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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Mar. 15, 2018

Look at the that, would you, a whole month has passed. Holy Moses. Well, we had Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent on the 14th and we kept the ashes for Sundays after as well as every day at the hospital. I think that people think it is important to celebrate, outwardly, what they are determined to do (try to be better persons) inwardly and the ashes kind of encourages them to do just that. We did a couple of hospital visits at the beginning of Lent and also brought communion to the sick who are housebound and can’t get out of the house to get to church. They are grateful that someone takes notice of them and, I am sure, the tell the Lord that they appreciate his concern, which comes through us, the servants of the people.

   WE had another meeting at El Arish to keep moving forward on the plan to build the church to St. Therese of Lisieux. The fence to go around the property (with a kind of nice to look at low wall across the front at what will be the entrance) is first on the agenda. But we need someone to find the boundary pegs first, so it was decided to start there.

    I have been using a rental car (to replace the damaged vehicle which still isn’t finished, Ugh.) I had to return this vehicle on Friday the 23rd and a friend gave me a Toyota pickup truck that I almost need a ladder to get into to use in the meantime. The driver’s side window doesn’t open, so I have to open the other side to get some air inside, but at least I have some wheels.

     We had a memorial Mass for Ted Rogers on that Friday and celebrated the memory of a very special person, not just because he wrote the book explaining the lives of the Rhodesia / Zimbabwe martyrs, many of whom are our confreres, but because he was a remarkable person into many things, including being the Jesuit representative for AIDs work throughout Africa, in his old age. He died at 92, just after finishing the book. He never stopped.

    The next day I took the “tank” to Mthatha for a Board meeting of Sabelani (Fr. Guy’s guys). That thing moves, but is also eats. I was afraid to put things in the back of the pickup as they have a way of disappearing before you get to where you are going. I filled the passenger seat to the brim with the old (but beautiful) clothes that had been donated for the poor. I went straight to Landsend and brought them to Nothemba, who looks after the house and grounds. It was sad to see the place slowly deteriorating, No one goes to the outstations any more so people just drift to any church that offers some attention. I can’t blame them for that.

   That afternoon (24th, Saturday) we had the meeting and decided to take on some more students and others who need help while looking after the one who had already arrived. There was still hesitance on their part to accept that we need an NPO to replace the present situation where the three main members of Sabelani are the ones who have the power to act with regard to the account, the house and the movable property. It was decided that Thembekile, the one with the most experience and knowledge, would come and explain between three possibilities, which would be best for us for the future. I was satisfied that some good decisions were made and the spirit among the guys was good. Fr. Guy’s teaching and guidance has gone into their bones and spirits. Hooray. We closed the meeting and then shared a meal and after the meal we paid our respects to the ancestors for being with us by sharing a drop or two of Uncle Jack Daniels. Nice way to end the day.

     I was able to say Mass with the CPS sisters, who are our partners and with whom we have worked, when they, and I were younger.  I visited a few people to keep up the friendship and headed back to Mariannhill on the 28th. The whole time I was there there was no internet, so I was way behind. (One gets so used to communicating by email and WhatsApp, that it becomes like oxygen. When you can’t connect, it is like not being able to breathe.) I come home to find that our internet it also not there most of the time.

     I had lunch with an old friend from the States, Dr. Brant Barr, and obsteretician, (I used to be a good speller, now look). He had had a mild stroke and was trying to lie low here in SA for while before going back to the States with a stop in Tanzania with a friend to do some more charity work. I meet some of the greatest people, including his friend from Tanzania.

     As I may haver shared with you, I had a contract with Vodacom for R75 a month for 1GB. For almost 3 yrs. I never paid more, and never went over that 1GB.  33months. But suddenly, in Nov. 2017, I get a bill for over R2000. Holy Moses. Of course, I queried it at the bank and had the bank return the money to my account, while I also went to Vodacom to ask why? Of course, it would have to happen just then, that their computers were down and could I wait till they came back on line. Phooey! I can’t be sitting around the whole day for them so I just left and told them to contact me about it when they got back on line. This was Tuesday the 6th. On Thursday, my friend, Manuela Carida, from Rome came for a visit and stayed till Saturday the 9th. We did some planning around my home leave trip which will start in Rome next year, 2019, at the beginning of June. Manuela had agreed to be my chauffeur and take me around in lower Europe (Italy, Switzerland, Germany) and we had to decide which places we could hit in the small time frame that I had.

    On Friday, we went back to Vodacom (she also wanted to get some air time for her stay here in SA.) and I then tried to settle with them my queried account. I was informed by one of their reps that Vodacom was graciously giving me the benefit of the doubt by offering to deposit R1400 back in my account, out of the more than R2000 that they had charged me. I figured that I wasn’t going to get a better deal than that and took it. But then told them to re-arrange the contract so that when the R75 was used up, it automatically shut off so those charges wouldn’t happen again. That’s how we ended up. In the meantime, they re connected my mobile modem so that I at least have some way to get on the internet at least to check the emails. We have had another frustration for the past week in that there was no internet at all. Bad, bad, bad. Two days ago, 13th, I managed to catch Br. Tendai and he gave put the password into my computer for the wi fi at the monastery. So for the last two days I have been able to catch up on emails and WhatsApps. Amen.

     IN the meantime, one of our house mothers, Mpume, phoned to say that she has no sight in her left eye. Wow. So I told her to go straight to the doctor. There is an eye clinic here and she went there but they only gave her some drops in her eye. So I made and appointment for her to see my Ophthalmalogist. I took her there on Monday and he said there is nothing wrong with her eye. It is perfect. But it is the nerve leading to the eye that is causing the problem and that we should see a neurologist. His secretary phoned one and when she asked what was the charge for a consultation, it was R1000. Holy Moses. And if he decided that she had to be hospitalized….. I told them that I didn’t have the wherewithal to make a commitment to pay for all that and she only earns R2200 a month.

So the Doctor wrote a note to our local (in Durban) eye special hospital, McCord, to explain what and why. I took her there and there were about 2 million people already in queues, but…. So we finally got someone to read the note and then the process started by getting her registered, in the system, and back to Room 8, where she got into the queue. It was about noon then. So, I left her and told he to make her way home on her own and gave her some money for the taxi fare (the registration was R 65, about $ 6.50…you can’ t beat that), but it is just the crowds and crowds of people. I phoned her again at 4pm and she said that she was still in the queue and there were still 6 people in front of her. I told her to phone at 6pm if she was still there and I would come to fetch her and take her home. For the poor it is easier to die than to live since they can’t pay. Bad. I phoned her later that evening and she said that when the doctor finally saw her he only put some drops in her eyes and said that her sight would probably return in two weeks. Now that I had access to the internet, I sent an email to Dr. Pearse, who was concerned about what could happen and he responded by advising her to go within 10 days back to McCord’s for a check up. Which I passed on to her. I will take her there if necessary. And, in the meantime, we keep our fingers crossed.

