The 2022 Team


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In March of 2020, a team was preparing to travel to the Village of Hope and then the Covid 19 pandemic hit and the trip had to be cancelled. Now, over two years later, once again a team is preparing to return to the Village of Hope. This year’s three-member team (Nicole, Audrey and Barry) have begun last minute preparations as they will be departing for Zimbabwe on Sunday, July 17th and returning on Tuesday, August 2nd. You will be receiving updates from the team as they re-connect in person with the workers and children at the Village of Hope and Vimbainesu Children’s Home

{}How can you participate with the team?

     1. Pray for our team. Your prayers are needed as with this short preparation time, God’s strength, wisdom and intervention will be required.

     2. Donate funds to support the team. Donations will be used to assist team members to overcome the increasing costs of the trip and to assist the team in blessing the people at the VOH and Vimbainesu.

     One project is to purchase and distribute as many Shona bibles as possible.

     Contact Barry at 519-270-4461 or [email protected] for donation information.

     3. A special offer for Child Care Plus sponsors. Refer to letter below!

Mission Trip 2022

And so it begins …

Mission Zimbabwe (Hanover) has been partnering with Village of Hope (Harare) for 16 years, usually sending one team of volunteers per year.

Over that time strong relationships have formed!  

We have watched children grow up, get jobs, and get married.

We have seen the physical facilities grow and change.

We have seen Hope Community Church grow in amazing ways as they spread the love of God to their neighbors.

But for the past three years we have not seen this in person.

But today, this begins to change! Today a small team (Barry, Nicole and Audrey) started the very long journey to Zimbabwe. Our first step was surviving Toronto Pearson Airport - and based on recent news stories we were not looking forward to it. However, only 75 minutes after being dropped at the airport, we find ourselves relaxing in the departure lounge!  Check-in was smooth, all our bags were within the weight limit (whew!), and there was NO ONE in line ahead of us for the security check. We pray that the rest of the trip will go just as smoothly!

We don’t know what God has in store for us on this trip. Minimal planning time has left many of us feeling underprepared. Team bonding is still an ongoing process. Many things will be new or different at Village of Hope (VOH). And we still have about 20 hours of travel before we get there!  But we leave it in God’s hands and trust that everything will happen as he has planned.

We will try to send updates every day - Audrey will be doing most of the writing, with LOTS of proofreading provided by the other two. There will be the challenges of creativity, connectivity, and sheer exhaustion on some days. But we will do our best to connect with the many people back home who have supported us throughout this adventure. Please continue to keep us in your prayers in the days ahead.

July 18, 2022 1:19 PM

Looks like we made it!

What a trip!  Our first leg, from Toronto to Ethiopia, was 13 hours of flying. We had a slight delay before boarding our next flight, for about 4 hours of flying to get to Harare. Add in an early arrival in Toronto, and slow customs in Harare, and we ended up wearing our masks for about 25 hours straight!  I’d like to say “never again!”, but our return flights in two weeks will be even longer … yay …

But what a blessing to be here - and with ALL of our checked bags!  

A warm welcome from the Zowa’s (Pastor, Mrs, and Ropa) plus the new Social Worker (Norline) has us feeling right at home.

We have been left alone to unpack and decompress after our flights, and try to settle in for a good nights sleep.

The real work starts tomorrow - and we can’t wait!  

Barry and I get to start reconnecting with old friends and sponsor children.  

Nicole is in Zimbabwe for the first time, so it’s a chance for her to finally see the place she has heard so much about.

Whether we are new to VOH or a rookie, making new connections or greeting longtime friends, we know that God has a plan for what will happen while we are here.  

But OUR plan right now is to get some sleep!

Tuesday July 19, 2022 Update

Are We Number One?

It seems like COVID has dominated our conversations for a very long time now - it has impacted so many facets of our life. But today we learned that we are the FIRST mission team to be at VOH Zimbabwe since COVID began. Many people were greeting us and welcoming us, thanking us for coming back to visit them. It seems like we are almost celebrities here at this moment in time.

