After some delays in the repacking and packing of the load I finally left for Musina at 16:00 and arrived there at 19:45. I was once again able to leave the truck at our worthy friends at the local N.G Church where my friend Joe Joubert picked me up and ferried me to the border to hand over documents etc to our Zimbabwe clearing agent expecting to cross early Tuesday morning only to be told that some of our necessary paperwork was only to be started the following day. Well, the waiting game was on!
We finally managed to cross four days later at 05:00 and the waiting game continued. Spent the night, sleeping in the truck, as ZIMRA picked up issues with the wording of our documents.
We were instructed to off load some of our cargo before we could proceed as someone in authority had messed up with our documents. So, after a very, very frustrating week we finally left for Bulawayo about 10:30 arriving in Bulawayo at the warehouse around 15:00. Angela and her team off loaded the truck, sorted the hampers and reloaded the old wagon and we were finally back at our cottage by 23:00, totally exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep. Thank you Angela for your efficiency in doing what you do so well.
We were told before leaving S.A. that there was a number of Zimbabwe public holidays and our week at the border placed us in the middle of this time when some of the Old age homes, we drop hampers at would not have labour so we slept in and left at a decent hour to begin our deliveries as we did not need to drop any hampers in Gweru. We managed to do the homes in Redcliff, Kwekwe and Kadoma and once again, thanks to Ken Connolly for refreshment for our white steed and for the “wonderful, wonderful young ladies” at Lynbrook in Kwekwe for spoiling us with absolutely yummy sarmies, samoosas, pies and a selection of drinks, all non alcoholic of course. We spent the night in a prepared cottage in Westview home and were spoilt by a great reception and a braai organized by Chris Ferreira and Lorraine Stewart.
Up early to try to make up lost time as we are having the oldies helping with getting the hampers out of the truck, they loved it, but it’s not ideal and we don’t need injuries. A quick drop at Sunningdale in Chinhoyi, as some of the folk were in church and off to Harare dropping a few hampers with a newly displaced farmer en route. The appreciation expressed by this man had me in tears. In fact, as we drove off both Joe and I were sniffing and wiping away tears. Folk, I normally put this at the end of my report but I’m afraid it can’t wait. Once again, I not only want to, but NEED to thank every single one of our supporters, donors etc for your unspeakable kindness. It is heart wrenching to go through this beloved country and encounter such gratitude. Thank you so much!!!
We had our horse watered again by our kind donor Mr. Vic Bonjovani, who made time for us, thank you and your family for the sacrifice of family time Sir. We did our mandatory Harare drop helped by an ailing, ever helpful couple, Mike Futter, sick as a dog with flu and Marion recovering from the flu. I personally salute you two and your one helper for your help in spite of your condition. Yip, the metal that Rhodesians are made of.
As I am still in recovery mode from my recent cancer bout, I run out of steam around two or three o’clock and needed to stop and call it a day. We were supposed to spend the night in Harare at John and Leonie Herbst’s home but I felt the need to press on to Rusape’s Resthaven home, do a quick drop and on to Mutare which we did. Needless to say I arrived exhausted with a very concerned Joe keeping an eye on me. Here we met with Des and Sally Becker who are the Superstars in Mutare. I will never cease to be “gob smacked” by these precious folk. They cut short a visit with friends and family to accommodate and to assist with off-loading the entire Mutare supplies and took us home and fed and bedded us down. Des would deliver all the hampers to all the homes and outsiders the following day with Sally’s help. Again, people of great repute and invaluable to us and the work we do.
Sally as usual made us a scrumptious brekkie as we decided not to let an alarm clock dictate to us when we should depart and we finally left these great folk at 09:00 heading for Masvingo to spend the night. En route we met with our friend Piet de Klerk at Chivhu on the roadside as we were somewhat pressed for time and gave the hampers to him as he always faithfully distributes them.
We arrived at Masvingo at 16:30 and being a little late we dropped the respective cargo and friends Johnny Nel and Dusty Evans, who would do the deliveries as normal the following day. Once again want to add that we were well fed and bedded down for the night.
