On the 24th of January Conci visited for a final time with a group of people to whom she has grown deeply attached. As the trainer assigned to oversee our very first ‘I Was Hungry’ (IWH) group, Conci has walked alongside the Mandebvu community teaching, training, encouraging and counselling for a whole year. They have nicknamed her ‘Mamma’. Three of our other trainers accompanied her on this visit – Merit, Ladu and Mike – each of whom were involved in the initial training course and, along with the rest of the team, have joined Conci in prayer for these precious souls.
Of the thirty-five who warmly greeted the trainers, most were from the original course, the others were those whose thriving plots stand witness to the sharing of knowledge brought back from IWH. Conci took three other trainers along -Merit, Ladu and Mike – all of whom were involved in the initial teaching and, together with the rest of the FfF/Crown team, have joined her in praying.
Instead of writing a closing chapter on the Mandebvu story, we’ve chosen to share Conci’s report – written from the heart of this gentle mother figure who so faithfully took the community under her wing.
“It is always hard to say goodbye to people with whom you have walked and grown to love over time. Our Mandebvu community have become family, we have shared tears and joys on this journey and feel so privileged to have become a part of their lives. Without doubt, God has transformed many of them and as we look back, we thank Him, and Him alone. Apart from Him we can do nothing.
Arriving at Mandebvu community we were received by Pastor Macheso and managed to tour twenty-five plots. All those who had planted on time just before the first rains, using manure or compost as their basal, had good crops. Four plots in particular were outstanding. Those who planted late were affected by the heavy rains and the swampiness of the area.
Mr Penyani Mbofana could not afford fertiliser so he gathered manure to use in his field, resulting in an outstanding example to many. Shacky used compost, and ensured that he planted on time, but couldn’t afford fertiliser to top dress his maize. Still his crop looked good and healthy.
After touring the plots we returned to find the other participants all waiting for us. We gathered in the little church and Pastor Macheso opened in prayer, followed by Pastor Hyean who brought a word of encouragement. He read from Genesis 1 verse 26-30, which talks about dominion over everything, and that we are blessed. His emphasis was on reminding us of this blessing. Afterwards Pastor Hyean broke the sad news that we were weaning the group. It was an emotional moment for our team, and these special people whom we have come to love.
This led to testimonies from various participants. One spoke of how the teachings received on the IWH course transformed her marriage. She and her husband were separated at the time she attended IWH, but she returned home with forgiveness in her heart. They are now happily reunited and attend church together. They are also able to feed their family with the harvest from their Pfumvudza plot.
A second testimony came from another participant who said the fire that had gutted Mandebvu compound opened his eyes to see Jesus. “If that incident had not happened, I might still be in darkness.” He said, quoting Jeremiah 29 verse 11 “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Another person spoke up. He had been trained by some of the participants who attended the course and afterwards shared what they had learned. He testified to a transformed life, physically and spiritually. He’s now able to feed his family, and they are all attending church.
The guest of honour was the village head, Mr Paul Jonasi, who later concluded expressing his gratitude to FfF team, the charity organisations and all the stakeholders who surround Mandebvu community in their time of need. He went on to say that God had brought so much good out of the fire disaster, and people had come to know Him through it.
Pastor Macheso and FfF team gave each a vote of thanks, blessed the food and we later had lunch.
After lunch we helped the ladies who had cooked to wash the dishes and clean up, before saying a sad goodbye. What a privilege and a blessing it has been to serve them over the past year.
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