Dare to Share with Zimbabwe

Dare to Share Working Trip June 2 - Aug 3, 2007

Tuesday June 12, 2007

GREETINGS from Zimbabwe! I would like to introduce the "team" to you in this first update, so that you will be familiar with some of the characters in the story which will unfold over the next 2 months. During the past year, DARE TO SHARE's daily operations have been primarily managed by 3 native Zimbabweans named "Baba," Everjoy, and Trevor. Due to the volunteer nature of Jonathan & Robin's involvement with DARE TO SHARE, this trip is the first one that the couple has made TOGETHER to Zimbabwe since 2002. Needless to say, after many solo trips, the Daniels are thrilled to be home at the same time!

The three college students who are interning this "summer" (winter in Zimbabwe) with DARE TO SHARE are Janell, Patty, and Brian. Janell and Patty traveled to Zimbabwe with the Daniels last week, and Brian will join the team on Monday, June 25. The primary goal of our team's two months' stay in Zimbabwe is to assist the DARE TO SHARE coordinators with all aspects of the work done. Each day will be filled with amazing opportunities for eyes and hearts to be opened and challenged. We have already seen and experienced enough in one week to make up for the tiring 30-hour trip from Raleigh, NC to Harare, Zimbabwe.

I will leave it there for now, and begin with some specifics the next time. Until then, keep being thankful for the "little things" in life...I KNOW our team surely is!

- Robin
 


Thursday June 14, 2007

This is the first time since our team has been in Zimbabwe that we have actually had electricity in the morning hours. The power has been out for the past 4 hours, but that's nothing compared to the regular all-day outages we have been experiencing in the past couple of weeks. We have really been wanting electricity TODAY, because Everjoy (the Office Administrator for DARE TO SHARE) wants to catch up on the computer work that has gone unfinished for the past 2 weeks, and I'm hoping to make Jonathan a birthday cake in the oven (instead of over the fire where we've been cooking 3 meals per day for at least 9 people per meal).

We also need to set up the new computer (that has been purchased for the office) and train our newest staff addition: a native Zimbabwean named Judy joined DARE TO SHARE's staff on Monday and will be assisting Everjoy in the daily interworkings of the office! The office is a busy place, with constant visits from current beneficiaries and those requesting assistance.

Some of our team members are spending today in the rural area ("kumusha"), experiencing the typical American-perception of Africa. There is no electricity or running water there, but they have taken a picnic-lunch and their water bottles with purified water. So far Patty and Janell are adjusting well to the culture and language differences in Zimbabwe, and the DARE TO SHARE staff have appreciated their humility and service as they have both pitched where ever the help is needed.

The interns have been able to do things such as: visit beneficiaries in various living conditions, share encouragement at a Bible Study in a high school where some of DARE TO SHARE's students attend, provide comfort to a grieving mother who has recently lost a son, share songs & games with a group of children in a village where a church has been recently planted, stand in line for goods to be purchased/distributed to beneficiaries, and spend quality bonding time with the staff in daily meetings (where we lay out the day's agenda in the morning and debrief about the day's actual happenings in the evening).

Some days look a lot like what we had planned, and other days turn out quite different (due to power, transportation, and communication limitations). In either case, we are thrilled about what opportunities we have been given to help DARE TO SHARE's staff in Zimbabwe. We will continue serving with joy and energy for our time in Zimbabwe. Keep us in your prayers and be thankful for the little things!

- Robin
 


Thursday June 21, 2007

“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” -2 Chronicles 20:17

This past weekend, our team joined Pastor Denford and his crew, as well as a few visiting pastors from the States, in attending and helping lead a multi-church leaders’ meeting in Mhondoro. Patty and I had been asked to take charge of the children’s ministry during these sessions. Initially expecting to teach 20-30 kids for about 2 hours, we were more than slightly surprised to find over 100 only-Shona-speaking children waiting to be taught and loved.

These kids ranged in age from 2-13, and we ended up spending a total of 6 hours with them. Personally, the unexpected surprises of this experience were very challenging to my non-flexible, task-oriented and perfectionist mentality. However, the Lord’s grace was definitely sufficient in providing strength, creative ideas, and eventually translators. Together, we taught the children some kid’s praise songs in English, joined in some Shona worship, taught and reenacted Bible stories, and played plenty of outdoor, large group games. Spending this time leading children in such a rural, needy region was a challenge, a blessing, and a time to remember. The children’s joy in worship and loving acceptance of others was an example even to us.

