JOHN & CELIA VALENTINE (GRACE, PAUL & NIEL), ZIMBABWE
It’s hard to believe that its now five months since from since I wrote a report on the work from here for the Christmas issue of the Missionary Digest. I remember that we are just about to plant our maize and cotton crop. I do apologise for the long delay, but time seems to have flown and we are now in the middle of harvesting the crop that was planted then. I certainly have good news for you in that, although we have the worst drought for 83 years, the lord sent us the rain at crucial times we have done far better than expected, even making a reasonable profit on this cropping program. Amen, the lord is good. The chicken project is also proving quite stressful, and we now have 4,000 laying chickens which produce over 3,000 eggs per day. In fact, yesterday we had an order cancelled for 10 boxes, which is 3,600 eggs, but outside a factory this morning starting at six o’clock, within two and a half hours we had sold 15 boxes which included half of yesterday’s productions as well. We are replacing our first batch of laying chickens by the end of next month and it’s hard to visualize that it’s nearly 12 months since I showed your first egg produced here, at Cliff Conference. We had a good time in Harare with the tent over Easter. At some meetings we had over 500 people, many of them having to stand around the outside of the tent which didn’t have its sides on. We were much encouraged by the progress of our previous year’s students. One has a church of over 100 and another has about 30, whilst one of the youngest (only 18 year’s old) has started a couple of small meetings in Harare. They have developed already into true spiritual men, and we thank God that we are seeing fruit through their ministry already. It makes everything worthwhile as we see the Word of God reproduced in others. This year we have about 10 students. I am sure God has kept the numbers down because we have had a water problem with the drought being so sever, but they are a good bunch of students, one coming from Kenya. We are enjoying teaching them and already we have seen great improvement in them and the hunger after things of God. Amen. On the building side we have almost completed the splitting up of existing houses into six completely self-contained units, five family ones and one single unit which houses Stan Kearsley. Amen. We have almost completed a dormitory block for 12 students containing three showers, two toilets and two wash basins. We have been blessed with many visitors from England. Derek Harthill, an electrician from the Birmingham Fellowship, came to help us three weeks and completed quite a lot of necessary electrical work. George Flower came from Exeter and was a great help, being a horticulturalist, to make our garden project. Derek Spriggs also came to survey the farm for the establishing of livestock, mainly cows and pigs and he will probably set up a joinery workshop. Next to arrive was Christine Kyriacou from our home fellowship of Liverpool who brought us up-to date with relevant items of news of dear ones. Her two-month visit was very timely and the Lord’s provision to us at time when help was most needed, particularly with the children during the arrival of our third baby. As our secretary she was also able to tackle the mound of letters that had been pling up over months. After being part of the family and forging such a good bond of love and friendship, she found it hard to leave as she said goodbye to us at the end of her visit. We are sure we will see her back amongst us at some future time. Eventually, after travelling across Africa by various forms of transport, John Ashcroft (brother of Cath Ashcroft from Liverpool) arrived. He is going to oxford in September and so is spending four months with us. He will supervise the establishing of a primary school for our compound children who number about 40. Later we will draw up plans for a school which will enable children from the other villages to attend. This school will accommodate about 250 children and will have government approval. My wife Celia gave birth to our third child, a 7lb boy called Neil (a short form for Othniel, lion or force of God), on 13th April 1983. They are both very well and thank God for looking after them since, at the beginning of pregnancy, a miscarriage was threatened which prevented Celia from travelling out with me when I first came. Amen. In our garden we have a small citrus grove as well as other established fruit trees, Mango, Avocado and Guava. One of the fruits which gives me the greatest pleasure is the pomegranate of which there is a whole line. This fruit, then developed, is full of blood-red seeds and so speaks to me of the seed, Jesus being planted in blood and water and in the earth to bring forth a glorious harvest. I trust that, in days to come, we will abound in sending forth from the place men and women prepared to laydown their lives as he did to bring forth a glorious harvest for his kingdom. We ourselves will be returning home early in October, with Ron and Anna White, and look forward to most of you again. We will return to Zimbabwe after three months to continue with what the Lord would have us do there. Truly the harvest is ripe, we want to take every opportunity we can while the country is still open to the Gospel. Thank you all for your love and support.