I spent 9 months at Ameva between February and October 1982. I travelled there with Clare Strickland (now Clare Ridgers), both of us were from Epsom Christian Fellowship. Clare returned home after 6 months.
When we first arrived Keith and Christine Kelly (from Liverpool) were at the farm, as well as Eric and Ros Taylor from Bracknell. Keith had started a small Bible School with six students from the Christian Marching Church and so I was asked to teach in that. The students varied in age from 18 to over 60. I think I learnt as much from the students as I was able to teach them, but they were very gracious to me. Clare also did some teaching English with them, and Eric taught them some agricultural skills. We had classes in the mornings and then the students did various jobs around the farm in the afternoons. Eric was the farm manager. We also took the students to various local churches on Ameva village compound itself and on neighbouring farms. The gospel was preached, and many responded – we had some wonderful meetings.
I helped Eric with various jobs on the farm, including planting out ground nuts (peanuts), collecting chicken eggs and transporting piles of wood to Chegutu (the local town) for selling there.
We also became involved with a small church in the town which met on Sundays in the Scout Hall. Through this we met and befriended some lovely Christian folk, some of whom we have remained in contact with to this day.
For the first few months of my time at Ameva there were just the four of us living on the farm, Eric and Ros, Clare and myself, together with the bible school students and some farm workers. Keith and Christine left within a week of our arrival for pastures new. We had a wonderful time of fellowship and fun together and it seemed like we were at the start of something special which God was going to raise up and over the passing of time has born much fruit. We drank lots of tea and played lots of games of dominoes. John Valentine came for a visit after about 4 months and Stan Kersley came with him. They both blessed us, and the local churches, immensely. A little later, Dave Latham (from Liverpool) came to head up the Bible School, together with his wife Sue.
We lived in the big, thatched roof house. The other big house was occupied by a chap from New Zealand and his African cook – he was a pilot who carried out crop spaying sorties on local farms. Ameva had a small dirt airstrip in those days, and he kept his single seater propeller plane on the farm. It was exciting to see him fly off and return again later on in the day – he even spayed our field of ground nuts on one occasion, and we held up marker posts for him to fly over so that he could get the correct line – we got soaked by the spray!
Life at Ameva was basic but I can honestly say it was wonderful and I enjoyed it immensely – God blessed the small work which was started in the Bible School, and He provided all we needed for that and the running of the farm. It was a privilege to be part of this work at the very beginning and to meet and have fellowship with so many lovely people. My faith was challenged but the opportunities were great, and God was so faithful in it all. It is wonderful to have seen how the work there has grown and prospered over the years – John and Celia are held in high esteem in my heart for their faithful obedience to God’s calling for them over all these years.