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Ameva Farm and Bible College

Updates from 2011 to 2013


Updates 2006 to 2008 Updates 2009 to 2010 Current Updates

Photos of Ameva Bible School


December 15, 2013

A lot of comings & goings this week. On Monday we said good-bye to Derrick & Andy but hello to my sister, Elizabeth, & John’s sister, Betty. Our sons Paul & Niel arrived yesterday, our daughter Abigail arrives on Friday & then it is off to the beach for 10 days over Christmas. Sadly our daughter-in-law, Janna, was unable to come as she is expecting a baby in May. We will definitely miss her (especially Niel!). Would appreciate your prayers for our family time – I think it is about 15 years since we all spent Christmas together.


We are very grateful for all the love, prayers & support we have received over the years & know that God will bless you. May you know His joy & peace this Christmas & may your walk with Him be deeper in the coming year.


With very much love, Celia & John


December 8, 2013

For the last two weeks Andy & Derrick have been teaching the 15 students in the Bible College – 6 ladies & 9 men. Here are their comments on how it went.


Andy “An excellent group of students who have made teaching for the last two weeks a real pleasure. Their attitude to learning has been outstanding & they have made good progress.”


Derrick “Teaching Church History at Ameva Bible School in Zimbabwe (December 2013).

I do believe that Church History is the most difficult subject in any Christian College, because when you study the beginnings of the church in the book of Acts you are on familiar ground, but beyond the lifetime of the apostles most of us know very little.

Church “history” is “His story” and it is a narrative of the progress of the gospel and the development of the church. Much of the story seems to have little relevance to Africa, but it is in the subject in their text book. They are patient and hardworking students who study and write from 8.00 am - 12.30 pm (with a half hour break in the middle), and then from 1.30 pm – 3.30 pm in the afternoon. They are sitting in their seats on time and constantly apply themselves to listen intently to the teacher. This is hard work each day - from Monday to Friday for two whole weeks. It is also very hot!


“Pastor” Andy who comes from Warrington, asked the students what they thought were the qualities of a good teacher, a lady student replied: A teacher who is neatly dressed and lively!   (I couldn’t agree more!).


The students are a tremendous group consisting of young pastors, church members, Bible teachers, pastor’s wives, young mothers and some older Mama’s who are “mothers in Israel” and intercessors. One lady who was in her 60’s told me she had born 7 sons and 5 daughters.

We pray that the Lord will continue to raise up pastors and Christian workers through the ministry of Ameva and pray for these young men and women during this two year period of Bible teaching. We also pray for John and Celia who have made this ministry possible and thank them for making us feel so much at home here.”  


December 1, 2013

Dancing, singing, testimonies – it was a joyous time in Church this morning. On Friday the church met at Ameva for an all-night prayer meeting & from their accounts had a GOOD time. This morning everyone was on fire. We sung a favourite hymn. Because He lives I can face tomorrow. It brought tears to my eyes thinking of all the things these dear people had gone through & yet here they were rejoicing – dancing, singing, testimonies! I, for one felt very humbled.


Much love, Celia & John


November 24, 2013

After the heat we had good rain on Wednesday. On the farm they had 60mm & the next day the streams were running into the dam. This is a miracle as previously it has taken three days of continuous rain for the dams to start filling. The last couple of days have been drier but the heat is returning so it may rain again later in the week.


Derrick Harrison, Birmingham & Andy McDade, Warrington are with us for the next session of the Bible College starting tomorrow. The road to the farm is a disaster. We need rain but it has its downsides.


Love from Celia & John


November 17, 2013

It continues to be extremely hot – in 40s/high 90s & we are all wilting. There was some good rain here & on the farm last Sunday but nothing since. People are saying that it is even too hot for rain but we are praying the real rains will come soon.


Since the elections the economy here has taken a tumble as people are pulling their money out & no one is willing to invest. Many firms have closed down. We were in Harare on Friday & went to the auction house to look for some fridges. The place was packed with office furniture & heavy machinery. Later we found the firm where we get mahewu for the school children is under administration. We are told that the government cannot draw up a budget because there is no money in the coffers. More heartfelt prayers for this country said in church this morning.


Love, Celia & John


November 10, 2013

Thank you for your prayers. Both Margaret & Joyce were in church today. Although still weak, they both seem to have made miraculous recoveries & gave testimony to that.


We had another cow die, despite quickly calling out the vet & yet a third is sick. John went up to the farm this morning. He had to ask Heather to open the shop where she works to get some medicine for it. It is that time of year just before the rains when the cows loose condition. Unfortunately we don’t think they were well looked after while we were in UK. John stayed to attend the church up there & to preach.

We had a little rain last night & today it is “muggy”.


Love from Celia & John


November 3, 2013

Unfortunately the cow I told you about last week has died & is now in our freezer. Our two cats & two dogs are very happy anticipating many months of meals of top quality beef.


Joyce & Margaret from our church are very ill. Both have tested positive for AIDS & are on treatment.

Our friend Nimi who is receiving treatment in India, is convalescing after an operation. The family will return to Zimbabwe when she is stronger.


The weather is overcast but only a few showers as yet.


Much love, Celia & John


October 27, 2013

Last week I told you that John had gone up to the farm with medicine for a sick calf. He decided to go through the farm instead of up the normal road & found that a bush fire was threatening our remaining grazing. The workers were called out & were able to put the fire out. John hasn’t been down that track for a long time so it was quite a miracle. The cow that got stuck in the dam mud is still not well despite treatment. It is a valuable animal, please pray.


As you will know we pay school fees for many orphans, a few of which have moved off the farms & now live in town. One woman who has three orphans we support works at the shop where we get dairy products & ice cream. Last time I went she didn’t give me the normal receipt. One doesn’t want to think badly of people, but I was a little suspicious. When I went this week she was on the counter again. She said my order was $10 but this time I asked for an official receipt before handing over the money. The receipt said $8.90c. She then gave me 10c & only reluctantly gave the dollar when I pointed out her “mistake”. Some people are very “hard faced” as they say in Liverpool. This woman then started pestering me to send the oldest orphan in her care to the most expensive secondary school in Chegutu. Needless to say my answer was not what she wanted to hear.


I wanted to tell you this to contrast it with some people in our church – their employers have told us they are the most trustworthy & honest people even more than some of their European managers. It makes us very proud. But please pray for the leaders in the church that they will be kept humble & not tempted in finance & relationships – Ebenezer, James, Jonathan, Bernard, Pastor Bwanali, & Jeffery. Thanks.


Love from Celia & John


October 20, 2013

Hi. The temperature is 34*C (90+*F) & it is the sort of afternoon when one feels like snoozing on the bed or sitting under a cold shower. Pastor Solomon has just phoned from Ameva to say that one of the cows has got stuck in the mud by the dam & another calf has died; so poor John has had to forgo his Sunday nap, get into his working clothes & go out to the farm. We know that all this is the result of someone not doing their job properly. It wears you down but, praise God, He lifts you up! No rain after a sharp shower last Monday but it again looks promising.


Much love, Celia & John


October 13, 2013

My main project since getting back from UK is to sort out the Bible College Library. The dust was horrendous & for the first three weeks (going once or twice a week), I wore a mask. We then managed to clear the decks enough to sweep & get rid of the worst, although my hands still are really black after a morning there. I am trying to be ruthless & throw out books that don’t seem relevant or we have more than one copy or those books the mice have had a nibble! I am enjoying the task but continually see books that I must read or reread. It’s a place of temptation. At the moment the Grade 7 exams (eleven plus) are taking place in the hall next to the library so I have 2 weeks respite.


John has been busy vaccinating the cows, deworming & spraying for ticks. He is planning the crops for the coming season. It is still VERY hot & may rain next week.


Love from Celia & John


October 6, 2013

Last weekend we went to Bulawayo to visit our dear friends, the Drs Satyanathan. Travelling down in the mid 40s was no joke but we were thankful for the aircon. Then overnight the temperature dropped 20*; John had no jumper with him & was reduced to wearing his pyjamas under his shirt!


Our friend Nimi Satyanathan is very ill with complications from diabetes. She is in a lot of pain, weak & not eating. Her family are taking her to India for treatment in the next two weeks. (Her doctor here said SA, India better still). Please pray for her.


We have started the feeding programme in the schools. There is much rejoicing every break time – shouts of joy in fact. Many of the children come to school with no breakfast & only have one meal a day of maize meal & vegetables. Thank you those who have generously made this possible.


Love, Celia & John


September 22, 2013
Further to the situation with the squatters/settlers who have taken up residence on the farm, John paid a visit to the District Administrator in Chegutu. Some of you may remember Enos Musonza, the retired head of Ameva Primary School. His son is in the presidential guard & he ‘happened’ to be there on official business when John & Pastor Solomon reached to office. The DA was helpful & we are hoping that the problem will be sorted out soon. Bishop Katsande visited the farm yesterday to advise the squatters to leave. John & Bishop Katsande, our chairman, need real wisdom over the direction the farm is to take.


Much love, Celia & John


September 16, 2013

The days have been warmer. We registered 35*C today so felt nice & hot. It’s early to be so warm but we are told this is a good sign for the rains. It is difficult to explain how dusty everything is after 6 months with no rain. I am very thankful to have Loveness help me in the house. We have no electric appliances such as vacuum cleaner, washing machine, and dishwasher. The dust & water situation means here these sorts of things don’t work or stop working very quickly. We have learnt that over the years so now we are environmentally friendly & do without. It’s Loveness’s birthday today & I am so grateful for all she does. Over the years she has become part of the family. After some unhappy experiences I had to pray very hard & I have never had cause to regret the day she joined us. Mind you, she can stand up for herself so it’s not just one way traffic!

Much love, Celia & John


September 8, 2013

Yesterday we were invited to a wedding. One of the Bishop's nephews was getting married. It was definitely a smart 'do' - several newly appointed government ministers, heads of major corporations, dozens of church dignitaries, even some Chinese (& we all know how important they are!) It was definitely interesting. John sat next to Mr M's first secretary & Celia sat next to the wife. However, what blessed us was hearing the bride & groom testify to their love & commitment & to their faith in Jesus Christ. We think it is a marriage that will last.


We have attached a photo of our son's wedding which took place in Liverpool end of June this year. Left to right our children - Abigail (bridesmaid), Paul (best man), Niel (groom), Janna (his wife), Grace.


Lots of love, Celia & John



August 31, 2013

We arrived back in Zim a fortnight ago but the phone & internet have only been fixed this week. It was wonderful to see everyone in UK & we hope now that we will be able to catch up with all the “thank you”s. Everything appears to be very quiet in the country after the general election end of June, when Mr M was again elected pres, but there is also a depressive air. The shops & businesses are empty. There was talk of returning to the Zim dollar & US$7.5million was withdrawn from the banks in a day. People fear for their jobs & their money. On Ameva we have problems as usual. One of our workers had told a political rally that we had fled the country & were not expected to return. So there are now a number of illegal settlers who have taken residence on the land. The police appear unwilling to act despite a letter from the District Attorney. Lastly we are being asked to pay a large bill for national insurance which was not paid by our last manager. We suspect they are collecting this money from businesses to pay for the election. Otherwise most people seemed happy to see us & it is good to be home.


Love to all, Celia & John


June 2, 2013

We have had some wonderful bright winter days – clear skies, warm & fresh in the daytime & cold at night. It is colder in the house & the dry season makes it pleasant to live outside in the sun. Today I said good-bye to the folk in the church; they get a bit worried when we are going to UK in case we don’t come back so we had to assure them that God willing we intend to return. I still have a long list of things to do before I fly on Saturday (John comes 2 weeks later) but I am trying not to panic! This will probably be the last email for some time. Thank you for your love, prayers & support. We look forward to seeing some of you in the next couple of months.


