December 22, 2012

Love in a Shoebox

A number of years our family has participated in Operation Christmas Child by preparing one or several shoeboxes and praying for those kids who would be receiving them somewhere in the world.  It was such a fun thing to go to the store and pick out gifts that we thought a boy or girl would like within a certain age range.  Watching the promotional presentations of what kinds of kids receive them always brought joy to our hearts and a tear or two to at least one person’s eyes.  There’s nothing like giving to someone who receives so very little, all in the name of Jesus. 

 Then we were accepted to be a part of the Post-Residency Program, through Samaritan’s Purse, and at orientation, got to walk through the HUGE storehouse/packing center for over a million shoeboxes.  That was a thrill to say the least.  We were so proud to be serving under the organization which runs this powerful ministry.  It became a dream to get to see OCC at work wherever we ended up serving.

 Finally, this year, we were able to get 100 shoeboxes (after a year of working with the OCC team here in Zimbabwe, and hitting wall after wall with shoeboxes being held at the port, and customs, etc.) out to Karanda!  Today we were so fortunate to be on the other side of the shoebox, handing them out to the kids in the PEDS Ward at the hospital! 

Our whole family trooped down to the hospital to gather the shoeboxes and stuffed animals for the babies.  Christopher called all the patients together to share the true reason for Christmas.  He talked of Christ coming as a baby.  He continued that Jesus ultimately gave us the greatest gift of his life so we can be forgiven of our sins and be with Him in Heaven one day if we accept this gift and ask Him to be our Savior.  We prayed and then shared that people in the United States had prepared and given these shoeboxes because they wanted to share God’s love with each one of these kids in the hospital.  It is a way to say, "Happy Birthday," to Jesus.  Then we handed out the boxes.  Most kids had no idea what this shoebox was all about, but as they opened them with their mothers or caregivers, huge smiles broke out and a wave of excitment went through the ward. 


 Thank you to all those who participate in OCC.  We wish that you could be the ones to hand out your boxes and see the joy your love brings.  We feel very honored to be your hands.  May you receive some blessing by looking at the faces of these kids who’s hearts were touched this day in Jesus name.

November 11, 2012


I don’t have a name…yet.  I was born just hours ago and my mommy had problems.  The medical staff here worked on mommy for 6 hours trying to stop her bleeding, but her blood wouldn’t clot and early this evening she left me here alone.    Dr. Kidwell was one of the doctors who worked tirelessly on mommy, skipping lunch, and continuing on into the evening.  He got blood from several staff members who matched my mommy's, and gave her several units of blood hoping it would help her.  Chaplains came in and out praying for her and several others, including Dr. Kidwell, prayed many times over her.  I know they did everything they could to save my mommy. 

I have family, but they are not here to care for me.  I was very lonely all alone in the maternity ward and it was a busy night.  The Kidwells came to care for me.  They bathed and dressed me in clean clothes.  The family held me and loved on me.  This is how it is supposed to be I guess.  I never got to be held by my mommy.  It was nice to hear a heart under my ear and be bundled up tight knowing for now I was safe and secure and loved. 

 I had to be fed by a syringe since most mommies either nurse or feed their newborns from a little cup.  They did have formula so that was good for my tummy.  After Mr. and Mrs. Kidwell got me cleaned up and warm, Mr. Kidwell laid his hand on my head and prayed for me.  He talked to my creator and asked for protection and blessing over me.  He prayed that one day someone would introduce me to Jesus, and that I could come to know the one would so intricately and lovingly made me.  Mrs. Kidwell cried, but they were so thankful to have this chance to take care of me…that’s what they told me. 

I am one of many orphans that come into this world.  That is a harsh reality of life in Africa.  I will most likely not remember this night with the Kidwells, but they said it will be in their minds forever.  I just need to be cared for and hope for someone to love on me too like I felt tonight.  I needed that touch after my long day.  Thank you Karanda Hospital for caring for my mommy and me and being Jesus to us.

November 8, 2012


A verse has been very meaningful to us for a long time, but it is now, in this place, that we read it with a whole new understanding.  The verse is from Jeremiah 17:7-8.

