An Easter 2021 update from Jane and Larry Kies

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Dear friends and family, 

The Palm Sunday celebrations had a festive air yesterday as we joined students dressed in colourful African prints walking to the University chapel carrying palms and singing. Rev Dr Mageto, our Kenyan preacher, invited us to consider Easter as a ‘safari’. The Swahili word ‘safari’ means an adventurous journey, and Easter time certainly is a journey; one of pain leading to salvation. The theme took me back to an adventurous moment on our own safari in Malawi this year in which our open vehicle stopped and would not start again -within close sighting of four resting (thankfully) cheetah. It was thrilling and a little scary at the same time. 

We have all experienced a year of mixed emotions – our own safari – in which God has been our place of safety. We are thankful for the protection and encouragement we have experienced in every part of our lives – in our work and worship, and through our families and friends (you!!). We look to the year ahead with confidence and expectation. 

Gloria’s Safari

“I am a student from DRC, learning English at Africa University. The many things that happened on my journey to AU caused me a great deal of stress and fatigue. My father and I were not allowed to cross the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, for Zimbabwe was in total lockdown. We were turned back to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, where I met a Zimbabwean business-woman taking her merchandise into Zimbabwe, and she agreed to help me get to into the country. 

After crossing the border, I couldn’t go any further because it was already 6pm, and the roads were closed to drivers. I felt scared, and wondered where I was going to spend my night. As God does not abandon his children, a lady approached me and asked me to follow her because she had a guest house nearby. Her hospitality was impressive, and I felt like I was at home in my comfort zone. When I finally arrived at A.U, I received a warm welcome from fellow students. As an adopted orphan, I live by the grace of the Lord, Father of widows and orphans. (Psalms 68:6) 

Zimbabwe News

Around the country, schools are finally offering classes to students as teachers cautiously go back to helping young people recover what has been lost in previous months. Vaccines, donated by China, are being distributed to provinces, and administered by nurses. 

Masks and social distancing are still enforced, but we are thankful for increasing real contact with others, and even the occasional hug!!

Africa University News

The University community was deeply grieved in January by the death of our beloved Vice Chancellor (President), Professor Furusa. He was a visionary leader who was passionate about AU and – well, all of us here. Lead by Rev Dr Mageto, we carry on his vision, and have been consistent in providing our student body of over 3000 students with online learning opportunities. In the words of Sarah Maenda from Mozambique, a student in the English program, I appreciate AU most for “showing me that it is capable of educating students despite the difficulties of the Covid-19”.

Developing meaningful relationships online and ensuring that our 51 students in the English program have the help they need to learn English has taken time and streams of emails and WhatsApp communications. However, like Gloria, some students have recently travelled to campus, and I have the reward of seeing ‘the real deal’ in a smile of one of my students greeting her ‘professor’! 

Larry’s news

Although officially retired, Larry enjoys teaching two classes. The students on campus help to record pictures and videos to share with the whole class. Off-campus students viewing a video is not nearly the same as actually ear-notching a piglet (and he hasn’t found an app that really gives the sense of the sweet aroma of manure), but he and the students do what they can to gain real-world experience in Agriculture. 

And he is happy to see the fish growing at the Tilapia project at the AU Farm.

Family News

We are grateful that our kids are all well. Michael is very excited about an internship with Microsoft in Seattle for the summer. Carly continues in her campus ministry with students at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. Christine and Pule are looking forward to having the vaccine soon and being able to get in the car and explore other states! Ben and Ada wintered in Florida, working remotely and welcoming the difference in pace from city life in NYC. We are praying that a family reunion in Mutare this Christmas will be possible.

Your prayers, messages, cards, gifts, invitations, requests for presentations and dedicated support have truly kept us focused and thankful as we partner in this ministry. THANK YOU!!  I was grateful to be invited to participate recently in an online ‘self-denial day’ organized by 1st UMC in Ames, Iowa, and meet some prayerful and wonderful ladies.

We would love to be involved in your online services and gatherings. Please let us know if you would like us to join you with news of what God is doing at Africa University. 

We also ask that you consider:

  • continuing your support of Jane. (Advance Special number: 10739Z)
  • Providing scholarship support for a student: (Advance Special: 3021028)

Please Pray with Us

  • thanksgiving for the safety net of God’s protection over the people of Zimbabwe.
  • prayer for people in parts of the world badly affected by the pandemic
  • Africa University as it strives to keep up standards and offer our students an excellent education.

He is Risen!!!      Have a joy-filled Easter!!

Yours and His,

Jane and Larry Kies      

Jane Kies is a United Methodist missionaries serving Mutare, Zimbabwe, in southern Africa, who relates to the Pacific Northwest Conference. Her spouse, Larry, is recently retired from that status.