But today we were reminded that the real people who should be celebrated are the many people connected with us who provide child sponsorship. Some of you have been sponsors for years, or sponsor multiple children, or continue to sponsor them as they pursue higher education. Your impact lasts a lifetime!  Today Barry and I started meeting with some of those children and young people who receive sponsorship. Here are a few snapshots:

A Grade 5 girl reading her sponsor’s letter out loud in perfect English

A young boy running home to get his mother so that she could be part of the presentation

Twin girls who started their sponsorship at age 5, now 17 years old, and discussing possible careers as an artist or a lawyer

A young woman in her third year of medical school, wondering about the state of the hospitals she will be doing her placements in and how she will be able to help her patients with so few resources

And the list goes on …

Praise God!  The impact that your support has on these young people is almost indescribable, and it will last a lifetime. Please never underestimate the power of your gift, or the gratitude that we have seen and felt here this week. The three of us are blessed to be physically here at VOH, but we are witnessing your love in action travelling around the world to embrace these children. While we are the first team here since COVID, your ongoing support throughout the years is MUCH more impactful than our two weeks here can be. YOU are amazing. And God is number one for placing it on your hearts to sponsor. Thank you. Thank you.

- Audrey Bos

Wednesday July 20, 2022 Update

The Rookie

Imagine that you wake up in a strange town. You don’t know your way around, and you only recognize 1 or 2 people. Everyone seems to be happy and welcoming, but they are all talking about other people you don’t know, and telling stories about past events that you were not a part of. How would you feel?

Well, I’ve basically described the situation that Nicole found herself in for our first few days at VOH. Barry and I have been here multiple times, and feel quite at home with the people and the routines that we are encountering. But Nicole is a rookie in all of this - everything is new!  She’s heard the stories, and now she’s trying to mesh those with what she is seeing. And she is doing very well!

Of course her arrival started with some sadness on the way home from the airport, as we passed so many people selling small items on the side of the road (fruit, shoes, tire repair services), hoping someone from the rush of traffic would stop and buy their products. Then there were tears as we drove to one of the outreach areas, passing row upon row of tightly-packed one room brick homes with tin roofs and clay floors - and very young children playing in the dusty yard in front of the home. And I think we all felt it in our hearts when we realized that the breakfast porridge we were distributing to the children that morning would run out well before we reached the end of the line of students hoping to receive some. It’s been a lot to handle!

But Nicole is embracing it. Yesterday morning she helped out with the feeding program and readily engaged with the many children who wanted to bump fists with the “murungu” (white person) in their midst. In the afternoon she helped lead the Children's Bible Chapel, where approximately 200 children aged 5-11 gathered to sing and dance and hear about Jesus.  And today she bravely shared her testimony with over 250 teens during their afternoon Chapel. Nicole feels called to be here, and it is clear that she has stepped out of her comfort zone in order to answer that call!

So my question for you is this - when was the last time YOU stepped out of the comfortable box you have been living in?  Have you felt a pull to do something different in your life, to make a change, to move in a new direction?  Because if you listen to that call, it is bound to lead to something new. Yes, you might change your mind and go back to your comfortable box, but you will likely do so with a new perspective on things. Or, you might end up expanding your box and embracing a new opportunity and all of the adventures that will follow.  

Either way I encourage you to follow that call and BE A ROOKIE - you never know where it will lead!  

But God knows …

Thursday July 21, 2022 Update

Slow and Steady

The majority of our time in Zimbabwe is spent working alongside the leadership team at Village of Hope, and assisting them with the many projects that fall under the VOH umbrella. But since approximately 2010, Mission Zimbabwe has also connected with an orphanage outside of the city of Harare. So today we drove just over 1 hour into the countryside to visit with the children, mothers and leadership team at Vimbainesu Childrens Home. (Note to all Canadians reading this - a 1 hour drive in Zimbabwe is NOT the same as a 1 hour drive at home!  Think potholes, stop lights that don’t work, speed bumps on a major highway, potholes, police checks, goats, and potholes.)

It was wonderful to see that the solar panel project is up and running!  Everything from the borehole well, to lights, to the computers, are now run by solar power. The only things that can’t be run that way are the stoves and the corn mill - those would require more battery storage, which is simply too expensive at this time. The worker/security guard is glad to have the brick wall in place property to help prevent nighttime thefts from the facility. And the two house moms, along with Mrs. Madzima (the Director) are doing a wonderful job of caring for the close to 50 students living in their care. (Another note to Canadians - yes, that was 50 children and only 3 adults!). There was much to be thankful for!