    I have been able to use my Skype once and am a bit relieved that I can get to the monastery a couple of times a day to follow up on emails and whatsapps. I will have to change my schedule. I am getting lazier and lazier since I cant get the internet during the day here in my room and in the evening when I used to do lots of things on the internet. So, that’s it for now. I think I want to go back to Vodacom and see if I can get a different deal since I am afraid to over use my mobile router now. I have been able to make a couple of brochures for memorial masses and funeral masses by using pictures that are available on the internet so I feel much better now. It has been very hot here and I have been using the fan at night to be able to sleep with the air stirred up a bit. That’s my life now.

See you at the next session. Cas.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Feb. 19th

This just came in from my cousin in Livermore, CA.

Florida student to NRA and Trump: 'We call BS'
orida student to NRA and Trump: 'We call BS' 11:40
(CNN)Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, addressed a gun control rally on Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, days after a gunman entered her school in nearby Parkland and killed 17 people.
Below is a full transcript of her speech:
We haven't already had a moment of silence in the House of Representatives, so I would like to have another one. Thank you.
Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it's time for victims to be the change that we need to see. Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but our laws have not.
We certainly do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. In Florida, to buy a gun you do not need a permit, you do not need a gun license, and once you buy it you do not need to register it. You do not need a permit to carry a concealed rifle or shotgun. You can buy as many guns as you want at one time.
Read More
I read something very powerful to me today. It was from the point of view of a teacher. And I quote: When adults tell me I have the right to own a gun, all I can hear is my right to own a gun outweighs your student's right to live. All I hear is mine, mine, mine, mine.
Instead of worrying about our AP Gov chapter 16 test, we have to be studying our notes to make sure that our arguments based on politics and political history are watertight. The students at this school have been having debates on guns for what feels like our entire lives. AP Gov had about three debates this year. Some discussions on the subject even occurred during the shooting while students were hiding in the closets. The people involved right now, those who were there, those posting, those tweeting, those doing interviews and talking to people, are being listened to for what feels like the very first time on this topic that has come up over 1,000 times in the past four years alone.
I found out today there's a website Nothing in the title suggests that it is exclusively tracking the USA's shootings and yet does it need to address that? Because Australia had one mass shooting in 1999 in Port Arthur (and after the) massacre introduced gun safety, and it hasn't had one since. Japan has never had a mass shooting. Canada has had three and the UK had one and they both introduced gun control and yet here we are, with websites dedicated to reporting these tragedies so that they can be formulated into statistics for your convenience.
I watched an interview this morning and noticed that one of the questions was, do you think your children will have to go through other school shooter drills? And our response is that our neighbors will not have to go through other school shooter drills. When we've had our say with the government -- and maybe the adults have gotten used to saying 'it is what it is,' but if us students have learned anything, it's that if you don't study, you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it's time to start doing something.
We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we're going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting. Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law. That's going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook and it's going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most of all the students. The students who are dead, the students still in the hospital, the student now suffering PTSD, the students who had panic attacks during the vigil because the helicopters would not leave us alone, hovering over the school for 24 hours a day.
There is one tweet I would like to call attention to. So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities again and again. We did, time and time again. Since he was in middle school, it was no surprise to anyone who knew him to hear that he was the shooter. Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn't know this kid. OK, we did. We know that they are claiming mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this was not just a mental health issue. He would not have harmed that many students with a knife.
And how about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the student's fault, the fault of the people who let him buy the guns in the first place, those at the gun shows, the people who encouraged him to buy accessories for his guns to make them fully automatic, the people who didn't take them away from him when they knew he expressed homicidal tendencies, and I am not talking about the FBI. I'm talking about the people he lived with. I'm talking about the neighbors who saw him outside holding guns.
If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.
You want to know something? It doesn't matter, because I already know. Thirty million dollars. And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and one-half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800. Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don't do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you.
To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.
Crowd chants, shame on you.
If your money was as threatened as us, would your first thought be, how is this going to reflect on my campaign? Which should I choose? Or would you choose us, and if you answered us, will you act like it for once? You know what would be a good way to act like it? I have an example of how to not act like it. In February of 2017, one year ago, President Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses.
From the interactions that I had with the shooter before the shooting and from the information that I currently know about him, I don't really know if he was mentally ill. I wrote this before I heard what Delaney said. Delaney said he was diagnosed. I don't need a psychologist and I don't need to be a psychologist to know that repealing that regulation was a really dumb idea.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was the sole sponsor on this bill that stops the FBI from performing background checks on people adjudicated to be mentally ill and now he's stating for the record, 'Well, it's a shame the FBI isn't doing background checks on these mentally ill people.' Well, duh. You took that opportunity away last year.
The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS.Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn't reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call BS. Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.
If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congresspeople. Give them a piece of your mind.
(Crowd chants) Throw them out.

Feb.15, 2018.

I don’t remember where we left off but here are a few things that have happened that might be interesting to you. If you get bored, just drop it.

       I think I told you about the accident I had and how I had to go to the police to make a report and get to the insurance company to start the process of getting the money for repairing the car (poor little thing). To make a long story short, the Insurance company declared my vehicle to be a write off so they would either take the car and give me the book value R26,000 and something. Or, I would keep the car and they would give me R15400 and something to repair the car. It won’t be enough but I don’t really have any choice since the R26 ,000 wouldn’t even buy a motorized wheelbarrow.

     In the meantime, On the 2nd of  Feb. I celebrated with our community (for us Catholics it is the feast of the Presentation---when Jesus’ parents presented Jesus to God and asked a blessing on his life.) when our young men start their novitiate, their year of introduction to the Mariannhill community, and when those who have finished that year, and have asked to join the community, and have been accepted, take their first vows for a year. They will do this 2 or 3 times, for a year at a time till, at the end they take permanent vows. They have plenty of time to get out if they think this isn’t the calling for them. Then the rest of us, old timers, renew our vows. It is a big day and a big celebration.

    In the afternoon a friend took me to the airport to catch a plane for Dubai and from there to Chicago the join the family in celebrating my Aunt Rose’s 100th birthday. Although it snowed at least a bit every day I was there, it was only just after I left that the really big snow (more than a foot) came down.

