also stayed when we were there) and already takes care of five children there.  She is well connected locally, and has dreams providing food, care and counselling to the many vulnerable children in the area.

We will also be working with Esther’s nephew, a young man named Adonis whose dream and passion will be to oversee the  creative side of the ministry. He is a professional dancer and an accomplished drummer and musician. He is Zimbabwean, and has already relocated to Zimbabwe from South Africa and is in the initial stages of contacting schools and compiling lists of the most needy children in the area.

We tell you this to show you that a lot of the hard mapping work and relationship-building essential to pioneering new work is already in place. We are working with Zimbabweans who know the area, the local people, the culture and the language. This makes establishing a work in this area significantly easier than starting from what is termed a "cold" community.... in fact if we were to start from scratch, it would take at least one to two years to get to the point things are already at.

We will be renting a house in the capital of Harare which will enable us to have access to the very good infrastructure of the city with internet access and amenities, while being only 45 min drive away from the ministry site. We plan to move in the middle of January 2011 so that we are there to begin the ministry at the start of the African school year.

We are so very excited at the beginning of this ministry…we hear God’s heartbeat for these children in Zimbabwe and feel privileged to respond.

This is long J Thank you for taking the time to digest all of this.

With much love,

David and Lesley and family.”

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