Newsletter (December 15, 2011)

Dear all, We had the graduation service on 3 December. This year we have ten students graduating—five BTh and five DipTh students. This is also the last graduation for Rev Joe Simfukwe as principal. He is retiring at the end of this year, but will stay on for another two years at least as a lecturer. As usual there were many visitors attending the service. Some came from Mongu, the main city of the Western Province, which is very far away from Ndola. We also had three visitors coming all the way from Germany. Two of them were former SIM missionaries serving in Zambia and they came to see the graduation of our student from Mongu, whom they met while serving in that area.

Usually, some students will host a reception for their friends and relatives. Sometimes they may join together, especially if they are from the same denomination. Sometimes they invite us as well. This year one family invited us to their reception which was held outside their flat within the campus. We thought their church organised it for them, which is a very nice thing as most churches struggled financially. As usual there was lots of singing, dancing, speeches from different people and food.

Sometimes graduates have to spend quite a lot of money for their graduation. They have to pay for some of their relatives to come, then they need transport money to take their belongings back home. All of them order their own gowns and hoods. (Few people will do this in New Zealand or Hong Kong. However we believe in Zambia it is an honour to have family members graduating from a tertiary institute. To many people this is a big achievement and everyone will be proud of it, as there are so many hurdles to get past before they could reach this milestone in their lives.) Then there are the receptions, buying new clothes, gifts for other people, etc. Everything costs money and when you add it all up, it could be a million kwachas spent! A number of graduates wanted to buy some books and Bibles to take home, but not all of them could do it because their money is so tight. This is a very typical snapshot of life of an ordinary Zambian.

Please continue to pray for new students. At first we thought next year’s intake would be good but it turned out not to be the case. We have some prospective students who are teachers and would like to study in our education stream. The Ministry of Education has a new policy in regard to approving paid/unpaid leave for teacher training. That caught a number of our prospective students by surprise as they did not apply to the Ministry early enough and as a result some of them could not come next year. We also have people working with the army and air force chaplaincy who would like to come to study in our pastoral stream. We hope they will be able to secure leave from the armed forces. We do pray and hope that other confirmed students will be able to come without any problem.

Please also pray for the renewal of Timothy’s employment permit. It will expire in mid-January. The procedures have just been changed and now we need to apply for a new type of permit. It seems that the new government is trying to tighten the rules so we do not know if there will be problems for his renewal. Zara’s one won’t expire until June 2012. Please pray that if it is God’s will for us to remain in Zambia, Timothy’s application will be approved without problem and he will not need to wait long for his permit to be issued.

We will take a short break from 23 to 31 December. We will stay for five days in Victoria Falls (the town), Zimbabwe and two days in Livingstone. We hope to send you another newsletter before we go. Sorry for sending this one late. We had written part of it but then many things happened and we failed to complete it last Thursday. So we better finish it now and send it out before it is too late. With Christian love.

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