Dear Loved Ones-
Here we are in Harare, Zimbabwe, repentant that we have not been able to send you an Update until now. There is no power here. No chance to get online until we were able to find a charged battery, so here goes.
Nairobi was fabulous. We had a wonderful meeting with Sr. Gacambi there and she has scheduled four retreats with us there in August 2008. So provided that we can do the fundraising, we anticipate a rich experience in 2008. We have actually abbreviated our travel time here in Harare and will depart on Jan. 23 instead of Feb. 3 in order to spend 10 days with the Assumption sisters in Nairobi, seeing their missions and getting acclimated there. Karen fell in love with Nairobi. Truth be told…we did try to send our first update from there, but the screen went blank when Karen pushed send, so no go.
We arrived to a hot, rainy, and dark Harare…very limited electricity etc. We have been fortunate to be in a house that still has running water and until today had current (electricity). I write this now in the dark living room at 5:55pm with a flashlight over my shoulder. It has been a real awakening to go in the stores we went in back in April and see the shelves stripped clean. The prices are exorbitant in many cases (for example $25 American dollars for 4 rolls of toilet paper) and no cash is available so people are very down. Even the Maryknoll sisters are disquieted. There is a general malaise that permeates everything. Today we walked over the the outdoor market and were astounded at the lack of goods and the morale.
Our first retreat is in two days and we cannot contact the sisters who have scheduled it. Phones are out. But we have made contact with Jen Stables, our friend Nickie Farrow’s mother, and we will go over to see her tomorrow.
Our spirits are good even though what we see is very disturbing. We have only now begun to feel the pinch with water and electricity. Everything is up in the air as far as travel in country because petrol/gas is so limited…so hard to find. So we stand in solidarity with everyone here. In fact, all the more needed is the smile, the hug, the encouragement, and the listening ear that we bring.
So that is our first Update from here and we will get back in touch when we can. This may be sporadic as times are ever more difficult with each passing day here. We will be certain to contact you as quickly as possible; but please know we are safe, are together and are happy.
Nicki and Karen