December 24, 2011



babies sleeping 23 dec 017 - CopyAs I sat quietly in the nursery at lunch time yesterday, I marvelled that six babies would all fall asleep at the same time, lying in cribs pushed right up against each other in this small room. There were shuffles and snuffles and the occasional whimper from Xadreque, the youngest and newest nursery resident.

Just two months ago, Xadreque [below] was brought to the Centre desperately malnourished, literally starving to death. At 7 months of age and just under 6kg, he was fighting for his life and now we were fighting with him. Within days and under the ever-watchful eye of our medical team, he began putting on weight and, after a week, he was giggling and happy, his skin beginning to glow again and his hair to grow. He has big black eyes that sparkle all the time and notice everything, especially nowXadraque he has gained enough strength to sit up and turn his head toward every noise he hears. He misses nothing. Silvia [below], 13 months old and the natural leader of the five toddlers who are now all either walking or crawling, has lately taken to touching Xadreque’s cheek gently and making kissing sounds with her lips. She’s learned this from observing the many times a day Xadreque is kissed and cuddled by the tias, missionaries and visitors who cannot resist him.

To play a part in loving a child back to life is the greatest privilege I can imagine and, as I watched Xadreque sleeping (his name comes from Shadrach in the Bible), I marvelled once more that I am a part of such a miraculous place, where the hopelessness of poverty is defeated by the powerful and practical hope of love. Here, we have the immense honour of loving the dying back to life and watching them grow into the healthy, strong adults they were always destined to be.

I will celebrate Christmas this year with my Zimpeto family: 260 children, 150 workers and 30 missionaries. I will miss another Walker family Christmas and the laughter, the pressies, the giant turkey on the barbeque and the noise of my nieces and nepSilviahews swimming in the pool in the late afternoon. I’ll think of them tomorrow and be sad for just a moment or two, wishing I were there. It won’t last long - I will have noise and activity and laughter enough here.

Tomorrow will be all about our Zimpeto kids and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Presents and prayers, singing and dancing in the summer heat and humidity, a church decorated with streamers and balloons and, hopefully, cooled by a breeze flowing through the open eaves, a feast of chicken, chips, rice and fizzy drinks, and the celebration of the birth of the perfect Saviour who makes all of this possible.

The celebrations begin tonight with a Candle Service (yes, candles for all our kids, oh my!) and nativity play, then supper at the home of our Base Directors. In the morning, I will be woken by the noise of excited children before dawn – some things are the same the world over. There will be presentations of gifts in every dorm and, of course, the nursery. Then church, a lunch feast, more presentations and, in the evening, a Christmas dinner with all the missionaries. At some point inWendy and girl in church the evening’s proceedings there will be a wild, undignified and hilarious Secret Santa game.

Thanks and blessings to all who have prayed for me and for the ministry this year, and to those who have given financially. Thank you for your sensitivity and generosity: I look for what may be credited to your account (Phil. 4:17). Thank you for remembering the poor.

To all my friends and family, I wish you the hope and joy that come from knowing that, because of the birth-day of Jesus, all things are possible. Celebrate the arrival of Jesus two thousand years ago and His presence with us today and enjoy the festivities... I know I will!

Feliz Natal to all!



November 12, 2011


Enjoy this slideshow of a year in the life of Zimpeto Children's Centre.  Every time I watch it I am reminded of how very rich I am and how good God is. He sets the lonely in families, His heart is towards the orphans and the widows as He calls ours to be also, and, in Him, there is always a way!

