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Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 23, 2015

Hey, it is almost a whole month since I sat down to update this blog. It’s about time.
Well, I was debating whether I should join the other priests for concelebrating because, if our Mthatha bishop was going to be the main celebrant, I wouldn’t be prepared to be close to him and shake his hand and wish him peace just now as I feel that he has been a really bad leader and has treated Fr. Guy, and others shamelessly. But then I heard that he wasn’t going to be there so I could join the others with the substitute bishop from another diocese, whom I knew as a rabble-rousing young African priest. So that was OK. Thinking of these now old ladies who committed, all together, over 250 yrs. of their lives to serving God’s people, giving up many things that they could have had otherwise, I thanked God for the gift of their lives and their parents who offered them to the Church for his special service, when they could have kept them at home to look after them. Lots of food for thought.
    I was staying at my old haunt, Abbot Francis Home, and it is orange season now so I collected tons of oranges and grape fruits (many of them just lying on the ground rotting, or never to be harvested, why, I don’t know….) and took them  back to MD and shared them with the staff, our guys here, and the church leader’s family.
    However, surprise, surprise. Just as we were in the car ready to head off at 8am on Friday morning, July 3rd, someone said, Hey, you left front tire is almost flat. Oh no! Well let’s put the spare on and go get it fixed. Ha! The spare was even more flat than the tire we wanted to replace. So we limped over to the tire place called HiQ, and asked them to fix the flat tires. Another surprise…both tires were leaking on the shoulder not in the middle so they can’t be repaired. Murphy, go away! So, two new tires. Ugh!
    We got home OK but then on Sunday before I went to my usual Savannah Park service, I noticed that the left rear tire was a bit flat. OK, so I pumped it up, and thought let me just put the spare on in case. Don’t laugh. The tire that had been saved from the first round and put as the spare was also as flat as a pancake. Damn! So, Monday, off again to HiQ to have both tires fixed. Lo and behold, same problem. We need two new tires again. This is getting ridiculous. But it was a fairly hefty outlay of cash, almost R2000 for 4 tires. Actually, that is about $50 per tire, which isn’t bad, I think. Maybe I am just trying to console myself.
    There were some unhappy misunderstandings between Katrina and Sr Gorrette but, thank goodness, they were sorted out and all are happy again.
    I visited the doctor for a normal checkup and he thought that my blood pressure was a bit high for his liking so he gave me a new prescription. We shall see. I also saw my optometrist, Casandra, and she sent a note to the Ophthalmologist to take note of this or that when he next did a post-op exam (after a month).
     I was also trying to use my charm and connections to get a young lady a job looking after a friend’s house. A live in arrangement, going home on weekends. The friend thought that maybe she was a bit too young (22yrs.) and might get the attention of a young male working on the grounds. But she already has a boyfriend so I hope that  she lands the job. She, like so many others, is desperate to find  job. Some can go for years after high school and still not find anything, even, for some, after a university degree. So sad.
   I had another first. I was asked to bless a warehouse, mostly to be used to store for delivery, medical things to be distributed to local hospitals or clinics. I didn’t know how big the warehouse was so I took a huge bottle of Holy Water. It wasn’t so big. The reflection was along the lines of Jesus the healer, and they were now part of his team. Without them delivering the goods, lots of healing would never take place. So they must recognize that they are really part of God’s healing team, like the guys, whose names we will never know, who lifted the paralytic up onto the roof and let the guy down so that Jesus could cure him. They aren’t even given slight mention but if it weren’t for them, the big names would never have had a chance to do their thing and get mentioned, like Jesus himself, or the paralyzed guy, or the Scribes and Pharisees who did their usual grumbling.  It was a new experience for me.And we had plenty of holy water left over  (for future use).
    I took Katrina to the pharmacy here and she says that she gets the same stuff that she got at home but at a 10th of the cost. Wow!
    We had some more Sisters’ Jubilees on Sat. the 11th of July. 1—65 yrs.   3—50 yrs.  and 2---25 yrs. That’s also a whole lot of years. One of the 50 yr. sisters is suffering from cancer. She is from Austria and left a few days after the celebration and will spend her home holiday going to hospitals and doctors. How nice.
    On Sunday the 12th, I had Mass for maybe the 2nd time in over a year and a half, here at MD. I thought that I would have the rest of the morning free but I received unexpected visitors from Johannesburg. Phola, whose wedding I had back in exile in Zimbabwe in 1990, left the marriage after a few months when she discovered that her husband’s wedding gift was an STD. I had her second wedding a few years ago in PE (Port Elizabeth). Her dad, who has passed away since, was the ANC chief Rep in Tanzania and Zimbabwe when I knew him. He was the first ambassador to Namibia, if I remember correctly. We celebrated his and his wife’s 25th anniversary in exile at our priests’ house in Harare. Tixie, Phola’s mom, was also there and it was a great if very short and sweet reunion. They had to leave almost immediately to catch a plane back to JoBurg.