Much love, Celia & John


May 24, 2013

We had a good time yesterday when we invited the folks from the retirement cottages in Chegutu. Including ourselves we had 12 sit down to a roast beef lunch. It was a long overdue happening as I have wanted to arrange something since we moved into this house 5 years ago!


Tomorrow is a bank holiday here – Africa Day – to commemorated the setting up of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU). We are going away for a long weekend to Lake Chivero which is on the way to Harare. Hopefully, we will sort out our trip to UK without distraction while we are there.


I have included a picture of the orchid presently in bloom in my garden. A gift from our good friend Don. As you will see Daniel is a good help to his Nanna,


Lots of love, Celia & John


May 19, 2013

Hi. I am now on countdown for my visit to UK in three weeks. One of the projects I have been working on has been updating the information on the orphans we support. This is long overdue & has been neglected for various reasons since Grace left. Referrals have been made through the schools & school fees paid but there has been no follow up. Many people have been relocated to farms that have been taken & are now subsistence farmers, & with the increase in the price of inputs their plight often desperate. I have seen several of these farmers this week. They are not only trying to feed themselves, their own families but have also taken on orphans left by relatives. Grandparents looking after young children is very common.  It’s very sad. I always try to see the guardian to get the full picture & get permission to take photos. However, one little girl was not able to bring her grandparents. The grandmother had been taken to hospital the day before & the grandfather could not walk the 6 km to Ameva. She has a brother not coming to school because of school fees. I came home with a heavy heart. I am sending referrals through to Forget-me-not, a charity which matches donors to orphans & vulnerable children. Unfortunately I will only be able to send 10 referrals to them before I leave – the rest will have to wait for my return. If anyone would like to support an child in Zim , Africa or any 3rd World country, the address is Esther at fmnavail@aol.com You can be sure that your money will reach the child.




Lots of love, Celia & John


May 12, 2013

The Pastors’ Conference was a wonderful time. Despite the fact that I did not realise that Easter was early this year & booked the week the schools opened, more pastors attended than last year. Many testified that they were refreshed & uplifted. There was a wonderful peace which was over all, & we thank God for the teaching. Richard & Derek left yesterday after a very busy three weeks. Richard arrived without his case & was only able to collect it from the airport the day he left as it has been lost in France.


This week I shall be concentrating on collecting information on orphans in the school. John is hopeful that he has found someone to look after the cows while he is away.


Much love, Celia & John


May 5, 2013

“O Lord, I have heard Your speech & was afraid; O Lord. Revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk ch.3 v 2


This was our reading this morning – the prophet says that while we pray for difficult circumstances in the world that is not enough. We should be praying for revival in the midst of those circumstances because changed lives are what changes nations. Next week there is our annual Pastors’ Conference at the farm. This year there will be another election in Zimbabwe. Please pray for a move of God’s Spirit the churches.


Much love Celia & John


April 28, 2013

We had a very good week in the Bible College. There are now 14 enthusiastic students. The topic this session is theology – very heavy for students & teachers; they need your prayers.


I was reminded a couple of days of a prophecy given to us 17 years ago by a young woman who passed through Ameva. I read it to John & I write some of it below to you. “A new time of blessing is coming to you, though it may be a struggle to get to this new place – just going just like a snake that wriggles free of its old skin. A new power & strength is coming to you, a new sense of My Presence which you have hungered for. In answer to your prayers for new people so they will come so prepare the way for them.” We sometimes wonder why God is keeping us here but we don’t think this prophecy has been fulfilled yet. Gina also quoted one of my favourite scripture verses though in a different version from what I usually read.

Galatians ch. 6 v 9+10 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people especially to those who belong to the family of God.”


Love from Celia & John 


April 21, 2013

Richard & Derek arrived yesterday after a 24 hour delay due to bad weather at Amsterdam. Derek was last here 27 years ago, (only Mavis in the church was around then.) He remembers putting light in the chicken sheds & being viciously attacked by our fast-pecking feathered friends, now long departed.


The Bible College session opens tomorrow.


Below are pictures of the orphan & Sunday school party, which look place yesterday. A good time was had by all (about 70). It was a rather formal do as happens here. We were able to give every child a Manna colouring book called "Jesus is Alive" which you will see. After some entertainment supplied by the children themselves we had a meal - chicken/beef, coleslaw, cabbage, rice & sadza, orange juice, followed by oranges, biscuits & sweets.

As I drove away there were some very happy children waving to me.


Love Celia & John





April 14, 2013

Next Thursday will be Independence Day here – 33 years. There have been very little celebration recently with the economic situation & with the day falling so near Easter this year I expect it will be quiet. Of late the shops have started staying open; a thing never heard of in the heady early days. We are planning to hold our “Christmas Party” for orphans & Sunday school next Saturday. It is a little late this year as we were away at the end of 2012. Also Richard & Derek arrive from Birmingham on Friday as another session of the Bible College starts on Monday.


I have been reading a fictionalized version of the life of an early missionary in Zimbabwe, Arthur Shearly Cripps, called “The Dust Diaries “by Owen Sheers. It took some getting into but I was interested to read that this man prophesied that culture & greed would lead to conflict over land in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). How right he was.


Love from Celia & John


April 7, 2013

Easter here is a time for church conferences & our church held theirs at Ameva Farm. The Valentines didn’t go to the whole conference as John had other preaching engagements. Also my Shona is not too good so the dear folk feel obliged to translate for me & I feel I am being a nuisance. On Good Friday my conscience pricked me. Our headmaster had been on sick leave & the deputy was in charge. I had questioned her about some of the school expenses - she had reacted & how! The rhetoric got worse, when I tried to defend my position & in the end I had to tell her to STOP! I was rather offended & hurt as I have never been talked to like that especially now being an “older woman” in African culture. Anyway, that Friday I was meditating on Christ on the cross dying for our sins & I knew that I must not go another day having this in my heart. Thank you for mobile phones. I rang the person & could tell from the noise that she was at her church conference. I apologised if I had said anything & we made it up. Good to take communion on Easter Sunday with out that on my mind but we will still have to sort out the finances with the Head next term.


Much  love, Celia & John


March 25, 2013

We are looking forward to a wedding in UK in June. Our younger son, Niel, is getting married 29th June). I am planning to go a bit earlier (9th June) & spend time with older son, Paul, in Portsmouth & then with my sister in Derby. A wedding is a great opportunity to get together & we wish we could invite you all but the couples family & friends are numerous so we have to let them chose – it is their day! We have booked to go to the New Life Conference so we may see some of you there.


Our daughter Grace will be coming but not with the family. They have started a new business – butchery & pie sales & while it is going well, it needs Bruce to be around. Megan & Daniel will also be staying. Megan has exams & Daniel likes to be with his dad. Grace is selling meat pies in the district. They are bought from Harare – cost $1 retail which means the profit is not much but she is selling about 1000 per day to various outlets. Bruce is butchering his own cattle & has good orders for some cuts (especially steaks) but it is still early days & he is building up his customers.


John’s project this week has been the Landrover which John Churcher got moving again after several years. John managed to get it reregistered with new number plates & insured but has yet to sort out the road tax. Hopefully on Monday this should be sorted as I have all the papers ready. We are thinking of selling it to the primary school.


Much  love, Celia & John


March 17, 2013

Over the last year we have had a lot of labour problems on the farm. We are grateful for your prayers as we are now beginning to feel the situation is changing. Four of the workers have now resigned & one we had to sack. On Tuesday John had to attend a labour tribunal as a result of the dismissal. This worker had been an official on the local political committee & was continuously absent from work (we understand he was catching fish to sell). He seems to have believed he was able to do as he pleased. After the sacking we had a visit from the local councillor & from the party work investigation committee were cleared by them. Praise God all went in our favour on Tuesday. Any other decision would have meant we would have had massive problems on the farm.


Yesterday there was voting on a referendum for a new constitution for Zimbabwe. When I asked some people how they would vote, nobody seemed to know what it was about. Some even asked what they were supposed to be voting for. As a result the turnout was very low. We are now expecting an election later in the year. There has already been some violence. Please pray……


Love Celia & John


March 10, 2013

We have had torrential rain every night for the last four days & our top dam is now full & should be spilling if this continues. Unfortunately the rain has come too late for much of the maize harvest in the country. When the maize tassels it need rain to drop the pollen onto the immature cob. We have had a prolonged dry spell when much of the maize has gone passed this stage. Hopefully people will be able to harvest something.


At the moment we are eating green mealies from the garden, otherwise called corn-on-the-cob. We like ours soft but Africans here are made of stronger stuff especially their stomachs & eat them when they are quite hard. Maize is amazing! One pip can produce one or even two cobs. A cob always has an even number of rows of pips. Each row will be made up of at least 35 pips & there may be 16 or more rows. That’s 560 pips from a single seed – more than the Bible’s hundredfold!  & if there are two cobs on a stalk then that is over one thousand fold.


Love from Celia & John


March 3, 2013

Superstition is the bane in Africa. One of our cattle men took sick last year. He was complaining but refused to go to the hospital. In January he had to give up work & we gave him a bonus on leaving. Later he came again for money to go to the hospital. It turned out later that he never went but he spent all his money (at least US $300) going to a ‘prophet’ to find out who had cursed him. Of course, his life style was the cause & no doubt the cause of sickness in others. We always want to blame others for our own sin & stupidity. I was reminded of two boys fighting in the playground. When asked who started it both reply – “He did!”  Anyway, eventually this man was taken by relatives to the hospital but died before any tests were completed. He leaves a destitute wife & three children who are flung on the mercy of relatives & no doubt us. It’s a situation where one feels so frustrated & helpless. He need not have died. Free treatment is available but he chose to live in denial.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh & blood but against principalities & powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.”  Eph.6v12


Love from, Celia & John


February 24, 2013

We are having a very busy time with John teaching in the Bible College last week & this week.  He is teaching “One Baptism” to those who are taking the diploma course. There are now 17 students.


We have finally managed to pay off the huge debt for electricity left by the company who leased land from us 4 years ago. They went bankrupt & as the electricity bill was still in the farm name, we were held responsible. John says it feels like a big weight has been taken off his shoulders. Sometimes it feels like we are making progress, other times not. But it is in God’s Hands.


It has been set to have a referendum on a new constitution next month & then elections later in the year. Most people are tired of politics. They just want peace to get on with their own lives.


Much love, Celia & John


February 17, 2013

John & I hosted 26 people to lunch yesterday. It’s the first large party I have felt able to do for some time. I wanted to thank the Lord & to thank friends for their love & prayers now that I am feeling stronger. (There are also 5 significant birthdays in the month.) It’s amazing how doing something for God’s glory takes a lot of stress & strain out of the job – a lesson I have to learn time over.


Much love, Celia & John


February 10, 2013

Today I went with my sister to the local Anglican Church, St Edmund’s. It’s small church but it was absolutely packed. People kindly moved so that we could get room in a pew. My sister remarked what a change it was from 17 years ago when there were 10 people in the congregation. Last Sunday we were in an Anglican church in Mutare. That was a very big building but again it was standing room only. A lot of the service was in Shona but the singing raised the roof & we felt very much welcomed in both places.


The Secondary School’s application to Beit Trust for help with a perimeter fence has been rejected so we are looking round for other sponsors.


Lots of rain the last few days after two dry weeks. Our dams are starting to fill – PTL.