In retrospect, this experience allowed us to see firsthand how God makes a way where there seems to be none, and that He truly is our Help and Provider who assures those with willing hearts, “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”

- Janell


Friday June 22, 2007

REST....seems like such a viable option when the water has been out for an entire week and the power has only been available for a few short hours each day. The temperatures have dropped significantly, and we can now tell that it really is "winter" in Zimbabwe. The sun sets a little past 5:30, and the chill and the wind last all day! It's tempting not to crawl out of the blankets each cold morning (with no heat available even when there is power and the ominous task of cooking breakfast over a fire).....until a knock at the gate of the DARE TO SHARE office means that someone is here to be helped.

A woman is having marital problems, a child's tuition has increased so much that he is in jeopardy of losing his place in school, a student needs help with his math homework, a father's pay is not enough to support his family, a widow can't afford to feed her children, an orphan has no way to better his education. Each day the DARE TO SHARE staff advises, counsels, mentors, and assists with a variety of physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs.

The work is draining, yet uplifting....difficult, yet joyous....daunting, yet addictive. Each day is different than the previous one, with no guarantee of what will be on the agenda. But one thing is constant and certain: the focus of the staff is to do God's will for the people in Zimbabwe. The staff LOVES what they do, and the beneficiaries have a refuge where they can REST in the knowledge that they are truly loved.

- Robin
 


Monday June 25, 2007

Well, we have survived our first D-Day here in Zimbabwe: Distribution Day that is. What a day it has been! I’m not sure who were more blessed, the persons who came to collect money and/or food or those of us who were given the opportunity to give it out. The joy and gratitude of the people we served today blessed us more than we can say.

Since it was our first day, Janell and I each spent time in the various areas of the distribution. She spent the morning inside distributing the monies and spending time in prayer for each individual as he/she came through. I spent the morning greeting people as they came, praying for them as they arrived before they collected what they needed, and helping distribute the food items. We then switched roles in the afternoon. It was exciting to see this part of the ministry.

As all ministries do, we have had the ‘down’ times when we organize the books, buy the things for the ministry, etc. All of these are essential in keeping the ministry running smoothly, and things I find very enjoyable. Today, however, we got to experience the ‘doing’ part of the ministry more so than we have before. There was an almost constant flow through the office the entire day and we were busy, busy, busy. It was good to meet and interact with the people the ministry is helping.

There is a book I have been reading on the Shona people called The Genuine Shona and today we definitely saw the genuineness of the people. Some of these people have very little, some have barely enough to survive, and yet they are so filled with love and kindness. There is a sense of joy just in the faces of the people that most lack. They face difficult circumstances and yet they praise God for provision and protection. They are real about their faith, they are real about life, and they remain positive! There is so much to learn from their joyful attitude.

The Lord is definitely blessing the family of Dare to Share. The beneficiaries showed us that today in so many ways; the staff has showed us that constantly. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this ministry as an intern for the summer. I am learning so much from the experience. My prayer is that my presence here is a blessing, as much as being here has already blessed me in the short amount of time we’ve been here. Let us “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4) as the people here do.

- Patty


Tuesday July 3, 2007

Last Thursday, Janell and I experienced something very new and different for the both of us. We went to the farm to hang out with Jonathan’s sister-in-law, Loveness, and others, as well as learn how to prepare a chicken from scratch, which means we started with a live chicken. She also tried to teach us how to carry buckets of water on our head. What a time we had!

The chicken did not know what she was in for, that’s for sure. Loveness and I started chasing her out of no where. The chicken took us all over the yard until finally she went hiding in coup, seeking refuge. Little did she know that she was not safe. Loveness followed her right in, and I behind Loveness. Loveness finally caught her after corning her in the back of the coup.

After posing for a few pictures with the chicken, we allowed Daniel (Loveness’ husband, Jonathan’s brother) the honor of killing her. Loveness then put the chicken in a basin and poured scalding water over her. So began the plucking process. It’s actually a lot easier than one would think.

Once all the feathers were out, we started to cut apart the chicken. Loveness would show us where to hold the chicken, where to cut, and so on. Amazingly enough, it was not as disgusting as I thought it would be. While there was blood involved, it was a lot less messy than I expected. If you are at all curious about the process, we have plenty of pictures from start to finish to share.

All in all, I’d say it was a rather enjoyable experience. And I don’t think chicken has ever tasted as good as it did that night! We had plenty of fun on the farm that day, but the chicken adventure definitely took the cake that day. I hope to be going back soon!

- Patty


Thursday July 12, 2007

Being able to attend my first African church service was an experience that I knew I would never forget, especially because I was raised in a traditional church setting back home. But, by God’s grace He has blessed me with the wonderful opportunity to be here and worship and learn in a different environment.