 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when HEAT comes (and boy its hot!); its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

It has been almost 6 months since our last rain.  Our river has gone from full and quickly flowing to completely dried up now in early November.

The river back in March.                                              The river in September.
Everything has gone from beautiful green to brown as far as you can see.  Dirt swirls can be seen walking anywhere on the compound and now the heat has returned.  Today, inside the house our thermometer read 98 degrees F.  Outside it is way over 100.  We hunger for anything to give us hope and encouragement.   
We serve a creative and good God who cares about even this arrid time that could be very discouraging.  All of a sudden we notice color popping up in places we've not seen anything but brown before. 
Jacaranda trees that were brown and leafless, have now burst forth in bright purple distributing a violet carpet below.
The trees seem to draw down from deep in the earth and pour forth color that lifts our eyes from the death below.   It is all a part of God's design, and we are reminded that every year has its seasons.  It takes every season to bring about life and growth.  It is the same in our lives as well.  There is a purpose and a growing in EVERY season we go through.

We find an extraordinarily beautiful butterfly in our garden of flowers and we marvel at God's creative work in its wings.  We find a small chameleon by our house and watch how God uniquely made this little guy.  Little discoveries like this bring us joy in our day.
Like the verses remind us, we can go through drought and heat, whether literally or figuratively, but if our roots are established deeply in HIM, we have no fear and we can still bear fruit. 
Thank you to all who send us encouragement, whatever form that is.  You don't know what a cool drink of water that is for our spirits.  We could not be here and do what we are doing if we didn't have this HOPE in Jesus and you lifting us up around the world.  Continue to pray with us for a good rainy season this year, and that it comes soon!  We wait in expectation.
The boys in Harare after we bought new gum boots in expectation of our rains to come!
The rains have already started in Harare, thus the beautiful green grass.  Makes it a little harder to come back out to our brown :)



September 29, 2012

Resilient MKs

How You Know When Your MKs (Missionary Kids) Have Acculturated?

1.  When the power is on, the first question out of their mouths is, "is this zesa (electricity) or generator?"

2.  They have learned NOT to flush the toilet after every use.

3.  They clap when receiving something (the sign of thanks here).

4.  Going somewhere, means walking, not the car!

5.  A trip down to the river is equivalent to a trip to the swimming pool.

6.  You overhear in their play, "let's go to Mr. Maguti's store!" (the local shop outside the compound)
instead of Target or Walmart.

7.  In their drawings, the trucks now bear the letters TM (our grocery store in Harare).

8.  What is McDonalds again?  We love Pizza Inn (the fast-food place we enjoy in Harare)!!

9.  It is a treat to get to ride in the car.

10.  They kick over rocks before picking them know, scorpions!

11.  Goat, chickens, donkeys, and cows are just a part of the normal day.

12.  The drink of choice is Mazowi (local sugary drink) over koolaid.

13.  "Where's the mosquito net?" when seeing a bed without one.

14.  The only time little Christopher knows is 10:00 because that's tea time!

15.  Baboons are old hat.

16.  Sitting through an hour of worship at church in Shona and Awana in Shona is all a part of a normal Sunday.

17.  Luke says everytime we drive through the bush, "Yeah for Africa!"

August 17, 2012

Grade 0

For a month now, three days a week, the boys and I have been having school with 4 staff kids.  I was asked if I would be able to help out any at the school here on the compound.  I agreed to teach Grade 0 once we got settled into our house.  Grade 0 is what is equivalent to kindergarten in the U.S.  The school here is called Correspondance School.  It has been around over 50 years and several of our missionaries, who grew up here in Zimbabwe, attended Correspondance School as young children.  It is the homeschool program here in Zimbabwe, but on our compound, we have teachers who walk through the program with the children.  This school is open to staff members who are well established here and meet other requirements.  Right now we have 3 classes.  Grades 1 & 2, Grades 4 & 6, and Grade 0!  In all we have about 12 kids. 

All of the school lessons are in English and so the kids who enter Correspondance School must be somewhat fluent in English.  In the past, students enter with a low proficiency in English and that makes it very difficult on them as well as the teacher.  So this is where I come in.  My main job is to expose my class to as much English as possible to help when they enter Grade 1 next year. 

