Catching up

We’ve been back here in Doma, Zimbabwe for about 9 weeks and it’s about time that I wrote another post.  I’m constantly thinking of things to say, but just never get around to it, so today is the day.  I have a feeling that it may be just a stream of consciousness thing, so I understand if you drop off part way through.

We were in Canada for 8 months and had a great time with friends and family and were able to speak a number of times at churches and various groups.  The time there also gave us the chance to gain some perspective and re-assess our lives here in Africa and ask ourselves what we’d want to do differently this time.  This was an important thing to do and we are feeling the difference now.  I think all four of us would say that we feel more invested here than we were before.  Lia has been spending more time with some of the Shona girls, hanging out and watching movies, getting to know each other better.  Carole has just received her certificate from the midwifery institute and is now full steam ahead with prenatal care and hopefully more and more deliveries.  (I’m praying about moving another container over to the clinic to build a maternity ward, Carole is rather hesitant so far.) She’s also teaching the clinic staff from Judy’s herbal medicine course books.  I’m doing less hands on work with the building team and focusing on planning and organizing projects, mentoring the supervisors and empowering the men to do their work to the best of their abilities.  We are making more effort to be active in the community, like going regularly to the Shona church rather than just the English service at the farm.

Life here is always interesting.  It’s funny what can become normal after being here for a while.  There are always people around the house, whether it’s the housekeeper, Mai Makufa, or the numerous gardeners for the three houses.  Or it’s one of the builders coming to ask a question or a tractor in the yard with a trailer full of water barrels for watering the gardens and flowers, or the night guard looking for the gate keys.  We live next to the main path from the road to the farm so there are always voices from people going back and forth, no matter the time of day.  You learn that privacy is something you cherish when you can get it.

For me, it’s the little things during the day that I just have to laugh about.  I want to use the circular saw, so first I have to go find it as it’s not where it’s supposed to be.  (Now I know how my Dad always felt about me leaving his tools here there and everywhere.)  I remember seeing it in a shipping container so I get the keys and go get it.  It’s an American saw so I need to use the American generator.  The gas line has been chewed by rats and the tank is empty.  So I have to scrounge around and find some tubing, which happily wasn’t too hard, then have to change the old gas line out with the new piece.  Thankfully there’s some petrol in a can, so that gets poured into the tank.  Now where is the extension cord? I ask around and am able to find it and now I can get started with cutting the two pieces of wood which takes a fraction of the time to do than all the preamble did.  This is a normal occurrence.  It’s also why I’m using handsaws a lot more than I ever have.  It’s also why all of my tools are locked in toolboxes in my house.  Someone once used my good chisel as a screwdriver and I blew a gasket and now everything is locked up.

We still don’t have hot water in our house so bucket baths or showers in other houses are the norm.  Soon the temperatures will be in the 40’s so maybe cold showers will feel okay.  Look on the bright side, eh? We only have electricity when our generator is running, so we run it for about 6 hours a day to keep our food from rotting in the fridge and to charge our electronics and have light at night.  We go through a lot of candles.


Something I hadn’t planned on was exercise nights.  One of my buddies, Wilfred Mashayamombe, (I can finally say his last name now) wanted to work out with me so I found a Bowflex machine in storage that Ian used to use and have it set up on our veranda.  It looks like some archaic torture device and I have no real idea how to use it, but the four or five guys that come over three nights a week love it.  I lead the guys in a training circuit using mostly body weight exercises so they see that we don’t need fancy equipment.  So we run a route through the compound and do push ups, burpees and planks and other exercises, using cardboard boxes as mats.  It’s tiring after a day of work, more for them than me I’m sure, but it’s awesome.  We laugh at each other and ourselves when we collapse while planking and are forming relationships.  It is unheard of out here for a bunch of Shona guys to hang out with a murungu, (a white guy).  I get it, I understand the history of this country and the race divide, but I pray all the time the walls between us will come down.  This is exciting!

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our lives here in Zim and I will make a much greater effort to keep the blog posts coming.