October 1, 2011


  Three weeks old. Underweight. Hungry. Wrapped in an old capulana, tied snugly to the front of his vovo (grandma) with great-auntie walking beside them. Somehow they found their way to us at Zimpeto Children’s Centre. They were here for an hour and this one hour I spent on a busy, hot, dusty “ordinary” day, shook me to the core, reminding me once again why I am here, doing what I do. Vitoria who lives in the nursery, with her brothers who also live at the CentreThe baby’s mother left him a few days ago, disappearing into the night, and these two older ladies now have a newborn to feed and no money with which to buy baby formula. The father was not mentioned and the baby has no name. As this tiny, tiny bundle wrapped his minute fingers around mine and gurgled weakly, the significance of this moment captured me and will not let go its grip even a day later. This one hour and this tiny babe crashed through the ordinariness of a day that has become just one of many routine days for me. I email with potential visitors. I administrate our newly-established sponsorship programme. I pray. I play with children.  Then I pray some more, never feeling I can pray as much as the needs here warrant. I try to write about it all but, even in this, I have become complacent. Surely the stories have all been told and there’s nothing more to say about “the poor”.
How can one become complacent about poverty and its consequences? I see first-hand, every day, the devastation that poverty wreaks on its victims yet, still, I have allowed my heart to shut down to the suffering of those around me. My compassion has become stale and inaccessible, even in moments when I hear of the afflictions of Mozambican friends and colleagues. Sina 5 wks 1.7 kgs Mum died at birth.bmpI have heard in the past few months of the deaths of four people who were close to us here at the Centre. Two of our precious girls; the man who ran the shop at the Centre gate from whom we bought cool drinks for the kids as a treat; a young man who used to live here and left to be with his extended family. This tally does not count the many deaths of people I have not known personally: a mother in childbirth, the brother of a worker... there are more but my complacency has enabled me to forget the details. When did I become so complacent about poverty? How could I grow to be so unmoved by death? In the world from which I have come, such happenings would make the news every night for a week and cause uproar in the media, and in political and social welfare circles. Here, it is just another day. Yesterday, a brief meeting with a hungry babe in his grandma’s arms shook the complacency that has gradually established itself in my heart in the 3 ½ years I have been here. For this, I am grateful. Cacilda bucketMozambique is the 5th poorest nation in the world. Most of the babies we receive into our care are malnourished, many close to the point of starvation when they arrive. I am privileged to spend time each week with our six now-healthy, well-fed, rapidly growing babies in the nursery who are all under one. They came to us sick and struggling and now are round-cheeked , rosy-skinned and delightfully happy. Silvia has rolls of baby fat on her thighs. Sheila is sitting up on her own. Vitoria giggles just at the sight of my wriggling fingers coming close to tickle her chubby tummy. Even in Portuguese, it seems the first “words” from a baby’s mouth are “mum-um-um-um-um...” . This morning Casilda sat in the sand with a bucket over her head, quite content to listen to the echoing noises from under her colourful hat. Gloria cried when she got sand in her mouth. Silvia practised walking in the sand, enjoying the soft landing each time she fell over. Jeremias chewed on his shoe, Vitoria tried to make a fast getaway on her knees, chuckling as I swung her onto my shoulder and carried her back to the mat. Sheila sat and watched quietly, enjoying her more adventurous friends providing entertainment. The nursery is well-stocked with baby formula and bottles and clothes for tiny babies such as yesterday’s visitor, ready for any eventuality. We gave the grandma a baby bottle and some formula to last through to next week when we hope they will come bacNursery Aug 008k again if they need more help. We may, though, never see them again and I am okay with that. We prayed for him and his two vovos and, in those moments, I sensed a destiny for this babe that God was sealing. All it took was a can of yellow powder and a plastic bottle to save his life. I can imagine no more powerful gift to give than life and, for a moment God arrested my attention by allowing me to play just a small part in this interplay that has changed a life – make that two lives – forever. Photos: 1. Wendy with Vitoria who lives in the nursery, with her two brothers who also live here at the Centre. 2. Sina when she arrived at Zimpeto.  She is now five years old, healthy and full of life and spunk! 3. Casilda and her favourite sand toy 4. Tia Madelena feeding Jeremias, Vitoria, Silvia and Sheila in the nursery.