Our boys are thoroughly enjoying school!  They have gained 4 new friends in a safe and structured environment and toys belong to the school so they are fun to share all around!  The boys and I were sick one week and were not able to do school.  When we returned, the boys were blown over by the hugs and squeezes the kids gave them!  It has been a good change in environment and schedule for all of us. 

Our class is made up of 2 boys and 2 girls, all right around the age of 6.  We were fortunate to start off our time with a helper.  Miss Julie is the daughter of one of our missionary staff who came out to visit for 2 months.  She blessed all of us by helping out in the room every day and the kids all got rather attached to her.  We are having to adjust to not having her with us now. 

Our school year here goes from January to December with 3 month-long breaks at April, August, and December.  We have only a few months to get these kiddoes ready for Grade 1, so please pray for wisdom as I prepare lessons and balance being a mommy and wife as well as a teacher now.  Welcome to Grade 0!

July 7, 2012

Semi Long-term Housing

Here are a few pictures of our home that we have moved into for the rest of our stay here.  We are at the top of the hill on the hospital compound, so we hear it has the best breeze when it gets so very hot here.  This is a duplex that once was the guesthouse a long time ago.  So we've moved from guesthouse to guesthouse!

The front entrance of our house.
Our door and the little flowerbed Dontie has been working on to get some color going.
The living room/dining room area.
The living room.
Our kitchen, very bright and spacious!

The master bedroom.

Hallway leading to all rooms.
The boys' bedroom.

View #2

The laundry room.  There is no water source into this room so all water must be carried in by bucket to the washing machine, and the used water emptied into the big black trash bucket.  I use this water then to water my plants or flush the toilet if we are having a water shortage.  One small load fills that black bucket!  Clothes are hand rinsed.  The drying rack is for anything you can't iron as we have flies that lay eggs on clothes out on the line, and so all things hung outside must be ironed.
The back of the house and clothesline.

May 24, 2012


We decided that after 6 months, our family needed a little down time and a chance to explore another part of Zimbabwe.  So we took off in a borrowed car to the northwest part of the country to Lake Kariba.  We had been told that the best time to go to Kariba is during this colder part of the year as it can get horribly hot during the summer months.  God gave us beautiful weather and we enjoyed ourselves immensely!  It was so nice to be together and see wild animals just outside our front door. 

We enjoyed high tea and lake breezes.

The boys LOVED swimming every day and they both are getting very close to swimming without floaties!  We have two little fish for boys :).  It was a wonderfully relaxing time. 

Here are some pictures of the lake and the animals that were just roaming around the cottages where we stayed! 
We could hear hippos grunting all night long.

This is Big Boy, the resident elephant. 

The lake was full of crocodiles.

Dontie's favorite time of the day was evening, watching the beautiful sunsets over the lake and the daily ritual of white birds covering a tree on an island in the lake.

Our family at the end of our much to short stay.  This is a termite hill just outside our cottage door!

As we drove home, we found this enormous baobab tree. 

Immediately after returning from our vacation, we moved up to our house from the guesthouse, and are in the process of settling and making it feel like home.  We thank God for the time away to rejuvinate as we head into a very busy season at Karanda.

April 30, 2012

Rolling with the Punches

The cell phone rings and we answer.  “Hello, Christopher, your car has been impounded!”  WHAT?  We had come into town to buy things for our house (which we are currently moving into). While in town, we had our car taken to the police headquarters to get a permit to cross the border, so we could go to South Africa on a little vacation/supply trip.  In the process of clearing our car, it was noted that something was amiss about the car and they said it looked like it had been a stolen car!  So we may have bought a stolen car!  We were able to get all our personal things out and are borrowing a monster of a car to get around town and continue our errands, but we have no idea what is to happen now.  Obviously, we aren’t going on any vacation!  We were just informed as well, that IF we ever get the car back, it could take months to several YEARS! 

Here’s a new prayer then for all you prayer warriors: that we can either get our car back in a short amount of time, or that we can find another means of transportation.  We certainly can’t afford to buy another car, but we do have to get around.  God is in control  and we trust His goodness.  So as long as you stick with us in this adventure, you’re in for a ride (no pun intended)! 

We will keep you updated.

So you can see what you are praying for :)