Dec. 26th, 2017
Holy Moses, another month has almost gone by. I am just off now to do some weed Whacking but when I come back, I will try to pick up where I left off. Boxing day, as they call the day after Christmas here, is a national holiday so things are slow today and it is a good day / time, for using the weed eater. See you a bit later.
It is now Dec. 27th, I spend almost the whole of yesterday cutting grass (weeds) with the weed eater, morning and afternoon. I was tired and after our Braai Vleis (cookout) at the monastery where I got stuck into a nice hunk of beef and a fat sausage, I came back, watched the news for a while and then hit the sack about an hour earlier than I usually do since I was tired. I am just back from the hospital for the 6am Mass and am heading down for breakfast with the others. After breakfast, I will come back and pick up where I left off.
Lots of interesting and good things happened in December. I thought that I was putting them down as they happened but…. So here goes.
Dec. 2nd, 2017 Book Launch. During the liberation war in Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe, some of our Mariannhillers were murdered as well as some of our Precious Blood Sisters. Fr. Ted Rogers, a friend and colleague during my Zimbabwe days working for IMBISA ( Interregional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa), the refugees (exiles) from various countries under siege (Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia) ( I was looking after the South African Exiles who had to flee from South Africa to Zimbabwe or Zambia)…is now retired (he is 93 yrs. Old, a Jesuit) and has serious health problems…he decided to write a book documenting and telling the stories of the religious who were murdered at that time by either the guerrillas (Zanu..supported by the Chinese…or Zapu, supported by the Russions,) or the Rhodesian Army, or the Selous Scouts ( an ugly bunch), for various reasons. There were others besides the Mariannhillers and Precious Blood Sisters, but because it concerned our community, the book launch was here at the monastery with some fan fare and some speeches and entertainment and refreshments. About 70 people came, mostly from our communities, but also a choir from Zimbabwe. It was interesting too that ZAPU is mainly Shona, and quite a few, and ZAPU is mainly Ndebele, and not so many, the armed wings being Zanla and Zipra, respectively. Since a lot of the fighting took place in Matabeleland, The Zipra guys were often known by the missionaries, where some of them went to school, or worshiped, and who were often helped by the missionaries, and were less inclined to kill the missionaries (unless there was a reason like one of the people being a spy and reporting their whereabouts to the Government authorities). But the Zanla guys were mostly from the Shona part of what is now Zimbabwe and there was less sympathy, and because there was a kind of rivalry between the two guerrilla groups, were more likely to find a reason to murder the missionaries, priests, brothers, sisters, that the Zipra guys. The point is that of the 31 missionaries that were murdered, 29 were expatriates. The bishop had told them that it was dangerous to continue to live in the missions and that they were free to leave without being accused of being cowards. The all chose to stay with their communities and paid the ultimate price for it. They are considered to be martyrs for choosing to remain with their people even though they knew there was a good chance that they would die because of that choise. It was inspiring and encouraging at the same time. The books sells for R150 here but was selling for R120 at the launch. There was also a launch in Johannesburg and may also be one in London, because there were a good number of Jesuits who also experienced the same fate. Fr. Rogers, SJ, wanted to finish the book before the Lord took him home but he is still with us in a retirement home in the UK and was very happy about the launches.
Dec. 3, 2017—Dinner Dance to raise funds for the ultimate building of St. Therese of Lisieux parish ( my outstation at Savannah Park). Tickets were being sold for donations, R150, for a dinner dance that included a meal, doing a good deed, a health component, and some good music, all for only R150, or more if you choose. I sole 41 tickets out of the 250 tickets that were printed. The venue was El-Arish, a very nice restaurant, cum conference center, cum B&B, on the Bluff here in Durban (you can see the sea—Indian Ocean—from the windows). All tickets were sold out and the place was full. Even the whole African community that had attended our morning Mass at Savannah Park were there (to my surprise because I think it was beyond their means but they really tried hard to show their support). Of course the meal was excellent and I moved around greeting all those people to whom I sold tickets as well as others. There was a good spirit as people got to know on another. Of course the hightlight, to me, was that I exhausted myself on the dance floor. Ha. I think some people got a look at a side of Fr. Cas. They didn’t know existed. I only sat down to catch my breath when they stopped playing the slow ones and started on the hippity hop ones. Ha again. The final tally for the evening was that we managed to raise R57,000. 00. Wow, that is a lot for us. I guess you could say that a good time was had by all, especially by our parishioners who had never, I believe, seen anything like this before. Very fancy. Thanks to the owner of the venue who put everything in the kitty and didn’t keep anything for himself. That gave us a good start.
