Poultney Family - June 2005 Newsletter
It has been a while (mid-February) since we updated you on
things going on in our lives. As usual it's hard to believe that we are already
almost half way through 2005 and, in the case of us Northerners, we have just
officially hit summer with the solstice on June 21. It is so nice to have the
long days of light again too - in our part of the world we are far enough North
that at this time of year it only gets completely dark for a couple of hours -
1:30 to 3:30 a.m. By 4:00 a.m. it is light enough to see and the birds are
already in full song - quite amazing !! Our weather has been very pleasant - we
have had lots of sunny, hot days with rain coming at just the right time to keep
the crops and gardens in good shape. (We have not been affected by the heavy
rains and subsequent flooding which has been in the Southern part of Alberta;
and which you may have heard recently on the news.) Everything grows so fast and
it seems that Gordon is cutting the lawn every few days !
Overall we have continued to do as well as possible under the circumstances. We do face daily challenges with the ongoing dynamics of grieving and healing but despite the hard times we are also continually blessed with incredible strength from the support of our amazing network of family and friends from around the world. Not a day goes by without us receiving at least one phone call, letter, card, e-mail or face to face word of encouragement from someone. We know that so many people continue to hold us up in prayer - as indeed we are honoured to do for many of the same people - and that so many of those prayers are answered.
In April, Gordon's sisters, Bron (short for Bronwen too) and Jen (short for Jenny too) came for a two week visit. They both still live in Zimbabwe and whilst Bron had been here in 1999 to visit us, Jen had never been and she and Gordon had not seen each other in the 17 years since we moved from Zimbabwe ! So it was a very wonderful reunion for them and a great healing time for all of the family. They had a week getting to see our way of life and exploring the local area, then Gordon took a week off work and took them and Rita for a road trip to BC to see some more of the country. A very special time catching up with friends and a cousin along the way and the visitors particularly enjoyed all the sights during the 3,000 km round trip. They visited Trinity Western University where they got to check on Simon's memorial tree and Gordon had a meeting with the administration about the Simon Poultney memorial scholarship.
In early May, Bronwen (daughter) and her good friend Nathan, flew overseas for a five week holiday. They started with a few days in England, then flew into Zambia to stay with Jenny's brother, Tony, who is now farming there. He drove them to Zimbabwe where they then stayed with Jenny's sister, Angy, in Harare in the northern part of the country before going to Bulawayo, in the southern part, to stay with Gordon's aforementioned sisters. Finally they caught a bus to South Africa to stay with cousins who are at university in Pretoria. They had an amazing time catching up with many family and old family friends who treated them to all sorts of wonderful experiences. They came back with hundreds of (digital) photos and many interesting and amusing stories. While she was away Bronwen's results for her final semester of first year university came in and again she got top marks. As a result she has been awarded a couple of scholarships for her second year which will help greatly as she is paying her own way. She is staying at home for the rest of the summer holidays and continuing to work with the autistic boy. She has several other odd-jobs - baby-sitting and house-sitting for friends away on vacation - so she will earn good money for herself.
Jenny is really looking forward to the end of June when school is done. She has enjoyed her year of teaching Grade One again - and it has been good motivation for her to face each day - but she is extremely worn out right now as the school year is so long. In mid-July she leaves for Africa. She will be there until late August visiting family and friends - many of the same ones as Bronwen - in Zimbabwe and Zambia. In late July she will be joined by a fellow teacher - Cheryl Eidick and her husband and daughter, Orville and Melissa (13). For several years Cheryl has had a "calling" to go to Africa to do something in the area of Education. You must know that this is definitely a calling from God since by going to Africa she - and her family - will be stepping way out of their comfort zone ! For all of them this will be part holiday - to experience another culture for the Eidick's - but also to explore opportunities for future service in Africa.
With the Simon Poultney Foundation we have now determined that we want to do a long-term project in Africa involving ministry to children. Basically the building (or re-building) of an entire community - orphanage, school, clinic, church, training facilities and businesses - whatever will be needed to raise a group of children to become more effective leaders in their time. We want to partner with people or an organization already on the ground to ensure maximum use of funding/resources and in such a way that the project becomes self-sustaining as quickly as possible. So during this upcoming trip Jenny and the Eidick family will be visiting several areas/communities and meeting with people that we have already been put in touch with. We are aware that the needs in Africa are huge but we feel confident that there is already something specific waiting for us there and that God will show them the right place; so that when they return we can begin planning everything in great detail. On this trip they are filling up all their extra baggage allowance with used clothing - which has already been donated to us by a ministry that specifically focuses on that - to be given out to needy children. Their air tickets and other travel costs have already been fully taken care of so any other money that comes in as donations will be taken to Africa to purchase food, medical or school supplies for outreach as they go too. They are being afforded the opportunity to speak to the congregations in each of their churches and there is wonderful support coming forth.
Of course the ongoing worsening political and economic situation in Zimbabwe is cause for some concern. Not so much that they will be in any danger while they visit there but that their ability to minister to people as they travel about may be hampered by the authorities. And in the long run, although our preference would be to do our project work in our former homeland, Zimbabwe, we may not be able to because of the government's clamp down on NGOs. However we do have Jenny's brother in Zambia - and some other contacts there - as a good alternative.
Johanna has had a very rough time over the past few months - dealing with Simon's death and just being a 15 year old. She has been struggling to get through school (Grade 10) but we believe that she will make it by the end of the year. She has become very involved with Young Life - a very good youth outreach program - and has started taking on some leadership roles in the group. She is likely to be going to work at the Young Life national camp facility in BC for most of the summer which will be excellent experience for her. She is also very involved with a county youth council initiative and recently got to meet our Provincial Premier when he attended one of their regular meetings. It was especially exciting to see a photo of this and a nice write-up about it, in our local newspaper.
Rita is in good health and continues to be a wonderful support to us all. She is busy planning a trip back to Africa later in the year - primarily to attend her eldest grandchild's wedding in Bulawayo in December. Bridget is the first of all the grandchildren to get married so there will be a big family gathering - providing of course that Zimbabwe is still intact by then - so Gordon is also considering that it is high time for him to go back too. He has asked the travel agent to check into flights at that time of year and will see what can be worked out.
We have continued to update lots of information to our personal web site about all the topics that have been written about above. The site can now be found at a simpler URL - www.poultney.ca - so we hope that you can visit there (now and regularly in the future) for updates. For those of you without access to the web please let us know so that we can forward some copies of relevant pages, articles and photos via e-mail, if you so wish.
Of particular note is the amazing Sand Dollar Story. Some of you will have already heard it but may want to read it again and pass it on to others in your network.
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