     Rose’s husband was Wally, who passed away in about 2007 or 2008. I can’t think of Rose without thinking of him. She was who she was because of his input into her life and he was who he was, also partly because of the her input into his life. I think that we learned that in physics. There is no way that you can define an element by itself because it is always in relation to other elements. I think it is true of human beings too.

     Wally was born in the house where they lived after their marriage in 1937 and Rose still lives there. Holy Moses. 1109 N. Richmond, Humboldt 61183, are burned into my psyche almost as my identity. Anyway, on Sunday the 4th of Feb we celebrated Mass together with the community of Sr. Mark’s parish where she has been a parishioner for over 60 yrs. After the Mass, we went off for the celebratory party at a venue called the White Eagle. It seems that the family knew the place from before and it had a Polish flavour. There were family from Cairo in Egypt, me from South Africa, Ottawa in Canada, DC, Tuscon Arizona, North Carolina, San Diego, Detroit, as well as locals from the Milwaukee – Chicago area, Illinois and Indiana. She, and the rest of her generation, aunts and uncles, left us a tough legacy to follow and keep up with. They were of the old school, rock solid, loving, caring, honest, non-hypocritical, non-judgmental people. If the rest of the world were like them we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now. Although Rose uses a wheelchair, she can also use a walker. Her hearing is not that good but she is lively and humorous and quick to respond to anything. I found out that she was number 9 of the 14 children in her family. I think that her enduring presence has played a very positive role in all of our lives, kind of challenging us to live up to the standards that she and her generation set for us.

    I will be, God-willing, taking my home leave next year and really was afraid to miss this opportunity to tell her how much we love her and appreciate who she is for us all.. She may not be here next year so I felt that I had to go now.

    I am not a happy plane traveller. I can’t sleep and get very uncomfortable sitting for anywhere from 8 ½ hrs. to 14 hrs. I always get an aisle seat, preferably not too far from the John, so that I don’t have to disturb others often when I go to the John or just to keep from getting another DVT by marching up and down the aisle to keep the blood circulating.

     My travel agent, Rajes, also ordered a wheelchair for me this time. As my friend made it clear to me, I only refuse to take a wheelchair (I will be 83 this year, so I am much younger than Rose) because I am too proud a priest to be seen in a wheelchair. Not macho enough. Okay, so I became very humble and took it, again, and now I am getting addicted. They wheel you easily through immigration and customs with no fuss at all. I try to tell myself that it is OK but something inside of me says it ain’t fair.

     It was great to be with the family  again and to catch up a bit on their lives and to see them smile and be happy although they all have big problems (health and otherwise) that sit on their shoulders. I get energized and inspired when I see them and know the problems they have to deal with every day in their lives. In comparison, I have no problems or at least small ones. So I guess that means that I have to use what energy I have to give help and support to those who have bigger problems and who need help and encouragement.

    This time, I stayed with my cousin Jean and he husband Tom. I enjoyed their playful dogs, one big and a young teenager, the other small and older and a bit more cranky, something like people. Michael, their oldest son, did the snow shoveling the whole time. It was nice to see a family in action, each doing his or her thing but with sharing chores when it needed sharing. It was refreshing to be with Rose and the family. It touched my spirit. Also, it was nice to see my little brother (he is huge) John and his wife Donna, and my nieces Jenna and Karla. Just being with them picks up my spirits. It’s like drinking Energade.

    I also learned, on the way back how to kill time on the plane so that you didn’t notice how tired your buns were getting because I kept myself occupied with films, music, documentaries, and trips to the John and just keeping the blood flowing. I will sleep, I told myself, when I get home. Although I did get a good sleep in a hotel bed, organized by my travel agent, so that I didn’t have to sleep on a chair in the airport at Dubai. Many thanks to her.

     I arrived home on a Saturday evening and was off and running for an 8:30 Mass at a neighboring parish. They had asked, via WhatsApp, from South Africa, to Chicago, If I could take that Mass and I answered Yes. Modern communication. Wow.

Whew, why do I wait so long to keep the blog updated. Now I have to do some packing. Good night. Cas

Now it is Sunday the 18th of Feb.

     I have been reading the biography of Dorothy Day the past week or so and I just came to the point where she passed away, quietly, “like turning a page” one described it. She has been challenging me to rethink who I am, what I have done and am doing, and what are my deepest convictions. She has been on my mind and in my heart a lot these days. In a way she reminds me of Thomas Merton, whose life in “ The Seven Story Mountain”, also touched me. People who live a normal, even unchristian life, so to say, with plenty of what we would call sin, and yet, drawn deeply in their spirits to a more meaningful and Godly life, involving the renunciation of most the material things that meant so much to them before, and finding life in spiritual things, but involving many sacrifices.

   But let me get back to the things at hand here.

   On the 12th of Feb. I had to take the rental car back to Avis and was prepared to do some more walking to the hospital every morning for Mass, and to cut down on my wanderings. However, when I got to the desk, the guy said why are you bringing the car back so early. It isn’t due till the 22nd. Holy Moses. Sharon, our insurance agent, had persuaded the insurance company to extend the time for another 10 days. That came as a relief to me because, as you may have already noticed, I am definitely addicted to my “wheels”. That meant that I could go to the bank to deposit the gifts I had received in Chicago meant for the poor. I could also go to Vodacom to find out why I was charged more that R60.00 for air time from the 2nd to the 10th of Feb. How could that be because I was in the States that whole time and never used to phone for phone calls. He discovered that some company  was taking off R7.00 each day for something that I had signed up for without even realizing it. Wow. I also queried the bill I got for R2037.00, for one month when, for the whole year previous, I had always paid R75.00 for my mobile router which I use only when I am away from my home wi-fi. They have cut me off service until this matter is resolved. I argued that it is clear that for 12 months, and more, I never went over the R75.00 so how could it be that in the next month, I racked up a bill for over R2000 when I didn’t do anything different. Maybe it is like the Russians who are interfering with American media. But Why me? I haven’t been colluding with anyone, not even the Russians.

     Ash Wednesday was special because it was also Valentine’s day. They actually go together because they are both about love. And love, as we all know, is about sacrifice. There is no lover who is a true lover unless he or she is willing to sacrifice for the loved one. Tell me this isn’t true! And the ashes are a sign that we appreciate the sacrifice that Jesus made for us when he gave up his life on the cross for us, a thing that he didn’t have to do, for sure. And the ashes are a sign that we are willing, during lent, to make a few sacrifices in return and in appreciation for what he has done and taught us to do, if we want to be real lovers. The little church was packed and there were many teen agers and smaller kids. I was happy because it gave me a chance to explain to them what both Ash Wednesday and St. Valentine’s day were all about, at least what they mean to me.