Lots of love, Celia & John


January 27, 2013

Hello. Attached (see at right) is an advert that appeared in today’s Sunday Mail. As well as the students who started in the second session, we already have two other applicants - Enos, who was head of Ameva Primary (now retired) & once came to New Life Conference, & his neighbour Winnie. They both come to our Tuesday morning Bible Study.


All Bible colleges in the country are struggling because people can’t afford fees but we trust that God will send the right students. John was at a meeting some time ago. A man addressing them mentioned Ameva Bible College & said that a pastor trained at Ameva was found in every town in the country. We thank God for that.


Much love Celia & John


January 20, 2013

In April, 2012, Peter Skinner & Peter Gray spent time at Ameva Farm While there, they took a video. To download it, click on the link:




January 20, 2013

Many thanks for the e-mails & prayers for my health. The tests & procedures gave me the all clear which was a great relief, thank the Lord. I am now on a diet to see if that helps.


We are entering the season of visitors. At the moment we have Gwen from Bramhall, this Tuesday John Churcher from South East London & on Thursday my sister arrives. Hopefully the snow will have cleared from Heathrow airport by tomorrow!!


I took Gwen into Chegutu form some shopping on Friday – we went to the African Veg market & Gwen took some pictures. We were then approached by a number of angry women store holders saying that we were taking pictures to see in South Africa to show how poor Zimbabwe is. Since (as they said themselves) none of them looked poor & it was a colourful African scene any dollar spending tourist would want to take, what was the problem? Well, they are told at political meetings that people take photos for propaganda against Zimbabwe. One of the women was obviously well educated & could speak fluent English so one would have thought common sense would have prevailed. Next we were being threatened with the police. I said that was fine & that my name was Mrs Valentine & I lived by Chestgate shops. Suddenly all was sweetness & smiles –“Oh, Mrs Valentine, we are coming to visit you for books about Jesus.” This was from a woman who had stones in her hand (which fortunately Gwen did not see). I am thankful to the Lord for giving me a good name – I didn’t realise we were so well known. “Thy Name is as ointment poured forth”


Love, Celia & john


January 13, 2013

We have had several sad occurrences on the farm. Mr Yusef died just before Christmas. He was an old man, who was a church member at the farm. He had been ill but refused any treatment. It is sad to see these single old men – his home was a hovel & very dirty. Some of the ladies tried to help him but he didn’t like that. In the end we had to get someone to cook for him. Another lady in the church, Stella from Stewart’s farm, died having been ill for a long time. In spite of this she struggled to church right until the last week. Joyce in Chegutu has also been seriously ill but is improving with treatment. Her husband died six weeks ago. Pastor Bernard has also been in hospital this week. He is out now but waiting the results of tests. On a happier note, Pastor Ebenezer & wife Lydia had a baby girl called Deborah. Pastor Solomon & wife Tracy had a baby boy in December.


I  (Celia) would also appreciate your prayers. I am feeling much better but am going for further investigations in Harare tomorrow ( Monday) morning.


Much love, Celia & John


January 6, 2013

We arrived back from South Africa just before New Year. We attended a wedding & had a little break as well - I always enjoy the sea, especially when the sun is shining.


We are now leasing some of the land on Ameva & also transferred some of the work force. John is still managing the beef & dairy. Altogether this is a tremendous relief. One doesn’t realise what a strain it is until the burden is lifted. We are just praying that this will not be another let down – there have been too many in the past.


2012 was not a good year for me (Celia) but I am feeling better & have even put on a bit of weight & I am arranging to see a specialist this month. But altogether there is a different feel in the air, the rains are good & we know that God is faithful.


Much love, Celia & John


December 8, 2012

We are not able to send out Christmas cards to you but we thought you might like some photos instead. This is of the primary school choir & percussion band & of yours truly enjoying the primary school celebrations with chicken & rice.


This will be our last e-mail for the year. We do thank you for all your love & prayers & support. We are increasingly aware that the battle is only being won because of your help: in ourselves we feel old & inadequate but God is faithful. We do love you & pray for you too.


Wishing you a blessed Christmas & a fruitful New Year!


In His service, John & Celia


December 1, 2012

It’s been a really busy time. We have had the graduation of the preschool – really cute in their small gowns & caps, the Secondary School prize giving yesterday which went on for 4 hours followed by a meal & today the graduation of 11 students from the Bible College. John Murphy & Roy Hanan have done a wonderful job teaching & I think they have enjoyed it. They leave tomorrow. John goes back to Eire & Roy to Mozambique to visit Frances & Ursula Fitzsimmons, who are building a secondary school. It will be opening in January. It’s a big project – pray for them. At our prize giving yesterday, Bishop Katsande was the guest speaker. There were two children who stood out. Pamela won a lot of prizes for subjects the Form 2. She lives on Ameva with her grandmother & is a keen member of the church. Kennedy lives on the next farm & is quite a character. I think he won every prize in Form 1 & I asked if his father was a manager but was told, “No, he’s just a general hand”. These children have mountains to climb but they are determined. John, the emotional one, said it brought tears to his eyes!


Much love Celia & John


November 25, 2012

Yesterday the Mothers’ Union were cleaning the Anglican Church in Chegutu. An order from the Supreme Court had returned property belonging to the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA). Today was an exciting day for the church members as it was the first time they could use their church building in 3 years. Archbishop of Harare, Kanonga, had left the CPCA ostensibly because of the stand of western Anglicans on homosexuality. He had claimed all the church property & with the aid of the police he had evicted vicars from their homes, congregations from their churches & interfered in running of schools, orphanages & hospitals. Lower courts had deferred judgment & this had been dragging on for 5 years. Why such a turn-about now? Well it appears that these Anglicans consistently refused to come under the political guidance of Kanonga & persecution has made them a strong cohesive body. We have elections next year. CPCA still have to evict people & businesses from church property, not least the Bishop’s residence. But today they were rejoicing.


Much love, Celia & John


November 18, 2012

The Bible College Session starts this week & we have with us John Murphy & Roy Hannan from Eire to teach “New Testament Survey” & “Preaching Biblical Messages”. Several students have not been able to make it this time so we are waiting to see who shows up. It has been extr4ememly hot but no appreciable rain as yet. Must come soon or we will all melt. 


Much love, Celia & John


November 11, 2012

We have had two good showers & several threatened but nothing. It has been terribly hot & then after the shower the temperature drops before it builds up again. Last night we were kept awake by an all-night prayer meeting held next door. One can hardly complain, these ladies are very keen, but in the end between that & John’s snores I moved beds. Last week our ladies had a conference which was a blessing to all. Then we had unexpected guests for lunch – 10 of them. It’s amazing what you can do if you are pushed. The church we work with is intending to put in a crop on the farm which is a great relief to us. So far they haven’t got the tractor going so we will wait & see what develops. Hope the rain comes soon, we desperately need it.


Love, Celia & John


October 28, 2012

This has been a busy week. Monday I was on the farm & then to Kadoma as Grace was not feeling well. Tuesday I went to Harare to see the dentist. Although he graciously saw me, it was sad – he was flying out to South Africa as his son had died suddenly. On Wednesday I was in Gweru getting our duplicators fixed; on Thursday I was looking after Daniel for the day. Friday & Saturday I had some appointments. Today we were with Grace & Bruce for a braai/barbeque. Where did the week go? John has as usual been busy on the farm.


It’s been lovely to have Terry Murray from Australia with us. He has been doing work up at the Bible College as well as preaching in local churches.


Much love, Celia & John


October 21, 2012

It has been very hot. We have had a few light showers but the skies look promising.


When we were up at the farm last Monday there were about 200 people waiting in the yard. Apparently the local Councilor gives out maize to people in the area every so many weeks. All the people are on a register & are told that they must pay back the maize when they reap their harvest in April (supposing they have a good year). But the whisper is that with elections next year if one party gets in they won’t have to pay back but if the other one does they will. However it’s a safe bet that whatever happens no maize will be returned.


Richard Porowski has kindly put my stray thoughts on his web site.




There are also photos including ones of the “old ducks”. I don’t usually wear a big hat but it was my daughter’s wedding…..




Much love, Celia & John


October 14, 2012

This is the exam time for the schools. At the moment the Grade 7 are sitting their end of Primary School exams. In the Secondary School they are doing the practical part – on Monday the computer exam was supposed to take place. They had just started when the electricity went off – a fault, not load shedding. It came on again around 12 noon & the children had to sit 4 hours in the hot exam room & wait.


It is very hot, some clouds but no rain as yet. Our dams didn’t fill last year & we are now desperate for water. There is talk of another drought year.


We have some big decisions to make regarding the farm in the next few months – please pray.


Love, Celia & John


October 7, 2012

John continues to go up to the farm most days & slowly, slowly we are seeing improvements. One of our “problems” resigned last week. We suspect him of setting fire to the grazing which is pretty well burnt off now. We thank God that we have been able to find food for the cows at a reasonable price. We have found favour with God & man. George has also gone off sick & there are rumours that he too will resign. The heat is now in the 30s & everywhere dusty & dry. We hear that it may be another drought year because of the El Nino current but we pray it will not be so.


Much love, Celia & John


September 30, 2012

We thought this week you might like to see a picture of the preschool at Ameva. There are over 40 children in the class & some come long distances with their older brothers & sisters. We are grateful for churches & individuals in Liverpool for supporting these children. The weather has turned very hot & next week we are hoping to start their feeding programme.



We will also be checking them for bilharzias & intestinal parasites.


Much love, Celia & John


N.B. Our contacts in UK are Jim & Margaret Bailey. Their new address & telephone number is:-

No.3 Langley Court,

Ladysmith Road,

Eltham, LONDON SE9 5BW

Tel. 0203 659 8799

e-mail. amevajim@aol.com or the e-mail address of the Weekly


September 23, 2012

I was able to go with teachers last Monday to visit the family of the murdered school boy. It was very sad. He lived on Umvovo Farm just outside Chegutu & had come into town to buy a phone card for a neighbour – a good turn. He was attacked on the way back. Police arrested someone trying to sell his bike in Mondoro, a few km away.  His mother said “They killed my son like a bird.” The family were waiting for an autopsy. Grace, our daughter, & husband Bruce went to the memorial service for the men killed in the motor accident. Apparently they came round a bend & met a truck overtaking in the opposite direction. We stayed at home & looked after Daniel. We were not able to attend the funeral of the past student. It was the other side of the country.


I also took George, the worker with the bad back, to our doctor’s. I had to pay nearly $100 for treatment & tablets but he seemed much better afterwards. I also suggested he think about taking the less arduous job of watchman, where he wouldn’t have to carry & dig. He seems to have taken exception to this & written a rude letter accusing us of dirty tricks trying to get rid of him & political maneuvering. This is the kind of attitude you have to put up with from some of these people. They can’t take kindness & help at face value – how sad.


Love from, Celia & John


September 16, 2012

It has been a sad week. First we heard that a farmer from Chegutu was killed in a car accident. His sister died a few years ago & now the parents are left without children & grandchildren. Then we heard that an Ameva Secondary School pupil had been murdered on the high density. He came from Umvovo Farm to buy a phone card. He was attacked & beaten & died later in Harare hospital. He was a form 3 pupil, a prefect & a member of the successful football team. Several others were also beaten that night, one is seriously injured. There is talk of a gang, of men just released from jail, of being beaten up if you don’t give them money but more than that we don’t know. There is an autopsy on Tuesday, please remember the parents. Lastly we heard this morning that one of our original Bible College students Edward Muzokura was killed in a car accident in Mutare. He leaves a family.