     I sat with my grand niece Katrina one morning and let her teach me things about the I-Pad so that I can use it when I take my home leave next year. But I still need to find out how to print from it. (that among a thousand other things).
     There were ordinations on Saturday the 18th. 3 Mariannhill priests , 1 diocesan priest (for the Mariannhill diocese) and 2 deacons for the Mariannhill diocese. I was the eldest priest there (being just shy of 80 yrs.) and the other two white faces, one even with a head of white hair, were 1 and 2 yrs. younger than me. When I looked around, I realized that we were the only three white priests left (from the Neanderthal age). All the rest were African priests, about 90 in all. Hey, what does that tell you. We did our job. We are missionaries. We plant the seeds, someone comes along with a hoe and does the weeding, someone waters the seeds, and now they are harvesting. I hope that they don’t get caught in the crap that is going on with too many of our priests these days---sex and money. Sometimes I feel ashamed just to walk down the street with a collar on.
      I had Mass on Sunday the 26th at Savannah Park with the African community. We are still fighting to get established at our site, to get at least some temporary building up so that we can start building. But, I sometimes feel that it is a dream. We are a small and very poor community. The plan for the church, which is on a slope, is to build a hall at the bottom which will be used until we can get enough money together to continue to build the upper part which will be the church. The quotation that was given was just  bit short of  R2,000,000.   That’s about $200,000. Maybe Bill Cosby could….. No, forget that! How about Bill Gates. Anyone know his address or got an inside track. Any other suggestions would be welcome. I am thinking that I probably won’t be alive when that finally comes in. But we keep trying, bit by bit.
     I have been working on what I call  “The Guy / Sabelani Story”. Fr. Guy has been putting together his thoughts about the project with the boys that turned out to be hugely successful, but was not appreciated either by the local bishop or our own Mariannhill community, at least the headquarters. It comes to about 100 pages. I had to edit and edit and edit and edit until I think most of the bugs have been eliminated. It is a fascinating story. I took it to the Mariannhill Mission Press to have them make a kind of little booklet out of it. Our young guys can get an idea of what they could also do if they put their minds to it. Abbot Francis, our founder/leader, although he was a Trappist (contemplative), went out to bring good news to all around so that he was eventually called the Apostle to the Zulus. He emphasized going out to the poor and disadvantaged, teaching basic skills so that they could help themselves. It was in that same spirit that Guy looked around at what was happening in Mthatha and then did something about it. It is in the process of being organized. I hope that something will be ready by the end of the month.
     Our network here is on and off and it often happens that when one is half way through a message or email or something with the bank, all of a sudden, it just shuts off and you have to start from scratch again.  It is similar to the problem I have with my cell phone. MTN is the provider but the signal here in my office (room) is zilch. The phone rings and when I press “answer”, it cuts the person off and says “not allowed”. Thanks!!! I should hire a lawyer and sue MTN for millions in damages because I have lost so many friends because  of them. They think that I hate them and just cut their water off.
    Well I finally made the move and got Vodacom, the competitor, to give me a Vodacom sim card but still keeping the same phone number. I thought that all was now solved. I didn’t realize that Murphy was sitting in the wings laughing to himself. When I tried to put some air time in via the internet, the bank program asked me to put in the name of the provider, Vodacom, and the phone number, 083-635-0151. When I chose to put in R110 of air time, we got to the part where we were just ready to do the transfer when the message came that the number is invalid. Ha! Stupid computer program. Doesn’t realize that I did a “Port”< which means that I keep the MTN number but now use the Vodacom infrastructure. Vodacom numbers are 072, not 083. So it refused to allow it but at the same time it still took my money and put it somewhere, but not in my phone.
     I have been to Vodacom at least 5 times, to get things straightened out, each time thinking that we finally did it only to find out there was another hitch. Well, this time, I hope that it will work.
     I went shopping yesterday to buy a bush knife and a pruning saw as I am hard at work in the garden. I tried them both today with good results.

    I think that that is about enough for one day. I will try to get on the internet now to stick this on my blog hoping that it doesn’t decide to crash at the last minute. Take care. Cas.

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