NEWS FROM ST. JOHN’S MISSION, ZIMBABWE, AS AT June 2015

I write this as we shiver with the coldest winter I can remember since I came here 32 years ago. The nights are cool, below 10 degrees, but the days are better, around 25 degrees, perhaps more in line with an English summerís day! What amazing weather we are getting in the world these days! While we shiver they are dying in their thousands in India and Pakistan from a heat wave. The rainy season was rather patchy, being below average in many places. Hence there will be hunger again this year.

We have been blessed this year with new priests and sisters and even a memorable wedding. As I mentioned in my December 2014 newsletter we were expecting a number of baptisms around Christmas, since there had just been a preparation course for catechumens. In all there were 44 baptisms at various outcentres. Also in the newsletter I mentioned that Sr. Indra Munkuli was due to make her first profession as a sister on 5th January this year. It proved a great day. Attached is a photo for those who receive this letter by email. The photo shows her with two seminarians studying to be priests, three girls who hope to join the sisters and three other young ladies who are at the convent preparing to be sisters. Please God one of them, Lindiwe, will make her first profession next January. All of those in the picture are from our parish.

That same week the Bishop came to administer the sacrament of Confirmation to 142 candidates at four of our outstations. One of these centres had not had confirmations for 19 years, so the people were very happy. We only get confirmations every two years and with 23 outstations it can take some years between each visit.

On 13th June 2015 we were blessed with two deacons being ordained for the diocesan priesthood, Wisdom and Trust, plus another candidate, Fitzgerald, who was ordained a deacon. They were ordained at Binga, a town on the edge of Lake Kariba. I guess around 1,000 people attended, in spite of the inaccessibility of the place.

I mentioned in my last newsletter the story of an elderly couple who I married in their homestead since the husband, Sampson, was very sick. I baptised him in danger of death during the wedding. You may be expecting now to hear the worst. In fact it seems to have given him a new lease of life. After a few months he got well enough to start walking to church, about one Kilometre away. Now he is learning catechism in order to receive the other sacraments.

On the building side we have been kept occupied. One of the projects got finished; a new double classroom block at Lumbora Secondary School. This school has around 150 pupils, but they only had one double classroom block. A charity from Ireland, S.H.A.R.P, kindly helped with the funds and we hope they may now help with some furniture. At present some students sit on the floor whilst others sit four to a desk designed for two. Some have borrowed our scaffolding planks to sit on, but we are in need of them for another building project.

The dam building programme goes on, with the new dam at Mulondo now reaching its full height. A spillway is still to be finished, plus a second smaller dam that will be used to break the power of the water when it spills. The stream there is quite big, so we have to make sure it doesnít damage the dam. Already there is plenty of water in it from the last rainy season, and we are hopeful water will remain in it right through until the next rainy season. It may prove to be the best dam we have build so far, but we will have to wait till the next rainy season to be sure. Another group of donors from Ireland, known as Zimbabwe Help, have been helping these dam projects for some years. This is the twelfth dam that I have built.

Progress is also taking place at Katete Primary School, where we are building a double classroom block out of the local stone. It has reached roof height and in the next few weeks we will be putting the roof on. A private donor, again from Ireland, is helping us for this project. He has recently sent more funds to construct a teacherís cottage, which is also very much needed. They have nine teachers with accommodation for just four. The new cottage will house another four teachers. We hope to order materials for this in July. Still on the school side a donor agency in Germany, known as SHA, have sponsored several projects over the years, and recently they sponsored the building of an extension of a hostel for boys at our local secondary school, known as Neshaya. The buildings are now almost complete, and should be commissioned later this year.

I told you last time of the help being sent from Spain from some volunteers organised by a priest, Fr. Alexander Alapont, who is retired now but was once working in our parish. They have been helping me for the last few years to build a complete new secondary school at a place called Nechishala. The double classroom block that we are building is also made entirely of stone, and by now the roof is on. I hope in the next newsletter we will be reporting on its completion. Please God if more funds come we hope to build a new teacherís cottage, which is also very much needed.

I mentioned in a previous newsletter that we were extending and re-roofing a church at one of our outstations, St. Alexander, at a place called Chezya, right by the Zambezi River. It is funded by the Archdiocese of Valencia. Progress has been rather slow for various reasons, including shortages of materials and vehicle breakdowns. This is what we have to live with here, with our big truck now 22 years old. But at last the extension has been done and the new roof is on. What is left is some plastering, a new porch, new floors and repainting.

On 5th May 2015 we had the joyous occasion of the commissioning of the new physiotherapy therapy complex that we had just completed last year. The last task was the purchase of the furniture, which was completed just in time for the opening. The donors, the Japanese government, sent their ambassador for the big day. Earlier this year we also build a new reception area for the hospital.

May God bless you, and thank you for your generosity, both in prayer and giving.

Fr. Tim Peacock

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