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Frances Watson - 1993

Hello everyone! - love and greetings again from Ameva.

Since we last wrote Jim Bailey has returned to Eltham and that seems a long time ago now. Christmas has come and gone and the New Year is upon us. Everyone wonders what a new year will bring but, one thing is for sure, wherever we are, as long as we want God's best, it will be a good year!

Our Christmas was strange from the point of view of being in a different climate, but we made the usual preparations without all the rush. No aggravation or atmosphere of spending money, in fact there was hardly a mention of Christmas in the shops although everyone was aware that it was.

A few days before Rachel, Crystal and I set off with a bucket and spade to dig up a 'Christmas Tree'. We walked for about half an hour on the farm before we saw what we wanted. We tried to dig up the roots so that we could keep it alive for a week or so but Crystal has difficulty in understanding what a root is and chopped off the lot! Nevertheless, our tree (which was a bush really) was taken home and duly decorated with home-made crackers and streamers.

All the Christmas cards received were used to decorate walls plus two paper twisty runners. We collected fir cones from outside our house and· I had ·brought 2· red candles and some green serviettes from home so we made an "arrangement". Finally, the few presents we had managed to bring out between us were placed under the tree. it looked really grand, and our 'children' were very happy!

Christmas activities included a Carol Service on the Sunday before - quite English with readings and carols. John Valentine spoke. It was held in the open air and we had an overhead projector so that everyone could read all the words of the carols. This was the first service of its kind inviting other churches and having songs from each church. Next year John would like to organise it a bit earlier (rather than 3 days before!) and have it on a larger scale.

Christmas Eve Terry and I hosted the singles. By then there were 5 counting Fran Greenall who came for 3 weeks holiday, we also invited John and Martha Shaw. We had a candle-lit dinner, roast beef and trimmings - all done without an oven! I made a Zimbabwe flavoured Christmas pudding that was really enjoyable, and we played carols on the tape recorder. Crystal, Rachel and Jim wanted to see Christmas morning in, so we left them to it and went to bed at our usual time of 9.00 p.m.

By this time Terry and I had moved next door into Martin and Marian's house while they took two weeks holiday. Our duties now include looking after the two dogs Bonzo and Benjie, overseeing the goats (one was born on Christmas Day so we named him” Noel") and looking after the sick who come to be treated or sent to the clinic, if it is more than just a minor ailment, for instance, we had to take a young girl to clinic who badly burnt herself pulling a lid off a steaming pot.

The day starts with Terry up at 5.30 to let the dogs out and make me a cup of tea. Our 'help' Mavis comes at 6.30 to wash up and get our breakfast ready for 7.00 a.m. Apart from the above jobs I've mentioned we have got involved in decorating, clearing out the workshop, mending and upholstering 4 armchairs, putting up shelves and spraying insecticide on furniture that has bed bugs. This is in the past week. We also usually manage to have a half-hour siesta and take the dogs for a walk. Dogs can be like children and two nights we were up and down because Benjie was scared of the storm and in the end I had to put him in our bedroom and he went straight off to sleep next to Terry (on the floor of course!)

Back to Christmas Day. Our 10.00 a.m. - 12.00 a.m. meeting was well attended by both African and English. The workers had been told that they would get a present for the family if they came - so they came and got 2 chickens and some money at the end of the meeting. Crystal reckons it is the best Christmas meeting she has been to! The Sunday School youth and English visitors sang in groups. Terry had the place in uproar when he was speaking about worship. He likened each group of people to those in the Bible who worshipped at the-birth of Jesus.

When he talked of Anna he asked if there were any women over 100 years old? At least 8 stood up - none of whom were - but the Africans thought it was hilarious, especially when they thought they had to go out to the front! Also, when he mentioned Mary being "great with child" he said how that Joseph was a good man and treated Mary well-and honourable and then asked the men if they really thought about their women when they made them pregnant - all the women cheered and clapped - and so on - it was a lovely time and the Lord was there. John challenged them all to come to the Lord and get straight with Him. The rest of the day was spent at John and Celia's, about 30 of us, and we had a turkey dinner and played Scrabble and went for a walk, it was very pleasant.

Now it is 1 January and we have just been host to 21 people including Ian and Else from Chegutu, who some of you know, and 3 elderly ladies from the local old people's home. We took the opportunity of getting everyone to sing "Happy Birthday" to Crystal and she had to blow out 21 candles, even though her actual birthday is not until tomorrow.

Now I will draw to a close. Thank you again to everyone who has written and we have answered each one so far. This weekend Martin and Marion will be back and we shall return to our original home. We plan to go to Mozambique mid-January for a week and then to Malawi returning to Ameva at the end of January. Please continue to send all mail to Ameva. We love you all very much. Happy New Year .

Our next adventure was a planned visit to Mozambique in one of the Mecedes that had arrived some years ago in a container. We left Ameva on Saturday, which was a little later than we intended, due to some trouble with the car we are using. Chris French brought out some spare parts which Alan had obtained for us and when fixed did make some improvement but there still remains the problem that once the engine is turned off we can't restart the car for up to two hours, or longer! Tom Nomeland, from Minnesota in the US, has just arrived at Ameva with two others, Mike and Kevin, and Mike has been trying to fix the car. Eventually, we decided to see if we could get to "Hugh's Engineering" in Mutare and get the car checked.