In between there were classes with the novices again, and some hospital visits, and on the 8th of December, joining the CPS sisters, one of whom, Sr. Florence, after waiting a looong time, finally was given the OK to make her final vows. She is studying nurseing and that is how I got to know her.
I also got a message from the Bank that they were deducting some R2000 from my account having to do with Vodacom. Holy Moses. I went to the bank (this is always an adventure for an old guy. I stood in the queue for over half and hour and when I finally got to the teller to explain, she told me that I had to go to Vodacom first to find out what it was all about.) Thank goodness, Vodacom is just upstairs so I went up and managed to get someone to explain what this deduction was all about. He said that it was because I used up a lot of data that came to that amount. I explained that for several years now I have been paying R75 a month for a mobile router which I uses on occasion when I have to be away from my home wifi, but in all this time I never went over the amount (1GB). Suddenly, to jump from R75 to over R2000. Didn’t make sense to me as I hadn’t done anything different from what I usually do. But when I asked him to check on his computer, he said that the line was down and that I could wait. Ha. Wait? What a joke. I told him that I was going back to the bank to have them reverse the charge, which I would query, and Vodacom could inform me later what they decided and I would then make my decision.
A few days later, after my Internet access to my bank account is blocked because I can’t remember my password (This really irritates me because I think I have a whole Yellow Pages of passwords that I can hardly remember, and which, for one reason or another, I have to change, so that I wind up confused. Of course, if you try too many times with the wrong password, it gets blocked …I won’t say what I thought, but I had to go to the bank twice to get it unblocked, and each time if took over an hour. ) I eventually went to the bank manager who turned out to be a very nice lady, and I suggested that she go out to observe what is going on in her bank, that they really need more tellers, since having to wait for over an hour is not acceptable and the bank will get a bad reputation. She said that she already did that but she had 6 people who were off sick and when she asked headquarters for more staff, they said they didn’t have any to send to her so she was stuck. At least it was good that I now have a good contact in the bank if more problems arise in the future.
Dec, 10, 2017---I joined the community at St. Paul’s Church since it was family day in the parish and the parish priest is recovering from an operation to his leg (some strange doctors said he might have to have his right foot amputated, and this was in a very expensive private hospital). A haematologist was called in and said that all that was needed was to borrow a vein from somewhere else and get a blood supply to that foot and all would be well, which is what they did, and it is working fine but is still a bit painful. In any case I took the Mass and he sat with me up at the altar and I asked all the kids to come up and get a blessing from their father, which they did and that made him and the kids happy. I joined a family at home after Mass and then came back to meet the rest of the parishioners who were each coming bringing their own goodies. It was a nice time and a good spirit, a real family spirit.
Dec. 16, 2017…I was invited to a birthday party of a friend who celebrated his 70th. It gave me another opportunity to cash in on the health component with a bit of dancing. I mean, after all, one has to look after his health.
Somewhere in here I did a dumb thing. I was parked (parallel parking) next to the front door of the hospital and when I came out of Mass and climbed into the car, there was no one next to me on the driver’s side, But as I started to pull away to my right, bank, I bumped into a car that had pulled along side of me to drop off his wife in front of the main door of the hospital. Although I was probably only going about 5 Mph, it gave a nice dent to the side of hid bakkie (pickup). He wasn’t impressed and I think that if I hadn’t been a priest, he might have said and acted differently. It was just before Christmas and I really felt stupid. I didn’t want to admit that since I have glaucoma, my peripheral vision on my right side is very limited, and that, I believe, is the reason that I had no clue that he had pulled up along side of me. I think that if I had nomal vision, I would have noticed, out of the corner of my eye, as it were, that he had come along side of me. I still felt dumb.
But that meant informing the insurance company and getting a police report (the system with the police is about the same as the bank. It was over an hour waiting, Ha. There is no escape). However, in the end, I was advised not to report to the insurance company because the deductible amount would be more than if I got someone to repair it whom I know, and that is how it worked out. My friend Anthony told me to bring him the car when I go to Cape Town in January, and he can fix it up for probably a quarter of what the other panel beaters would charge. I am super abundantly blessed.
17th Dec. 2017… A group of ACTS ( a spin off from the Cursillo) came to us old timers and prepared a special lunch for us. We ate like pigs. It was very thoughtful of them. They do it once in a while especially for those who rarely if at all have a chance to get out of the house. We are spoiled.
