News from Zimbabwe - February 2019
We thank God for the peace and security we have enjoyed even during riotous response to the dramatic fuel price increase (from $1.39 to $3.34 per litre). The price increase is a symptom of the rampant inflation and economic challenges we face in Zimbabwe.
We have been operating a multi-currency system for about 10 years with the USD being the benchmark for pricing. The shortage of foreign currency, which has worsened in the last year means the rate for the US Dollar is equivalent to $3.50 per dollar. Thus imported items, including fuel, have become very expensive. Most locally produced items including bread and soft drinks have doubled in price in the last few months. Prices for imported items, including many of our groceries and medicines have increased by three or four times. Many items are now priced in USD and Zimbabwe Bond Dollars at three to four or even five times the USD price. Most pharmacies insist on payment in USD only.
Though our bank accounts are denominated in USD, banks are compelled to pay out Zim Bond Dollars, which are worth a fraction of the USD’s they are replacing. It thus becomes very hard for us to obtain forex to send to Joseph and Lisa, more of which later. The Reserve Bank Governor on Wednesday announced that Bond note bank balances will be allowed to float against the US dollar effectively cutting the value of salaries, savings and pensions to around a quarter to a third of their previous value. Customers will be allowed to buy dollars in the banks on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis at the market rate.
The demonstrations have been suppressed and life goes on much as before, people go to work or school while very many have no work to go to and those in work are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. To compound all this rains have been below normal, the harvest will be delayed and insufficient for the country’s needs.
In these challenging times, many are finding it difficult to travel to church and our numbers at our Prospect Assembly have dropped. Our theme for 2019 is Living by Faith. In my preaching, I have been focusing on where we put our faith and what we have faith for and I have begun a series on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. At school, we continuing to emphasise and develop Biblical integration in all our teaching. Next month we have a visit from Tim Thomson, an Associate Director with ACSI, to assist us to proceed with our accreditation with ACSI.
As a church, we started the year with 12 days fasting and many went on for 21 days praying for breakthroughs in their finances, family, and work. On Saturday 5th January, we had a successful leadership empowerment all day training at our house attended by sixteen leaders. On Friday 1 February, eighteen gathered for an All-Night prayer.
Last week we enjoyed fun and fellowship at a dinner for married couples in our church. For many it was exciting to have Chinese food first time. Erica gave a message encouraging us all to keep the fire of our love in our marriages. In a relaxed atmosphere in which we ate, danced and laughed, couples took the chance to express their love and commitment to each other.
Elizabeth has just completed her first semester at Berlin International University where she is studying Interior Architecture. We give thanks for God’s provision for her. The economic situation in Zimbabwe has made it very difficult and expensive for us to send her money for tuition and upkeep but God has provided. She found accommodation in church-run students’ hostel. After she explained her position to the hostel matron, she was told she could stay without paying until she was able to pay. She was also put in touch with some families who pay her for babysitting. At the University, she applied for and was granted a scholarship for 25% of her tuition. When she went to sign the papers to accept the scholarship the University President said they were impressed by her scholarship application and wanted her to stay at the university so he organised a job for her in laboratory to work 10 hours a week for the remaining 75% of her tuition. We have been able to send her some money, which helps her buy food and other necessities. The University President has also commissioned Elizabeth to paint some portraits for the University. We thank God for this provision and the favour God has given Elizabeth in the eyes of the authorities.
Joseph is now nearing the end of a six-month internship with Head, the sports goods manufacturer, in Austria. We are so happy that he found a paid internship. He is working hard and enjoying the challenges while he is learning so much from the experience. He has to complete another six-month internship to finish his degree programme. We are praying that he will find a final internship and that it will be paid.
The economic situation in Zimbabwe makes it very difficult for us to send money to support Joseph and Elizabeth. Purchasing dollars for fees etc. will cost three to four times what it did a year ago. We have been blessed by God’s provision in so many ways and are grateful that the school now pays 10% of my salary in hard cash.
Wonderful provision for Joseph and Elizabeth.
Exciting progress in the Emerald Hill Church
Progress with the tiling of the Prospect Church auditorium
Kariba Trip for EH Couples in June
Finishing tiling Prospect Church Auditorium and then the rest rooms.
more about the Saunders
The economic situation in Zimbabwe.
Big Sunday 24 February.
Tiling our Prospect Church
Joseph to find an internship from April to complete his degree.
Elizabeth to produce excellent portraits for her university president