Upon arrival it was very interesting to see that the church was going to take place in a semi outdoor setting. The church building only consisted of a metal roof and poles for structural support. Underneath the metal roof were four rows of wooden benches, a podium for preaching, and the communion and offering table. This made me realize that it’s not about the extravagant objects that define a church, but about the joining of Christians longing to worship our heavenly Father.

The church service began with individual prayer requests followed by communal praying. Communal praying was something that I had never experienced before, but found it to be very powerful. When it came time to be introduced to the congregation by team member Trevor Daniel, the reception from the congregation was so warm and inviting. We were then led in an insightful and moving Bible Study by fellow team member Robin Daniel addressing the passage of Acts 2:35-41.

Something that I have always heard about but never experienced is the African style of worshipping. I found it amazing how the whole congregation was involved - people were singing and dancing, shaking tambourines, and beating on drums. With all the wonderful praise and worship going on, you had no other choice but to feel the Holy Spirit working. The American Team was given the opportunity to lead one of the worship songs; let’s just say I need to work on my Shona before next time.

The most powerful portion of the service was when Pastor Jonathan Daniel spoke on forgiveness. Forgiveness has been something that I have been struggling with in my walk with Christ. As the Bible says, “if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Mt. 6:15).” I came to realize at this point that I was still carrying many burdens on my heart. But thanks to Pastor Daniel’s motivating words of encouragement I have released those burdens by learning to forgive.

Our time visiting Epworth Church was a valuable experience that God used to teach me a powerful lesson about forgiveness and much about the African Christian community.

- Brian


Wednesday July 18, 2007

 

The "American team" joined Baba Hwamiridza for a truly inspirational worship service, filled with joyful song and dance! The congregation was pleased (and surprised) when the 3 American college students helped Jonathan lead a song in the Shona language. Patty & Janell were surprised (and somewhat pleased) when they were recruited by the worship leaders to dance in front of the church. Thankfully, it was a simple set of steps! Jonathan preached a "short" sermon, due to a funeral obligation we had that afternoon.

 

 

These 2 little ladies visited the DARE TO SHARE office for the first time on their one-year-old birthday! You may not be able to tell by this photo, but both girls are undernourished, so their bodies don't adequately reflect their age. The mother has requested to be added to our monthly feeding program, so she can provide for her twin girls and their toddler sibling. DARE TO SHARE needs the support of people like YOU to feed children in Zimbabwe like these two girls. THANKS for your assistance!

 

 

"Mbeva": field mice eaten in Zimbabwe
One of the things Jonathan enjoys most about being home is eating the delicacies that Robin denies him when they are in the States.  This field mouse was roasted by fire, and then Jonathan enjoyed every last bite.  The only thing he left was the teeth!  The meat is actually VERY tender, but Jonathan says it doesn't taste like chicken:  it tastes MUCH better!

 

- Robin
 


Sunday July 22, 2007

In less than one week’s time, Jonathan & I have been involved with assisting four different families in dealing with the deaths of loved ones. The “involvement” has included every physical, emotional, and spiritual aspect of the deaths. From counseling and encouraging grieving families to transporting the bodies to gravesites we helped to dig, we have tried our best to help families deal with untimely deaths, while the rest of the DARE TO SHARE team has continued the daily work of the ministry.

Three of the four deaths were individuals in their 20s or 30s. Each was a husband or wife, a father or mother, a son or daughter to families who loved them dearly. Although each situation presented various challenges, the toughest for me was the burial of a 3-week-old baby girl. Jonathan had seen the child just one week after her birth, and she was healthy and vibrant at that time. Although the mother suspected there was a respiratory problem the day before the baby died, the family did not have the money to take the child to the clinic. The baby actually died while the mother waited in line at a clinic, and the mother had to travel home by foot with her deceased child. Her own husband was unaware of the situation, because he had traveled (only 2 days after the baby’s birth) to try to find employment.

When a child is left without a parent, the child is labeled an “orphan.” When a man or woman loses a spouse, he or she is called a “widower” or “widow.” But where is the word (in English or Shona) for a parent who has lost his/her child to death? There is no word to explain the grief and heart-brokenness that a parent feels when his/her own child is taken from this life, while he/she is left to deal with the pain. No words (or labels) can justly express that grieving process.

