I’m back from Zimbabwe. But for about two weeks since I was down and out with a miserable cold, which made thinking past the end of my nose quite difficult. I’ve had plenty written, but I’ve felt this pressure that I’ve placed on myself. I really didn’t know how to express to you WHAT I experienced – in a nutshell – and to do it justice. So “it’s” all been ruminating in my head and on computer screen, which I hope has been a good thing.
How The Journey Began
It all started with a casual, “thrown out there” invitation from our visiting friend Ruth to Felicity and me. Something like, “Hey, you can come to Zimbabwe and paint a mural on a prison wall.” And we said something like, “Okay.” And then – it happened! (There were a few other details involved and prayers, but that’s pretty much it.)
So we bought our tickets and then our paintbrushes at the building supply store, packed our bags, and we were off! Zimbabwe is two hops away by plane, and I believed flying the preferable choice considering this country had an “air of adventure” to us and an “air of danger” to our computer and camera equipment.
Felicity and I visited Ruth and Julie Hagen, lovely (as my British traveling companion Felicity says), funny, and energetic sisters from Scotland and the job creation program Gogo Olive, and we had hopes of painting that mural, filming, serving our friends, and being open to anything that came our way. (“Came our way” included watching India Premiere League Cricket, which I can now attest to understanding and actually enjoying.)
Hoping to bless our friends by making a video for their ministry, we filmed, photographed, and interviewed the ladies at Gogo Olive – Felicity, being the photographer/videographer-amazingness, and I, the question asker/interviewer. I think we really just jumped in with both feet and not knowing what we were doing, but hey, it worked out great! I found out that I really love interviewing people. It was amazing to chat with the ladies and hear their stories of life, finding God, and how Gogo Olive has helped them. And I so was humbled to share a devotion with them about being created with value in the image of God and that Felicity and I could pray for them.
Or to WATCH the Gogo Olive video on the Vimeo website, click here: http://vimeo.com/user24100193/gogoolive
Julie Hagen began Gogo Olive by accident, she told me, as she taught ladies how to knit African animals. Somehow, this idea caught on, and these animals are sold around the world today! Seriously, Julie is SO creative. Gogo Olive now employs approximately sixty ladies who are able to provide income for their families. In a country with high unemployment this is such a blessing. As we spoke with the ladies, Chido shared,
“It was very difficult because my husband was not working at that time and difficult in finding rent because it’s very expensive here in Zimbabwe so my mother used to help me with that. And right now it’s easy because I can do the rents myself and I can buy my own things.”
Money just to pay for basic needs
“I like them [my children] to be teachers, doctors, head masters…”
Dreaming that her children have greater opportunities and better lives
Prison – To Be Continued…
Gogo Olive also reaches out to women in prison, who can earn income by knitting and are able to continue with Gogo Olive once their prison term is completed. But I’m being too lengthy in this post… I think I’ll devote another post to tell you about my time in prison!
I am so thankful for my time in Zimbabwe and am so blessed by Ruth, Julie, the ladies at Gogo Olive and the prison, and the friends we made and who welcomed us into their homes and lives. I praise God for how He is moving in hearts and lives in Zimbabwe, And I believe God is truly using Julie and Ruth!
Two Scottish young women with their hearts planted in Zimbabwe.
A land and people whom I imagined broken.
But what I encountered was love, perseverance, hope, and joy.
People who love their neighbors.
People who persevere through difficult times.
People who find hope behind prison walls.
People who live joy because they know the author of joy.
And may they find faith that at every sunset there is a sunrise in the morning.
In Joyline’s words,
“I need prayer to let Gogo Olive be in Zimbabwe
for a long time in order for us widows to get something
to help our children because as widows life is hard.
…keep on praying for Julie and Ruth
because they did a very great, great thing to us.
They didn’t expect it…but because of God’s grace to us
they gave us a job to help us.”
Please continue to pray for the people
and country of Zimbabwe.
And if you’d like to learn more about Gogo Olive,
the amazing knitting ladies, and the animals they knit,
please visit their website at http://www.gogo-olive.com/