But we also felt some frustration. We typically spend one day each mission trip at Vimbainesu. While we recognized many of the adults there, and even a few of the youth, one day per year is not enough time to form close relationships!  There are so many questions that we want to ask, and so many stories that we want to hear, but there simply isn’t enough time.  They have many needs, and we assist where we can, but the communication process back and forth, plus the decision making when we are so far away, takes time. As North Americans, we like to take on a project and get it done … NOW!

So there is another project ongoing at VImbainesu which can teach us some lessons. There are 14 children’s homes, each one a round structure with a thatched roof. Many of those roofs are wearing out (we stood inside one building and looked directly at the sky through a big hole) and need to be replaced. Financing is in place to repair only 5 of those roofs this year. The roof requires special grass, which can only be purchased at a certain time of the year so that it is in the right stage of growth to be a good roofing material. The bundles of grass are laced to a mesh layer using a large needle (see photo). One man stands on the outside and pushes the needle through the 20 cm thick layer of grasses. A man on the inside pulls the thread out of the needle, pushes the empty needle back to the outside, and waits until the needle comes back through in a good location (this may take several tries), rethreads the needle, and the man outside pulls the thread back through. One stitch complete!  It will take about 5 days to finish one roof.

Think about that. They waited for the funds to be in place. They waited for the grass to be at the correct stage of growth. They waited (over and over!) for the needle to come through. They are still waiting to get funds for the rest of the roofs. But slowly and steadily, they are getting things done. And when it is finished, the roof will keep the children dry in the rainy season, cool in the summer, and warm in the winter - for the next 15 years!  Simple stalks of grass provide all of that protection for such a long time.

And it’s like that with God. As humans, we want answers NOW!  We need to be reminded that slowly and steadily, God will reveal his will, but sometimes we have to wait .. and wait. But if we do, God will take simple people like you and me, and make us strong and long lasting. And we as a Mission Zimbabwe team need to be patient in our relationship with Vimbainesu. We will continue to meet with them when we can, we will continue to pray for them and support them from afar, and we pray that in God’s time we will feel that we have a stronger connection with them.

Friday July 22, 2022 Update

Reaching Out

The VOH continues to grow. What started as 2 orphan homes and a church community, has expanded to include a total of 9 orphan homes, a primary school, a secondary school, a medical clinic, and a large new church building. And throughout that time of growth they have reached outside the walls of the grounds to connect with the communities around them. They currently partner with 3 other schools in the area, where morning feeding programs assist around 1800 children each school day. And members of Hope Community Church have started 6 church plants in communities at varying distances from VOH.

Today Mrs. Zowa, Tete Zharare, and our amazing driver Albert took us out to 2 of these church plant communities to meet with 10 children who are part of a pilot project. Although all of the resources are present at VOH, the leadership team feels that it is important to meet people where they live. So once a month they spend a long day driving out and meeting with each family, seeing how everyone is doing, bringing them provisions, and encouraging them in their faith. Their prayer is that as relationships develop with these households, more people will learn about the programs, more people will be supported, and more people will be brought to Christ. While it was a tiring day for all of us, it is an important first step in forming long lasting relationships within each of these communities.

Once again, the roads were the biggest adventure today. We tried to distract ourselves from the discomfort by comparing it to something fun. Was this section more like moguls on flat land, or like waves on an ocean?  Did this section feel like riding on a horse?  Is this what the side to side motion of the inside of a washing machine must feel like?  Our last visit was in a community where several of the teachers who work at the primary and secondary school have their houses. We followed the same route home that they would take back and forth each day. Because the main road is under construction, there were many detours, and even more rough paths. Even Albert, our very calm driver, lost patience at one point - the trip took us just over one hour!  We thank God that these dedicated teachers are willing to make this commute each school day!  Their students are blessed to have them in their lives. And I will never complain about “construction season” in Ontario again!

Saturday, July 23, 2022 Update

Family Fun Day

Like many churches in Ontario, Hope Community Church here at VOH struggled with “disunity” during COVID. It was hard for people to meet and connect as they used to. The lockdowns prevented people from gathering together, and once they were able to worship in person again they had very little to talk about other than COVID. There was a struggle to reconnect and feel the community that had been such an important part of their congregation in the past.