In Shona culture, a mother is discouraged from mourning the loss of a child who is less than 3 months old. That, to me, was the most difficult dynamic in dealing with the funeral of this baby girl. Rarely do I struggle with cultural differences in Zimbabwe, because I am convinced that I am Shona at heart. However, in this instance I battled with my own thoughts and feelings. What mother wouldn’t weep for her child who she carried in her womb for more than 9 months and was able to hold in her arms for just three weeks? The young mother was surrounded by merely a few family members who (believing that grieving a newborn could lead to a barren womb) were encouraging her not to grieve. However, as any parent could imagine, there is simply no way to not respond to the death of your own child. Words and tears aren’t adequate at times like these, but they are still necessary expressions. So, I found myself crying tears for and with the mother (who wasn’t supposed to be crying any for herself)…and I still find myself praying that both parents will be able to move forward from this difficult time of loss.

- Robin
 


Wednesday July 25, 2007

Each day with DARE TO SHARE brings new and exciting opportunities to serve the people of Zimbabwe. There are many roles to play, but my favorite tasks revolve around the beautiful children in this beautiful country. Whether helping school children with their English skills, teaching a child how to tie her first pair of new shoes, encouraging a baby to dry his tears, or just giving hugs & kisses to children of all ages...the children of Zimbabwe definitely have a hold on my heart! I am not looking forward to another "good-bye" in just over a week, because I'll have to wait until next June to be able to hold these kids again. Every time I leave Zimbabwe, I anxiously await my next return "home"...because home truly is where the heart is!

- Robin


Friday July 27, 2007

Our devotional Scripture this morning was Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” As the case has been every day (since our team arrived on June 3), the Verse was so appropriate for the dealings of the day! Each of the staff and the interns were given the right words, attitudes, and actions to help meet the needs of the beneficiaries on this busy day!

Just when we thought (after 2 weeks of searching empty shelves in countless shops) our team would not be able to provide the “kapenta” (dried fish) or “upfu” (meal used to make the staple food in Zimbabwe) as a part of the Distribution Day food package, God intervened! Although we had come to terms with handing out the other food items (salt, dry porridge, cooking oil, and beans) along with a monetary allowance (in hopes that the beneficiaries could secure the goods we hadn’t found), we continued to pray for God to supply all the needs for those supported by DARE TO SHARE’s food program. Before the morning hours had passed, God miraculously revealed where we could purchase both missing items (at a lower cost than we had anticipated)! How good He is to those who put their trust in Him! Several of the beneficiaries who were given the extra funds in the morning brought the money back to the office in exchange for the food items, because they recognize the difficulty in currently finding these supplies.

We are thankful for the DARE TO SHARE staff, the team of American interns, and the committed partners who play a part in the work being done in Zimbabwe. God will continue to supply all our needs, as we continue to put the work into His hands! The needs significantly outweigh the resources on a monthly basis, but we know that the Lord is going to continue to grow the work that is being done for His glory. Thanks to those of you who have helped in ANY way!

- Jonathan & Robin Daniel

 


Tuesday July 31, 2007

One big difference between my time here this "summer" and my time here last year is that DARE TO SHARE currently owns and operates a vehicle to be used for the ministry. As many of you may remember, the very first trip in that vehicle was my ride to the airport (to fly back to America) last August. Although the current team has still spent a good bit of time on public transportation and on foot, it is still such a blessing to have the truck for use by DARE TO SHARE. Finding petrol for the truck is not always the easiest task...last weekend, Trevor stayed overnight in the 'queue' in order to fill the tank. I have promised not to complain about the cost of gas upon our return to America: I just plan to be grateful that it's available to be put into the two cars that Jonathan and I own!!

The purpose of this picture is to show the reality of the current 'transport blues' (as they are locally termed) in Zimbabwe. Private transportation is truly a luxury and is not common for the majority of native Zimbabweans. Children walk miles to and from school, while adults travel by foot to and from work. Public transportation is inconsistent and often unreliable (in terms of rates, maintenance, schedule, etc). The vehicles that are on the roads are often packed full of people who are thankful to be moving quicker than usual (even if it means they are sitting on top of each other in the back of a truck).

Despite the difficulty of finding a way to get from one place to another, people in Zimbabwe make it a priority to get to important places (church, friends, family, etc) . I am convicted by how many times we say we are too "busy" in the States to see those we love (or we drive right past the houses of our family and friends), when there is nothing easy about getting somewhere in Zimbabwe...yet, the people here do not let time or distance stand as obstacles to what is truly important.

The beneficiaries of DARE TO SHARE don't let the 'transport blues' get them down either. They still manage to find a way to get to the office (especially on "Distribution Day") to receive the prayers, encouragement, food items, financial resources, and other blessings that Everjoy, Baba, Trevor, and Judy provide monthly for them. Jonathan & I are truly thankful that the staff of DARE TO SHARE is effective enough to override the 'transport blues'...and we pray for the ability to provide resources that are more steady and reliable than finding a ride in Zim.

- Robin

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