An Update from Farai Rukunda on Arnoldine UMC in Zimbabwe:

"I grew up in Zimbabwe, Africa, as an orphan after losing both my parents from a car accident in 1976 when I was 6 years old. My siblings and I were fortunate enough to be adopted by Norman and Winnie Thomas--United Methodist missionaries who had lived and worked in my home village of Arnoldine. Arnoldine is called a “mission” because it is a farm acquired by our Church in the early 20th century. However, it was never developed as a center for the Church’s work. Instead, it provided a new home for African Methodist families who had been evicted by the European government from their traditional homelands. With little outside help they built a primary school, and in the 1980s replaced the old thatched-roofed church with a well-constructed building. The elementary school buildings are gleaming white, decorated with floor-to-ceiling colored maps of the world, of Africa, and of Zimbabwe. More important, they have achieved a 96% pass rate on the national exams. The school and its buildings are a great source of pride for the people of Arnoldine.

This past summer I had the opportunity to return to Zimbabwe and to my home village of Arnoldine with my adopted dad. As we were preparing for the trip, the lay leader of the church requested help to repaint the church building, which was beginning to show significant signs of wear and tear. Through the generous support of the Stevensville United Methodist Church, part of the funds received from our Christmas offering this past year ($1,205.00) were used to buy the paint and other related materials needed for the painting and plaster repair. The labor to paint the church was provided by the church members, who were eager to have the building match the gleaming white school they are so proud of.

On behalf of Arnoldine Mission United Methodist Church I would like to thank Stevensville United Methodist Church and its congregation for their generosity. You have touched and changed lives of many people 10,000 miles across the atlantic Ocean. May God continue to bless you."