Update #6

January 14, 2008

Hello Everyone;

This is our latest Update:

After leaving a very successful retreat at Saint John’s High School for young women in temporary vows,(14We are booked for our March-April 2009 trip.) we went to a celebration for final vows and Jubilee recipients. It was an incredible scene as we watched families travel to see their loved ones to celebrate their vocations.

Even here though, one was aware of the NEED that exists. Family members that came to celebrate gave the equivalent of fifty cents for gifts, one after another and this was greeted with great cheer as each gift was announced! It reminded us of the Christmas celebration we had witnessed, where we saw a bar of soap being the lavish gift. This translates even more differently when one realizes that these people are not unaware by ANY stretch of the World Market and what the “ELITE” around them take in and spend. The common Zimbabwean is forced into poverty by a very limited ability to operate in a foreign market system. Somewhat the same as us..but then one realizes that any similarity is quickly dismissed and true poverty is seen as true poverty.

On to our next retreat: Once again Dr. Nicki Verploegen was able to take a tired group of Irish and South African missionaries and move them toward self evaluation and replenishment. They of course were wary; and these missionaries being very educated themselves needed to EXPERIENCE before acknowledging what was truly in front of them. Experience they did! The paths Nicki guided them on were incredible. I refrained from my normal humor role in recognition of the fact that these were older women who wanted to see their serious issues addressed. The result was both a poignant as well as uplifting time together in which they discovered things about themselves both individually as well as a community.

There is no smallness of gift here. There are many progressions in Africa. Limited perspectives can lead one to a very faulty view. Limited perception does nothing for the common man here; in fact it may hinder more than help. The simple gifts seem to be the ones that count the most. I know Nicki Updated you somewhat on the Missionaries of Charity retreat but I think as soon as we have more abilities to contact you, I shall go back to that because this particular story will offer all of you a better snapshot to develop your own perceptions.

We have just been notified that our intended Kenyan stopover has been canceled due to potential violence. They are unwilling to allow us to come as guests when they cannot ensure our safety. We are very grateful for this wisdom.

In addition we cannot travel to Gweru tomorrow as expected. Flooding is rampant now in Zimbabwe. We are safest in the Harare region from that aspect though there will be no water and electricity for at least 4-5 more days, and even after this electricity will be intermittent at best.

Until next time keep those prayers and messages coming!

Love and Peace,

Karen and Nicki