Much love, Celia & John


September 13, 2012

 A report from Derrick Harrison lecturing at the Ameva Bible College April-May 2012


For the first two weeks of our visit I was teaching at Ameva Bible School. I left John and Celia’s house at 7.30 a.m. picking up students on the way in John’s large pick-up truck. Teaching began at 8.00 a.m. and I had two hours in the morning and one or two hours in the afternoon getting home about 4.00 p.m. Church History is not an easy subject to teach especially as most of it concerns the Western church although the North Africa Churches were very influential before they were destroyed by the Islamic armies. It is the one subject that is not Bible based and so requires more work. I had however prepared a booklet about early Christian missionary work in Africa which also included information about the coming of the gospel to the Shona people in Zimbabwe.


I am sure those of you that have “Fellowship” connections will be know how the farm has been run down and John’s house burned down. It is a sorry sight alongside houses now empty that were in full occupation when I was here about 20 years ago. It was strange to look around Martin and Marian William’s house, remembering each room and where I had stayed. Devoid of human life and activity they are strangely empty. I remember Marian treating a young boy from the school who had machete wounds on his legs and I also remember seeing a child from the Infants school drinking water from a plastic container which was not fit for drinking. Some of the children walked many miles getting up as early as 4.00 a.m. Both Infant and Junior Schools continue to function well at Ameva.


There is a beef herd and there are also a few dairy cattle but nothing like the former herds. All that is left of the chicken sheds is a broken timber frame. The fields have reverted to bush and the only fields I saw cultivated was one of sunflowers (the seeds are used for cooking oil) and one of brightly coloured flowers (the seeds will be sold to gardeners). John is positive that there will be a future in the will of God for Ameva Farm. The Lord has kept the farm up to the present time but there are continuing challenges regarding its ownership. Please continue to pray for the farm and for John and Celia for continued strength and protection.


The Graduation Ceremony was the conclusion of two years of study, meeting periodically for two weeks at a time. Students come from different church affiliations. Some are from Fellowship churches and some from the Christian Marching Church which is a break away from the Salvation Army. The Bishop of the CMC denomination was present. It was moving to see the joy shared by the students and their friends with lots of hugs and dancing. To graduate from Bible School is an unbelievable achievement. I preached during the Conference, at the Graduation and each Sunday I was there. Driving up to the “Scout Hut” in Chegutu reminded me of when I was here twenty years ago; then it was a Student gathering now it is a church meeting. The Lord led me to preach on the Ten Virgins and the Second Coming with a strong sense of urgency.


I have spent time helping the staff with issues related to the Bible School and spent over four hours trying to make sense of the Library. Some of my subject headings are still there from my last visit! Of course unpacking and sorting books is a delight to me. It has been a joy to enjoy John and Celia’s friendship and home. They have been so kind to us. Barbara has been able to relax and spend lots of time reading, although today she had a meeting with some of the local Christian ladies sharing with them about the Lord and her experience of walking with the Lord.


The last week of our stay we left very early for a few days stay at Victoria Falls which is a long journey from here. It was David Livingstone who was the first white man to see the most spectacular waterfall in the world. His monument stands overlooking “the Falls”. 


September 9, 2012

Our visit to Nyanga was very restful. We spent two days walking & 2 days visiting the vistas & waterfalls. Great tracks of land had been burnt black & bare, & apart from monkeys & baboons we never saw any wild life but it was still beautiful.  One day we saw about 5 other vehicles & the next none at all. Schools start here on Tuesday after a long break because of the census. There is talk of strikes & disruptions but we pray that all will go well for those sitting their national exams in October & November.


Lots of love, Celia & John


August 31, 2012

We have just had a census taken of the country. No doubt it will show what we all know that there are few people now living on the commercial farms. On our road the only sizable populations are on farms that are still well managed & providing work – about 4. On the farm opposite us it is said there are only two families & on another farm further up the road, which used to employ many, there are now only six people. No wonder we are a major importer.


We are off to Nyanga, Eastern Highlands, for a five day break. It is our first real holiday since we were in Eire two years ago so really looking forward to it.


Much love, Celia & John


August 26, 2012

George is one of those lovable rascals who work on the farm. He has been doing an agricultural course at Mupfure College just outside Chegutu. This was my bright idea because we were told there was to be an election & George was a real nuisance at the last time round, getting everyone upset. However, there hasn’t been an election so far & he is due to graduate end of this month, so plans don’t always work out. In December he had severe backache & spent Christmas in hospital. He was a hard worker up until then but has since been playing a game of hide & seek. He finished his attachment to the chicken farm next door & was supposed to be back in college in May. However there were various reports of sighting on the farm so I have eventually gone to Mupfure to find out the story. He was there (during the holidays) doing some intensive catch-up as he had missed a lot of last term. I suspect he hadn’t told us what was going on in case we refused to continue paying his fees. As the hospital had not helped him & could not find the cause of his pain, he was going to “prophets”, n’angas & whoever – wasting his money. He is convinced that his problem is caused by a curse put on him by his in-laws for not paying enough bride price. (He is 49 with 5 children) Anyway I managed to have a good talk with him with his lecturer who is a Christian & John later prayed with him. If there is no improvement by next week when he finishes, I will have to take him to my doctor. Mupfure College was set up after independence to help repatriate those involved in the conflict here. It trains those with poor academic backgrounds, like George, as well as those at secondary school level. War veterans still make up most of the Board. One of our workers was due to graduate in July but since the chosen speaker for that event was not deemed politically correct by the Board (wrong party), the graduation was cancelled & no date set. This is Zimbabwe.


Much love, Celia & John


August 20, 2012

What a busy week! The Bible College session finished on Thursday & heralded the start of the CMC Women’s Conference. Nearly 1000 women in their brightly coloured uniforms here for the weekend. As well as ministry, there were fashion shows, musical turns, and inductions into membership of the church. The back of Ameva Primary School was turned into a giant barbeque as groups of women cooked their meals on open fires. It looked like chaos but the meetings held under large tents were orderly & thoroughly enjoyed. I have never been to a meeting where whistles were used to quiet the crowd but it seemed to work. It was a great testimony to the godly leaders of the church that there is now such unity. It has been said before that the problems in this country have helped the churches. People have nowhere else to turn. Their desire to seek God is genuine.


This morning we had a joint service in the Scout Hall with the Ameva church & the Kadoma church (brought by Bernard) & the building was full. Half the service was introductions & hugging & shaking hands. We all felt well bonded by the time we finished!


The Peters are leaving tomorrow after such a busy time. Not only did they teach but they also preached at the Women’s Conference & in the churches. I expect they will need a rest when they get home.


Much love, Celia & John


August 12, 2012

It’s Sunday but John has had to go up to the farm again with the vet as one of our cows is sick. We lost our best cow to sickness on Friday so we are anxious to avoid another loss. At least now we are told when a cow is sick. Yet we are told there is no medicine for it in Chegutu, John phones the vet & he has plenty of medicine. All the time poor John has to do the running round. He also just managed to stop them giving the injection by mouth because they hadn’t read the packet. All very frustrating but no doubt good for the soul!


The two Peters are having a good time in the Bible College. There are 14 students. They are all very keen. Weather has turned warmer at last but it is cold in Johannesburg so maybe winter is not yet finished.


Much love, Celia & John


August 5, 2012

Peter Gray & Peter Skinner arrived yesterday to teach in the Bible College on Monday – 2 weeks. This is a new intake & we are not sure how many will show up. The weather has turned warmer. Maybe winter is over but everywhere is very dusty as it hasn’t rained since March (normal). Last week there was a bad fire on the farm which took a lot of grazing. Two boys were seen in the vicinity shortly before. We are hoping to cut grass for the cattle feed but the tractor pump failed again. It was fixed last month & cost a lot of money so we have had to send it back & are just hoping it won’t take too long. Sorry I have got behind with my e-mails. Will try & catch up this week.


Love, Celia & John


July 29, 2012

Some successes this week. A couple of weeks ago John managed to buy damaged cotton seed to feed the cattle through winter. This week he got three tons of maputi (a sort of rough popcorn) waste & some waste from a milling company in Harare. It’s great to see the cattle looking so well at this time of year & we are now getting a lot more milk. John does seem to be getting on top of things at the farm but it has been a long, hard job with a long way still to go.


The Secondary School has had a sad time with first Tingo dying & then Shepherd the head losing his mother. This week, however, their under-20 soccer team won a second tournament to get through to the provincial play off. They had been given a new strip the week before. The uniform was supposed to go to a school in the resettlement area but when the donor travelled to make the presentation he was told that the Vice President was visiting the district & the head of the school felt unable to accept the gift for reasons he did not explain. The school badly needs a perimeter fence & we are approaching a charity that has previously helped build a library. Please pray.


Much love, Celia & John


July 15, 2012

Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo & Zimbabwe. What have all these in common? They all have diamonds or rather they all have “the curse of diamonds”, namely “blood diamonds”. To quote the situation in Zimbabwe “the Marange diamond fields (90 miles south west of Mutare) – hailed as the greatest find of the century & said to hold  25% of global rough diamonds… the diamonds, which were banned in 2008 for being blood diamonds following allegations of human rights abuses by the military, have drawn in big Chinese & South African mining companies. Estimates suggest that Zimbabwe can earn up to $2 billion a year…” Yet nothing has come into the Government coffers. We all wonder where this enormous amount of money is going, which could do so much good if it was used for the good of the country.


On a different matter, Bernard who graduated from the Bible College this year is now working for Bruce, our son-in-law, as a driver. He has already evangelized the compound & started a church, albeit small at the moment, - he only moved there at the beginning of the month!  


Much love, Celia & John


July 8, 2012

You may remember that I wrote about our neighbour David, who has just graduated from Ameva Bible College. He was a drunkard whose wife’s prayers brought him to the Lord. He called over last week to talk to John. Here’s the conversation.


David: The (World Outreach) Kairos course really touched me. God has told me to be a missionary.

John: Oh?

David: To Afghanistan.

John: OH!

David: Yes, I have a friend there who works for a company clearing land mines.

John: OH……… Have you told your wife?

David: Yes. She told me to go.


They are a dear couple. Not sure what will happen. David’s first step is to get a passport. We will let you know any developments.


Love from Celia & John


July 1, 2012

Tingo had the biopsy last Monday, sadly things did not go well & he died on Wednesday. There are lots of ifs & buts in my mind but there is no doubt that he was a dying man. Talking to the Head of our secondary school it does seem probable that his immune system was compromised. As far as I know he never had a T blood cell counts which is the definitive test for AIDS. He came to see me a month after the doctor had recommended the biopsy, a desperate man.  If you live in a country which has good healthcare – be thankful.


Much love, Celia & John


June 24, 2012

Tingo. Here is another young man who turned up at my gate. He used to drive the minibus for the Secondary School but left when no longer needed. He looked in a terrible state – like a very, very bad case of mumps. In fact his glands were swollen all over his body & he was in great pain. I saw his card – he had been tested for AIDS twice & proved negative. He had been to Harare Central Hospital & they wanted to do a biopsy on his neck. He needed $200.  I told him he would need an invoice from the hospital before I could even consider him. He went to Harare to get it but collapsed while there & had to be admitted. I managed to see him on Thursday & after an exhausting afternoon traipsing round the place was able to find from the hospital the amount needed & leave him with the necessary money. Since then he messages me to say he is feeling much better & can now walk, which is wonderful news. However he is due for the biopsy tomorrow & was very fearful. I just hope & pray he won’t use the improvement he feels as an excuse for not having the procedure. He could otherwise die.


