The following is a note from Melissa Maher, a beloved sister in community who is spending the last part of summer in Zimbabwe. Please keep praying for Melissa and her friend Janine as they seek to be agents of the Kingdom coming in that place:
This week in morning devotionals, one of the mothers at the orphanage read from Ecclesiastes 3 which speaks of the various seasons or times of life. A time to plant, a time to harvest...and the list goes on. It was a very timely verse for the events of the last two weeks. Janine and I have sat with families and seen there is a time to laugh and a time to mourn or weep.
A Time to Laugh: with the children at the orphanage, with friends I met last summer, and with my friend Janine.
A Time to Mourn: In the last week, three people that Project HOPE and Fairfield Orphanage worked closely with passed away--difficult losses for everyone here.
This email I would like to tell you about two Shona words I have not only learned to say but have lived or experienced.
Chema--to offer condolences to a family after someone has passed away, usually in the form of a financial donation.
Kumusha--to go home, usually refers to the rural home area of a family.
Chema is collected by the community and given to the family to assist in funeral costs and particularly in helping to pay for the meal that is prepared at the funeral. The family of the one who passed away prepares a meal for everyone who attends the funeral (which can be 100 people or more).
We received news of the death of Mai Maposa last Thursday (7/20). It was an unexpected call for we had just learned that she was sick and not feeling well. We made plans to go and visit her in the next week. However, the situation was more serious than we had heard. She passed away in her home that afternoon. We went the following day to say "Sorry" to the family, which is customary to do. Friends and family members travel to the home of the family to say sorry, to cry with them, to sing hymns with them, and to stay with them through the night or until the funeral. We were unable to go to the funeral because we were leaving town for the weekend to go and visit a friend...so going to say sorry was important because Mai Maposa was one of the most faithful and hard working health care workers that assisted with the project. She was an honest woman who loved the Lord and labored tirelessly for orphans (even caring for four orphans in her home, in addition to her own family). Her death was hard news to bear but her presence and impact in the community will always live on.
Monday (7/24) we received news that Prieska Chapitoka passed away. She was one of the mothers at the orphanage...about my age. I met her last time and was so impressed with her faith in the Lord and her depth and commitment to prayer. She had been sick with stomach cancer for over a month and had been in the hospital and endured two operations. I saw her the day after I arrived because she had been transferred to a hospital in Harare. She was so thin and in a lot of pain. We prayed for her and hoped the cancer would be healed. Unfortunately, she became too weak and could not fight anymore. She leaves behind a son, Tendai, and a mother, two sisters and a brother. Janine and I attended her funeral in kumusha on Wednesday which lasted from the morning until dusk. Many people came to pay honor to this beautiful woman who gave so much.Tuesday, we received news of the death of Mildred, one of the children at the orphanage who was living at an institution in Bulawayo. She had epilepsy and passed away due to a seizure. Her curiosity for life and energy will always be remembered.
Lastly, Janine and I traveled to kumusha to visit a friend. Mai Mutasa accepted a job as a nurses aid in a rural village named Nyamombe...there is a clinic, housing for the two nurses and a river! There are few homes in the area and Mai Mutasa is lonely...so our visit was very timely! We also traveled with Monicah, Terrance and Trinity (her sister and two sons). There is no electricity or running water so we fetched fire wood, water and cooked over fire! Quite an experience and a true Zimbabwean experience to be able to visit a rural area.
The next two weeks we will be busy visiting people and continuing meetings with those at the mission as Project HOPE seeks to expand and organize in such a way that there is local leadership and accountability. Please continue to pray for all of those involved in the decision making! May the Lord's will be done and those who need assistance continue to be helped. For the Lord desires us to love mercy, seek justice and walk humbly...through His strength, we will be able to. As July comes to an end, may we reflect on the blessings and hardships of the month and be grateful that in both, we have One who walks with us.