    Trying to put into practice what I had preached about on Wednesday, on Thursday I managed to visit 5 people in 3 different hospitals, to bring them a bit of love and consolation since it was the last place that they really wanted to be.

   I hadn’t seen my friend Shirley for a long time so I decided to pop in and see how she was doing. She is past 83 and works full time as a painter, teaching, giving workshops, etc. She wasn’t home when I first stopped so I thought I could use the time to check at Avis about my bringing in the vehicle the next day, the 16th. Ha, he said, no, it has been extended to the 23rd. What, again!!! Well that makes it easier for me. But I am going to get more and more lazy or do more and more traveling if this keeps up.

   ON Saturday, I had mass with the sister postulants. It always my heart happy to see young girls who are still willing to give up their lives in service to God’s people in a variety of ways in a religious community. However, I also pray hard for them because I know from experience that it ain’t going to be an easy life. Like all of us, we have to be prepared to take the good with the bad, if we want to be faithful to our basic commitment, especially as Christians, but also as good, decent human beings, to try to make this a bit better world for our having been here. The temptations to go the opposite direction are strong.

     Well, here in our part of the world, South Africa has a new president. The old one, Jacob Zuma, finally agreed to resign “with immediate effect”, and the take over of the new one, Cyril Ramaposa, was a smooth and orderly one when there could have been disorder and even violence. He made the usual promises of all politicians when he gave the State of the Nation Address, but, coming from him, it sounded better than it has for the past 10 years. We now have to pray for him because it is a mammoth task to try to deal with all the problems that face us, among them huge unemployment among our youth, deep and serious corruption, improving our sagging economy, dealing with the water crisis (you probably heard that Cape Town is only a few months from day zero, no water in the taps….that is for 4 million people. And Cape Town is not the only one. We are a desertifying country and everyone must do their best to limit our consumption of and use of water.) These are just a few. Infrastructure, agriculture, a limping education system, a health system that needs a total overhaul, the possibility of a national health system to make decent health care a real possibility for the poor who are locked out of the system now, for the most part, not able to afford the best health care in the world in the private hospitals.

     I pray that America may find a way to deal with Trump as Zimbabwe managed to deal with Mugabe and South Africa managed to deal with Zuma. But that’s enough for now. Love you always. Cas.

Monday Feb. 19th

   I think I was dreaming last night. I don’t know if this happened really or only in my head. A Mexican migrant, pleading for his life, don’t shoot, bang, by a border guard, one less Mexican migrant, now we can feel more secure. Another family starving without a breadwinner, driven by the hunger of his starving wife and children to try to find a source of income. Where, America, is your compassion, mercy, justice even. When I grew up America was loved by the whole world. Everyone wanted to come here, and many did, including my grandparents, from Poland on the one side and from Denmark on the other. Migrants. Now America is hated and feared. We should send the Statue of Liberty back to France and put up a statue of Trump, with his arms outstretched and his palms turned up, with the saying. “Go away, you are not welcome here. Especially you Muslims”.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Jan. 28th (a bit more)

Jan. 19th and 20th checking what happened while I was gone. No progress on the car. The assessor still hadn’t come so we don’t know what the insurance will say, but probably write-off.

Jan. 21st  Mass at Savannah Park followed by birthday celebration for Bishop Lobinger. The ACTS group brought tons of food and a cake and good company. It was a delightful day. The food from the monastery we ate for supper. We had some drinks and a long conversation till about 3:30pm. Lots of things discussed. Nice. (Bishop Lobinger loaned me his vehicle to go for mass. After mass I went to the store and bought him a birthday cake)

Jan. 22nd  Sister was kind and fetched me with a car from the convent to save me the walk to the hospital in the morning.   About 25 minute walk.


Jan. 23rd.   Got the OK from insurance to get a loaner from Avis. Good for twenty days. Hope that the car will be finished by that time.

Jan. 24th. My turn to fetch sister and then to catch up on all the stuff that I was unable to do when I was carless.

I killed many birds with one stone. Pharmacy to fetch my medication for the month (an old folk’s chore)---Stop at ATM to take out some cash… Rajes the travel agent to make sure that all is OK for the trip to Chicago…Pavilion shopping mall to get a pair of shoes to protect my delicate feet in the cold and snow of Chicago…haircut at hairdresser.  All in one go. Wow.

Jan. 25th Cut grass the whole morning and got a call from the insurance at 17:20 in the evening. They are going to write it off , as we thought, what do I want to do. I am too poor to buy another vehicle so I will keep the car and use whatever the insurance pays out to repair it. Probably not enough but what can I do… Called the insurance broker in Mthatha and she says they will send a report. Who knows how long that will take.

Jan. 26th.   Not much, more grass cutting before I head off next week. Also started packing my suitcase. Less than half the weight allowed but I will only be there for a few days. So I put a box in to take up the space so that they don’t crush my suitcase. Ha.

Jan. 27th. Cutting the whole morning, the last part that needed cutting. Visit by aunt and child (9th grade) who is asking for help in buying school things. I looked at the items (over R4000 worth…I don’t know how they expect people to be able to afford this stuff…. It is probably more than two to three times what a person might get in a month…. Holy Moses)… There was an item, something like Ties X 2 R30.00  I asked if each tie cost 30 rand or if that was for both. No it was for both. Then clarify it for me. Then I asked the girl how much is 15 plus 15. She looked at me with a blank stare. She had no clue. She is in grade 9. What did her teachers teach her. What is her future like. The kids here are terrified of maths and it becomes a block. No one gives them a foundation. I once asked something like how much is 25 and 10. After a long while someone was brave enough to give an answer    47. Again, no clue, just take a guess.

    I phoned Shirley in the afternoon (my friend since I was chaplain at St. Mary’s hospital when she gave birth to her last born in 1967) if I could come over and use her internet since ours was on and off, mostly off , and I had some important missives to get off. We had a chance to chat for a while then she was off to Mass and I came hope to prepare my sermon for Sunday, in Zulu, mostly.

Sunday Jan. 28th. Mass at Savannah Park again. Big crowd. We are growing, even young people. Then lunch with the Pillay family. They are looking after three young girls who have dysfunctional homes. One of them is actually an orphan. But she is of an age where the boys are heading for her like to a pot of honey and she is, of course, responding in kind. It is causing a crisis in the house and may end  sadly with her going back into an institution. She is an angry young girl, grade 11, quite attractive, and angry at the world that has dealt her a lousy hand. That is how I see it. And her anger comes out in very destructive ways to the point where it may come to getting the social worker to remove her. Sad but I understand. Pray for her. Life has been tough for her and she has been tough on those who were kind enough to try to give her a loving home.

