Feeling a Heat Wave
We send our greetings from Harare where spring rains are overdue. In fact, we are in a heat wave.
We send our greetings from Harare where spring rains are
overdue. In fact, we are in a heat wave. Someone told us it was 40
degrees C. on Tuesday. That’s 100 degrees F., isn’t it? Felt like
it anyway. Thank goodness the humidity is low because we have no fan,
much less air-conditioning.
On a temperate Sunday in early October we attended an Oktoberfest
at a rural Roman Catholic mission. The church, a Jesuit building dating
to 1902, looks like a bit of Germany in the bush. Not many lay German
Catholics attended but we met some German nuns and several Jesuits, including
one who teaches Greek. He and Mary talked shop briefly. We had an
ecumenical service in the old church, then a braai and German-style beer from
Namibia on the lawn in front, and finished the day with German coffee and
cakes, though the coffee never appeared.
The very next Saturday was a UTC faculty outing to a colleague’s
farm. It took an hour and a half to drive there, the final 26 km. in
caravan on unmarked roads, fording a small stream. We were glad to let
someone else do the driving. The story is that a Methodist mission had a
3,000 acre (or was it hectare?) farm they no longer used. So they decided
to give small parcels to long-term employees and retirees, whose pensions
subsequently evaporated in the currency collapse. Our colleague, then a
bishop, had chaired the committee and, having served two three-year terms as
chaplain at the mission high school, eventually received 30 acres (or is it 30
hectares?). He has a well; his neighbor runs his cattle in exchange for
use of pasture, to make a very long story short. The main building is a
traditional kitchen, round and roofed in thatch with a fireplace in the center
and built-in benches around the perimeter. Another building has several
bedrooms. There is an outhouse across the yard. We had a braai
under the trees, toured the farm, met the neighbors, including the retired
principal of the mission high school. The silence in the bush was palpable
and our colleagues drank it in, regarding it as a spiritual experience in
The following Saturday was “UTC Day,” our annual
fund-raiser. We listen to speeches under a tent, bought T-shirts and
lunch. An excellent a cappella choir from the prison entertained.
We were told the inmate singers are all nearing the end of their sentences and,
for that reason, are not inclined to run. Our bus provided transport and
the prison sent one apparently unarmed employee in civilian clothes to supervise.
They stayed for lunch. The guest speaker—former governor, successful
farmer and businessman, Methodist layman—spoke entertainingly but mostly in
Shona. There was enough English to tell us his mother had taught him to
give. Near the end, he revealed he had brought a (very visible) pick-up
load of metal door and window frames and other construction supplies worth
$2800. Then, “spontaneously,” he produced $600 in cash to buy a laptop
computer for the principal. It looked effective to us. He needs to
inspire a group of equally generous givers. Our 50 year old buildings
suffer from deferred maintenance. In addition, we have three times the
number of students we can accommodate properly. And you know about our
intermittent water supply. This year we built a new room on the library
but ran out of money before we could purchase furniture!
This semester, Dale is teaching the adult Bible Study every other
Sunday at the only Lutheran church in Harare with weekly services in
English. He is doing a series on Isaiah.
We wish you a Happy Halloween from the midst of corn fields not
yet planted, much less harvested. No pumpkins here at this time of the
Mary and Dale Patrick
Dale and Mary Patrick are long-term volunteers with the United Theological College in Zimbabwe. Dale is a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament. Mary is a professor of Greek and New Testament.