Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Zimbabwe - Day 3, part 2

After we left the Bishop, we headed out to Magwegwe North (a suburb of Bulawayo) to visit one of Forgotten Voices' partner churches. The pastor there is a guy named Fibion. Fibion is awesome - such a servant's heart! He lives at the church with his dog , Fluffy (not what I would name a giant german shepherd, but whatever). He loves his church and takes such amazing care of the people God has entrusted him to shepherd. He is a good man, and a hilarious one at that! It was an honor spending the day seeing how God is using Fibion and his church in this community.

Fibion, maxing & relaxing in his office while we interviewed him a bit before we went out into the community to visit some families.

Now he's getting fired up!


This is the oldest member of the church. I think he's just about the cutest old man I've ever seen! And even though he looks like he's scowling a little bit here, believe me, he got quite a laugh out of me taking his picture so much :)

Walking through Magwegwe North was pretty entertaining. More than any other place we went in Zimbabwe, it is very rare for the people of Magwegwe to see white people walking around. It's kinda like "the hood" of Bulawayo. So, everywhere we walked, kids were running after us, shouting "Makiwa!" - which means white person. Ryan (our fearless leader) is just a 6-foot tall 6 year old, so he entertained our following of kids by making crazy faces, stupid jokes, and asking them all to race him. I'm pretty sure most of them thought we were nuts, but these 2 girls were particularly enchanted by him.

This is Horace. Horace is a leader at Fibion's church. He's a great guy and does an amazing job helping Fibion and leading the youth. He went with us on all of the home visits that day and you could tell that the people in the church really love him.

Our first home visit was to the home of a GoGo (Ndbele for Grandmother) taking care of like a dozen grandkids! This woman is incredible! In this picture below, you can see her brood. I count 12 grandbabies, but I believe some her children live with her as well. Most of these kids have lost their parents, her children, to AIDS. It's amazing what people do for their families - what they endure, what they give up, how they survive. The church helps this GoGo by paying the school fees for her grandchildren. In a country where food is hard to come by, this is probably the only reason that most of these children are able to go to school at all.

Look at her face. She's one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. You wouldn't imagine that she's a grandmother caring for 12 kids, would you?

We had the opportunity to pray for each family while we were in their homes. It was really cool to watch this crowd of kids (mostly boys) settle down and get quite as we prayed.

One of the kids playing outside as we were leaving.

During this trip, we met many children who were orphaned by AIDS, and we met quite a few who were actually born with HIV. Children. Born with HIV. It isn't fair. It isn't easy. But, it's the reality of life in Zimbabwe. Check out the statistics...

* One hundred babies become HIV-positive every day in Zimbabwe
* A child dies every 15 minutes due to HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe
* One in five Zimbabwean children are now orphans (1 million from HIV/AIDS)

The next house we went to was the home of Doris & Dennis. Doris & Dennis are orphans, living with their Grandparents. Their parents died of AIDS, and Doris was born HIV positive.

This is their GoGo, who cares for them.

And their Grandfather (yet another cute old man!)

Doris & Denis in their home with their GoGo. The church pays for their school fees so they can have a chance to get ahead in life.

Ryan racing, and losing to Denis out in the street

Doris watching us skeptically

A little boy across the street

A mob of kids checking out Adam's video camera

Trevor listening to Pastor Fibion outside the next home

The last home we visited that day was the home of a little girl named Blessed. Blessed's mother has HIV, and her father has already passed away.

Blessed's mother is very proud of her. She made a point to show us her homework so we could see her good grades. Her mother feels grateful that the church is able to pay for Blessed's school fees. She wants a better life for her daughter and believes that this will help.

In talking to the mother, it was quite clear that her greatest fear is what will happen to Blessed if she gets ill or dies. She seems comforted in knowing that the church will be there to help take care of her.

A view from the streets in Magwegwe

After visiting homes, we went back to the church for a worship service. Here, Pastor Fibion is singing along with the congregation.

They invited Ryan up to share a word. Ryan shared the story of Gideon and reminded us that God said to Gideon, "Go with the faith you have and the knowledge I am the one that sent you!"

A child at the worship service, who seemed to be a bit distracted...

After the worship service, they fed us from what little food they had. This is, of course, their custom. But, it made us feel horrible, knowing that we could afford to get food on our way home and that they would literally go without in order to feed us. Pastor Fibion explained that the saying goes that a visitor will never eat all your food. The idea that no matter how little of it you have, you should share with a guest because they won't take it all. These are generous people, I tell you.

All in all, it was a long and exhausting day, but a good one.

More from Magwegwe North coming up in the next post - Day 4.

1 comment:

  1. for some reason, some pictures aren't showing up =/