That’s it for now. Cas.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Jan. 10, 2018

     Not much but some very important things happened since the last blog.

Dec.28-29th, still holiday time, so lunch at two families. Nice to see the kids and parents together. Lunch because a late supper often bring acid-reflux

Sat. Dec. 30, lots of grass cutting and bush chopping. There has been a good bit of rain, and the grass is delighted, of


Sun. Dec. 31, Holy Family Sunday – what is family today. It used to be father, mother, children, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, mostly. But today, it has taken on a different meaning, as far as I can see. Family is where you feel at home, where you are loved and accepted and given some kind of basic respect. There are so many dysfunctional homes where there is no love so, for many street kids, family is the kids who sleep together under the bridge. They are accepted and loved as they haven’t been at “home”. Or, drug addicts, who just can’t shake the habit, hang out with others who are in the same boat, where no questions are asked, you are not judged, just accepted for who you are, a wounded human being, like all the rest. Or it is the gang where you are somebody, where you feel attached and at home. So, I think that for many, family is where you feel at home, and accepted, not always scolded, loved in a certain kind of way, etc.

    It was also New Year’s Eve and there were invitations to join a party here or there to welcome in the new year. I did some praying and was in bed by 10pm. I guess that at my stage in life, starting the new year right is getting a good sleep. Ha. Would you believe. What is happening to me in my old age???

     Mon. Jan. 1…Mary Mother of God feast, as usual, at the hospital at 6 am. Not many customers, as you might imagine (the morning after the night before). Grass cutting and removing logs and branches that had been left bedhind by those who were cutting our Christmas trees.

   Tues. Jan. 2…A 2018 calendar for the hospital from the repository which opened after the new year. I had supper with a family who wanted to have a proper, party but also prayerful send off for a son who had gotten a job in Joburg and we were celebrating his farewell. It was amusing because his parents were invited, earlier, to his school where he teaches the young kids, and who heard what a great son they had raised who was loved by kids and staff who were really sorry to see him go. The parents said they wondered if the school was talking about the same guy whom they called their son. Ha. After the home mass (probably about 50 people) was the party. I had to get up for the 6am mass at the hospital the next morning so I tried to get someone to take me home. I was home sometime after 10pm. Not too bad.

    Wed. Jan. 3…After Mass I went looking for a pair of shoes for my trip to Chicago in Feb. for my Aunt Rose’s 100th birthday. I have no shoes, only sandals, and I heard on the news that the temp. in Chicago, with that cold wave, was like -20C. I was cajoled by a super salesman trying to get me to buy a pair of boots for R1000. Ha. I said I would have a look around. I eventually picked up a pair of light shoes for R300, just enough to get me through the trip for a few days and then back to the sandals.

     Thurs. Jan. 4, A surprise visit by a former student nurse who knew me when I was chaplain at St. Mary’s hospital for ’67 to ’69 . She, like me, is now retired. She was visiting from Joburg and popped in with her daughter and her husband and grandkids. Nice. The last time I saw her was in 1969 when I left St. Mary’s hospital. Wow. That’s 45 years ago. She got my cell phone number from someone and followed up on it.

     Fri. Jan. 5…More grass cutting and visiting the hospital at a reasonable time (not at 6am) to wish members of the staff a happy new year. Hugs of course. And it was Mpume’s birthday (she didn’t say how old she was but I am sure it is more than 16).

    Sat. Jan. 6…. A fateful day. I went to the pharmacy to pick up some Movicol, which helps people who, like me, have chronic constipation---I hear that it goes with the old age territory. I filled up with petrol and on the way back from town (about 7 km.  about 4 ½ miles) I had an accident (again, but not my fault). As you know, we drive on the opposite side of the road to what people drive on in the States. So, as I was approaching a junction where people get on the expressway, I had a green light so I cruised on as usual, maybe 30Mph, or so, and, without any warning, a guy coming from the opposite direction, made a right turn, right in front of me, trying to get onto the expressway, and, I couldn’t stop in time and banged into him, and demolished my front end. But he never stopped, He just kept going and disappeared onto the expressway. Judging from the damage to my car, he must have some serious damage to his car too. WE suspect that he was either drinking or on drugs or didn’t have a driver’s licence or was driving a stolen car…some reason why he didn’t want to be seen by the traffic police.

    Of course, the vultures were there to hurry and tow me away and I had to fight them off telling them that I had phoned a friend who was coming to my aid, which was true.  IN the meantime the traffic police came and had a look, but didn’t do anything, and an emergency vehicle came to check me out to see if I was OK, which I was, but they insisted that I get into their vehicle to have my blood pressure taken. He said it was a bit high. I laughed and said I’m not surprised, under the circumstances, and I am very angry at this idiot who spoiled my entrance into the new year. Damn! Sorry about that.

   My friends came and found that they were able to drive the car to the same friend who fixed it las time. But then they took me home, without a car now.

    Sun. Jan. 7… 8am mass at Savannah Park, but with a twist. A couple from Joburg, who were spending a few days down here by the sea, asked if they could come for Mass with me to S.P. I was delilghted. So I waited for them and they followed me in the vehicle that Bishop Lobinger loaned to me for the day to the place where we celebrate. They had had no breakfast and I wanted to go, immediately after Mass, to make an accident report at the police station, which was on the way back to our house. They followed me and we went to the police but I told them to go back to Mater Dolorosa ( the old folks home) and have a cup of tea and a snack and as soon as I was finished with the police, I would come and we would go out and have a bit to eat (sort of brunch).

    However, the police room was full, full, full and, after 5 minutes (this was about 10:15 in the morning) I could see that, if I was lucky, I just might get out of there shortly before sundown, so I came back to MD. Then we went out for a bite to eat at a Wimpy’s (they have a son Lihle who likes Wimpy…he is going into the 1st grade this year.

     When we were finished (catching up on lots of things) they went back to the place they were staying at by the sea, and I went back to the police station near Mariannhill. It was about 1:30pm by this time. There, I was told that I had to make the report at the Pinetown station as the accident happened in Pinetown territory, and because the other guy escaped, they would send their detectives to see if they could track him/them down. There are usually CCTV cameras at places like that junction, so they hoped they might get his licence number. So, back I went to Pinetown to make the report there. Thank goodness, it only took about 45 minutes.

    Then, on the way back home, I stopped at the home of the guy who fixes cars to get my stuff out of the car, but he wasn’t answering his phone, so I had to call it a day. The whole evening I spent filling in the accident form for the Insurance with the police accident report number and sent all this stuff off to our insurance broker in Mthatha.  

