Those who know me will be aware that I’m appalling at speaking languages other than English – and sometimes even that is challenging!  I was therefore a bit surprised when I went home to see my Dad the other day and he presented me with all my school reports that my Mum had carefully kept in the ‘deed box’ and in reading through them I discovered that my highest grade was for French!  How did that happen!

Similarly I was surprised today when I finally learnt a word of Shona, the local language, the first language for many, of the people we are visiting here in Zimbabwe.  I was really grateful to learn that ‘mazviita’ (pronounced mash-vita) is Shona for ‘thank you’.

Cooking sadza in industrial proportions

And it was timely as I wanted to say a big thank you, a big mazvitta for today.  Most of the day involved a visit to St Patrick’s Mission.  It’s a large mission owned and run by the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe that lies about 30 kms outside of Gweru. The first part to be built was a primary school.  But now there’s a secondary school for 800 boys and girls (borders and day pupils) through to the end of the VIth form, a clinic (where we met a mother and her twin boys born this very morning) and a connecting hospital almost ready to open, a convent of the Community of the Holy Fire, a retreat centre and a farm with cows and maize and bees.

What is amazing is the vision and commitment and determination of the people to succeed, sometimes, often, against tremendous odds.  They have new ideas constantly for how to make the place even better.  My caution that often stops me doing things is not something that affects them at all – they simply go for it and, after all, what else can they do.

Bishop Christopher meets the bees

I was thinking about a verse from the book of Proverbs

‘Without vision the people perish.’ (Proverbs 29.18)

If it was simply down to vision then this people would undoubtedly flourish. They were a challenge to my lack of courage, my own lack of vision and often that lack of passion that our church exhibits.  Mazvitta, sisters and brothers of St Patrick’s Mission.  At the end of an almost impassable road, right there where the bush encroaches on otherwise fertile ground you are building the kingdom and it is a blessing for all of us.

Holy Fire,
burn within us
and fill us with vision,
and passion
for your kingdom.

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