St. Stephen family hits another bump in the road to serving in Africa
Members of the Way family of St. Stephen have begun their journey back to Canada from Africa.
Jeff, Carole, and their two daughters, Lia and Naomi, were not able to raise sufficient funds to satisfy the government of Zimbabwe of their intention to begin a business which would allow them to work at Eden Children’s Village, an orphanage and the working farm with which it is associated.
“Yes, we are once again leaving Zimbabwe,” wrote Jeff Way in a response to this newspaper’s inquiry. “We still don’t have the required assets to apply for a business investor visa, so we are coming home to fundraise so that we can return to Eden Children’s Village.”
The family spent Christmas Eve with children in the village “enjoying their excitement as they opened their Christmas presents.”
“Tomorrow we will celebrate Christmas with the other missionaries here at Eden, and will finish packing up our house to leave for the Netherlands on our way back to Canada on Monday morning. So many goodbyes…” wrote Jeff on the family’s Facebook site, The ZimbabWays.
The family intends to stop and visit with one of their partners in the construction company they formed, Buwe Innovative Solutions, which was approved by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority.
The business partnership also included the Eden school headmaster – in Zimbabwe all business must be majority-owned by a Shona person. The company name “Buwe” means “solid foundation” in Shona, the local dialect.
The family began the new phase in their lives in the fall of 2014, after selling their home in St. Stephen, packing up, and heading to the orphanage in Zimbabwe which Carole and Jeff had visited a year earlier at the invitation of people who worked there.
Way is a carpenter, his wife a licensed practical nurse. They and their daughters paid an extended visit to Eden from Nov. 5, 2014 to Aug. 17, 2015 where they learned how the orphanage community operated and cared for the many children it helps. They assisted in ways they could; Jeff by teaching the older orphans how to build and Carole helping in the medical clinic.
During that time, they had to renew their visitors’ visas on a monthly basis which involved a grueling, lengthy drive and equally long waits in an administrative office while officials decided whether or not to approve the extensions.
The Ways learned establishing a business would allow them to become eligible for permanent resident status and began the process towards that goal, even though it meant leaving Africa and returning to Canada to complete the necessary business start-up paperwork and to raise the necessary qualifying funds.
The process wasn’t as straightforward, or as easy, as they had hoped-and it wasn’t until April of this year that they were able to return to Zimbabwe.
Their reasons for going to Zimbabwe hadn’t changed, Jeff related at the time, saying they were returning to where they felt God had called them to live and serve.
“It’s about God and being obedient to Him and serving the poorest of the poor,” said Jeff as he relaxed in a friend’s living room prior to departure.
“We understand that people think we are crazy; they don’t understand how we could ‘give up so much.’ Sure, it’s a sacrifice, but we are so sure that this is what we are meant to do that it doesn’t really feel like it.”
At the time Way said material things – like a house and cars, “stuff we hold onto – that’s just stuff.”
“When you are helping people who have no way of reciprocating and you can love them by serving them, that makes what we are doing so worth it. How could we not go back?”
However, despite their best efforts, the Way family still had immigration issues to deal with every month and announced in September they had decided to leave Eden and journey to South Africa to live and serve at a mission school called Shayandima.
“This will be a great time to not live under the stress of immigration issues and to work on fundraising so that we can return to Eden Children’s Village with long-term visas,” Jeff wrote on the family’s Facebook site.
On Nov. 27, another post announced the postponement of their dream of serving at Eden.
“We want to be at Eden, we do,” Jeff wrote. “The truth is that we have not been able to raise the funds necessary to be permitted to stay long-term and we cannot live doing month to month visits to immigration anymore (even if they would let us).
“We have prayed and asked God about different options – going to Malawi, or Zambia, or staying in South Africa and none of those options have left us with peace for now. So, we will be coming back to Canada in January (of all months!) to fund-raise and wait on the Lord for direction.
“We’re not giving up; this is just the next curve in our path. We could certainly use your prayers and we look forward to connecting with many of you when we get back to that side of the world!”