Monday, December 13, 2010

Time Flies and Power goes

Monday 13th December

Time is running away. It is 22hrs and time I should be asleep, but since this might be my last opportunity to post a blog in Zambia this year, I will put down a few words.

Now that I have handed over control, life has become more fun! Yesterday before mass I was grabbed by the Secretary of the Parish council at Our Lady of the Wayside church and brought to meet the chairman, who asked me to join them at a meeting after mass.

Before the mass, and during it, I was told just how much the people wanted to express thanks to the people at St. Gregory's church in Cheltenham for providing funds which were used to purchase maize seed for some of the poorest families at the church. The parishioners showed their gratitude with a round of applause.

After mass the maize was distributed to representatives from the 11 small Christian communities – each community provided names of two families each of whom will receive a 5 kg bag of maize seed.

After mass I grabbed a quick bite and headed to St. Veronica's 'section meeting'. We looked at the gospel for next week where the theme of joy was picked up. It was Elizabeth's first meeting with Jesus – though he was still in the womb at the time. I was reminded that God resides in all of us – it is in recognising the God in the other person that brings forth joy. Here in Zambia I have no problem in seeing God in the people I meet – and so often a smile is confirmation.

After mass a few of our group visited two people who were sick. The first was a lady who had been burnt and the second was a man who had lost most of his sight. We stayed for a while, sang and prayed a little with them. People talked about their difficulties and offered their sympathy and support before moving on.

It was well after 5pm before I reached home, having been out almost the whole time since 9.30 am.

I rang Teddy and invited him around. At about 6.15 pm I looked at my phone to find several missed calls and text messages. Teddy had come immediately and gave up when I didn't respond to his knocks or phone calls from outside my door! I must be going deaf!! He came back and collected a few computer bits and pieces that I had brought with me or borrowed from him.

At 7pm I was due for supper at the priest's house. Fr. Kenan and myself were joined by Frs. Raphael and Canasius for nshima and sausages.

After supper I joined Fr. Raphael, and Fr. Kenan drove us to Nzango – a bar just beyond the railway lines. It was a good chance to get to know Fr. Raphael, who is now the main contact for Our Lady of the Wayside.

So, without me doing anything, my concerns about setting up meetings in connection with Our Lady of the Wayside have been more than allayed.

This morning I was busy working on the computer in the development office when the power was switched off. The supply which went off at 10 am was restored at 19 hrs! Apparently this was a planned outage by Zesco , the electricity provider, for maintenance. Tomorrow I am told will be a repeat! I was worried that I wouldn't have time to say goodbye this visit. I think the Lord has just supplied me with a few extra hours!!

I did have the chance to show Mrs Sianga the computer and camera that I will leave with her. I was proudly about to demonstrate how cleverly I had constructed her accounts system, but all we got were error messages. I had earlier tried to bypass small problems with the ACCESS software with disastrous results. I needed to be humbled – and I was!! I would have showed her how to access the Internet, if the connection had stayed for more than a few seconds!

However I am still at peace! Luke called around this morning, Jennipher in the afternoon and Reymond this evening. I met Ireen near the hospital who told me my shirts would be ready by tomorrow lunchtime! I spoke to Michael – a surgeon at the hospital - for the first time this visit. We have passed at church but never quite met to speak before today.

There was still no electricity when I called at the convent to check out Sr. Juunza's computers, so I left with her laptop. A little job to do after this blog!!

Back home I booked a room for Friday night at Lwisha House. In view of the recent influence of my Ignatian experiences, I think I should spend my last night at an Ignatian centre. Something I wouldn't have done if Longacres Lodge had rooms.

I find it uncomfortable when there is no electricity – especially as it becomes dark. I suspect it is worse because, after 9 hours, I am suffering from caffeine deficiency! For very many in Zambia, whether Zesco is providing power or not, has very little impact, since they don't have any mains electricity. So what am I complaining about? I lay down for a few minutes on the bed when the cheers announced the return of power!!

Well tomorrow is the last day during which I will have the laptop. Since most of that time we will have no electricity, I am unlikely to post another blog until my return to England. I will fill you in at that time with the happenings of the final few days.

Thanks for bearing with me over the past few weeks

Take care


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