It is August 30th, 2013 and I have been meaning to update my blog for the last few esciting weeks, but no time or didi't take the time.
My life has taken a new twist. Call it The exciting life of of an ex-con priest for the 21st century.
As you already knew, I as assigned to Abbot Francis Hone in Mthatha as the superior (do the shopping, make sure there is enough toilet paper, pay the bills, keep the place minimally maintained, etc.) and postulant master or something like that, e.g. to make a plan for the one and only postulant who managed to arrive with us back in February. A postulant is one who comes to have a look see if he is interested in joining the community and we have a look at him to see if we are willing to give him a chance to stick with us. But, in the meantime, I was also asked to look after out rental project at a place called Bedford Convent Farm. We built some bachelor flats on the land that we had bought from the Holy Cross Sisters when they got too old and too few to run the orthopedic hospital which they manned and which they finally handed over to the government. We renovated the convent and the old laundry and some other buildings so that we now have 29 flats. That means, maintenanace. Father, there is no electricity, father, there is no water, father, my geyser leaked all over my bed, father, father the septic tank if overflowing, etc. etc. etc.
Well, one of the concerns was also security. Cars had been stolen out of our yard although we spent R600,000 for a fence around the property. Even parts of that fence were stolen. We have very creative people in our area. However, we decided to put in an electric fence that opens and closes with a remote. I susptected that that would cause more than the usual difficulties and complaints, so I suggested that I take one of the flats that are there and move in during the teething time. Also we intend to install electricity meters in each of the flats so that the tenanats are responsible for getting and paying for their own electricity. Both of these items, I felt sure, would mean lots of problems, at least in the beginning. So I decided to ask permission to move in here and see how it goes.
Ha, the first night (after announcing that we have a new gate and they must come and pay a deposit of R200 and get a remote) at 10pm, hoot hoot, please come and open the gate. I have no remote. The second night 1am in the morning, knock, knock on the door. I have no remote and I forgot the key to my flat. Ha. There have been a plethora of thiings like this and, by my being present here, we were able to get most of the tenanats to have their own remotes.
But then came the big problem, e.g. no water. After weeks of trying to contacct my friend at O.R.Tambo (municipal water supply), I fianlly got an appointment yesterday at 10am. I arrived early after many stops (get eye drops --I discovered that I have Glaucoma, it snuck up on me, and I have tunnel visiion in the right eye because of too much pressure which destroyed the peripheral vision cells--I put in a drop in each eye once a day to keep the pressure from building up) then to another store to get some sandpaper, polyfiller, turpentine and putty (lots of maintenance around here), then to another store to get some toilet cleaner, then to the rent collector to turn in more of the R200 that I had collected for the remotes, and finally to OR tambo for the appoinmtnent. It took more than an hour and a half but we got someone to come out to see why there is no water with us although, just next door, the hospital is drowning in water. It took till 4:45pm before we had water flowing again into the taps and the water tanks and we rejoiced. But when I went to take a celebratory shower (we have a quick wash in the morning called "dry cleaning" when there is no or little water) only to find out that there was only a trickle but at least it was warm. I know that when the water is off for a few days, air gets into the pipes and one had to fool around to get it out before it starts to operate properlly again. But I slept well until I had to get up to pee at about midnight and found that the water was off again. I didn't sleep soundly thinking that people will get up in the morning delighted that there is water and there is none. So, I got up at my usual 4am, did my dry cleaning, said Mass at my kitchen table for all of you, and then went out to check the pump, which I also did yesterday, knowing that air also gets into the pipes and it won't pump unless there is water. I had to check around and eventually I found the place where you can bleed out the air and get the water flowiing again, and had to do the same thing at 5am this morning and finally succeeced to get the pump pumping agani. Hooray. So this is my new adventure. It will be some weeks or even months till we sort out the main problems and then we will see. In the meantime, I lead a very exciting life. I help out on weekends, as I did before, with Masses at the outstations which, thank goodness, are in Xhosa. (although I understand that they are also trying to change the Xhosa too. I am sure that this will confuse and irritate those who are used to what seemed to have been OK for years and years as it did/does with the atrocious english. In any case, you are not in the picture as to how life goes. I am back to doing my own cooking so I cook a lot at one time and put the rest in the fridge or freezer and take it out as needed. Tuna fish casserole has served me for about 5 meals so far, and my soups are a good, quick meal, with some bread. No day is boring as there is always something but I really get frustrated with this ageing process as I forget what I did with my keys, or glasses, or whatever and waste lots of time hunting for thngs only to ask myself why I was so dumb as to leave it (whatever it is) THERE! Of all places.
Some of you, I am sure, know what I am talking about. But I try to remember (I promise each morning) that I am walking with the Lord and I try to be aware of that and it helps to take the sting out of unwelcome surprises. Love and Peace, Cas