Dec. 21, 2017---I went for my annual prostate checkup. I had already gotten my PSA done at the lab. They take a blood sample and can tell if you have cancer in your prostate. Mine was 1.3 ( the doctor said that two years ago it was 1.1, last year 1.2, this year 1.3. He said it gradually goes up as one gets older. The cut off, he said, is 6. Well, by the time I get to six (1.3, 1.4, 1.4, 1.6, etc. 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc. I will be long gone).
Dec. 22nd, 2017… We had a home mass for some ladies ( the daughter who is about 55 yrs. Looking after her mom, about 90 yrs. And totally blind…haven’t had a chance to get to Mass for years and years. So it was special for them. Some members of the community came and joined up and provided some music which was very nice. There is a good spirit in our community and when someone is sick or there is a death in one of the families, the rest are there to offer support. I also picked up some candles and incense for our Christmas celebrations that morning.
The rest of the time building up to Christmas was preparing for Christmas itself, doing a lot of grass cutting in between, helping out with confessions at the neighboring parishes, and having a special penitential service for our parish on the Third Sunday of advent, when Fr. Macarius came along and helped to hear confessions to let everyone get in shape, spiritually, to celebrate Christmas.
Dec. 23, 2017…After picking up a 5 litre box of red wine for whoever graces my doorstep, I spent the morning and afternoon cutting grass and felt happy that it is mostly under control now.
Dec/ 24th, 2017…4th Sunday of Advent and also Christmas Eve day / night. I knew that no one was going to come to Mass twice, once in the morning and once in the evening for the midnight mass, which, by the was was at 6pm. Since there was no Mass that morning, Mike Pillay organized for us to bring communion to the sick, who would not be able to get to church on Christmas day. Then, in the evenng we just combined everything. Mr. Pillay, the community organizer and catechist, umshumayeli, had managed to find someone to bring his keyboard along. That is all you need for an African community who love to sing, to turn them on. It was like magic. The music was great, and as you know, it is clear that an African can’t sing and stand still at the same time. S/he must move, so everyone was moving to the music and the Holy Spirit took over. A real family spirit. We finished about 8:30 and then I went up to Net and Mike Pillays for bite to eat and to wish each other a blessed Christmas. I got home about 10:45 and to bed by 11:30pm. Not bad.
Dec. 25th, 2017. Since there was no Mass at Savannah Park ( I think that most of them would go to the Mass at the mother parish, St. Charles Luanga at 8am), I had Mass at the Hospital where we prayed for all the patients to get healed and home in time to taste a bit of the Christmas seasonal spirit. I had intended to move around the hospital from ward to ward to just pray and bless everyone, but at the last minute, I received a message that an old friend was coming to bring her mother from America and wanted me to meet her. We met but then I had to change my schedule. I wanted to visit 4 families so now I had to be satisfied to visit only three. My spirits pick up when I see families together, enjoying each other’s company, and the kids getting good example from the elders, usually at least three generations or four coming together. I came home about 7:30 and was pooped, so by 8:30 I was under the sheet for a nice quiet and peaceful Christmas.
Dec. 26th, 2017…I cut grass the whole morning and afternoon. The weather was warm and a bit overcast which was just right for that. It is called Boxing Day here but I don’t know why. I seem to remember something called the Boxer Rebellion in China but I don’t think it has anything to do with this Boxing Day.
At the end of the day there was vespers in the church where the novices led the singing (5 of them) and I was surprised at how well they sang and harmonized. I taught them in class so I didn’t know they had this hidden talent. Some of the youngsters were cooking the meat and lots and lots of other goodies were on the table. Besides our Mariannhill community and the sisters, there were also some visitors who joined in the celebration. I saw a young lady I didn’t know so I sat next to her to find out who she was. She is the real live sister of the new Bishop of Port Elizabethe, A Zungu. Interesting. We started with vespers at 5:30 and the braai was ready right after that, so by 7:30, I felt tired after spending most of the morning and afternoon cutting grass (mostly on the side of a hill) so I headed for home, watched to news for a while and then hit the sack again by 9pm. I think that I am slowly but surely adding on my sleep hours. I used to turn in by 10 and get up at 4, now I turn in a bit earlier, and get up at 4:30. Does that say something to me. I am still trying to decipher.
Right now, I am waiting to be picked up for a lunch with another family. I will tell you about it when I next add on to my blog. I think I am finished for the time being. I wish all of you a happy, healthy, fruitful new year, and when it is not so happy or healthy or fruitful, but sad or disappointing, and health challenging, or frustrating, that you are given, from above, the courage, strength, determination, patience, and, most of all , Love, to deal with all of that, and keep on moving till next Christmas. Love and Peace, as always, Cas.