Mon. Jan. 8…Besides Mass at the hospital, and the insurance stuff, emails and WhatsApps going back and forth, another problem cropped up. I was told that if I want to celebrate Mass for my Aunt Rose’s 100th birthday, I have to get a letter from my provincial saying that I am in good standing and am not a criminal or child abuser, etc. So we started that process and my cousin Jeannie and also my cousin Rick tried to get information as to where and to whom to send the document. Again, there were emails going back and forth and it was a hectic day at the office between the things needed for the insurance and the things needed from the provincial, who, incidentally, happened to be on vacation but was kind enough, understanding the urgency, to take time to draft a letter and send it to me to be sent to Chicago, to someone, but who?

     I also used Bishop Lobinger’s vehicle to go to the travel agent to finalize the ticket for the trip to Chicago for the     birthday celebration on Feb. 4th. Rajes also was kind enough to book an overnight stay in a hotel in Dubai so that I wouldn’t have to stay in the airport overnight. She is very kind and thoughtful.

Tues. Jan. 9… Yesterday, I still had Bishop Lobinger’s car so I could drive to the hospital. Today it was a nice healthy walk. The whole day was spent between re-sending insurance stuff and stuff for the archdiocese of Chicago. I don’t think I have ever spent so much time in an office all in one day. We had intermittent trouble with the internet and the electricity was playing tricks on us most of the evening and night, so it made things more exciting.

Wed. Jan 10… (that’s today). I wanted to cut some more grass after doing some reconnoitering  but felt that I really didn’t have time for the luxury of working outside for a while. I was right. Some of the material didn’t go through and some of it had to be resent because it wasn’t readable, and just tonight, my cousin Jeannie managed to get the name of the person to whom to send the document with the email address. Hooray. However, it must come directly from the Provincial’s office (of course, he is presently out of town) and I am leaving for the airport for a trip to Cape Town tomorrow at 6:45 in the morning, so I can’t go to an office physically to see if I can find someone who can do the job. Interesting. Life is never dull around here. So I did the best I could, under the circumstances, and sent an email to him (provincial) and a couple of other people who may be authorized to operate on his behalf when he isn’t here.

I just keep my fingers crossed now.

     I finally got around to packing today and hope that I am prepared for the trip tomorrow. It is almost my bedtime and I am glad to have finished all this stuff, including my monthly financial report which I did this morning after the internet returned and I could get my bank statement.

    The requests for school fees, school uniforms, etc. has started. Thanks to some friends who have contributed to the socio-pastoral fund, we are able to give a hand to some who otherwise would not be able to get on with their education. I have to stop here now and recheck the suitcase to see if I have everything that I need. It is sweltering hot in Cape Town so it will be “shorts” attire. Ha. I will be back next week and will share with you what has been happening in CT, where there is a severe water shortage. We who lived in the bush know how to survive, even if the odour is not always so beautiful. Ha. God bless you all. Cas.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dec. 26th, 2017

   Holy Moses, another month has almost gone by. I am just off now to do some weed Whacking but when I come back, I will try to pick up where I left off. Boxing day, as they call the day after Christmas here, is a national holiday so things are slow today and it is a good day / time, for using the weed eater. See you a bit later.

     It is now Dec. 27th, I spend almost the whole of yesterday cutting grass (weeds) with the weed eater, morning and afternoon. I was tired and after our Braai Vleis (cookout) at the monastery where I got stuck into a nice hunk of beef and a fat sausage, I came back, watched the news for a while and then hit the sack about an hour earlier than I usually do since I was tired. I am just back from the hospital for the 6am Mass and am heading down for breakfast with the others. After breakfast, I will come back and pick up where I left off.

   Lots of interesting and good things happened in December. I thought that I was putting them down as they happened but…. So here goes.

Dec. 2nd, 2017  Book Launch.  During the liberation war in Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe, some of our Mariannhillers were murdered as well as some of our Precious Blood Sisters. Fr. Ted Rogers, a friend and colleague during my Zimbabwe days working for IMBISA ( Interregional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa), the refugees (exiles) from various countries under siege (Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia) ( I was looking after the South African Exiles who had to flee from South Africa to Zimbabwe or Zambia)…is now retired (he is 93 yrs. Old, a Jesuit) and has serious health problems…he decided to write a book documenting and telling the stories of the religious who were murdered at that time by either the guerrillas (Zanu..supported by the Chinese…or Zapu, supported by the Russions,) or the Rhodesian Army, or the Selous Scouts ( an ugly bunch), for various reasons. There were others besides the Mariannhillers and Precious Blood Sisters, but because it concerned our community, the book launch was here at the monastery with some fan fare and some speeches and entertainment and refreshments. About 70 people came, mostly from our communities, but also a choir from Zimbabwe. It was interesting too that  ZAPU is mainly Shona, and quite a few, and ZAPU is mainly Ndebele, and not so many, the armed wings being Zanla and Zipra, respectively. Since a lot of the fighting took place in Matabeleland, The Zipra guys were often known by the missionaries, where some of them went to school, or worshiped, and who were often helped by the missionaries, and were less inclined to kill the missionaries (unless there was a reason like one of the people being a spy and reporting their whereabouts to the Government authorities). But the Zanla guys were mostly from the Shona part of what is now Zimbabwe and there was less sympathy, and because there was a kind of rivalry between the two guerrilla groups, were more likely to find a reason to murder the missionaries, priests, brothers, sisters, that the Zipra guys. The point is that of the 31 missionaries that were murdered, 29 were expatriates. The bishop had told them that it was dangerous to continue to live in the missions and that they were free to leave without being accused of being cowards. The all chose to stay with their communities and paid the ultimate price for it. They are considered to be martyrs for choosing to remain with their people even though they knew there was a good chance that they would die because of that choise. It was inspiring and encouraging at the same time. The books sells for R150 here but was selling for R120 at the launch. There was also a launch in Johannesburg and may also be one in London, because there were a good number of Jesuits who also experienced the same fate. Fr. Rogers, SJ, wanted to finish the book before the Lord took him home but he is still with us in a retirement home in the UK and was very happy about the launches.

