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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 22, 2016

Not much to report in the last few weeks. I have been trying for some time to get into the prison as a chaplain (not an inmate---been there, done that). Holy Moses, they want more information than the CIA. I should just refer them to the CIA and copy their files. But, the minister who is in charge of all the other ministers who minister at the prison is a very friendly guy but doesn’t easily brook foolishness. Ha! When I went to see him on business, I didn’t realize that I parked in a mud puddle, and when I walked into his office, he said “ look at your shoes”. Holy Moses, I dragged a bucket full of mud into his clean, clean office. Talk about being embarrassed. I offered to clean it up and promised that next time I would bring a broom but also would follow the Muslim tradition and leave my shoes outside the door. He wasn’t impressed. I finally filled in all the papers and still have to go to the bank to get a stamp from them and then, I think, I will be OK.
    We have had several home masses and gatherings which are always enriching. I have also been busy with haircuts before Easter. I will wait till after Easter for mine.
    Quite a few visits to hospitals, even one I never heard of before. It is more a psychiatric hospital where people who have had mental breakdowns can get some peace and quiet and get themselves back together again.
    Last Saturday, I was called away from the supper table by a young man who identified himself as a  colleague of Mona, one of Fr. Guy’s guys who is doing nursing here at St. Mary’s hospital. He had been attacked with a knife and had been sliced across the face from above the left eye down to the bottom of his nose. Thanks goodness, no damage to the eye. We went first to this guy’s house to get Mona’s key and then to Mona’s room to get some clothes (what he had been wearing was soaked with blood). Then off to the hospital (RKKhan, a regional hospital not too far away). His other friend had organized for an ambulance to take him there as it looked bad and bled like crazy. He stayed with him the whole day in the hospital (this happened at 9:30 in the morning and we arrived at 6:30pm). Great guys, really good friends. I waited in the parking lot while Skumbuzo took Mona’s clothes up to him. I was preparing for Palm Sunday and said that I would visit him the next day after the service. However, when Skumbuzo returned he said that Mona had been discharged and we cold pick him up. So we drove to the emergency entrance and loaded up Mona and his other friend. He had a huge bandage around his head also covering that eye. I took them to their homes and took Mona to his room. I left him there knowing that when the shock wore off he would feel a good bit of pain so I told him that I would visit him in the afternoon tomorrow (Palm Sunday). I managed to see him yesterday and took him to the hospital to make a report. It is important because he can’t afford to miss any time on duty now as it is part of the requirement for passing. He went today and will be reporting for night duty tomorrow. Wednesday. I keep my fingers crossed.
     I attended, some time back, a gathering of Americans invited by the consul here, Frances Chisholm, to her place for an informal lunch. I have been avoiding American gatherings for the last 50 yrs. telling everyone that I can go to America and see all the Americans I want. I didn’t come to Africa to see Americans. However, there is a program connected to the hospital indirectly, that started out as an HIV outreach program (St. Mary’s hospital was the first hospital in South Africa to introduce ARV’s). It developed well and morphed into a more wholistic program that has several branches. One is a mobile clinic that gets deposited at a school in a village where all the children are checked out be a qualified nurse for any beginning symptoms of illness (eyes, ears, teeth, etc.) to get early intervention before things develop more. They are helped by other organizations as well as the University dental program. Another is a program that concentrates on pre-school children who are the children of child headed households. The idea is that while someone is looking after these little kids during the day and feeding them with a decent meal, the older kid or kids can get to school. I told Frances about this so she came out and we took her on a tour of several of these places where she could see with her own eyes a genuine and great need that was being addressed by these programs. But there are only a few now and they need to expand as the need is great. Frances, with her accompanying guru was able to give suggestions as to how  and where to get funding from American programs that would most likely fit the bill. I think it was a good meeting, and hopeful.
    On Palm Sunday after the service, I visited a guy who has a construction firm to get some idea what we could get for the R80,000 that has been collected already to get some kind of temporary accommodation for our community that meets every Sunday at Savannah Park. It is a poor community and will take about 500 yrs. to get the R2,000,000 together to build a new and proper church. After doing kind of cost analysis, he came to the conclusion that if we used basic cement blocks, it would be better and about the same as if we used 2 X 4’s with what we call zinc sheets. He said the material alone would cost almost R97,000. If you add the labor it comes to about R150,000. At the present rate of exchange, the extra for labor would come to about $ 10,000. I think I am going to try to see if anyone wants to pitch in. If we get started, we can just add on and up as we get the funds. Never a dull moment.
     Now I am getting ready for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. It will all be in Zulu so it is a challenge. But they are important days as they tell the story of what we are all about. I will clue you in after Easter. Let me wish you all a happy and holy Easter and don’t forget that Easter was a huge surprise. Totally unexpected and impossible happened—coming back from the dead. Wow! So if you seem to be in a situation where there is no hope, well, Easter is a reminder that no matter what, there is always hope. Just hang in. Love and Peace, Cas.

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