Greetings to one and all in the Lord’s name! This news brief should have been sent out awhile ago and I do apologize for the delay.
It seems as if Mark Vernik (Lima, OH) has done his usual terrific job! Our schedule has been finalized for the most part and churches notified. Steve and Pam Hamilton (Stroh, IN) offered the use of their home from mid-June for approx seven weeks! Shirley and Jim Neuenschwander will provide a vehicle during our stay in the Midwest. Our thanks to everyone who has made arrangements, provided accommodation and a car! This makes our furlough a lot easier.
Pat and I made the rounds of the Bavumeleni Childrens Center, the AIDS clinic, Thompson Ntobie and various other projects to take last minute photographs. We wanted to ensure that the information we have is the very latest updates. The African Christians were just as excited as we were for this furlough.
Pat and I flew out of Cape Town on British Airways for Heathrow Airport. We spent a few days there, unwinding and relaxing – strolled along the Thames Embankment, visited Westminster Cathedral, Big Ben and the usual tourist attractions. The “hotel” where we stayed was really what the English call a bedsitter – very tiny room with an even smaller bathroom. (I could stretch out my arms lengthwise and touch each side of the walls!) We banged elbows every time we took showers, too. But the bedsitter was two steps away from King’s Cross Station, which was a very convenient access to the Tubes, the cheapest public transport system in London.
Very early in the morning, we lugged our suitcases to the train and took a Tampa Bay flight from Gatwick Airport and were met in Florida by Walt and Bea Mielke (Zephyr Christian Church). They had kindly arranged for us to housesit for a friend who was on vacation so right away, we had our own space. During a brief break, the Mielke’s took us to Busch Gardens where Pat rode the biggest rollercoasters and screamed her head off! (I hadn’t realized that she was such a speed demon!) Also, Colin Miller from the same congregation kindly loaned us his Chrysler Sebring convertible for our stay! I’d never driven a convertible before and I told Colin that it had a major problem – it wouldn’t stay under 80 mph!
Our very first program was conducted at Chancey Rd Christian Church, very close to Zephyrhills. For some reason, the new items for display hadn’t arrived from South Africa even though I had mailed it in February but we set up what we’d brought with us. Pat and I enjoyed their enthusiasm and fellowship as we shared the work in South Africa. Their hospitality was wonderful. That evening, we went to Zephyrhills Christian Church and enjoyed their warmth, too. We re-acquainted ourselves with friends of my folks, Basil and Marjorie Miller, and Dorothy Wycoff, and also spent an afternoon with Tom Schmidt and his wife, too. Our furlough had taken off with a rush!
Midweek, Pat and I set up our display in Lakeland at Grove Park Christian church. Although they don’t support the South African Christian Mission, we took the opportunity to speak. The congregation took a love offering which was greatly appreciated. Then, it was off to Ft Myers, across the width of Florida. Patty Welter offered us one wing of her beautiful home on a lake and she ensured that we were well taken care of, too. Southside Christian Church has supported the South African Christian Mission for many years and it was good to fellowship Mike Reed and the Christians again.
That Monday, we left Patty Welter’s home with four huge bags of fresh grapefruit picked from her tree and drove to Hilton Head Island (SC) to visit our sons, Kent and Kyle. They left South Africa the previous year, unable to find meaningful work and have settled there for the time being. It was a wonderful week of sharing and being together.
Then it was a long ride down to Vero Beach (FL). Danny Dye is the minister there and the Smiths kindly put us up (or put up with us!) in their lovely home during our stay. Diane Sinclair showed us the sights one afternoon and we felt very welcome. I spoke at both services as well as the combined adult Bible class. Many questions were fired from the congregation, all of which were answered. We are praying for the church as they have been through a rough time – it seems as if they wish to support the work in South Africa, too.
Florida set the tone for this furlough and everyone we met and spoke to was enthusiastic about the Lord’s work. Many people came to speak to us at the display table and asked questions about the programs and projects that were planned for the future. All of this encouraged Pat and I tremendously.
We want to thank those who opened their homes, welcomed us with open arms and ensured we were well fed and wanted for nothing. It is the kindness and thoughtfulness like this that makes the fellowship all the sweeter.
Steve and Pat Zimmerman
S.A. Christian Mission.