Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Another Update from Zimbabwe

Here is another update from Nathan Williams describing his missions experience in Zimbabwe. As of this posting the Zimbabwe Dollar has officially fallen to 10 Billion to 1 us dollar with no bottom in sight.


(Nathan Williams) ...the longer I'm here the more I've been able to make friends with Zimbabwean nationals. A few new friends, Itai and Katsande, gave me an afternoon tour of the surrounding mountains and villages last week, which I had been really looking forward to. I've also had the opportunity to visit a few "mushas" (homesteads) to see how the average rural Zimbabwean lives. They really do fairly well considering they have so little. They've developed ways to boil and then dry fresh vegetables to make them last for weeks to months without refrigeration, and also they grind their corn into a powder which will sit on a shelf for years before it spoils.

When I'm not at work or taking hikes I do spend a lot of time playing with the kids. The older ones ALWAYS want to play a game (hide and seek, tag, kick the can, etc) whereas the younger ones are content just sitting on my lap and rubbing my face and head (the only thing I can assume is that they're wondering where all my color went...perhaps they're trying to rub off my "whiteness" so that my true, dark color can come through, haha). Tonight I invented a new game with the kids that essentially involves running really fast, then jumping and sliding as far as you can on your socked feet without falling down on our ultra-slick, freshly polished front sidewalk....obviously I defeated the children soundly (if you can't teach them the value of good, honest competition at this young age, then really, what have you taught them?).

I was also blessed to enjoy my 26th birthday out here on June 12th. It was fun, other than the fact that I was sick all day, haha. The missionaries actually had a mini-party for me last weekend, and I got a few nice Zimbabwean souvenirs as presents. Probably the best present was a bunch of homemade from scratch fresh cinnamon rolls from one of the missionaries! We call her "Ambuya" (which is Shona for "Grandmother") she is around 83, and she is the best baker on the planet. She and her husband (the hospital's lone surgeon right now) came out to Zim as missionaries in the early 1960's, and now their son has also joined them as a missionary surgeon at Karanda, although he is out of the country right now.

On a slightly more serious note, the political and economic situation here in Zim is very unstable. Due to this, I received word this week that the team of nursing students and the other RN who was supposed to lead this trip with me have been canceled from coming this summer. Please pray that they will be able to cope with the disappointment, and also that their contingency plans to serve at medical clinics in Swaziland is able to be completed. While none of us know the reasons, we must continue to trust that God's plan is perfect, and we should have faith that He works all things for our good.

While little is broadcast in the US about Africa (I can only assume it's because there's no oil here), you can read a lot online, and also BBC frequently airs stories about Zimbabwe. Since I arrived prices have jumped 15-fold, and now the exchange ratio is Z 3.5 Billion per US dollar. Even those Zimbabweans with jobs (under 20% of the population) are helpless because the banks only allow them to withdraw 10 billion per day, which is barely enough for a bar of soap or bag of rice. The political violence and intimidation is widespread, and many have been displaced as they flee the most violent areas. We treat victims of mob beatings daily at the hospital, and from all the reports we hear, we are in one of the "lesser impacted" areas. While none of the US missionaries or myself have felt threatened personally, we are very careful about where we go and what we say in public. A repeat presidential election is taking place in 2 weeks on June 27th. Pray that there is an end to the violence, and that Zimbabwe can have a free and fair election. Many worry that there could be a civil war post-election, but we're hoping for the best.

Overall things are going well, and although the country is in turmoil, things at the hospital run smoothly. If no one were to tell you differently, you could easily spend a few days out here visiting, vacation at Kariba Game reserve and then have a nice holiday at Victoria falls. Life continues with an unexpected "normalcy" despite the broader crisis of the nation.

I wish each of you well. Please continue to be in prayer for my ministry, safety, and the situation in Zimbabwe as I attempt to share the Love of Christ in a practical way through healthcare in this most-needy country. I would love to hear of any updates of new things God is doing in your lives, and interesting things you've been able to experience since I've been gone.

The rest of the Zimbabwe team is preparing to leave for Swaziland June 30. Thank you for praying!

Taken from Cedarville University MIS Team Updates.

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