So the leadership team came up with a plan that they hoped would help start to change this. The entire congregation was split into “families” (identified by colour) and invited to compete against each other in a variety of events - think old-fashioned church picnic on steroids. There were things like water relays, Bible trivia, sack races, a spelling bee, and a 100 m sprint (one of their youth is a nationally ranked sprinter, so the outcome was never really in doubt). There were team sports like volleyball, netball and soccer. There was a jumping castle and face painting for the kids. And the leadership prayed that the people would come, and that barriers would be broken down.

And today, the people came!  There was laughter and cheering. There was encouraging and congratulating. There were fun challenges between teams, and good-natured taunts between competitors. In a word, there was community!  We praise God that the day was a success!  It will take more than just one day to bring the congregation back to where it was, but today was a good start.  I’m sure that many of tomorrow’s conversations at church will relive todays events.  And today also worked as outreach, as several church members brought their neighbours along to participate as well. What a great introduction to the human side of the church!

I encourage all of you to make the time to connect (or reconnect) with the people that are important to you!  You never know where it might lead.

Sunday, July 24, 2022 Update

Sunday Zimbabwe Style

Our day started with each of us joining a different Bible hour - Barry met with the men, I met with the ladies, and Nicole helped lead the Youth program. The adult groups studied Matthew 18:15-20. I can say that the ladies had a lively and useful discussion on what to do when someone has caused you an offense (sinned against you), and how to handle that in a Christian way. The same passage was also the focus for the sermon, so Bishop Zowa expanded on those ideas. And during their meetings this coming week, each family group is asked to discuss the same passage again. I must admit that I sometimes forget the sermon topic shortly after church ends, but this approach helps ensure that the teaching will be more meaningful, and stay fresh in the minds, for those who hear it - what an interesting approach!

Music is a big part of the service here, and this morning we were blessed to have the youth lead us in a time of worship before the sermon. It was so wonderful to see their passion and feel their joy as they shared their gifts with us. A mix of Shona and English songs allowed everyone to participate, and had people dancing and clapping in joy for the Lord.  The youth are a valued part of this congregation (as they should be in any congregation!), and taking on this leadership role is a big step.  It was a blessing to watch and hear them lead.

The time after the service was busy for Barry and I, as we reconnected with people who are not on the VOH grounds during the week. We got to learn about new jobs, new children, pregnancies, and other various items of joy. It is an honour to have them share their lives with us, and to know that they are doing well. Coming back to the same location year after year seems to give us more people to check in with each year, but it is also so much more rewarding to watch them as they grow.

We had an excellent lunch at an Italian Restaurant, did a quick shop, and returned to VOH for a very casual afternoon - watching netball, basketball and the men’s soccer game (which VOH won!). There also may have been a Sunday afternoon nap on my part.  We have a busy week ahead, so we enjoyed just being slow and casual today - what a blessing it is to take a day (well .. half a day) of rest!

Audrey Bos

Monday, July 25, 2022 Update

We Are Family

Having such a small team here has had some disadvantages - we can’t do any big projects, there are less people to share the work, and we weren’t able to bring as many resources with us because we were limited by luggage space. But it also has its advantages - travel in country is easier to arrange, accommodation is less challenging, and we are able to do more things as a true “team” where all of us participate in the same activity.

One very enjoyable activity has been having meals in the various orphan homes. Tonight was our third night to share supper with one of the “families”, and we have two more dinners scheduled. A typical orphan home on the VOH grounds has one full-time mother, and room for up to 9 orphans. The nine homes are not full right now as the government has an initiative to re-integrate the children with a close relative, if they can find one (ex grandparent or aunt), so some children have left the grounds. So while the dynamics of each family may be changing, one thing remains true - they ARE family!  

And we have had a chance to be a part of that, especially after the meal ends. At one home we shared pictures and stories of Canada. At another we played Uno … although I’m not sure who was making up the rules!  Tonight we were entertained by the incredible musical talents of House 5. Everyone participated, boys, girls and mother Addeline. Two of the boys provided the rhythm section using pens and their hands on the table top. They said that they love to gather and sing together, especially during the boring time of school holidays. Since the children can’t leave the school grounds, and no one is coming to school, they actually dislike school holidays because there is nothing to do and no one new to talk to.

