I chronicled my trip over here to Zimbabwe with my excess luggage in three previous posts entitled It's God's Money, He Chose Not To Spend It and He Still Won't Spend His Money. In those entries, I told how the airlines let me through with my overweight luggage at no extra charge in Pittsburgh and London. I also expressed doubt that they would do the same in Kenya, based on experience. I have paid a lot of money in excess luggage weight in the Nairobi airport over the years.
When I got to the airport last Monday to come to Harare, the man looked at my three bags, generated three luggage tags and didn't say a word. At that point, I gave up on God spending any of His money to get my bags here.
Last night I had an interesting experience. I went to a local supermarket to buy some toothpaste, toothbrush and deodorant. That cost me $199,000 Zim dollars, by the way. Inflation is estimated to be anywhere from 2,000 to 12,000 percent at this point, so everything is kind of crazy when it comes to shopping and prices. It's hard to say exactly how much that would be in US dollars, but let's estimate it at $6.00 US.
While I was in the store, I noticed there was quite a crowd and commotion. I found out that the store had sugar, which is in short supply, as are many of the other staples. A woman approached me, holding and nursing a small baby. She asked if I could help her get some sugar, since she was unable to negotiate the crowds and get her share. I said I would.
When I turned around, I met a woman whom I had profiled here. She just happened to be the supervisor for the stores in the area. When I asked her if I could get some sugar, she took me to the general manager, who took me to his assistant, who took me to the cashier and then who took me downstairs in the store, where there were about 100 people (this is the storage/loading dock area of the store). He soon came forward with five bags of sugar, which I promptly took outside and gave to my new friend and her baby. The cost of the sugar was $60,000 Zim dollars--about $2.00 US. My toiletries cost three times as much as my sugar!
When I gave the woman the sugar, I would not take her money. She said, "God bless you, sir! By the way, you look like Jimmy Swaggart!" I guess all white people look alike over here.
What's so astounding to behold here is how gracious the people are in the midst of some pretty trying times. They are resourceful, good natured and resilient. That's not to say that people don't get uptight and angry. Anyone would. But the general feeling is that they will get by somehow and they usually do. It just gets harder and harder to get by as the pressures of daily life are intense.
I am enjoying my time here as I always do. I helped facilitate a men's retreat this past weekend for the men at Harvest Church. We went to the Nyanga area, to a place called the Pine Tree Inn. What a fantastic view there, with the rock formations, the blue skies and the blossoming trees. I thought the retreat went well as the men were open to the purpose message. Many of them are also under tremendous pressure due to the current conditions, but they are men of faith and coping as best they can. It's just not easy.
Our theme was "Getting Your LIfe on Track: A Study of Purpose and Goals." There were 35 men there and I had a chance to meet one-on-one with 14 of them. I am always moved when people share their purpose stories and struggles with me. I wish I could do more to help them along their PurposeQuest.
This week I am in Harare, getting ready for the big Action Conference next week at Celebration Church. Tonight I speak at the University of Zimbabwe and then prepare for seven speaking slots in next week's conference. The conference is a fun time for me and every year I prepare new material that I use for the rest of the year.
There's my update. I have work to do, so I have to run along.
Technorati Tags: Action Conference, Celebration Church, Zimbabwe