Letter From Robert & Joy Garrett Nov, 2011

Famine Relief: In the middle of October the Lord made it possible to send 4 tons of food relief (mostly corn meal) to Binga and Lusulu.

BREAKDOWNS: Daniel and Zilawe drove the 4-ton truck. They had two breakdowns. A brake cylinder on the right front wheel seized and required several hours to make right. The worst was when the clutch failed. It seized solid so they could not shift gears. They managed to crawl the last 75 miles to Binga. There they were able to remove the Transmission and then the damaged clutch and pressure plate. They borrowed $200 from someone and Zilawe made the long bus trip to Bulawayo to have these parts reconditioned. After delivering the food they eventually returned safely to Ruwa.

These areas are northwest about 450 to 600 miles distant from our base in Ruwa. There are 12 congregations in the Binga area and six in Lusulu. Corn is the staple food of Zimbabwe but there is not enough rainfall in the Binga/Lusulu area to grow corn, but generally enough to grow the small-grains like sorghum, rapoka and millet. However, the rains failed in part of these areas and there has been complete crop failure for many of our church families. This a remote area without electricity and the infrastructure we take for granted in the USA. Unpaved roads that are never graded and impassable part of the year, donkey carts being the most modern type of transportation. They must grow all the food they eat. Cultivation is mostly by hand. Plowing might be done with a small single-furrow moldboard – donkey or oxen powered.

In normal times people in this area are able to grow enough food for themselves and perhaps sell a bit to enable them to buy clothing and other necessities and pay school-fees for their children. But when the rains fail starvation results.

Even in these remote areas there are grade schools and most of the children can get several years of primary education, but it is not free – there are school fees to be paid and some families cannot meet them and their children grow up without even knowing how to read and write!

AIDS ORPHANS: In Lusulu area, Bro. Mutshathsa and some of the small congregations he works with are assisting in the care of some 20+ aids orphans. These are children taken in by their grandparents upon the death of their parents. The average nonchristian man gets aids and gives it to his wife and soon the children are orphaned. The grandparents, who had expected their own children to care for them in their old age, now, as aged subsistence farmers barely able to sustain themselves, must now care for their grandchildren. I have been able to send a small help on their school fees.

NEW GIRLS DORM: Foundations and floor-slab have been completed for a new girls dorm at Rockwood Bible Camp in Ruwa. Michael is now modifying the steel window frames – adding glazing bars to divide the glass area into smaller panes and welding security bars to make it more difficult for thieves to break in. It is easier to do this before building them into the walls.

BRICKS: In Ruwa we are able to make our own bricks at one-half to two/thirds the cost of the manufactured brick. Last year we contracted with two young men from the Binga/Lusulu area to make brick and they made about 35,000. This year they increased their team to three and made 67,000 bricks. We make the bricks from the sandy clay of the termite mounds of which there are a large number at Ruwa. The earth is mixed with water to a stiff mud consistency, slopped into molds and the molds then turned upside down onto the ground and carefully lifted off the wet bricks where they are covered with a layer of grass or leaves and left to dry for a couple of weeks.

The sun dried bricks are then built into a kiln. Wood kindling is placed in the bottom layer and then a quantity of coal nuggets interspersed in the upper layers of brick. The kiln can be of almost any size but the most practical for us is about 35,000. Once the kindling is fired the whole thing then burns for one or two weeks and hardens the brick into a good weatherproof product. The finished brick is approximately 9 inches long x 4 1/2 in. wide x 3 in. high. We will need about 50,000 for the new Dorm.

Bible Camp for Binga: The people of the Binga area are the baTonga, a very different language and customs from the maShona. The churches up there want and need Bible Camp facilities like we have here at Ruwa. As the Lord provides we would like to start building there next year. The plan is to build a new larger church building and a girls dorm. The present building will be converted to a boy’s dorm. We hope to enclose and tap a spring up on a hill about 600 yards away for the water supply. (mentioned in previous newsletters). These proposed facilities would be of enormous benefit to the progress of the Gospel in that area. It would enable the churches there to teach their youth more effectively. Our camp work at Ruwa-began 1984-has been of tremendous benefit in expansion of the Gospel and building up of the church.

We are thankful for all of you who hold us up before the throne of grace and pray for the Lord’s working in Zimbabwe.

Robert & Joy Garrett


  • Items For Praise:
  1. Bro Paul Kitzmiller’s visit in April was a real blessing. He preached and taught numerous lessons at camps and congregations.
  2. Again this year (2011) the camp work at Ruwa has been well attended for all age groups and has been a blessing to the spiritual growth of many.
  3. Brick-making has progressed well – combined total for last year and this year is a few over 100,000. This will be more than enough for the new Girl’s Dorm and provide for future buildings. For security reasons we need to build a 6 ft high brick fence around two sides of the property, but that is 1.5 Kilometers.
  4. Foundations and floor-slab finished for the new Girls Dorm.
  5. Thank the Lord for the food we were able to send to a number famine stricken church families in Binga and Lusulu. And PRAY for the spiritual welfare of the recipients as well as their material needs.

Items For Prayer :

1. Pray that the Lord will raise up good leaders in each congregation – men and women full of the Spirit and wisdom.

2. Pray for the completion of the new Girls Dorm in time for the first camp in April 2012.

3. Pray for the various efforts by churches and the Youth in evangelizing their communities.

.4. Writing, translating, printing of Gospel tracts and Bible study literature.

5. Bible distribution We are able to do this very well in English, Shona, and Tonga. But Ndebele Bibles are difficult to get. We must source them from South Africa and that is not easy.

6. Pray the Lord will provide for the construction of the necessary Camp buildings in Binga and also securing a water supply from the nearby spring.

7. Pray for the little congregation in Hwange. They need good leadership, and also for the completion of their church building.

8. Lord willing, I want to return to Zimbabwe in March 2012 and stay 4 to 6 months.