We are now on the other side of the holiday season and my mind and body have finally adjusted to life back in the US after returning from nearly 3 months in Zimbabwe. Truthfully, I have had no urge to write a newsletter since I returned because half of the time, I had no idea where I was or even the time! I have been living disoriented until recently. Thankfully, coming out the other side calmed my fear this was old age related. (LOL)
Last week, Kansas City where I live, experienced a Polar Vortex with subzero or -18C temperatures. Even crazier; a few days later it was 60F (15C). For everyone here, the extremes were hard to get used to but for me, its been the story of my life for the last year. Getting accustomed to living in extremes has become my new normal. In hindsight though, I realized I made a mistake coming home on Dec 21st. I returned from warm, sunny Zimbabwe where I had spent three months in high energy meetings, to the darkest day of the year in the US and it was cold and rainy. The collision of those two worlds wasn’t pretty and my psyche found itself in a battle. I also discovered I was far more exhausted than I had previously realized. My saving grace was coming home to my children’s festive homes filled with the most precious grandchildren ready for lots of hugs and kisses. Nothing like family to pull you through.
During a moment of reflection, it dawned on me that I had lived the last 14 months out of a suitcase! No wonder I was so exhausted. I can honestly say that I would not change anything over that period as it has been an extraordinary journey of personal growth. I also discovered my relationship with the people of Zimbabwe was not dead as I had once thought. During that time, I have been able to renew some precious older relationships and highly stimulated by the many new ones. I have met some outstanding people! Despite what seems like a nation sliding backwards, God has a long-term plan for the country and change is in the wind. There is a generational shift taking place and while it will be awkward for a while, what lies on the other side will be exciting.
One major decision I made before I left for Zimbabwe in October was, if I will be spending significant time there, I want to return to a home in Kansas City. This is where my children and grandchildren are, and they are the great joy of my life. I don’t want to have to get on another plane to travel and see them. I have been temporarily renting a small place until I can find a more permanent apartment or home where I can continue writing and resting upon return. I decided to move my “stuff” out of the storage locker in Arkansas where it’s been for over a year. I moved it to Kansas City right after New Years. It was an interesting two days unpacking as I reconnected with things I had not seen in over a year. I found myself asking…”do I really need this stuff?” I had spent a year without any of it and managed just fine. I found myself thinking about how much time and effort goes into taking care of my stuff. Being the responsible person I am, managing and taking care of my stuff was always a priority. I had lost touch with all of that. I must confess though the one thing which was really nice was sleeping in my own bed! I almost didn’t get out of it for a few days as I was struggling with the time change adjustment and had a visceral re-connection with it.
UNTANGLING MY WORLD
Something which has come to light in talking with people is there is some confusion as to the various organizations I have up and running, what they do and how they relate to each other. For the sake of clarity, I thought a brief explanation might be in order.
Compassionate Justice Intl: This was birthed out of two events; the release of my first book “Saving Zimbabwe” and the aftermath of the volatile 2008 elections in Zimbabwe. My Zimbabwean friend Dr Muchegetwa Bgoni had alerted me to the fact medical supplies were in great need to keep people alive there. I kicked into gear and used the royalties from the books to ship containers of medical supplies over. I later did the same with school books at the request of then Minister of Education David Coltart. There was always something else though which has been driving me since the mid 1970’s, Peace & Reconciliation. That is what first drew me to Zimbabwe in 1984 and my involvement with the Community of Reconciliation there. I have known for some time, that healing from the past is the only way forward for Zimbabwe.
National Centre for Peace: This is a vision I have carried in my heart for many years concerning Zimbabwe and something I believe He wants to display to the world from there. For a number of strategic reasons, I’m not going to elaborate too much here other than to say we are starting at the grass roots level first and will grow into the other aspects over time. My very dear friend Abigail Musasa is heading up an NCP program we call MHU’s or Mobile Healing Units. We believe the Centre’s role is to bring the various skilled church and civic organizations together in a collaborative effort to bring healing and economic development. Our idea is to go into communities significantly impacted by violence for a week, and set up working together to heal, bring peace, reconciliation and hope. I have an idea for a “tech truck” which I would like to build in South Africa, designed with a huge LED screen, sound system, recording equipment and can haul a large canopy to hold meetings under. Famed American scientist George Washington Carver used a similar concept to train poor rural farmers in the southeastern US. It was called the “Jesup Wagon”. I am currently looking for $1,000,000 in funding to get everything off the ground. Compassionate Justice will be a US partner organization to the NCP. There is a current report on the MHU Program at the end of this newsletter from Abby.
