Yesterday about 28 of our church youths gathered to pray and then go and pass out tracts and church brochures to try to win souls and invite folks to visit Calvary Baptist Church of Ndola.  What a blessing it was to see these young men and women overcome their fear and trek out into neighborhoods to invite their community to church.

Earlier on Saturday after the men’s prayer meeting, I was able to put together some food baskets for the widows in our church and drive to their homes and drop them off.  Our church has 4 widow ladies, 3 with children still at home, and it is a blessing to be able to minister to them not only with the Word of God, but also with practical necessities. Thank you for helping to make this possible.

Yesterday while out visiting, I spoke to these young boys attending their family’s small shop. They were playing a board game while waiting for customers for their used clothing. These kind of shops are very common in the compound areas around the main cities of Zambia.

Today at church the Lord blessed and we had some really good services. A lot of members were absent.  Whether that is because of the long weekend (Thursday and Friday were holidays because of Zambian Independence Day on October 24), or because of the hot weather I am not sure.  But those who did make the effort to attend had a good time and personally, I was blessed.  

Before church I watched as our members arrived.  Today most everyone walked.  There was one family who drove in, but the rest came by foot.  At the gate to the church property each one would stop and take a cloth from their pocket or purse and wipe the dust off of their shoes before they came in.  Just people wanting to look their best for their Savior.  It warmed my heart.

We recently had a men’s meeting on Sunday afternoon at the church.  Jill has frequent ladies meetings, but it had been a long time since the men got together for fun fellowship.  I built a nice BBQ grill and we gathered on Sunday afternoon and played volleyball and soccer.  Then we feasted on sausages and baked beans and a special cake that Allison made.  To close it off we went back into the church building for a time of indoor games, singing and Bible study.  It was a great event!  It was exciting to hear the testimonies and see the men encouraging one another.  Lord willing we will be able to do this more often.  

The men of Calvary Baptist Church of Ndola had a great time at our recent men’s meeting. We cooked out, played volleyball and soccer, and Allison even made a special cake. We also came together as men to worship the Lord in singing and in a special Bible study.

It is getting HOT in Zambia.  True, it is the hot and dry season, but it seems even hotter this year.  It was in the mid 90’s about every day last week, and in some areas of Zambia it reached upwards of 106!  Wow.  Here in Ndola we have had two brief (5 minutes or less) episodes of scattered showers that gave us a preview of the rainy season that should be arriving full-force within a few weeks.  The rains always cool things down nicely.

Thank you for your prayers for Allison.  Slowly we are seeing her strength improve.  It has been very hard to prepare food that she can eat, but Jill works hard trying new recipes, milling her own grain to make flour (thank you to Maggie Barnhouse for the nice grain mill), and then working again to make the food tasty. The abdominal pain that was a daily occurrence with Allison is reducing.  Lord willing, she will continue to improve.  Please continue praying for her complete recovery.

Will you please pray for me as well?  Last Sunday I accidentally got some mango sap from one of our mango trees on my arm.  I am allergic to mangos, but still sneak them from time to time.  After the sap got on my arm I rinsed it with water and then went to church in my normal routine.  On Monday I noticed that my arm was itchy.  I did not put two and two together until Wednesday, and at that time decided to bide my time until the rash went away.  Thursday and Friday were holidays here in Zambia and on Friday my arm was on fire.  The closest appointment was Monday, tomorrow.  I pray that the doctor will be able to help me.  Maybe my condition has nothing to do with the mango sap.  Please pray with me that I will be able to get some relief and my arm back to normal!

Andy’s left arm. Photo on left taken on Wednesday, photo on right taken on Friday. We are not sure what is causing the rash and inflammation. It started out as raised red rash with bumps and a white halo around the rashes, and then progressed to angry red raised rashes with bumps. Very itchy.

I enjoyed reading through the book of Daniel this week as part of my scheduled Bible reading.  Daniel is one of my favorites – I have so many favorites though. I was wondering if any of you can recommend a good book on Daniel?  Something that delves into the character and historical time period of Daniel.  I appreciate your suggestions.

The economic situation in Zambia is not getting better, and the electricity outages are getting worse.  What started out as blackouts for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, have now increased to 15 hour outages, 7 days a week.  We are praying for relief, and this will truly take the Lord’s intervention.

With the electricity outages comes all kinds of unintended consequences.  Thieves love the darkness and there has been an increase in crime throughout the country.  We have seen large chain grocery stores close their doors because they cannot afford to run generators for 70-100 hours a week. Cases of food poisoning are rising as food in home, store, and restaurant fridges goes bad.  People are desperate and desperation leads to poor choices.