It was such a blessing for us to be a part of their family for the night!  We can’t wait to see what our next suppers hold in store for us. Please pray for these families as they work through a time of transition.

- Audrey Bos

Tuesday, July 26, 2022 Update


So many things happened today!  And in so many cases, JOY came shining through. Here’s just a few items …

Barry visited the Star outreach area, and witnessed the JOY and pride of a mother discussing her chicken project (started from a micro loan) which turned into an independent business with the loan fully repaid.

Nicole and I hosted the mothers as they made bookmarks, and received gifts thanking them for all that they do. They responded with JOYful songs and prayer.

We shared supper with the young children in Mother Acquiline’s home, and were overwhelmed by their openness, their English language skills, and their many JOYful hugs. And tonight we saw pure, uncontained and LOUD JOY as Nicole showed them what SnapChat filters would do to their faces on her camera!  

There was also some sadness tonight though as Mother Acquiline will be leaving the VOH at the end of this week. She has been a constant here for the past 15 years, tending and nourishing her garden just as she tended and nourished the many children who have lived in her home. She is leaving for a well deserved retirement on her farm, but her big smile and JOYful laughter will be missed by so many!  We are so blessed that the timing of our trip allowed us another chance to see her shine at VOH.

I hope that you found JOY in your day today too - it can heal so many of the aches that we feel in our bodies and our souls.

- Audrey Bos

Wednesday, July 27, 2022 Update

Star light, Star bright

In an earlier post, I mentioned several church plants connected to VOH. One of those is located in the Star neighborhood, and over the past two days Barry and Nicole have both had a chance to visit there (I have been busy teaching in the secondary school). Even though I don’t have firsthand knowledge of what is happening there, the other two were so excited about the programs going on in Star that I feel compelled to write about it. I hope I do justice to their experience!

Approximately 2 years ago, it was decided to start a feeding program in the community, funded by VOH and with support from Mission Zimbabwe. This started the process of forming connections and relationships within the community, and learning of their needs and desires. It soon came to light that many parents were not sending their children to school at all, because it was too dangerous - it was a 5 km walk to school along a busy highway, and some students were being hit by cars. Discussion with local officials led to the start of a school with one JK class, directly in the Star community. Two years later the school has one JK, two K, and two Grade 1 classes!  Engaged and energetic teachers corral all of those little bodies into a chaotic dance of learning and growing - wow!

Along the way, a microloan program was also introduced (remember the chicken story from yesterday?). Two groups of five individuals were each given money to start a small business. One year later both loans have been repaid, both businesses are succeeding, and ten more people are about to be selected for the next round of loans - praise God!

A big event today was the distribution of new sport uniforms for all of the students. These were entirely funded by the student’s parents and the Star community - no outside help was needed!  And that is the goal of the work done by VOH - seeing communities support themselves and begin initiatives which fit for THEIR specific needs. It is so rewarding to see the growth of this community!

And why did they need new sport uniforms?  Because on Friday all of the students at Star will get to take their first field trip to attend a Sport Day here at VOH. They will be competing against the matching grades from CHAPS at VOH in events like three-legged races, egg on a spoon races, and balloon relays. I may have missed seeing them in Star, but I’m going to make sure that I get to watch the combined chaos of up to 150 children aged 4 to 6 competing in these events. This will definitely require photos, and maybe even some videos. And I think we ALL need to say an extra prayer for the teachers involved in managing this day!

Thursday, July 28, 2022 Update

God's Creation

Today, Thursday after 9 days of the team being involved with many aspects of our mission here, we had the opportunity for a change of pace day. We traveled with Bishop Zowa and Mr. Chimbetete to Mwanga Lodge and Bally Vaughn Game Park to be blessed with a taste of God’s creation. The trip out featured the usual Zimbabwean bumpy roads and a stop for coffee/hot chocolate and donuts to keep us going. Trying to drink take out coffee/hot chocolate as we careened down the road was a challenging experience and required total concentration. Mwanga Lodge and Bally Vaughn Game Park is about I ½ hours from Harare. We arrived at the gate at 9:30 am and spent the day enjoying activities all day under beautiful Zimbabwe skies until our departure at 4:30 pm. Our guide, Clements started us off by leading us in a walking tour of the game sanctuary where rescued and abandoned animals are kept. After this tour, we were transported by safari truck through a farm to a lake formed by a dam. There, we had the opportunity for a leisurely paddle in zebra striped canoes (made in Canada) and observed a family of zebras who posed perfectly for us and also a farm that had a large orchard of avocado trees and a commercial blueberry operation.