Joseph Company Global: If Peace & Reconciliation is one of the rails my life runs on, the other is my passion for the “Josephs”. Who are they? Those men and women who are as crucial to God’s plans as anyone in the institutional religious world but work in the marketplace. If you would like to understand more of my thinking you can start here with a blog titled “Shifting Paradigms” If all unfolds to plan, the book I am currently working on with my longtime friend and colleague Brad Cummings, should be out this year. Right now, it is titled “In the Company of Joseph”. It will detail what we see coming in the days ahead and why people with this Joseph type of spiritual gifting are so crucial to what needs to take place. I can guarantee it will be thought provoking. I know some of you have been waiting a long time for the book but between movie projects and us getting it right, it has taken longer than expected. It will be worth the wait! Joseph Company Global ties in directly with the National Center for Peace and the economic development piece of the MHU Project. We will be working closely in Zimbabwe with our partners Foundations for Farming and Turning Matabeleland Green to teach self-sustainable farming.
I hope that clears up any confusion and helps you better understand what has and is unfolding. I plan on staying stateside until April, then I will head back over to Zimbabwe for another three-month stint. I hate reminding people, but I could really use your financial help. It costs me $2,000 for a plane ticket and another $3,000 to live in Zimbabwe for the three months. I’m looking for $5,000 to come in by April 1st. To send funds…
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National Centre for Peace update from Abby Musasa
We have engaged the CEO of the Umzingwane District Council who is more than eager to see us begin the work of healing, peace building and economic development. We are close to signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the district council.
Our key partner for economic development, Turning Matabeleland Green has begun their processes in preparation for training new farmers. They work primarily through the local church leaders therefore can proceed quickly. The economic development effort will lead the way for the rest of the healing program. Their strategy is to train a sample group from the community (10-30 people) who serve as model farmers for the rest of the community. The training done over a 3-day camp at TMG facilities. The cost is 70 Zim Bond or $25 per person. It would be wonderful if we could raise funds to help support the first 11 people. Pastor Peter Mackenzie of the Assemblies of God Church and former member of the Community of Reconciliation is very familiar with the community and will help pick those with the greatest potential for success. TMG insists though that delegates must pay at least some percentage towards the cost. We are looking to raise 770 Bond or $300 to support them. The training will take place this coming Wednesday (Feb. 6th) if things go as planned.
Putting the economic development aspect ahead of healing and peace building is strategic for ease of entry into the community. It is crucial to dispel suspicion and gain trust especially since we will help them financially towards their farming businesses. The healing and peace building aspects of the program will run concurrently with TMG while they work with the model farmers. This first event will help us understand better the planning of future week-long healing and development camps as well as the ongoing processes towards sustaining the community work
We are engaging another partner for the clinical health aspect of the camps. Connecting with this team was highly encouraging as they are confronted with the need for the holistic approach of our MHUs each time they do their outreach programs. Many of the clinical cases in communities are a result of psycho-social challenges there and/or lack of proper infrastructural facilities like proper toilet systems. They are looking forward to working with us as we all team up towards transforming communities.
All our partners including the CEO of the council are greatly inspired by the educational aspect for children and youth. Tentatively I can say the first camp will run in mid or late April. The exact date and budget I will have soon.
There are other recent significant developments as a result of the horrible acts of violence in our urban communities that have reinforced the trauma of the past conflict incidences. A coalition of church leaders and Christian civic groups is working on a response to meet the needs in affected communities. The team realises the need for a consolidated effort towards healing (clinical & psychological), mediation and peace building, legal representation, and addressing economic issues both in the immediate and long-term contexts. We will be working closely with the government sponsored National Peace and Reconciliation Commission as well as the Human Rights Commission. I am serving a unifying and coordinating role for this combined effort and can see how this work places the National Centre for Peace in the centre of practical steps towards the healing and reconciliation of the nation. The experience is also showing the need for that holistic, combined effort approach like the MHU model as well as the bigger vision for the actual centre and a future Peace Park. It’s all very exciting indeed.
Thank you for your continued support
MHU Program Director