Much love, Celia & John


June 10, 2012

This year John & I are again reading through the Bible in one year. We’ve done it several times before. In the Old Testament I always feel a pang of regret as we leave behind old friends like Abraham, David & Daniel – goodbye until next time I read your stories. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit gives us communion with the Lord & His saints & the sense of loss is gone.


Please pray for our church in Chegutu, things were going well but rivalry between Pastor James & Pastor Jonathan is causing division. Haven’t we seen it all before!!!


Love, Celia & John


June 3, 2012

A couple of months ago I had a visitor. Normally I don’t see people with hard luck stories at my house ( I tell them to see me at the farm) but something I had read that morning made me stifle my irritation & listen to Shuvai (Shoov-aye). She had managed to finish a teacher training course two years ago but because she couldn’t find the outstanding money (US125) she wasn’t allowed to graduate. Her parents had split up & her husband was unemployed & had gone off to gold-pan in Bulawayo (apparently unsuccessfully). She was managing to live by doing washing round the high density area. She had a 9 month old baby on her back & she was in tears. Well, I explained that I was not well but I would be in touch. Two weeks ago I phoned the college but they were unhelpful & I had to send Shuvai to the college to get an invoice. In the end she had to go to Harare on two days as the accountant was not there the first time. Last Thursday we went to the college. What I hadn’t realized was that if you haven’t paid your fees you don’t even get the results. So after paying the outstanding money we cleared library & accountancy but the Principal with the results was missing. I couldn’t wait any more so I left Shuvai with the $80 she needed to graduate (including useless gown). When we arrived back in Chegutu 4 hours later, there was Shuvai on her way to see us – she had passed!! It gave me a warm feeling, & John, who is more demonstrative than me, began to “fill up”. She has now been assigned to teach in Sanyati District & will start on Monday.


Love from Celia & John


May 27, 2012

John spent all of yesterday picking flowers. Yes, that’s right – we are growing zinnias for seed on the farm & the flower heads are ready. Twelve of our youth church turned up to help & they managed to pick a third of the field but it was hard work (so I’ve been told). The youth are trying to raise money to go to Victoria Falls for a conference. Thursday & Friday John spent at the Post Office trying to get our vehicles taxed. He was there 3 hours on Thursday but didn’t have all the necessary papers so had to return at 7.30 am on Friday to be first in the queue. Friday was a bank holiday but because the road tax payments are being computerized (hence the delays) the Post Office was open. We were so grateful to get it sorted; in some towns there are already queues round the block & it will get worse this week. The police are unhelpful – we know that on Friday there will be road blocks & anyone without new vehicle license will be fined. This is how it is. We are feeling cold with the temperature in the 60sF /10sC but we thank God that we have not had many electricity cuts in our area. We hear that some parts of Harare are off for 17 hour stretches several times a week. Our only problem is the low voltage some of the time which can damage appliances if you don’t use “guards”.


Lots of love, Celia & John


May 29, 2012

Timeline of Ameva Farm and Bible College:


1980 Zimbabwean Independence. Zimbabwean student in the Bible College, Benin City Nigeria where we are teaching, asks us to come & help train pastors for the rural areas in his country.


1982 After John visits the country, they arrange to buy a derelict farm in Chegutu & we move to Ameva. The farm is a Trust, CMC & CF Trust. We work with an African Church, Christian Marching Church, whose bishop is the Chairman.

Bible College classes held in barns – one year residential course, first intake 8 students. Church on the farm & in town & evangelism by students of surrounding area.


1985 Convert the tobacco barns & grading sheds into the Bible College. Yearly Pastors’ conferences.


1985-95 Building of primary & secondary schools, over 800 children from surrounding tobacco farms now attending school

    Development of farm – 14,000 laying hens, 350 beef cattle, 120 dairy cattle. Cropping – maize,

        sunflower, grass etc, oil mill expressing sunflower oil.

    Women’s project –  instruction in knitting machine & literacy classes.

    Bible College course is now two year residential.


2000-6 Great upheaval with the “land reform programme”. All white farmers evicted & land in our area made into plots. Most educated & skilled workers leave. Ameva forced to pay huge redundancies which can only be paid by selling all the chickens & most of the beef & dairy cows. Although church land & not eligible for acquisition such is the chaos that unscrupulous people try to take the farm, accuse us of all sorts of offences & even send us death threats. We decide to leave the farm & hand over to African management. We have to close the Bible College temporarily. The schools become very rundown & most pupils are again first generation literates.


2007-10 We are living in Chegutu, our house on the farm is burnt down. Economic meltdown – unbelievable inflation (2million percent???), nothing in the shops, people starve. Ameva organises food parcels for workers & pastors. Feeding programme for preschool, school children & elderly. Eventually Zimbabwean population refuse the Zim dollar & only accept SA rand or US dollar. Fortunately many people working outside the country (several million) send remittances home.


2010 -12 Bible College restarted on a block basis – 6 two week blocks – this is proving very successful. Political situation somewhat stable & John has to take over the management of the farm again due to looting & corruption there. Inflation is still at 6% & 80% unemployment. People in rural areas still in distressing circumstances. We have a hard struggle ahead but many ordinary people now turning to God as everyone/everything else has let them down.


Well, I’ve tried to give a brief history.

Please note           

1. We wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for God’s power & protection & the prayers of the saints.


2. So many people came & helped us over the years – those who have visited too many to put down & I would miss some anyway – long termers, short termers from all over the world & teams from different of organizations. Over the years many have given financially. We do not often have any big donations but mostly receive from individual Christians from different churches. Others have sent in kind & we have had several containers.  It is these contributions that established the work here. Thank you.


3. People who come now & have been before are sad to see Ameva Farm in such a sorry state but we believe that it is the people that we invest in. Great to see graduates from the Bible College preaching & serving the Lord all over the country & children from the schools growing up hearing the Gospel.


Much love, Celia & John


May 13, 2012

New school term started last week. It’s the winter term & the children will be playing football & netball – an exciting time for everyone. Ameva usually win the local matches but lose the ones with schools in town. We lost our sports trainer to those schools & our teams haven’t recovered.


Had a nice time in Victoria Falls with Derrick & Barbara. I’m still not strong enough to do much but John was able to show them round. The Falls are one of the wonders of the world & a magnificent example of God’s wonderful creation. Derrick & Barbara left this evening for UK.


Much love, Celia & John


May 6, 2012

This afternoon we said good-bye to our daughter Abigail who flies back to UK tonight. That was hard but hopefully we will see her again next year when our son gets married in Liverpool. 


There is talk of another election here but no date is fixed. I think everyone is fed up with politics – the situation seems to go on & on. There are now efforts to indigenize foreign firms with the Government insisting on 51% African ownership. Black empowerment. It is very difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t lived here why we have to take a back seat even in the local church. Our Pastors’ Conference set up their own committee to run it. One wants desperately to hand over the baton but it is very difficult to sit back & see things done differently. Mistakes were made this year but there was much blessing as well. Derrick preached a wonderful message on Friday night. This is a learning curve for everyone.


Thirteen graduated from the Bible College; all mature men & women & active members of their churches. We pray that they will be lights in this country.


Much love Celia & John


April 29, 2012

We have had a good two weeks teaching in the Bible College & 13 students are graduating on 4th May. Please pray for the Ameva Pastors Conference this week. Our pastors look forward to it as they meet up with other past students & so encourage one another. There is always a great atmosphere. Betty, John’s sister, leaves tomorrow. She has been such a good help while I have been unwell. Abigail is with us for another week & Derrick & Barbara for a fortnight – we hope to take them to Victoria Falls after the conference.


Much love, Celia & John 


April 15, 2012

Bible College session starts this week & we have Derrick & Barbara Harrison from Birmingham arriving today. Our daughter Abigail is arriving tomorrow – nearly four years since she was here for Grace’s wedding. We haven’t seen her for nearly two. 


The schools:  According to the Minister of Education, David Coultard (the only European in the Zimbabwe Government) 300,000 children dropped out of school in this country last year because they could not pay school fees. Children in the farming areas have suffered most. A recent Government committee said that “For the past 10 years (since the land reform process) children in farming communities have been condemned to such a harsh learning environment & until something miraculous or dramatic happens, a dark cloud is cast over their future prospects.”


At the moment we are paying school fees for 70 children in Ameva primary school, 42 in Ameva secondary school & 11 in Chegutu. Most of these have lost one or both parents,  or their parents are unable to work through sickness, or the parent works for Ameva (about 14 children). Other parents pay school fees in kind such as in maize they have grown. Our fees are the lowest in Chegutu - $10 primary & $30 secondary school.


We paid for 12 of these children to take 3 x ‘O’L exams @ $12 per subject & 3 orphans who have done very well to take ‘A’ L which cost $303. These children would not otherwise be able to sit in November without this help.


All our teachers are graduates but they are only getting $202 per month. Teachers in the towns are getting extra help by schools charging parents supplements & are able to  able to earn money by taking extra lessons. We have already lost 5 good teachers who transferred to Chegutu urban. We therefore decided to supplement the wages by $500 per month which works out at $17 per teacher.


Many of the children were coming to school without breakfast & we have been giving them a high protein drink called Mahewu. Unfortunately due to lack of funds & my illness we have had to cut back on this.


All in all we are spending over $1300 per month on schools/orphans. We are grateful for your support enabling us to do this. We are also grateful for aid from UK sent through UNESCO which provided exercise & text books for every child in the country last year.


We have also tried to give more encouragement & support & spiritual direction this year as John has been taking assembly in the secondary school every Monday. Until I became ill I was taking assembly in the primary school & also having meetings with the heads every week.


Please pray for the heads, the teachers & the children. It feels like we are starting from scratch again. A lot of the better educated in the district won’t send their children to our secondary school because they feel the standard is too low. Most children now are first generation literates & a lot of parents don’t see the point of sending their children to school when there are no jobs at the end. And this is a country which once boasted the highest literacy rate in Africa.


Love from Celia & John


April 2, 2012

Sorry in the last “Weekly” I said that $395 was income, it is actually the Gross National Product per capita!!!????


Thanks Celia


April 1, 2012

Several people have asked about the food parcel scheme that we ran when the Zim dollar collapsed & there was no food in the shops. Well, no we don’t run it anymore & yes there is food in the shops. However if you look at the latest IMF listing 2011 you will see that Zimbabwe is the second poorest country in the World after the Democratic Republic of Congo (other listings put it as the poorest). IMF says that the average income per capita is US$395 & this figure must be taken into consideration that there are a lot of very rich people who have made their money out of diamonds, gold etc.  This is a country where school teachers with degrees earn $202 per month so you can understand that the vast majority of the population earn less than a US$1 per day. So every month we give several hundred pounds to the Christian Marching Church, the indigenous church we work with. This money goes to pay rent for some of the pastors living in towns but most goes to the rural areas. These are areas we are not allowed to go into & anyway don’t have the resources to do so. Some of the money will go to pastors, working in these difficult circumstances, & some to widows & orphans in these areas & I am regularly shown records of how the money is spent. All these people are very, very grateful – it’s a lifeline. We realise that the economic situation in the West is not good & we know that people & churches do have many demands on their finances. We are grateful that so many have helped us in the past & understand your difficulties. Next week I am going to write about the schools.

I am feeling a little better. So grateful that Betty, John’s sister is here to look after me!


