Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nyasha's Arms of Mercy

Every day I get a beautiful reminder of the blessings that come with the kind of life I get to enjoy.

I live in a high density neighborhood with LOTS of children. Some of them do not know me and they still refer to me as “Makhiwa” (white person) but so many of them know me and so as I walk through the dusty roads of Mkhosana I hear, “Regina! Regina!”

No matter how many times I come out of my front door every day, there is a beautiful little girl named Nyasha who greets me. She is young, probably 3 years old, and when I left Zimbabwe last year she didn’t really ever speak to me. This year, however, every time I walk out my front door she runs to me and shouts, “Regina! Regina! I’m fine!” I love that she tells me she is fine before I even say to her, “Good morning, Nyasha, how are you?” She always jumps and throws her arms around me.

Obviously, I love these encounters, but recently I met another Nyasha and learned that the name means ‘compassion’ or ‘mercy’. So every morning I feel the arms of compassion and the arms of mercy wrapped around me as I start my day. What a reminder of how good God really is.

Despite the cold showers in winter, I am a blessed woman!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finally an update!

Friends of Refuge,
What an exciting return to Zimbabwe!  I am sorry that I have not yet begun blogging about being home, but I commit to updating as frequently as time and internet access will allow!
My first couple of months back in Africa have been very busy!  Although there have been challenges and struggles, the blessings are far more numerous and important.
I want to share with you a personal story that is very dear to my heart.  You may know that last year I began spending more time in Harare due to immigration issues, and so much good has come of that.  I have built relationships with many of the local orphanages, and we are trying through various methods to improve the conditions for the children living in them.  Wherever possible, I come in to counsel the staff and the children in these homes.  It has been unbelievable to see the heart of the directors opening to counseling and the changes that are coming about.
I want to share with you the story of Ruth.  Ruth lives in an orphanage in Harare and has not been healthy her entire life.  She is 7 now, but when I met her she was 5.  She broke my heart.  She was weak and small with a huge tummy.  So weak that she could barely lift her own arms; she couldn't pick up anything.  She has one of the worst attachment disorders I have ever witnessed in Zimbabwe.  Many of the orphaned children we meet have attachment disorders, because they haven't had the physical and emotional support needed to develop a healthy ability to connect with people.  Children often either withdraw completely and do not connect to the people they spend their daily life with or over-attach and have an unhealthy emotional connection to people they have known for just a few minutes.  Ruth was withdrawn.  She would allow you to hold her not because she enjoyed it, but because the energy it would take to wiggle away was more than she had to exert.  So, she would just accept her place in your arms.
A couple of people have committed to spending great amounts of time connecting with little Ruth.  Over the past 2 years that I have spent time with her, we have been battling her inability to connect.  For instance, when I first got back to Zimbabwe and went to visit her, I would try to read her a book.  She would engage and point at things she knew for about 30 seconds and then just get up and wander away to play by herself.  She didn't want to play with the other kids she lives with, the mommies that take care of her, or me.  I have spent countless hours with her on a daily basis for over a month, plus all of the work we have been doing for the past 2 years.  Today, I am proud to say if Ruth sees someone she knows coming into the gate at her house, she will get up and run to greet them.  She will look them in the eyes, hug them, sit on their lap, and talk to them - she will engage.  I was in a meeting with the director of the home Ruth lives in and the woman said, "What has happened with Ruth is nothing short of a miracle. We have been able to get her body healthy, but today she is beginning to have a life worth living."  Ruth is 7, and we are finally entering into conversations about preparing her for school.  A friend of mine went to visit Ruth and he called to said, "You won’t believe it; I witnessed Ruth praying today!"
A life worth living.  That is what this is about, isn't it?  Knowing that the impact we can make is about more than just keeping someone alive, but giving them a reason to live.  I know that God has given me a heart of compassion for the people of Zimbabwe - the children in particular, and He has blessed me with an education, skills and giftings that are allowing me to help make a difference here.  I am grateful everyday for the life I have been given - a life worth living.
Please continue to pray for the work of ROCK of Africa and our project Refuge. Specifically you can pray for:
* People to continue to meet Jesus.
* The health, spiritual growth and provisions of the children and families we work with.
* God to continue to move people's hearts to volunteer with ROCK of Africa and Refuge.  And for the people who do volunteer with us to be protected and blessed.
* Continued favor with the community and political leaders.
* Continued funding of the work we are called to.
* For our eyes, ears and hearts to be opened to the needs around us that we are called to meet.
* For us to continually seek God first, and that our goal is always to advance His kingdom.
The needs in Zimbabwe remain enormous, both in town and in the rural areas.  No church or organization can meet them on their own.  We continue to partner with churches, community projects, and organizations that are building the Kingdom.  We need your help.  If you would like to help us continue to work with the children and families of Zimbabwe, you can do so by sending a check (with Refuge in the memo) to:
ROCK of Africa Missions
PO Box 5000
Costa Mesa CA 92628
Or by visiting and clicking on the "give now"
link.  Please write Refuge in the memo box!
Your donation is tax deductible and will be used to make an impact in the lives of the people of Zimbabwe!
With love,
Regina Jones