Then it was time for lunch at Mwanga Lodge. This is a beautiful setting with a comfortable sitting room and an African themed dining room. The Lodge has an open view of a large area of the game park which provided us the opportunity to see guinea fowl, warthogs, impala and two giraffes in the distance. The lunch featured salad, cole slaw, chicken, mixed vegetables, and rice. Lunch was followed by a relaxing outdoor rest period overlooking the vista of the game park.

The afternoon featured a game drive where we saw zebra, impala, wildebeests and giraffes. We also visited a lion enclosure where Asselin, a female lion gave us some excitement as she charged the fence several times – a very fearsome sight!

I want to return to one of the reason’s this update is titled, God’s creation. After lunch, we met a young lady with an African Grey Parrot on her shoulder. She was the daughter of the lodge’s owners and had also graduated from a bible college. We enjoyed her information about her parrot, “Sheba” who she had just adopted about two weeks ago. But then, she gave us a stirring presentation on God’s creation in the bible that would do any pastor justice. Wow, talk about passion for animals!

So we not only heard about God’s creation but also spent the day having the opportunity to be blessed to experience God’s creation first-hand in the beautiful landscape that is rural Zimbabwe. It is our hope that this is a reminder to you that wherever you are, you will give thanks to our good God for the amazing diversity of beauty in our world.

Friday, July 29, 2022 Update

Let's Do Lunch

Today was the last full day of school while we are at VOH. As is a Mission Zimbabwe tradition, we used this day to provide lunch for ALL of the staff who work here - teachers, pastors, maintenance and grounds, house moms, medical, administration and social workers. Those of you who have been here in the past know that this is a major undertaking. Since there were only three of us this year we asked for assistance, and were extremely thankful to receive help with almost all aspects of the food preparation. A hearty meal of sausage on a bun, potato salad, and coleslaw, followed by extremely excellent cupcakes, was enjoyed by approximately 60 people. Yes, there were a few glitches - we didn’t have enough napkins and we forgot to get plastic forks (insert a slap to my forehead right here ☺️).  But overall it was an excellent way to wrap up our time here. And we feel it is important that we show our appreciation to a staff that is committed to excellence in all aspects of the work done here. The care and love that they show for the people, the grounds and the programs that make up VOH is heartwarming and inspiring!  We thank God that so many quality people of faith are a part of the daily life at VOH.

This lunch also gave the staff a chance to recognize mother Acquiline as she heads towards retirement next week. Several staff members spoke emotionally about her impact on the children she helped raise here, as well as the adults she worked alongside during her time at VOH. She will also be remembered for her gardening skills, and they jokingly said that now someone else would have to take on the task of supplying maize and sugar cane to the staff!  But she will also be remembered for her devotion to the Lord, a faith that didn’t form until she started working at VOH. She has become such a role model to so many, and in so many different areas, that her departure will leave a large hole in the hearts of those left here. While it was sad to prepare for her departure, it was so uplifting to see such a strong and united staff coming together to honour her, and know that they will all continue to make VOH such an outstanding place to learn and grow. We felt so honoured to be a part of this celebration!

This morning was also the Infant Sport Day which I wrote about in an earlier post - and it was AWESOME!  The students visiting from Star community looked great in the vibrant new yellow sport uniforms. Children competed in wheel barrow races, egg on a spoon races, and many races I had never seen before. Teachers encouraged, students chanted, care givers cheered and throughout it all teacher Ethel provided a play-by-play commentary for each event. But the greatest noise seemed to occur when the students cheered on their teachers as they raced against each other in an all out sprint!  It is clear that these teachers have formed a very strong bond with their young students. What a promising beginning for so many of these children!  We pray for many blessings to fall on these classes as they continue to grow in knowledge and faith.

