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.