Here I would like to add a short write up of our pensioner friend, Johnny Nel of Masvingo. He is 75years plus, a Bush War Veteran and is one of the most humble and helpful person that I have met and never places his needs above anyone else. Like most pensioners, he lives way below the “breadline” but he is a go getter, to try and make various things to sell to bring in extra money to survive and to help others in his shoes. He does paintings and various craftwork, especially of Navel ships. He asks around for anything old that has been thrown away, made of paper, tin, or any empty containers. Have attached a photo of him, with one of the Navel ships he made, made of thrown away stuff.
Up early and off to continue our journey bringing something precious to the recipients of the hampers who “have heard it via the grapevine” that the truck is on the way. We did a quick stop in Zvishivane at Lyn De Ewes home to deliver the needed hampers there. She was not happy that we were in a rush as we had a long busy day ahead of us. We are normally served either a great brekkie or lunch and spend about an hour catching up so yip, Lyn begrudgingly waved us goodbye after a 15 minute pit stop.
We pressed on to M.U.U.S. Cottages In Sherugwe where most folk were away for the long weekend so our deliveries there were also completed in quick time before we left to do the Gweru deliveries. We did Huis Vergesig and then Boggies before we collapsed into our prepared cabin with a delicious dinner supplied by Mr. Bruce Chilcott and team.
We left Gweru at 06:00 after having collected all empty boxes and headed for the warehouse in Bulawayo once again picking up Angela and her team. We were finished relatively early disgorging the empty boxes and retired to the cottage to chill before our homeward trip the next day.
Homeward bound, good border crossing, slept the night at Joe and Hester’s home and then after brekkies on Friday 18th, home into the arms of my darling wife. What a trip!!!
Apart for it having been a very exhausting trip for me, it was also a very emotional one. Virtually at every home we heard of old friends that have passed on and this news is always traumatic for me as an individual. The news that an old friend, Tom Coffee in Rest Haven Rusape had passed away a day before our arrival touched me greatly, but also gave me a peace that not everyone understands.
About five years ago Liz, my sweetheart wife was on a trip with me when Tom invited us for dinner at his home. Arriving there he took me aside and gently told me that as he was a practicing Atheist and knowing I was a Pastor, we need not air any views on our beliefs during the visit as he did not want any awkwardness or stiffness. My answer was simple and accepted. I only told him how jealous I was of him and when he asked why, I told him that frankly, God loved him more than me. That was it and we had a great time of fellowship. As is by now a well known fact, I was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal prostate cancer after the December Christmas trip of 2015 in January 2016 and a bad prognosis of a few months to live. I became a very sick man and almost gave up myself. However, I prayed and my God healed me and exactly one year later, on the Christmas trip of 2016 I arrived in Resthaven, Rusape and was asked to share my testimony which I did. One person in particular who seemed fully focused was my dear friend Tom. As we afterwards got ready to go he called me to him and said these wonderful words in the remnant of his American accent. “Pastor Attie, I now believe in your God and His Love”. With tears in both our eyes he took my hand and said goodbye to me. A short renewed friendship developed and I was told that he called on the resident Pastor, Tony Moorsehead whilst in the Borrowdale Trust clinic in Marondella where Pst Tony completed the process, leading Tom in the Salvation prayer before he passed on, and I believe as he left his body behind, old Tom met his Maker and God. This is what makes me do these trips, to see happy faces and events like this.
I arrived home very tired in every sense of the word, but what a beautiful sight met me when I walked into the property of our house…a “yellow ribbon” tied around one of the pillars by our front door, so unexpected, but I felt so loved and appreciated, a very special moment for me, have attached a photo of this special moment.
So, to our dear friends, donors, supporters in every which way and prayer partners, I once again thank you ALL for your ongoing ceaseless help in keeping the wheels of this much needed operation rolling.
Pst Attie Botha.
Contact Details for Head Office:
Zimbabwe Pensioner Support Fund
(C) 079 6082676 (T) 013 7900934
Fax to Email – 086 267 8499
Section 21 Co Reg. 2007/034036/08; NPO Number 096733; Section 18A PBO No 930031642