Much love, Celia & John


March 25, 2012

Last week National Parks staff were on our road warning people that a pride of lions had been seen on Hippovale, the next farm to Ameva. It’s so sad that these animals have moved out of their normal hunting grounds. This is not only because people are poaching game but also (my son-in-law Bruce informs me) because well-meaning conservationists have stopped the control of elephant numbers in the country & Zimbabwe has the highest concentration of elephant in the world which is seriously damaging the environment. He doesn’t think there is much future for wild life in Africa.


Thanks for all your prayers for my health. I have now been sick with hepatitis A (a water borne disease) for 8 weeks. I am now able to do some things in the morning but have to rest in the afternoon. There is no treatment (except for not eating fat) & the doctor says it just takes time. I wish it didn’t! Well, this has been a good way of losing weight but I wouldn’t recommend it. I should eventually recover with my liver intact. Thanks for the e-mails. I am sorry I haven’t been able to reply – we hope you understand.


Much love, Celia & John


March 18, 2012

Due to the kind generosity of some people we were able to buy 12 bikes for the school teachers (men). This has been a tremendous morale booster. The "O" level results were much improved as well so we are believing this year is a turning point in the schools. Unfortunately not so with the farm, we take one step forward & two steps back. After a wonderful start to the season, the rain ceased & the crops failed. I am busy keeping the ship afloat while John is away. Both Grace & Margaret left for UK this week so it's a bit lonely but maybe I can get lots of things done! (probably not)


We are in the process of updating our e-mail list. If you wish to be taken off please contact Terry at the above address. I thought I might send out a photo now & then but if you have slow internet & would rather not receive those please also let Terry know & he can put you in a special group.


Please note the coding on our mobile phones has changed. Now:-


00 263 772 598738

00 263 712 610711


Lots of love, Celia


March 11, 2012

Thanks for the prayers. John made good progress this week sorting out the electricity & water on the farm. Everyone worked together as clean water is to their advantage. One of the main trouble makers says he is leaving at the end of next week. It will be a relief. There are others we would like to go but under government rules we would have to pay huge redundancies if it came from our side.


Elsie is now out of hospital staying with her daughter. There is no permanent damage (scan) but the family are considering her future.


I am sorry I’ve not been able to answer all the kind e-mails. I am still rather weak.


Much love, Celia & John


March 4, 2012

Greeting from Zimbabwe! It was nice to welcome John’s sister Betty on Tuesday; here for an 8 week stay. It’s great to have her here again. John is still struggling on the farm with no cooperation from any of the workers – it’s really disheartening.


I have become jaundice & have had to go to Harare for all sorts of tests. I am feeling a bit better but the nausea comes & goes.


Some of you know Elsie Gibson. On Friday she had a slight stroke. She is now in the ICU, Avenues Clinic in Harare. Please pray.


Lots of love, Celia & John


February 26, 2012

Another Bible College session is over. We had a brilliant Kairos course re missions with the students, taken by Paul from Mozambique & Kenneth & his wife from Bulawayo.   Next April is the last session & the 22 students will graduate in May.


Lots of storms & Wednesday was particularly violent with hail. The sunflower field was struck by lightning & some of the plants burnt. Unfortunately we heard that the Roman Catholic Church in Ngezi collapsed, two ladies were killed & several injured.


John continues to have labour problems on the farm & next week is going to be a tough one.


Thanks for all the e-mails. Sorry I haven’t replied, I’m still not well & will be returning to doc’s tomorrow.


Lots of love, Celia & John


February 19, 2012

Not much work done this week by me. I have been sick with malaria which was not very nice & even worse when the cure proved worse than the sickness. My poor stomach is still suffering the results of the antibiotics I was given with the co-artum.


However it has been a very busy week for John. He is sorting out a building to get workers moved from the Bible College premises which we hope to renovate.  There has been a lot of rain & the road to the farm has further deteriorated. John’s now complaining of aching shoulders, neck & jaw. It doesn’t get any better!


The Bible College is in session & this week we have a World Outreach missionary from Mozambique taking a Kairos course with the students. John has to take the non resident students up & back to the farm for lessons as the Ranger is now the only vehicle that can make it.


Please pray for Paul & Lesley in Harare. Their worker, who has been with them for many years, has turned against them & falsely accused them of several things, threatening to go to the police about them. Very hurtful!


Love, Celia & John


February 12, 2012

Thank you everyone for supporting the orphans. Most of the money goes to pay school fees. At Ameva Primary School we are paying fees for 59 children ($10); while at Ameva Secondary School there are 38 children ($30). In the town we are paying for 19 children from preschool to 6th form ($30-$76)There have been a few disappointments this year at ‘0’ Level. Not many do well as they are first generation literates but they all try & are kept out of mischief.


Thank you very much on their behalf. Love, Celia & John


February 6, 2012

We have had some very heavy storms over the last few days & the roads which were bad to start with are now even worse. The road up to the farm is like an off road track. I can’t really describe it – you would have to experience it for yourselves.  The pot holes & gullies are like craters & at a couple of times you have to ford streams especially when it has rained heavily. I only go up once a week to take a school assembly but John has to go everyday & sometimes more than once. They now have the large tractor going but it has been a hard slog with John away nine hours most days last week. Pastor James has also been there working on the pump at the dam. So much to mend, so much missing!


Taffy & Denise Evans were friends of ours in Kadoma who moved to New Zealand a few years ago. They were a great support to Ameva, servicing & mending computers free of charge. Last month their daughter & son-in-law were killed in a motor bike accident in Bulawayo. They leave an 18 year old daughter. Please pray for the family.


Love from, Celia & John


January 29, 2012

We have been in other churches for the past two weeks so it was good to get back to the Scout Hall this week. There’s a lot of love there. One of the ladies had been in hospital during the week & a delegation of women from the church had visited her, although they are all busy in their fields. Beside the Sunday service there are meetings on Monday, Wednesday & Friday in various houses. Since our Shona is not too good we don’t go, but it has meant that the Church is quite a tight knit unit – praying, fasting, and fellowshipping. It’s good to see the church growing & the youth now forming a choir again. Please pray for the pastors – James, Jonathan & Bernard who is still a student at the Bible College. Shepherd has been promoted in the army to senior chaplain & has had to move to Gweru but we will still keep in touch.


Just to say -I really don’t think it is worth people sending us Christmas cards as most arrive very late. Of course we enjoy catching up on your news whenever it comes so please keep sending that.


Much love, Celia & John


January 22, 2012

There was a lot of good work done on the farm last week & planting is nearly finished – thank you for your prayers.


My (Celia’s) ankle is nearly healed although I have to wear trainers or crocs. In some ways it was a “good” thing to happen. For some time I had felt no enthusiasm to do things or interest in meeting people. I didn’t feel depressed rather exhausted. I think it was burn out…. After being confined to quarters & enjoying reading listening to ministry, crosswords, cross-stitch (rather a mess), & being looked after by John & Loveness, I have felt so much better. My priorities now are to pray more, assist John more, get involved with the schools (again) more & make more friends among the European community. I’m going to Tuesday night Bible study with John & I am joining a keep fit class, being horribly unfit. So all in all bad things can turn out good when you have a loving heavenly Father.


Much love, Celia & John


January 15, 2012

It has been a very busy week for John. He has been at the farm every day planting flowers for seed, sunflower for oil & butternut squash. It’s been an uphill battle getting workers motivated. They have had a lax time for so long & some have even started their own businesses making bricks on the farm. Management has been sorely lacking & John has had to have some unpleasant confrontations. We have had to put all instructions in writing otherwise they are “forgotten” or “misunderstood”.  Had hoped that having reached his three score & ten plus John would be able to hand over & concentrate on the spiritual but sadly it hasn’t worked. However after a difficult two week things are starting to pick up. Most field planted & majority of workers “getting the message”. I will be going tomorrow with John to sort out the books. Thanks for your prayers.


Love, Celia & John


January 8, 2012

It has become a tradition among Christians here to start the New Year with a 10 day fast. This year, with the challenges ahead, churches seem to be taking this very seriously. The family living opposite us go to the Methodist church. All the adults are fasting & they are getting up at 5am to pray before work starts. Of course, it is light then & we go to bed at 9pm but it still takes a lot of discipline (which I haven’t got!)  If all the problems here have taught the Christians anything, it is to pray. Our little church started the New Year not with a party but with an all-night prayer meeting; they are finishing off their fast with another all night prayer meeting on Friday. They tend to walk about as they pray & often they all pray aloud together but it is sincere & I’m sure God honours them.


Much love, Celia & John


December 31, 2011

Our Christmas finale was the orphan’s party which took place yesterday. Eighty children, some from the Sunday school & some not quite orphans but we didn’t turn them away. There was singing, there was dancing, there were prizes for the best, there was a play & there was FOOD - chicken, sadza, rice, relish, sweets, biscuits & watermelon. It was a great time & well worth the effort. Love from Celia & John

P.S. Don’t open or take any notice of e-mails from my Hotmail address – it’s been hacked. Fortunately not many addresses on it but yours just might be.


December 19, 2011

Another week & it will be Christmas Day. How quickly this year has flown! Apart from food, we have not bought anything for Christmas & I doubt if I could cope now with all the frantic buying that goes on in the West. We will be going to Bruce’s family (our son-in-law) Christmas Eve & then spend Christmas Day with our dear friends Eric & Ros Taylor. We will be having a family party here on Tuesday & an orphan/Sunday school party on Friday at Ameva. John has been busy selling watermelons & this week will be the big push. We were optimistic (or misled) at the number in the field but we have sold over 1000. Not likely to break-even but it has been a learning curve.


This is likely to be the last weekly of the year. Thank you so much for all your help & support & prayers & all the encouragement we have had by your e-mails. We thank the Lord for keeping us & helping us through a difficult year. We feel hope in our spirits that the coming year will bring good things, that God will overrule & turn things about here. May that be your experience.


With love, Celia & John


December 11, 2011

Thanks very much for all the congratulations to John. The honorary degree was not a big deal but it was a nice show of appreciation & now we can’t joke that John is the only one in the family without a degree! The Bible College finished yesterday & was a good session. We have had a little more rain but some areas have had nothing. It’s cloudy today & feels humid. John has been so busy – we put in a hectare of watermelons on the farm & now they are all ready. He has about 7000 to sell – please pray. If they are not moved before Christmas, there will be no money & if they are left in the field they will split or get stolen. He is off to Harare tomorrow to take Grahame to the airport but he will also be taking 90 melons to find markets.


Lots of love, Celia & John


December 6, 2011

The Bible College session is going well. We have 24 students at present, all very enthusiastic & committed. Yesterday John visited a past student, Artwell, who lives in Gweru. We helped him further his studies at Bulawayo Bible College where he graduated with an honours degree. He now runs his own Bible College in Gweru. The degrees are from Logos USA which is a long distant learning institution with quite a good reputation. John had the privilege of speaking & capping the 23 graduates. He was able to give books to them & a Bible Commentary for the library.  It is such a joy to these guys going on & giving themselves to the ministry. Sadly we also had a disappointment this week. One of our past graduates, who was running a big church in Harare & doing so well, was found to be having an affair while his wife was a student at Ameva. Really need to pray more for these men & women. By the way John received an honouree degree yesterday at the ceremony for “the work of God he has done in Zimbabwe”.


Lots of love, Celia & John


November 28, 2011

The rains have finally come & what a relief from the relentless heat we have been experiencing over the last few weeks. On Wednesday night it started raining & this rains appeared pretty general – over this part of the country anyway. Everyone is out planting their maize crop on every available piece of land. Fertilizer companies apparently have huge stocks of fertilizer because no one can afford to buy. At our house we have made a stock of compost & next month will be going into Vermiculture (worm compost); I want to impress visitors with my garden!


