My husband Douglas and I received our first appointment to a district which had accommodation problems. There was no pastor's house. From June 13, 1995 through October 3, 1995, we were temporarily settled in a place far from our working district. We did not unpack our luggage for we were expecting to be moved any time. Finally after three months, we moved to our district. Once there, we found the area to be terribly affected by mosquitoes and flies. Diarrhea and malaria were common ailments of the people. Praise God none of our family was affected.
The churches in the district were quite small. Usually only eight to 12 people were in attendance each Sabbath. Most who attended were quite passive and many members refused to take any leadership responsibility. Because the district was so big, Douglas was away a great of time. The members expected me, as the pastor's wife, to take responsibility for most of the church duties. I was expected to be the church elder, lesson teacher, motivator and general caretaker of the church.
I tried very hard to meet the needs of the local people. 1 gave Bible studies, taught classes on nutrition, better cooking methods, sewing and knitting, listened to members and non-members who were critical of the church and nurtured the members as best I could. It was a really hard time for me in that district. With so many responsibilities and so many expectations to fill, I eventually burned out and gave up my work to spend time with my family. Al times, I felt I was failing my duty as a shepherdess.
I was still very involved with the ministry in the area. I was busy planning and preparing for a Dorcas Federation, which was to take place April 24, 1996, when we were informed we were being transferred to a mission school (Nyahuni) in Murewa District. My family and 1 were dismayed. We wondered what would happen to all the programs we had started. Tears gushed from my eyes as I looked at my field, flourishing with different crops, of which we had not picked first fruits yet. Since I was not employed, my only income came from selling the fruits of the field.
For several days we waited for the truck that was to transport our belongings to our new district. On January 20, 1996, we moved to the Mission. It was raining heavily on that day and our hearts were heavy as we loaded the lorry (open truck) in the rains, covered the goods with tattered, muddy plastic and drove off through the rain to the mission, which was about 23 km. away.
We have been here for several months and have found there is much work to be done at the Mission. The "ladies group" Dorcas is very weak. Though there are about 40 women at the Mission, only three to five women attend. The people are not very social, gossip is rampant and hatred permeates many relationships. I feel a tremendous responsibility to help improve the situation for I know it is destroying all that is good.
I pray to God for unity in this Mission. Prayer bands have been started, lessons and activities that promote friendship and unity have been planned, and witnessing and visiting one another has been encouraged.
Though the challenges before me are sometimes overwhelming, my faith in God and the miracles He can perform keep me optimistic. Like my fellow shepherdesses, I stand firm on the solid rock (Christ) through thick and thin.