Saturday, July 30, 2022 Update

The Wedding Feast

Today we had the honour of attending a wedding in Zimbabwe!  Denmark and Sharlia were married on the grounds of VOH, and the reception was in the church here. Denmark works at VOH, and was raised in the Good Hope community (where VOH is located) so it was a real celebration for the entire community.

Different cultures develop different traditions around similar significant events, so we spent much of our time noting similarities and differences between Canadian and Zimbabwean wedding traditions. I won’t go into all of the details because it was a very busy day, but I’ll try to hit some big points.

The timing - the wedding was scheduled for 11 am, and actually started around 11:20 am (which is pretty good for “Africa time”!).  The reception wrapped up around 4 pm, but there would still be activities that were specific to the bride, the groom and their families going on after that time.

The clothes - the bride wore a traditional white dress and the bridesmaids wore beautiful dresses for the ceremony. But the bride arrived at the reception in a more comfortable shorter dress, and midway through the reception the entire bridal party changed to comfortable clothes - jeans and a white t-shirt for the bridesmaids, and jeans and a black turtleneck sweater for the groomsmen. This made it easier for them to perform the several group dances they had practiced.

The volume - both the wedding ceremony and the reception were LOUD!  There was lots of clapping, cheering and ululating (that’s a noise that I think only African women can make!). The MC at the reception was very good, but he had to battle a lot of crowd noise and the music being played by the DJ. At times it felt like the MC had prior experience announcing for either a boxing match or a monster truck rally.

So while there were many differences, the biggest thing we noted was a similarity to a Canadian wedding - a community of family and friends coming together to support a young couple. It was clear that Denmark was a beloved son of the community, and Sharlia was a welcome addition to the neighbourhood. There was a great deal of love, laughter and encouragement flowing throughout the ceremony and the reception. We feel honoured to have been a part of this event, and we pray a blessing for this young couple as they begin their married life together.

Sunday, July 31, 2022 Update

The Last Dance

Today was our last full day in Zimbabwe, and we greeted the day with mixed emotions. There is sadness to be leaving (goodbye friends!) as well as joy to be going home (hello hot shower!). Much of our day was spent experiencing things for the last time. Here’s just a few of them:

Last amazing praise song led by the youth.

Last inspiring message from Pastor Richard (Do Your Part!).

Last time the electricity would cut out in the middle of something important.

Last chance to buy souvenirs.

Last visit to Pizza Inn (or Chicken Inn or Cream Inn or … any other takeout place!).

Last chance to appreciate the many potholes.

Last hug with a sponsor child.

Last walk around the neighborhood.

Last hug with an expectant mother.

Last bucket shower - Hallelujah!

But in reality this will only be the last time for these things on THIS trip. Mission Zimbabwe has partnered with VOH for many years now, and we pray that this partnership will remain strong for many more years and many more mission trips to come. So, we look forward to the time when we get to experience all of these things as FIRSTS on another trip. Well, except for the bucket showers … and the potholes ..

Praise God for his lasting goodness!

Monday, August 1, 2022 Update


As in departure day, dreaded day, darn long day about to happen!

Our itinerary is a bit daunting.

Let’s do some math:

1 hour drive to Harare Airport to arrive

2 hours before the flight

6.25 hours to fly to Ethiopia. This includes a 1 hour stop in Lusaka, where we do not get off the plane.

2 hour wait in Ethiopia (off the plane!)

16.5 hour flight to Toronto. This includes a 1 hour stop in Dublin where we stay on the plane while they are refueling.

?? hours to clear customs in Toronto

2.25 hour drive to Hanover

Another 1 hour drive each for Barry and I to get to our respective homes.

And the total is …. TOO MANY HOURS!  Too many takeoffs and landings!  Too many airplane meals involving chicken!

… Just went for a mad dash through Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia to get to our gate on time … and the fun continues …

Tuesday, August 2, 2022 Update

We're Home!

Well, not quite at our houses yet, but at least we’re on Canadian soil. I’m not feeling particularly creative right now, so I’ll just say this:

Thank you for partnering with us on this trip!  

Your support and encouragement meant so much to us as well as the people at VOH.

Thank you.