Dec. 3, 2017—Dinner Dance to raise funds for the ultimate building of St. Therese of Lisieux parish ( my outstation at Savannah Park). Tickets were being sold for donations, R150, for a dinner dance that included a meal, doing a good deed, a health component, and some good music, all for only R150, or more if you choose. I sole 41 tickets out of the 250 tickets that were printed. The venue was El-Arish, a very nice restaurant, cum conference center, cum B&B, on the Bluff here in Durban (you can see the sea—Indian Ocean—from the windows). All tickets were sold out and the place was full. Even the whole African community that had attended our morning Mass at Savannah Park were there (to my surprise because I think it was beyond their means but they really tried hard to show their support). Of course the meal was excellent and I moved around greeting all those people to whom I sold tickets as well as others. There was a good spirit as people got to know on another.  Of course the hightlight, to me, was that I exhausted myself on the dance floor. Ha. I think some people got a look at a side of Fr. Cas. They didn’t know existed. I only sat down to catch my breath when they stopped playing the slow ones and started on the hippity hop ones. Ha again.  The final tally for the evening was that we managed to raise R57,000.  00. Wow, that is a lot for us. I guess you could say that a good time was had by all, especially by our parishioners who had never, I believe, seen anything like this before. Very fancy. Thanks to the owner of the venue who put everything in the kitty and didn’t keep anything for himself. That gave us a good start.

In between there were classes with the novices again, and some hospital visits, and on the 8th of December, joining the CPS sisters, one of whom, Sr. Florence, after waiting a looong time, finally was given the OK to make her final vows. She is studying nurseing and that is how I got to know her.

I also got a message from the Bank that they were deducting some R2000 from my account having to do with Vodacom. Holy Moses. I went to the bank (this is always an adventure for an old guy. I stood in the queue for over half and hour and when I finally got to the teller to explain, she told me that I had to go to Vodacom first to find out what it was all about.) Thank goodness, Vodacom is just upstairs so I went up and managed to get someone to explain what this deduction was all about. He said that it was because I used up a lot of data that came to that amount. I explained that for several years now I have been paying R75 a month for a mobile router which I uses on occasion when I have to be away from my home wifi, but in all this time I never went over the amount (1GB). Suddenly, to jump from R75 to over R2000. Didn’t make sense to me as I hadn’t done anything different from what I usually do. But when I asked him to check on his computer, he said that the line was down and that I could wait. Ha. Wait? What a joke. I told him that I was going back to the bank to have them reverse the charge, which I would query, and Vodacom could inform me later what they decided and I would then make my decision.

A few days later, after my Internet access to my bank account is blocked because I can’t remember my password (This really irritates me because I think I have a whole Yellow Pages of passwords that I can hardly remember, and which, for one reason or another, I have to change, so that I wind up confused. Of course, if  you try too many times with the wrong password, it gets blocked …I won’t say what I thought, but I had to go to the bank twice to get it unblocked, and each time if took over an hour. ) I eventually went to the bank manager who turned out to be a very nice lady, and I suggested that she go out to observe what is going on in her bank, that they really need more tellers, since having to wait for over an hour is not acceptable and the bank will get a bad reputation. She said that she already did that but she had 6 people who were off sick and when she asked headquarters for more staff, they said they didn’t have any to send to her so she was stuck. At least it was good that I now have a good contact in the bank if more problems arise in the future.

Dec, 10, 2017---I joined the community at St. Paul’s Church since it was family day in the parish and the parish priest is recovering from an operation to his leg (some strange doctors said he might have to have his right foot amputated, and this was in a very expensive private hospital).  A haematologist was called in and said that all that was needed was to borrow a vein from somewhere else and get a blood supply to that foot and all would be well, which is what they did, and it is working fine but is still a bit painful. In any case I took the Mass and he sat with me up at the altar and I asked all the kids to come up and get a blessing from their father, which they did and that made him and the kids happy.  I joined a family  at home after Mass and then came back to meet the rest of the parishioners who were each coming bringing their own goodies. It was a nice time and a good spirit, a real family spirit.

Dec. 16, 2017…I was invited to a birthday party of a friend who celebrated his 70th. It gave me another opportunity to cash in on the health component with a bit of dancing. I mean, after all, one has to look after his health.

Somewhere in here I did a dumb thing. I was parked (parallel parking) next to the front door of the hospital and when I came out of Mass and climbed into the car, there was no one next to me on the driver’s side, But as I started to pull away to my right, bank, I bumped into a car that had pulled along side of me to drop off his wife in front of the main door of the hospital. Although I was probably only going about 5 Mph, it gave a nice dent to the side of hid bakkie (pickup). He wasn’t impressed and I think that if I hadn’t been a priest, he might have said and acted differently. It was just before Christmas and I really felt stupid. I didn’t want to admit that since I have glaucoma, my peripheral vision on my right side is very limited, and that, I believe, is the reason that I had no clue that he had pulled up along side of me. I think that if I had nomal vision, I would have noticed, out of the corner of my eye, as it were, that he had come along side of me. I still felt dumb.

But that meant informing the insurance company and getting a police report (the system with the police is about the same as the bank. It was over an hour waiting, Ha. There is no escape). However, in the end, I was advised not to report to the insurance company because the deductible amount would be more than if I got someone to repair it whom I know, and that is how it worked out. My friend Anthony told me to bring him the car when I go to Cape Town in January, and he can fix it up for probably a quarter of what the other panel beaters would charge. I am super abundantly blessed.

17th Dec. 2017… A group of ACTS ( a spin off from the Cursillo) came to us old timers and prepared a special lunch for us. We ate like pigs. It was very thoughtful of them. They do it once in a while especially for those who rarely if at all have a chance to get out of the house. We are spoiled.

Dec. 21, 2017---I went for my annual prostate checkup. I had already gotten my PSA done at the lab. They take  a blood sample and can tell if you have cancer in your prostate. Mine was 1.3 ( the doctor said that two years ago it was 1.1, last year 1.2, this year 1.3. He said it gradually goes up as one gets older. The cut off, he said, is 6. Well, by the time I get to six (1.3, 1.4, 1.4, 1.6, etc. 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc. I will be long gone).

Dec. 22nd, 2017… We had a home mass for some ladies ( the daughter who is about 55 yrs. Looking after her mom, about 90 yrs. And totally blind…haven’t had a chance to get to Mass for years and years. So it was special for them. Some members of the community came and joined up and provided some music which was very nice. There is a good spirit in our community and when someone is sick or there is a death in one of the families, the rest are there to offer support. I also picked up some candles and incense for our Christmas celebrations that morning.

The rest of the time building up to Christmas was preparing for Christmas itself, doing a lot of grass cutting in between, helping out with confessions at the neighboring parishes, and having a special penitential service for our parish on the Third Sunday of advent, when Fr. Macarius came along and helped to hear confessions to let everyone get in shape, spiritually, to celebrate Christmas.

