NEWS FROM ST. JOHN’S MISSION, ZIMBABWE, AS AT June 2014

It is hard to counteract our nationwide woes, but surely that is an incentive to us to try to do our little bit to help. I seem to be busier than ever with development work. Earlier this year I was asked by some of the local sisters to design and build a 40-bed hospital for the rural area. It is at Tshongokwe, about 200 Km from us. There was a mission there once, but it was destroyed during the civil war of independence in the 1970’s. The sisters have been campaigning in Spain for donations, and have so far got enough to go about a quarter of the way. Hopefully we will start work within the next few months.

Meanwhile another project has just been completed. In the middle of last year we started building a 700-seat church in Bulawayo, at a township called Mahachula. Bulawayo is in the next diocese to us, but it is about 400 Km away, so monitoring it was quite a challenge. Finally the big day arrived and it was blessed on Sunday 27th April 2014, with the local archbishop presiding and a number of us priests. There were tents and bunting and over 1,000 visitors. It had been an outstation up until then, but the archbishop declared it an independent parish from that day onwards. Please God we will shortly start on another new church in an adjacent parish, later this year.

Another building that was finished earlier this year was the new maternity wing at St. Patrick’s Hospital in Hwange, about 40 Km from our mission. It has 20 beds, and is built near the operating theatre, in case of the need of an operation. It was sponsored by the Spanish charity Manos Unidas, who are also sponsoring the new hospital at Tshongokwe. The builders there are now busy with another new wing, for physiotherapy. Hopefully this will bring some income into the hospital with people coming for gym. This project is being sponsored by the Japanese government. They prefer sponsoring projects that have got some form of income generation.

Other building projects go on, with the new dam at Mulondo, sponsored from the Irish charity “Zimbabwe Help”. We are also going on with the new classroom block at Nechishala, sponsored by Fr. Alexander’s helpers in Valencia, Spain. There is the new classroom block at Lombora Secondary School, sponsored by S.H.A.R.P, another Irish charity. The extension of the hospital at Kariyangwe still goes on, and we recently completed a second semi-detached nurses house.

Nearer to home, at the mission, we are building a new pig sty for our pigs. They breed very fast, so we need individual pens for the females when they have babies. Also just near the mission we are busy building facilities for a new boy’s hostel that was completed last year, thanks to the help of a German charity SHA. At present we are building an outdoor kitchen, which will be followed by a dining room, a bathing room and a toilet block. Transport problems and a delay in the supply of bricks hampered us, but thank God the bricks have now arrived and we are making do with our small one-ton trucks for the time being. Our 6-ton truck is 21 years old and the 3-ton truck is 10 years old, and both are now having many breakdowns. It is surely time to look for a newer truck. I am trying to source a donor agency that may help.

With all my building activities a kind donor from England has kindly offered to intervene to try to help me get computerised with my drawings. He offered to sponsor me to come to the UK to get set up with a complete system. I am writing this newsletter from there, where I will be for a month. Part of the object of the exercise is that once I am up and running in this way I will be able to train others to share in the design work, which will ensure some sort of continuity in what I am doing. I am now 66 so I can’t go on forever! I have relied up until now with a pencil and paper, but that doesn’t appeal to the new generation. Already my assistant priest has sent a message saying he is keen to learn the same system. The system is fascinating, though I must say at my age I have to really concentrate to pick it up. For those who are more technically minded, it is a new system of AutoCAD, called “Revit”.

I have never seen England looking so green; I am told the previous winter was rather wet. As a result the plants have grown proliferously and when the sun shines the country really looks glorious. I must confess, though, I haven’t seen too much of the sun. I am told it is early summer, but I have two jerseys on as I write this. Speaking of the weather, this last rainy season in Zimbabwe was better that many previous years. What was unusual was how long it lasted. It normally goes from November until February, but this year it went on until the end of April.

Pope Francis is urging us all to have straightforward lives and to be joyful in sharing the Good News. As the pope puts it, we live in a world that rushes along like a ‘chaotic flood tide’. With the world in more and more turmoil let us face the future with Christ, who will give us all the courage that we need. As St. Paul once said, “If Christ is with us, who can be against us?”
Thanking those who help us in any way, may God bless you,

Fr. Tim Peacock

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