NEWS FROM ST. JOHN’S MISSION, ZIMBABWE, AS AT July 2013

My assistant priest, Fr. Stanislaus Lumano, has been a great help in sharing the workload. But unfortunately we have also been forced to share just one vehicle, since our second 1-ton pick-up just could not be used. In my last newsletter I mentioned about our second pick-up but it has been in several accidents, which bent the chassis, forcing one of the front wheels to be 40mm behind the other one. This entailed cutting out part of the wheel arch so that we could go round corners! In the end we realised that we just had to get rid of it. In that letter I mentioned also that a kind donor from the UK had offered to help me buy a newer 6-ton truck, but due to the urgent need we have decided instead to use the money for another pick-up. One advantage has been that we were now able to afford to buy a new vehicle, rather than a second hand one. We have ordered a 2,5 litre Nissan diesel, which should arrive in July. In the meantime the bishop has kindly lent us another pick-up to keep us going.

Just in case you are wondering, the building projects go on, and new ones have been started. We are busy building a new pre-school at each of two of our outstations, sponsored by the German Charity Aktion Dreikönigssingen. We are also building a new dam called Mulondo, up in the mountains of Nkandebwe. These dams are helped by a private Irish charity, named Zimbabwe Help.

We are also getting help to build a new secondary school at Nechishala, 17km from Hwange. This aid is coming from some private donors in Spain thanks to the ongoing efforts of my predecessor, Fr. Alexander Alapont. He has retired to Spain. At present we have started building a new double classroom block. It is desperately needed, with 205 students and 9 teachers being housed in just 4 classrooms.

I mentioned in my last newsletter that we had been asked to build a new maternity wing for St. Patrick’s Hospital in Hwange. The building commenced on January 2013, and by now has reached roof level. At Kariyangwe mission we also began in January to build three semi-detached houses for nurses. The first one now has the roof on. We have also started to build a new church in Mahachula Township, Bulawayo, which is the second city of Zimbabwe. This is about 400 Km (250 miles) from our mission. It is a fairly big church, 14 metres wide by 30 metres long. This is the furthest away I have ever been asked to build. Due to my own parish commitments I can only afford to do site inspections once a month, but my builders are by now used to the system. Some of them have been working for me for over twenty years.

Towards the end of 2012 we started building a new home for orphans, known as Sunrise Children’s Home, in Binga, on the banks of Lake Kariba, about 140 Km from our mission. The roof was recently put on. This home is very much needed - we will be the first to build such a home in the diocese; at present no other governmental or non-governmental agencies have built anything. I mentioned in earlier newsletters that about two years ago we built a convent for sisters, which is on the same plot. These sisters will run the home.

I seem to have got myself recently also involved in road construction. There is a section of very steep mountainous track leading up to the top of Nkandebwe Hills, and for several years it has been getting more and more difficult to climb due to continuous soil erosion. We are currently paving a 150 metre stretch with concrete. Already the part that is completed is making it much easier for the vehicles.

This year is the 50 th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Hwange, back in 1963. The diocese has organised a series of events, culminating in a big event this coming September. Each parish was also invited to organise their own celebrations, so we decided to go ahead and divide up our parish into four clusters, so as to facilitate maximum participation. For the weekend of 21st to 23rd June we had the celebrations for the cluster around the mission, with 6 centres being represented. It happens also to be the 25th anniversary of the blessing of the church at St. John’s, so we combined the celebrations. We invited our Bishop, Albert Serrano, who kindly came and spent a whole day with us. The day started with a big Mass, followed by reports and dramas to explain the history of each centre. These were followed by singing competitions, all done with great enthusiasm. Some of our youth stole the show with a little sketch. It was supposed to be serious, I guess, but they used such imagination that the audience ended up in stitches. Here I find people in general are not in the least bit self conscious.

Our diocese was also blessed this year with the ordination of three young men to the priesthood. It was at St. Ignatius Cathedral on Saturday 26th January. As expected there was a huge crowd. We are very much in need of more priests for the diocese, since there is a need to open several new missions. In June of this year one new mission was opened, at a remote area called Lusulu.

On Sunday 26th May here at the mission we had yet another celebration, with the blessing of the new grotto. Our local sculptor had carved a large wooden statue of Mary, and it was placed right in the middle of the cave like stone structure. The whole congregation came after Mass for the blessing. In the Catholic Church May and October are the two months where devotion to Mary is especially encouraged.

I have tried my best to avoid the topic of the weather until now. We English have to get a comment in somewhere in a conversation, otherwise the conversation would not be complete! The rainy season this time went on from December until February. It was not very wonderful, but better than last year, so all of our dams got a fairly good intake, though only one of them actually spilt. But the good news is that many of them got sufficient intake to keep water in them until the commencement of the next rainy season. The winter has now come and we have found it one of the coldest winters on record. It seems all over the world the climate is becoming more and more erratic.

I thank all those who have helped us in any way, whether in the form of prayers or donations.

For those receive this letter by email I have attached some photos, illustrating the above events.

Thanking those who help in any way,

May God bless you all,

Fr. Tim Peacock

St. John's Mission, PO Box 39, Hwange, Zimbabwe


Mulondo Dam - Taken 14-07-2013


Mulondo Dam - Taken 02-08=2013
Fourth Step Under Construction