The Bible College starts this week. Grahame Davies from Epsom is here again to teach with Pastors Solomon & Ebenezer taking the other book. A missionary in Gutu who supported four students has just returned to Australia so we are not sure if these students will be continuing. It’s wonderful that the weather is so much cooler now. Much better for studying.


Lots of love, Celia & John


November 13, 2011

Last Sunday John was at a joint meeting at Petra farm up the road from Ameva. The little church there had been given a building & had raised the money to put on a new thatched roof. This was the official opening & John cut the tape. There followed a joyous service with many coming forward for salvation including a local political figure, two ladies were also delivered from demons. Please pray for them. There’s really a lot going on in the rural areas, revival in fact. In the towns it’s a bit of a mixed story. Satellite TV has had a big impact & a lot of (Nigerian) “prosperity” type churches are springing up. We know that Ameva Bible College is needed more than ever to keep people on the right road – the Bible highway.


Much love, Celia & John


November 6, 2011

Zimbabwe experienced a heat wave two weeks ago. We had the hottest temperatures for 50 years & in the south of the country & in the Zambezi Valley the temperature was in 50*C. On Tuesday we had a storm. On Ameva they got 55mm but where Bruce grazes his cattle, they got nothing. The situation there is pretty desperate. At our house the temperature dropped 12*. It felt very cold but you would probably find it hot. The heat is now gradually returning & we expect rain again soon especially as there are plenty of flies.


The farm continues to cause headaches & we have to decide whether to plant anything - last year was a failure due to drought & poor management. We want to be good stewards.


My ankle is slowly improving & I am moving about more now. Thanks for your prayers.


Love, Celia & John


October 31, 2011

Thanks, my ankle is feeling better. I always prided myself on never having broken any bones which just goes to show that there is truth in the old saying (Proverbs ch.16 v18).


Sadly I have to report that one of our former students, Anderson Veriano, who many of you know, died last week & was buried yesterday. He heard & responded to the gospel while in prison & came to the Bible College with a wonderful testimony. However, in latter years he returned to “the bottle” & despite efforts to help, he never got free again. He was in Kadoma Hospital three weeks & John was able to visit him a few days before he died.


Happily, David our neighbour was married today – John went to the wedding in the thatched open church down the road. David had a good job at Whiteheads, a local factory, but he was a drunkard. His wife of many years was a believer, who attended the Methodist Church. I think it was due to her prayers but eventually he gave up drink & started attending the church with her. He asked me how he could learn more about the Bible & I suggested that he come to the Bible College. He now gets the top marks for assignments. The Methodist church want to use him in ministry but he has never been married in church, hence the wedding today. It was a very joyous occasion & there has been much excitement in the road for weeks, not least the happy bride. Loveness daughter, Eunice, & the couple’s three daughter (two grown up) were bridesmaids, the bride wore white. It could only happen in Africa!


Love from Celia & John


October 26, 2011

Hi. I did a stupid thing last week. I turned suddenly going out of the garage & fell awkwardly down a step. I have broken my ankle, am in plaster & am out of action for at least four weeks. We had difficulty getting crutches & for the first couple of days I was at times reduced to crawling, which is very humiliating but puts one in one’s place. I can now get to the kitchen with crutches but it hurts. John is still very busy with the farm so it has been extra work for him. Loveness our house help is going to cooking lessons so thankfully she has been able to help with meals. People are so kind in Africa. I have had a stream of visitors & numerous prayers said for me. I pray that I may use this time as intended.


Much love, Celia & John


October 15, 2011

Sorry this ‘Ameva Weekly’ seems to be becoming ‘Ameva Fortnightly’ but that doesn’t roll off the tongue so well so maybe I will just stick to ‘Weekly’. Yesterday we drove to the southern town of Masvingo. Ten other members of the Conference Committee, past students of Ameva Bible College, travelled with us to speak to pastors there about the Pastors’ Conference & the College. We were also able to personally express our condolences to Pastor Jabson whose son was murdered a few months ago. It was a long day (5am – 8pm), a long way (475 miles/ 760km there & back), but a good time – we were blessed & I think others were too.


The Archbishop of Canterbury was in Zim last weekend with bishops from all over southern & central Africa. By all accounts he gave the sermon of his life to a congregation of over 10,000 at one of the Harare stadiums & pulled no punches (which will surprise many including me). Teachers at Anglican schools who were dismissed have now been told by the Ministry of Education & by a high court judge to return to their posts. So we will pray & wait to see the outcome.


Much love, Celia & John


October 3, 2011

Since our e-mail on the situation in the Anglican church in Chegutu, I haven’t been able to contact the vicar but I heard that the congregation were renting a house for him & his family. It’s difficult to understand what is going on & why authorities are alienating nearly 300,000 people. Some say it is because of targeted sanctions & the church’s perceived connection with England. In Chegutu there are 3 people who now attend the two churches here while a congregation on 300 meet in two other locations. Certainly persecution has not spiritually hurt the church – three hour services, singing & dancing. Rowan Williams & South African bishops are visiting this week but I do not think they will get very far. The excuse is that the Church supports homosexuality but this is not true in this diocese.


It has been very hot & we have had some early rain. Not sure if this is a good thing as it will bring the grass on. If it stops, as is likely, the cattle will be very stressed. Please pray.


Love, Celia & John 


September 26, 2011

There has been a crusade here, Chegutu for Jesus, organised by Africa Enterprise. Three venues & one at the shops opposite our house. It is a hard pitch as there are two beer halls over there but the Word went out. I’m always amazed at the wealth of God-given talent in the churches – we had some great singers & some amazing young dancers & it was so good to hear Ophius Hove preaching again. Yesterday afternoon there were over 1000 children at the Children’s meeting. I think it has been an encouragement to all the churches.


At this time of year Harare once more becomes a beautiful city when the jacarandas are in bloom. There are wonderful tunnels of purple bloom & the roads covered in purple confetti. Not for nothing was Harare called Jacaranda City in better days.  


Love from Celia & John


September 11, 2011

We are on our own again as Peter & Shelagh left on Wednesday. Peter really wowed everyone with his preaching & bible exposition!


John has continued to be busy with the farm. Sadly it seems that we must ask some to leave as there is equipment missing & unaccounted for but he has to be careful to get all the facts.


Our elderly friend Don has been quite poorly & I have been visiting him daily. His son is coming from South Africa on Tuesday.


Schools opened last Tuesday & we hope to start the feeding programme this week as most of the maize is finished on the farms. There has been no rain since March (normal) everywhere is so dusty & food will be generally short until the rains come in October/November. Food is in the shops, in fact you can get most things especially in Harare but prices on a par with UK - unfortunately wages are not. Most things imported from South Africa & up to now food stuffs have been duty free but that is shortly to change. Difficult to understand the Government’s reasoning.


Love, Celia & John


August 27, 2011

Hi this is John, entering the 21st century as a computer geek! Well not quite, I can’t type very fast so Celia is giving a hand as usual. I want to thank you all for the wonderful e-mails I have received & may manage to answer some. It has been a busy week. Last weekend we had a Christian Marching Church ladies conference on the farm with over 700 attendees. Terry & Frances Watson spoke to them on marriage, the next day I spoke on “the woman at the well” & Peter Gray took the final meeting with a powerful message on Mary becoming the mother of Jesus.


Through the week it’s been a hectic time on the farm. Preparing land for planting, fixing pumps & pipes for irrigation & finally fighting a bush fire which wreaked havoc with the grazing for the cattle! Pray for us – we hope to get some seed in the ground tomorrow.


Love from John & Celia


P.S. Ben Freeth’s book M & the White African is available on Amazon. It’s a good if harrowing read. Celia & John


August 15, 2011

We had a good day yesterday with Terry & Peter preaching. Many had come back from conferences & were really on fire. It was with difficulty we were able to give time to the preacher. The Bible College students on the farm had formed a choir & the hall was full. The Bible College session lasts another week. Afterwards Peter is staying here to do some practical work & Terry moves on to Malawi. Our dogs were fighting yesterday (both very jealous) & Frances tried to part them & got bitten – upsetting for everyone. John is at last attempting to get computer literate. His e-mail address is johnameva@gmail.com & if enough people write to him he may have to write next week’s Weekly.


Love from Celia & John


August 9, 2011

We are pleased to have Terry & Frances Watson, Peter & Shelagh Gray with us for the Bible College session which started yesterday. The subject is “Church Doctrine” & we are having some interesting if heavy discussions round the dinner table. John as usual has the loudest voice.  It’s great to have such an enthusiastic bunch of students this time & the women seem to be the keenest!  Next weekend the Ladies of the Christian Marching Church have their conference at the farm. Last time they came there was about 700. I’m staying here in Chegutu.


Air Zimbabwe is on strike again so Elsie has not yet returned from UK.


Much love, Celia


August 1, 2011

We are nearly at the end of another term. The children break up here on Thursday for the winter holiday. My house help, Loveness, is also on leave so I have good old Mavis with me from the farm. She is really a cheery soul, a bit rough & ready but I can tell she feels she is on holiday here! When Loveness goes up to Ameva to visit her mother she is always wearing her best clothes. I asked her why & she replied “I live in town now & people on the farm expect us to be smart”. Mavis is wearing her new wig & also looks very smart.


John has continued to sort out farm business. He needs real wisdom as some dishonest workers will have to go. This is very difficult because it can become racial & political. Thankfully our Trust Chairman, Bishop Katsande & the government vet (a Christian) are giving a lot of support.


Much love, Celia & John


July 26, 2011

We had a good time in Mozambique & the students there seemed to enjoy John’s teaching on the Old Testament. We were amazed at the progress made on the Nensa site. Two years ago it was virgin bush, now it is full of buildings! We were the first ones in the guest cottage & felt very privileged. Great to see Shephen & Caitlin & the Mozambican pastors again.


John has spent nearly every day since we got back up at the farm. They have now ploughed & limed several fields ready for the market garden project. John’s main job has been trying to sort out the water. None of the pumps were working & motors burnt out because switches were stolen & current taken directly from the mains. The reservoir had to be rebuilt & the pipes fixed. The frustrating thing is that John leaves jobs to be done but nothing happens unless he stands over them. It looks like a lot of our irrigation pipes have taken a walk, the fuel allocation has been abused & a lot of cattle have been sold at a generous rate to workers relatives. In fact it’s a mess & I am so fed up with the lot of them I have decided to take a sabbatical & enjoy my grandson. Not that there isn’t plenty to do here for Ameva – I just don’t feel like going up to the farm at the moment. Needless to say John is enjoying the challenge & intends to take on the role/title of manager of the farm. Not bad for 72!


 Love from Celia & John


June 27, 2011

I (Celia) have just returned from a brief trip to UK to help Grace with Daniel & with their return here. Poor Grace returned to a chaotic house as they had had to move off the farm while she were away. House was painted & furniture in but lots of other things were & mostly are still in boxes. She is slowly getting things straight.


John has had problems on the farm while I was away. Having made a mess of things there & sold off a lot of the cattle, the workers cooperative want to be made redundant with us forking out huge payouts. Quiet hurtful really after all we have done for them but we should be used to this by now.

Awful news on Wednesday, we heard that Pastor Jabson in Masvingo lost his 10 year old son. The boy went missing for a week & then was found murdered. Taxi drivers & witchcraft are suspected but the police are still investigating. Can’t imagine how they must feel.