Many factories and large businesses are closing throughout the country. It seems as if almost daily we hear of another business closing their doors. The trickle-down effect will be that Zambians will suffer more and more.

Please pray for Zambia.  Please pray for the Lord’s direction for the missionaries in Zambia.  Please pray for more missionaries to surrender to come and serve in this great country.

Thank you very much for your faithful prayers for our family (here and in the US) and for the Lord’s ministry in Zambia.  It is our honor to represent you and our Lord in this amazing country.  May the Lord bless you this week as you serve Him where He has placed you.

Zimbabwe is our neighboring country to the South.  The situation there is much worse than in Zambia.  This week in my reading I came across this blog post about life in Zimbabwe today.  

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A Letter from Zimbabwe – 17 October 2019

by Cathy Buckle

For eight months, with lowered eyes and gritted teeth, we have watched the Zimbabwe government turn us into a nation of paupers. In a single day in February 2019 when they converted all our US dollars in banks, savings and pensions into Zimbabwe dollars they condemned 95% of the population to poverty. 

What had been one hundred US dollars was now called Zimbabwe dollars and worth only forty US dollars; eight months later that one hundred dollars in the bank or on the pay slip is only worth six US dollars. ‘Everything is upside down’ is the phrase on the streets because the real problem is that the prices of everything we buy is pegged to the US dollar exchange rate  so prices go up every day but salaries and wages don’t. 

A loaf of bread was ninety cents in January, now it’s almost sixteen dollars;  a tin of baked beans has gone from eighty cents to eleven dollars; sugar from two to forty dollars and maize meal from eight to seventy dollars in the past eight months. 

The price of electricity increased by 580% last week, going from three to twenty dollars per kilowatt hour. A litre of fuel was $1.31 in January, today it’s $18.60. It now costs almost one thousand dollars to fill a standard sixty litre car fuel tank.  It’s no good saying oh but that’s only sixty five US dollars, the fact is that 95% of the population don’t have or earn in US dollars and for them, this money, food, medicine, fuel and electricity crisis is a silent death sentence, gathering victims by the day.

Zimbabwe’s economy is forecast to shrink by 6% this year and retailers say their sales have dropped by 50% in the last few months. A survey last week showed that food prices in Zimbabwe are 50% more than in South Africa. The sad fact that we still import most of our food from South Africa twenty years after the Zimbabwe government seized all commercial farms, continues to be lost in the propaganda, ignored by the media. 

Connecting the dots just isn’t happening at home but we wonder if our neighbouring countries are watching our freefall and preparing for the inevitable influx under their border fences.

Meeting a friend this week whose salary was US$250 in February, he should now be taking home Z$3,875 if his pay was being converted at the current bank exchange rate. It’s not of course and he’s only actually getting Z$600 a month (US$40). In eight months his salary has gone down by eighty percent leaving him and his family in dire straits. It took one relation with persistent diarrhoea and his month’s salary was depleted in a day. Doctor’s consultation fee, antibiotics and simple medication left a bill Z$550. “I don’t know what to do next” he said and there was no answer, not for him or literally millions of others in exactly this same situation. In Zimbabwe’s last economic collapse in 2008 people went and worked in neighbouring countries to survive and send money home. This time they can’t even do that as there is a 370,000 backlog of passport applications and a waiting list of two and a half years.   

As I write doctors earning less than the equivalent of US$80 a month have stayed away from work for six weeks. They say they are incapacitated and can’t afford to go to work.  230,000 civil servants are about to follow their lead. They want their salaries linked to the US dollar and converted to Zim dollars at the prevailing exchange rate. Lowest paid civil servants currently earn the equivalent of less than seventy US dollars a month. Teachers Union President Mr Zhou said there is “the urgent need for a national declaration of incapacitation” and said members were being “mobilized to go on strike” next week.  The Council of Churches Secretary General Rev Mtata said last week: “There is a high risk of chaos if the situation is not solved urgently.” Zimbabwe has now, undoubtedly, passed the point of no return and we are very fearful about what lies ahead.  Our government remain silent on the way out of this mess.

From the Author – Cathy Buckle

~~There is no charge for this Letter from Zimbabwe, now in its 19th year, but if you would like to contribute to production and mailing costs please visit my website. ~~

Until next time, thanks for reading this letter and supporting my books about life in Zimbabwe.

Love Cathy

17 October 2019

Copyright © Cathy Buckle.  http://cathybuckle.co.zw/

For archives of Letters From Zimbabwe, to subscribe/unsubscribe or for information on my books about life in Zimbabwe please visit my website http://cathybuckle.co.zw/ or go to www.lulu.com/spotlight/CathyBuckle2018

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