Dec. 23, 2017…After picking up a 5 litre box of red wine for whoever graces my doorstep, I spent the morning and afternoon cutting grass and felt happy that it is mostly under control now.

Dec/ 24th, 2017…4th Sunday of Advent and also Christmas Eve day / night. I knew that no one was going to come to Mass twice, once in the morning and once in the evening for the midnight mass, which, by the was was at 6pm. Since there was no Mass that morning, Mike Pillay organized for us to bring communion to the sick, who would not be able to get to church on Christmas day. Then, in the evenng we just combined everything. Mr. Pillay, the community organizer and catechist, umshumayeli, had managed to find someone to bring his keyboard along. That is all you need for an African community who love to sing, to turn them on. It was like magic. The music was great, and as you know, it is clear that an African can’t sing and stand still at the same time. S/he must move, so everyone was moving to the music and the Holy Spirit took over. A real family spirit. We finished about 8:30 and then I went up to Net and Mike Pillays for bite to eat and to wish each other a blessed Christmas. I got home about 10:45 and to bed by 11:30pm. Not bad.

Dec. 25th, 2017. Since there was no Mass at Savannah Park ( I think that most of them would go to the Mass at the mother parish, St. Charles Luanga at 8am), I had Mass at the Hospital where we prayed for all the patients to get healed and home in time to taste a bit of the Christmas seasonal spirit.  I had intended to move around the hospital from ward to ward to just pray and bless everyone, but at the last minute, I received a message that an old friend was coming to bring her mother from America and wanted me to meet her. We met but then I had to change my schedule. I wanted to visit 4 families so now I had to be satisfied to visit only three. My spirits pick up when I see families together, enjoying each other’s company, and the kids getting good example from the elders, usually at least three generations or four coming together. I came home about 7:30 and was pooped, so by 8:30 I was under the sheet for a nice quiet and peaceful Christmas.

Dec. 26th, 2017…I cut grass the whole morning and afternoon. The weather was warm and a bit overcast which was just right for that. It is called Boxing Day here but I don’t know why. I seem to remember something called the Boxer Rebellion in China but I don’t think it has anything to do with this Boxing Day.

At the end of the day there was vespers in the church where the novices led the singing (5 of them) and I was surprised at how well they sang and harmonized. I taught them in class so I didn’t know they had this hidden talent. Some of the youngsters were cooking the meat and lots and lots of other goodies were on the table. Besides our Mariannhill community and the sisters, there were also some visitors who joined in the celebration. I saw a young lady I didn’t know so I sat next to her to find out who she was. She is the real live sister of the new Bishop of Port Elizabethe, A Zungu. Interesting. We started with vespers at 5:30 and the braai was ready right after that, so by 7:30, I felt tired after spending most of the morning and afternoon cutting grass (mostly on the side of a hill) so I headed for home, watched to news for a while and then hit the sack again by 9pm. I think that I am slowly but surely adding on my sleep hours. I used to turn in by 10 and get up at 4, now I turn in a bit earlier, and get up at 4:30. Does that say something to me. I am still trying to decipher.

Right now, I am waiting to be picked up for a lunch with another family. I will tell you about it when I next add on to my blog. I think I am finished for the time being. I wish all of you a happy, healthy, fruitful new year, and when it is not so happy or healthy or fruitful, but sad or disappointing, and health challenging, or frustrating, that you are given, from above, the courage, strength, determination, patience, and, most of all , Love, to deal with all of that, and keep on moving till next Christmas. Love and Peace, as always, Cas.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dec. 1, 2017

Hey, but life has been busy the last few days. Always busy on weekends with one or two masses, most often in Zulu.

On the 27th, we had a meeting of those involved in planning the dinner dance to raise money for a church at Savannah Park. I managed to sell 41 tickets. The plans were more or less put in order, e.g. who is going to welcome, who explain what and where is the Savannah Park church project (me), who is going to bless the gathering, who is going to bless the food (the bishop---he usually takes a long time for his sermons so it was thought better to make it something short like grace before meals), how many are coming (more than 200), how many tables, how about the DJ, there is a picture to be reaffled off (R10,000), who will be the MC, etc. etc. etc. Got home very late, almost 10pm and had to turn the alarm off before I could let myself into the house without waking up the neighbourhood.

28th, of course, my birthday. Too many people have gotten wind of this day and I have been deluged with birthday wishes and blessings, many of them via Facebook and something called Messenger. Hey, I avoid these things and tried to answer, tapping “comment”, and then looking where to send and there is now where to send. So I just gave up. A few days later, I went to our travel agent whose son I depend on the explain what I don’t know. He explained. But, I advise all of you who read this blog to avoid Facebook, please. Just send me an email  ( and I will answer. The trouble is that once you get onto Facebook and all those other things, it hijacks you for hours and eats up your data. So please.

30th, St. Mary’s Nursing College graduation. I was invited because I used some of the money you guys sent to help some of the poor ones with their school fees. It was nice to see these youngsters and their rejoicing parents with an education that hopefully will help them to earn enough to raise a family. However, I keep reminding them that there is not just a “Profession” but is a “vocation, a calling” which goes well beyond just doing a professional job, although that is also important.

I had to leave early because when I tried to buy some air time, after trying several times on the internet banking page of Standard Bank, they blocked it. Darn passwords. I need a Yellow Pages of passwords. In any case, I went straight from the celebration to the bank and it took over an hour to get things right again. I blame the bank for having a confusing web page. In any case, it is done now and this morning I got myself some more air time.

Now I have to start working on answering all those hundreds of Facebook messages. I think they will have to be short and sweet.

Today, I was supposed to have been at the hospital for World Aids Day, I typed out  a kind of service with readings, responses, alleluias, etc. in Zulu for the sister that I work with at the hospital. I will be taken out by a friend for lunch as a birthday treat. That was nailed down some weeks ago after going through several changes and cancelations, so there was no way I could cancel it again.

I forgot that my second cousin (Jerry and Barb’s daughter) Leah, invited me to the birthday party of Aunt Rose on Feb. 4th, 2018. She will be 100 and the family are organizing something.  I told her that I would love to be there and would be able to come only if the family were able to pitch in to pay for the air fare, which would be around $1100 to $1200, at the present exchange rate. However, I know that everyone is up tight with stretched budgets so I am quite prepared to stay home and join with them in spirit and in prayer.

That’s enough for now. I am off to the pharmacy to pick up some medicines and then off to , I hope, a lovely lunch. It will be a Greek restaurant, and I am looking forward to it, especially the Baklova (Maybe some Ouzo too!)  LOL . Cas