Love Celia & John


June 11, 2011

I was on the farm today delivering maize meal for the old people. Another political meeting & even guys from the army had shown up to address the people. Only thing was there were no people, not from any of the farms. I was told that people were fed up. They were called to meetings & then the organizers don’t show, they are promised fertilizer & then they saw it all going to war veterans. When pushed too far, Shonas can be collectively very stubborn. It’s an interesting time. We just pray there will not be a repeat of 2008.


Love, Celia & John


May 23, 2011

Thank you for all the e-mails congratulating us on the birth of a grandson. Sorry I am not able to answer them individually.


 I have sometimes been asked how I spend the day so I thought I would write about a fairly normal day - last Friday.


5.45am up, feed dogs & cats, put on the borehole, make a cup of tea (my turn today)

Read & pray with John, wash & get dressed


7.15 breakfast


8.10 Chegutu – sorting out insurance & tax for vehicles. P.O. doesn’t have tax disc for 3 tonne truck.


9.30 Drive to Kadoma (40km/25miles). P.O. there does not have tax disc either. Sort out telephone bill – yes, I have paid it, here is the receipt from February. Do some shopping as good Spa supermarket here. Nearest Barclays bank is also here & the bank in Chegutu is having problems.  I use ATM but have to queue as my withdrawal is too big for the card, need visa card I am told, fill in form. I am just leaving when Ameva Sec Sc Head phones – we need to make a bank transfer to pay for some books. I wait for SMS from him with details. Go back to bank – fill in another form.


12.15 Drive 4km to see work done on Grace’s house, quick visit. I am leaving & remember there a P.O. 2km up road in Eiffel Flats. Unfortunately for me it’s now closed down. Return to Kadoma to look for fuel – none. Drive back to Chegutu looking for fuel, eventually find some at the garage that didn’t have any yesterday. There is a terrible queue with cars everywhere but I manage to fill up without hitting any one. I remember I need stock cubes to cook lunch ( none in Kadoma). Manage to get some in OK supermarket.


2pm Arrive home – hot, tired & sweaty. Cook lunch.


4.30pm Drive to market to pick up Margaret whose daughter someone is supporting in school.  I suspect she has been skipping lessons. We drive onto the township – see the teacher, see the daughter but I am not sure this girl is committed to her studies, I want to see her books, we can’t waste this money.


5.45 Home, tea, do some work on the computer, etc. And so to bed.


Lots of love, Celia & John


May 8, 2011

Well, our big news is that our Grace had a 9lb baby boy this morning. Both well, although Grace very tired. We are waiting more news from John’s sister Betty who is visiting this afternoon.


We had an amazing Pastors’ Conference last week. Best ever & best supported. Everyone said how blessed they were. On Saturday 11 students graduated from the Bible College. It’s been a busy time. John Carter left on Wednesday but John & Martha are here for another week.


Much love, Celia & John


May 3, 2011

Hooray, I have my computer back – a few hiccups but now seems to be sorted. I never expected it to take 5 weeks but partly my problem for buying the wrong office programme in UK. We start the Pastors Conference tonight & already pastors are arriving. The majority of Bible College students stayed over & have been busy getting the place ready. There is a real air of expectancy. Not many pastors arrived yet, though John Carter has just taken a load up & JV has to return for a second time to help sort out the electrics. As usual it is a last minute job! Let you know how we get on.


Love, Celia & John


April 26, 2011

Yesterday we gathered at the farm for the Easter service. It was the final service in a three day Easter Conference for the farm churches & Chegutu church. About 250 people there - such an encouragement to us to see these dear people praising God. The conference organized & paid for by themselves. The Bible School is going well, the two John's are having a good time. The Pastors' Conference is next week organized by the co-ordinating committee. It's such a thrill that the indigenous church are now taking responsibility. And there is a different spirit about the country. Something is happening, something big & we know God is in it.


Love Celia & John


April 18, 2011

It's so nice to have John back & John & Martha & John Carter here. It's been a strange time being on my own but I have learnt a lot. God is faithful. The bible College starts on Monday & we will have 30 students.


My computer is still not sorted so I am having problems receiving & sending e-mails. This is Africa - those with no patience need not apply.


Love, Celia & John


April 11, 2011

Sad new - Mike Campbell died on Wednesday & was buried today on Cremer's farm in Chegutu. It was a moving service & attended by many from all walks of life. Mike, the White African, was our daughter's father-in-law. Grace was very sad not to be there - she is in UK, baby due next month. Mike never recovered from the head injury he received when he was abducted.


Another funeral took place today that of Elizabeth, the orphan I mentioned last week. She died on Thursday. I wasn't able to attend that service but will visit the family later this week.


Exhumations at Mount Darwin. The government has pulled out the army & turned over the exercise to a government ministry. They are no longer trying to identify the bodies but will inter them & put up a monument. One wonders......


John arrives on Wednesday having had to rebook his flight due to another strike by Air Zim. John & Martha Shaw & John Carter will be on the same flight. The Bible School session starts next week.


Love Celia


April 3, 2011

AIDS is a terrible thing & when children are involved it is tragic. Most children in Zimbabwe who contract AIDS at birth die within the first two years but some do live until puberty. We have two orphan children like that in the school. They have never been "healthy" & have failed to mature despite their age. They are on ARV drugs provided by WHO but their lives are not easy. A third child, Elizabeth, is also a 16 year old orphan & also has full blown AIDS. At one time I was quite involved with trying to help her as her guardian (uncle) is a drunkard & his wife didn't want her.


She looked to me but as time went on my help got less. Now she has AIDS & we suspect that the uncle has abused her. She was quite ill last month when they didn't get tablets but thankfully is now improving again. I sent her a blanket, it makes me feel better but maybe I could have done more........


The army is exhuming bodies from mine shafts in the Mount Darwin area.


They are supposedly victima of the Rhodesian forces in the internal war here - but some of them are almost whole. The exercise is to be completed by Independence Celebrations later this month. Politically it could be a "hot potato".


My computer is down so please don't write to me.


Love from, Celia


March 7, 2011

Last Saturday Margaret & I went to another wedding. This time in Harare. It was a spectacular event, nothing spared. We were thinking of sneaking in & sitting at the back but as the only white faces we were made a big fuss of. People are so kind. The bride was truly stunning & as I hadn't seen her for about 10 year, it was a joy to be at her special day. 


But it was also sad. I sat there & tears came to my eyes & my heart felt heavy as I thought of this girl's parents, her two uncles & her aunt who were no longer with us. How they would have rejoiced to be there, what a tragedy that they weren't. I prayed that this was a new start, a new generation, a blessed & happy future.


Love to all, Celia


February 28, 2011

Some of you in UK will already have seen John. He left on Wednesday & Margaret arrived Thursday to stay with me for 3 weeks. We have at last had some rain - Saturday saw a good downpour & since then it has been overcast. At least some of the crops will be saved. On the political scene all is quiet although there have been requests to use the computers in the school - as there is usually no electricity that wasn't hard to refuse. However, other areas have had a bad time. We intend to go ahead with a joint service on Petra Farm ( up the road from Ameva) Sunday morning. Sometimes the little things in life are the moments that encourage & restore me. I was in our local supermarket the other day. I was standing in a queue at the till, when a woman, (a friend of the person in front) pushed in, then another friend did the same, finally a man with no connection again just pushed in front of my trolley. By this time I was feeling very annoyed - I didn't have much shopping so was it 'cos I was old, was it 'cos I was white? I wanted to give them a mouthful & was preparing to do so when I was checked. So I just stood there. Presently an employee came from the back & opened another till. She beckoned me, I went, paid, collected my shopping & left the shop. Those others were still in the queue.


“I waited patiently for the Lord & He inclined to me, and heard my cry." Psalm 40 v 1. 


Love Celia


February 22, 2011

One of the perks of having visitors is that you are able to take them to a game park. Terry, Chris & Jane saw lots of game last weekend but we got more than we bargained for when we came upon nets while boating on the dam. We had to run the gauntlet with stones & rocks hurled at us from the rushes. The guide had removed two large nets & fortunately none of us where hurt but it was a close thing. When the guide returned with reinforcements, poachers & remaining nets were gone.


Very, very hot & no rain for over three weeks. The crops are under stress but the skies look hopeful so we pray. Food prices are rapidly rising & after a visit to the farm we realize that we must start buying maize again - it's US$5 a bucket - a horrendous price. Old people & even our workers are suffering.


John flies on Wednesday & is looking forward to seeing you all.


Much love, Celia & john


February 10, 2011

We were able to hold a joint service on Sunday after all but on Ameva not Petra Farm. The threats have subsided for the moment - thanks for praying. We had a great service with singing & dancing followed by a meal of rice & tomato relish. In all three hours - but it went quickly.


Grace & Bruce are thinking seriously of moving as their house is remote & vulnerable (10 miles from Chegutu) - there are no other Europeans on the road. There are so far two possibilities but they do need wisdom.


We are applying this week to the Ministry of Education to be allowed to offer more practical subjects in the Secondary School curriculum. Everyone is very excited about the move & we are hopeful but it is not a fore gone conclusion.


Much love, Celia & John


February 3, 2011

Difficult to believe that we are already in February. Time does seem to go quickly these days. February seem to be the time for visitors. We are enjoying having Terry & Chris Murray from Perth with us for a few days. Also from Perth, Annette a student who is helping in the schools for a couple of days. We are also expecting Jane from Bracknell next week. No rain for a few days so things have dried up.


The rumors of election seem to be true. The farm has had several unpleasant visits & forceful demands for help from local party members. This weekend there are big rallies on the road which everyone is expected to attend. It will not be a nice experience. The remaining white farmer on the road will be having a tough time too. Please pray.


Love from, Celia & John


January 23, 2011

We had an amazing day yesterday at the wedding of Emmanuel & Shelly. It took place in the hall at Ameva. Friends overseas had helped Emmanuel to pay the bride price & now the respective churches (Christian Fellowship & Christian Marching Church) joined together to pay for the reception. Anyone who could pay for a dress could be part of the bridal party so in all there were 8 bridesmaids, 3 flower girls, 4 matrons of honour & 2 page boys. They were all beautiful & how they danced up the aisle! What a sweet bride & groom & how young they looked! A great, joyful day & the sense of unity between the churches is something I haven't experienced before.


The day before was a near disaster for me (Celia). I'm usually on my guard when out & about but nothing had happened for some time so.... Anyway while waiting in the pick-up for John, outside a church, I was distracted by one man while another opened the other door & stole my bag. Phones, ID, driving license, money & credit cards - when John asked me later what I had in my bag, I said everything. I realized immediately but couldn't see anyone in sight who looked like the thief. Fortunately, just then John came out & said my bag was on the floor the far side of the truck. Everything was there - thank you Lord!!!!!

Facebook: sorry but this isn't working - the internet is just too slow or not able to connect at all. Sorry if you wanted to be our friends; you are our friends anyway.


Advert; for those living in the south of England, our son Paul has opened a Chinese Buffet in Palmeston Road, Southsea, Portsmouth. It's called "The Hungry Dragon".


Lots of love, Celia & John


January 16, 2011

Rain, rain & more rain. We join the countries in the Southern Hemisphere who have had above average rainfall this year. It makes a change when we are usually on our knees for the rain. Some houses in the high density area in Chegutu are flooded & the road up to the farm which passes this area is broken in 2 places with streams running across it but this the result of interference with the water ways. The Mufuri River has not flooded so far. Schools opened last Tuesday & it's been great to see all the children back although teachers & pupils have had difficulty getting there crossing the water. We are really praying about how to make the education more relevant to children in the Secondary School, most of whom have no academic background. Tomorrow we go to Harare to collect stocks for the feeding programme in the schools. We hope it won't rain too hard!


Love from Celia & John


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