125th Anniversary Trip: Zimbabwe

I didn’t see that giraffe, by the way. One would think it would be hard to miss, but in some surroundings, it’s not. This proved true for much of what we observed in Zimbabwe: The biggest things are not always easily seen.

Written by John Lundy / Photographs by Jennifer Chang and Dorothy Lok

I knew I was not in Minnesota anymore

when 30-year TEAM missionary Lorraine Green tapped me on the shoulder and exclaimed, “Giraffe!”

I didn’t see that giraffe, by the way. One would think it would be hard to miss, but in some surroundings, it’s not.

This proved true for much of what we observed in Zimbabwe: The biggest things are not always easily seen. A tourist might see the magnificence of Victoria Falls and thrill to view elephants, hippos and giraffes, but the larger reality is a devastated economy, rich farmland wasted and a generation of educated young adults fleeing the country.

  • Giraffes in the Bush Country

  • Mavuradonha High School

    Students at the Mavuradonha High School, which was founded with TEAM's help, got to spend time with TEAM partners during a special assembly.

Dr. Paul Thistle, one of three doctors at the hospital that day, said he sees 120 patients in a typical 12-hour shift

The hospital appears primitive to those used to ultramodern facilities in North America, but it is known throughout Zimbabwe for its high-quality care. The hospital’s mission is to use medical work to provide an authentic Christian witness. It was moving to see the opportunities to fulfill that mission, as people everywhere on the hospital grounds patiently waited to be seen.

Dr. Paul Thistle, one of three doctors at the hospital that day, said he sees 120 patients in a typical 12-hour shift, which he works Monday through Friday. Since he’s an obstetrician, he’s often called upon during his “off” hours. And he didn’t even seem tired.

I saw a father holding his little boy, who had been badly burned in a fire. The child needed highly specialized treatment and was to be flown with his father to Minneapolis for that purpose. But in the meantime, where else in Zimbabwe could they have turned? Where else would they be shown such a demonstration of Christ’s compassion?

It was just the beginning of our tour of remarkable ministries: a Christian boarding school; Harare Theological College; the Hands of Hope outreach to orphans and Foundations for Farming, which teaches sustainable agricultural methods to Zimbabwe’s farmers.

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