Dear Everyone, June 14, 2014
Hey, lots of water over the dam since I last entered something in my blog, way back in May . Let me start with May 14th . I returned from a very relaxing and informative 12 days in Zibabwe. My car was delivered back to me that night with some improvements. On the 15th I got my computer back from Shirley’s son, Peter, again, with some improvements. On the 16th I collected a bunch of old clothes and off cuts to be taken to Landsend for use by the poor there. I stopped to fill up with petrol in the afternoon (for the trip on the 17th to Mthatha—about 300 miles or 5 hours driving). When the tank was full and I wanted to pull off, it wouldn’t start. The guys at the petrol station said it was definitely the battery and phoned a battery place to order a battery for only R980 or so. But, unfortunately (for them) he had no transport to deliver. So they scouted around a bit more and tried using the jumper cables to get it started but that didn’t work either. So they said I needed a new starter (changing their tune from battery to starter motor). I asked them to just give me a push and let me get back to the monastery which they did. The car was full up with used clothing and off cuts and, since it wouldn’t start, I parked in on a slight incline because I was determined to head for Mthatha in the morning.
I arrived in Mthatha , never turning off the engine till I got there and made arrangements with our mechanic to see him on Monday to see if he could fix it. I slept at Bedford that night and kept my fingers crossed that it would start in the morning, which it did. I had Mass with Fr. Guy at Sabelani Sun. morning and visited the sisters at the convent in Mthatha. Car wouldn’t start and I had to get the confreres from Abbot Francis to push it (backwards) and it started easily. I managed to get out to Landsend to leave the old clothes and off cuts there, seeing Nothemba and Sinovuyo. Parked on a hill and needed it to start. Frustrating.
On Monday, the 19th May, we had our big CMM meeting with the superior general and his councilor where CMM things were discussed, especially the matter of Guy and the bishop. Too much talk and not much else. However, the Superior General had visited the bishop and the bishop sent a message to the SG that he would like to see Guy and his lawyer to meet with himself and his lawyer. This was progress. We had a braii (cook out) and just relaxed a bit and discussed, informally, what had been discussed formally in the meeting. (I had taken the car to the garage before the meeting and it was diagnosed as needing a small part but a part that would not be sold separately from the whole starter motor.There you are. So he ordered a starter motor and by the time I was leaving on Wednesday, it still wasn’t there so I told him to cancel it and I would take it to a friend in Durban who would have a look at it)
That evening I spent with Guy and the boys at Sabelani (home for boys) and slept there and again on Tuesday night. ON Wed. morning we organized a 7am meeting with Mr. Sachin, the troubleshooter from Eskom (electricity supply) to solve some problems (we have been working on these problems for more than 2 yrs.( and then I headed back to Mariannhill. I stopped on the way to visit a friend whose arches had collapses on both feet and he couldn’t walk.One had bee repaired earlier but this one needed special surgeryand he had a big boot on his right foot that he would have to wear fro a couple ofmonths.That was on the 21st. The car continued to start or not start, like Russian roulette. Mostly it started but you had to be wary and prepared.
I slid back into my usual routine for Friday and on Saturday I took Bishop (emeritus) Lobinger to the airport for his home leave trip to Germany. I spent the morning with the friend who specializes in helping Cas, and fixing Opel Astras. He fixed the problem with the starter and when I was ready to go home to fetch the bishop and take him to the airport, ha, it wouldn’t start again. So he had to crawl around under the car till he found what the problem was and fixed it. I was sweating because we were cutting it rather fine for getting the bishop to the airport.
On Sunday, the 25thMay, I took one of the sisters from the hospital to Savannah Park to get her involved with the community and to give them a chance to see a real live, active, young(er) nun. She was then invited to join their choir and since she is the head matron of the hospital, she has her own transport so she is free to drive herself if she wants. We then went to a home for a nice bryani lunch. And then home.
From Monday 26thMay to Wed. 28th May, I attended a workshop on Leadership and Ethics at Glenmore Center, a conference center in Durban. I won’t go into details but it was presented by a prof. from Chicago, an Italian American, and he could easily have been a stand up comedian, which made his lectures enjoyable and interesting but, too American. I felt that many of the references that he made (like Saturday Night Live) went over the heads of many of the African participants, and he talked way too fast especially with his American Chicago accent. Otherwise his presentation were lively and excellent. One of the things that came up was that one of the virtues that is often lacking in leaders is humility, being able to admit that they made a mistake.
On the 29th May, I picked up some copies of the wedding brochure which I had suggested to my cousin’s daughter for the wedding in September in Milwaukee. After that I took one of our students to the prison to visit his brother who is one of 4 or 5 accused of murdering one of our priests at his mission. That was 4 yrs. ago and the trial is still going on. They were supposed to hear their sentences the next week but it was postponed, again, till August. Holy Moses. They have been in jail all this time without being sentenced. What the heck is going on
It is now July 2nd. Time flies. I think I have to fast forward to June 26th.(Then, if I have a chance, I will fill in before that).
A funeral. On June 15th. One of our elderly sisters, Sr. Mary Paule, originally from Idaho, who joined the CPS (Precious Blood Sistrers) way back in the late 40’s, came out to South Africa around “52 and taught at one of our Catholic Schools, Mariazell, from ’55 to ’74. She was a great teacher teaching English. Then she came to Mthatha and got involved in social work and eventually started something like 21 NGO’s mostly for children and battered women. 82 yrs. old this yr. She was busy delivering goodies to Thembalihle Home (for abused children) when she was spotted by a couple of young gangsters who grabbed the keys from her, shoved her into the back seat and drove off with her and one of them in the back seat and the other speeding off. A gun was pointed at her and she was trying to tell the driver to slow down, frightened to death. As a matter of fact, she tried to get them to stop the car because she felt that she was having a heart attack. They kept going and, yes, she passed away, probably literally frightened to death. They must have damaged the care somehow as they were driving kind of wild and eventhally dumped her now dead body, fully clothed as a nun with a white habit, into a ditch with water and went on their way. They had been driving in one direction with the intention to rob some stores but it was Sunday and all the stores were closed and locked tight so they went back to town and were driving around with this now damaged car and were spotted by friends who knew her car and who gave chase after informing the police. The two crashed the car and fled. The others waited for the police to come. When they went into the car, they guys were in such a hurry that they left a cell phone and a gun. The cell phone led the police to their home and eventually to them and their arrest. The will be up for bail on July 4th.
I swear that there were about 2000 people at the funeral, representing many NGO’s most of which she had started and supported up till her death. She was a fantastic woman. She didn't easily fit into the usual convent schedule but the convent discovered why when the throngs came to celebrate her life and accompany her on her final journey home. (More later or another time. I have to go and make some salad now.) Cas