We set off at 11.20am and kept going until 3.45pm, when we were 8 km. from "One Way", we were stopped at a roadblock by the police. To make it more difficult it was on a hill! The police were testing car brakes as in front of us was a steep decline into Mutare called "The Christmas Pass". Terry tried in vain to keep revving the engine and holding the handbrake whilst talking to the policeman who was rocking the car from side to side so we stalled and had to explain that we had no trouble with the brakes but we would now have trouble getting going again!

We coasted to the side of the road and sat there for two hours trying, in vain, to start the car again. Just as it was beginning to get dark and we were getting concerned, "we" including Crystal, were praying for some help when a truck from the border forestry stopped to see if they could help. They towed us up the hill to the other side and then we were able to pick up a speed of 20 mph, which is necessary in an automatic Mercedes for a bump start.

We got to "One Way" by 6.30 p.m. and now the car has been towed away as it won't start at all. Hence we will be here until tomorrow (Tuesday) when we shall, hopefully, drive into Mozambique and then, as planned, drive from Maforga through the newly opened Tete road to Malawi. The Lord is good to us in so many ways because we are having a few days rest here. It is so beautiful; the weather is sunny and the views and sunsets are breath-taking.

We have been quite busy at Ameva these last two weeks. Since we last wrote on January 1, we have finished the work on the bathroom and completed a project on the garden and patio around the house. We had some Africans working for us but have to work with them to keep them organised! The day starts at 6.00 a.m. and goes on till 5.00 p.rn. and then we clear up ready for supper and bed. Terry thought he would do loads of study and reading but has hardly opened his Bible for two weeks and has ended up with many aches and pains and, to Crystal's disgust, a tan! bed.

The work was between Sunday meetings, prayer outreach meetings plus 3 trips to Harare. Sunday 3rd at the Bible School meeting Terry spoke on the importance of meetings and spoke on prayer and exhorted everyone to come to the Prayer Meeting on Monday evening. Consequently, there was a good response, and we had a terrific time of prayer and praise.

One realises that where prayer is concerned it is easy to waste time feeling tired or lethargic when all that the Lord requires of us is to move into Hirn, and probably off our seats, stirring up the gifts within us. We need the Lord's move here in Africa and home in Eltham, but it is us the Lord works through. If we don't pray, then the enemy will gain more power in the lives of others.

After the Prayer Meeting there was much rejoicing as we went to the dam to watch it finally overflow and hear the water from the Nile join the flow and rush in. We paddled through the that was by now crossing the road and making great gullies each side, and some of the Africans joined us. John Valentine was in his element as he has watched this new dam so closely to see how it would hold out when the water began to flow. It is amazing the transformation from almost a puddle of water to a flowing river, and it makes everywhere look so green and beautiful. So we praise the Lord for His provision. The maize is sprouting and now the rain is needed to bring the crop to fruit.

There was also much excitement last week when the container finally arrived from Harare after a lot of negotiation with Manica Freight and customs. Crystal was delighted as she had been involved with all the paperwork at home and the stacking of the container followed by the paperwork this end and following up with the customs - and here it was! Everyone stopped what they were doing and for 6 solid hours we emptied and checked all the contents. Martha kept the tea going and two of the girls kept everyone supplied with water as it was so hot.

It is really quite a dangerous job especially when such heavy machinery has to be lifted down by tractor and pulley. There was one lathe that turned over and fell but fortunately no one was hurt. I had the job of telling everyone where to put things. As you may remember Terry and I spent a day clearing up the "lock up" so that new things could be put in sections and easily located. This meant I stood in the middle waving my hand around and directing everyone. As you can imagine we also found it quite funny at times!

The new students for the Bible School have now arrived, altogether there are about 25. It certainly is a tremendous opportunity to have them for 2 years and watch them grow in the Lord. This is especially so for Martin and Marion as they teach and mould them to be future pastors in Africa.

The new term has started for both schools and the Secondary School building is now being used for about 100 pupils. At the moment the two buildings stand on their own in a vast unpopulated area but potentially there is room for so much more, as funds become available, for other buildings, homes etc.

So now to finish. We are here waiting for the car, Roy and Trish are coming and we hope to spend the afternoon with them and are looking forward to meeting Rachel at Maforga. We need the Lord to help us drive through Mozambique as the road is open but still not in very good condition. We have a road report to guide us, it reads: - "It should be appreciated that there is very little evidence of road maintenance at present. The status of the Pungwe river bridge, a 32-metre span bridge, is serviceable. The forward speed whilst crossing the bridge, one vehicle at a time, should be no more than 15 kph. You will meet an ECMEP artisan who is the service personnel for the bridge responsible for preventing the nails in the railway sleeper timbers, laid lengthways along the bridge, from causing punctures to crossing vehicles"

So you see the need for a reliable car! We plan to take Lyn Child and Crystal with us on Friday to meet Fran Greenall at Blantyre, Malawi and we shall spend a week visiting folk in Malawi before driving back to Ameva at the end of the month.

Do hope this gives you a good idea of what we are involved in in these days. We send our love to you all. We miss you and are grateful to all who have written and prayed for us. Lots of love,

(P.S. A letter from Crystal says the car is starting well now.)

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