There is so much to tell about my time in Zimbabwe... I've had a hard time deciding where to begin.
There are stories and pictures and ways that God spoke to me personally through this trip, but I will begin by giving you an overview of some of the good that I saw, and some of the areas where prayers are needed.
I'll start with the prayers, just cause I'm a girl who likes to save the best for last.
* As I had feared, I returned to Zimbabwe to find that many people that I care about had passed away. Many of these people were the only living parent to their children, and they all left behind loved ones who miss them greatly. Please pray for the families they left behind, especially the young ones who are now caring for themselves, or who have moved to new areas to stay with relatives.
* This prayer request is directly related to the one above, but please pray for those effected by the AIDS epidemic. Although numbers on charts reported by the Zimbabwe government show that the statistics are improving, it seems to me that they are getting worse. From asking around, there has been a big push for AIDS education, and many know the facts, but on the ground it does not seem as though it is making much of a difference among the communities I was in. From talking to a few people, one thing that concerned me is the misbelief that once on the ARVS and feeling better, people believe they are better, and go back to the same lifestyle.
* We are all human, and no matter how much we give or how much we do, we are all vulnerable to greed and pride. Please pray for church and ministry leaders in Zimbabwe in this area.
* Zimbabwe, and much of Africa, is a very spiritually deep place. Much of Africa's religion is rooted in witchcraft, and it seems that even as people become Christians, it is hard to break away from the rituals and superstitions of the old way. Although they serve Christ, they work hard to appease the dark spirits rather than claiming the blood of Christ over their lives. In America many people, even Christians, view witchcraft as a fairytale, and even as a source for entertainment. In Africa people would think you are silly if you told them witches wear black pointy hats and fly around on broom sticks. It is a well known fact that witches fly in baskets, and usually naked. In Africa witchcraft is never something taken lightly, because people have seen and experienced satanic forces, and recognize them as what they are. They fear them, which is why even after they accept Christ, they don't want to make them mad. Please pray for Christians, that they would claim the blood of Christ, and that they would come to realize God as being all-powerful so they may walk fully in his ways.
* Last, but not least, in a region that is so spiritually hungry, Christians and even pastors have very little Bible training. As a result, false prophets easily gain trust and lead astray even Christians with the best intentions. Please pray for wisdom and discernment in this area.
* From what I saw and heard from locals, the situation in Zimbabwe has improved since I was last there. When I left, there was no food on the shelves in the stores. It got to the point that even the richest people had to cross the border to bring in food from a neighboring country. It simply was not there. Now, although the prices are still out of reach for many, there is plenty of food to be found. Tourism, mostly from other African countries, is up. In the Victoria Falls area this means more job opportunities.
* While in Zimbabwe I was able to make many new friends. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I attended an intercessory prayer group with women from various churches and denominations, and wow, it was powerful. One way I was able to be a blessing to these women (only with your help) was to give them a loan. Each woman in the group had a business proposal, and have plans, once their business is up and running, to use the business to pass on the blessing. I gave one loan to one woman, and Tecla gave one loan to another woman. Once these loans are paid back in the next six months, they will be passed on to two other women in the group. Once the loan is recieved and payed back by each woman, the money will be put together, and the women from the group can apply for money for things such as business expansion and upkeep. The prayer is that this small amount of money would multiply and bring provision and blessing for the families of many. I will be sharing more about this in a later post.
* I was also able to connect with a church, and am praying about possibly joining them (financially) in an awesome ministry project. It is a large project that they have taken on in faith, and I am so excited about it. It was really encouraging to see a small congregation make such a big and sacrificial commitment. I know you are all wondering what it is, but I have a couple i's to dot and t's to cross before I lay it all out there.
* I was able to see many of the children I worked with before, and most of them are so healthy! It was great to see the babies that I left as malnourished and helpless infants now at age four as healthy children who are full of life and personality.
I have so much more to tell you, but you're gonna have to be patient! I came home to life in full-swing, but I will try my best to settle my brain and body long enough to get it all out there.