Wednesday, April 30, 2008

updates all around town

Greetings! Sorry again for a long delay here. I still have nearly-finished posts that were started in Africa and that I've not been able to complete yet. Some day, perhaps. Some day.

In the meantime, please continue praying for Zimbabwe and for Kenya. Here are a couple sources of info that I've recently discovered:

The Zimbabwean (I think it's published from the UK)

Rising from the Ashes: A Kenyan pastor who lost his home in post-election violence models forgiveness (from AIM, one of the organizations I overlapped with in Kenya)

Life is full these days as I work to be fully present here while preparing for the next stops on the road. I have two big hurdles of tasks to get through before I can dig deeper into plans for Haiti. Please pray with me that those things will be completed within the next week. It's time for Haiti planning to begin. I hope I'll be able to be mentally and prayfully prepared for that trip and not let it get lost in the larger and probably much more long-term impending move to England. With food prices rising around the world, the poor in Haiti have been among those suffering from rising grain and rice prices. Please pray for God's provision for them. Things feel unsettled enough here in the US with our ghastly gas price increases, but imagine the bit of fear you feel as you watch the price increases you can't control applied to your staple, and previously cheap, food for your family.
And speaking of being present here, I'm about halfway through an eight-week commitment to help with an ESL (English as a Second Language) class for a group of Somali Bantu refugees living in Nashville. I tried to help out with a class last summer but just couldn't squeeze out the time to do it. I was excited to find that the dates for this round of classes fit just right with my Nashville months. It's fun to have an Africa connection here. The woman teaching the class is from my church, and it's great fun to have the chance to get to know her better. And it's great fun to welcome and help some new Nashvillians.
Many Bantu people from Somalia speak a language that's never been written down, so in addition to learning English, which would be hard enough on its own, many of them are learning to read and write any language for the very first time. This makes language acquisition, at least in a culture that places a premium on literacy, infinitely harder. Please pray for them as they try to learn the language that will make their transition here easier.
Thanks, folks! More later!

Friday, April 4, 2008

keep Zimbabwe in mind

Hey, friends...Just another update on Zimbabwe's elections. If these news reports are correct, everyone (opposition and ruling party both) recognizes Mugabe didn't win the presidential elections, but apparently the opposition candidate didn't win enough votes to take the presidency outright. Now there is to be a run-off election, and it sounds like the ruling party may be up to their old tricks of intimidating voters and worse in order to stay in power. It seems Zimbabwe's on the brink of change, so let's pray with the Zimbabweans that change will come without more suffering and that those who need to be courageous will be.

The country is a beautiful place and the people are great. There is much bad stewardship of the place in these days, with land and infrastructure and people not being used well.
This photo was taken from the yard of the bed & breakfast I stayed in while in Zimbabwe last October.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

zimbabwe's recent elections

It's quite a moment for Zimbabwe right now. Their elections were held on March 29, and, surpisingly, it seems there's a chance Robert Mugabe, the country's dictator/president of the past 28 years, is on his way out. I've had a hard time finding Zimbabwe news since I've been back, but the recent elections and the wait for results has the country back in the news. If Mugabe does leave power, who knows if the new regime will be any kinder to Zimbabwe's people and economy, but perhaps there's hope. Please join in praying for the people of Zimbabwe, that things will remain peaceful, that change will come that releases them from the terribleness they've been living in.

I was cautioned by friends and relatives against going to Zimbabwe last fall, mostly because the news reports suggested the place was in chaos. I'm so glad I still went because I found a different situation than I anticipated. Life for me, a visitor, was fine. I had plenty to eat and never, ever felt unsafe. In fact, I generally felt more safe and at ease there than I did in many of the other cities I visited. However, it was clear even in the briefest conversations that life has been terrifically hard for the people of Zimbabwe. When you ask someone how they're doing, it wasn't uncommon for the reply to be: "Half-half. So-so. Things are really bad here. This used to be a good place to live." Someone commented that things were better when the white farmers were still there. With the astronomical inflation rate, students at schools and universities were receiving extra tuition bills part way through the semester because the amount they paid at the beginning of the semester was no longer enough to cover the school's expenses.

What struck me, though, is that somehow people were making it. Somehow they were soldiering on. And that is to the credit of the resilience of Zimbabwe's people. In spite of the heaviness, people still laughed and smiled and welcomed a stranger into their midst.

The part of Zimbabwe I visited is located near the border with Mozambique, so it's possible things were even more dire in the Zimbabwe's interior than what I experienced. The people on the eastern edge of Zimbabwe could go over to Mozambique and down to South Africa to get the supplies and foodstuffs that had stopped being available in Zim. People in the interior would be less likely to be able to do that.

Here are links to some election news:
Zimbabwe bloggers react to delays
Deal 'close' for Mugabe to leave
Zimbabwe opposition leader: no talks