Saturday, July 27, 2013

Holy Spirit Celebrations

Sunday 27th July

A large part of today was taken up celebrating with some local nuns – more of that later!

Yesterday I had another date at PIZZ school. Hands Around the World runs a child sponsorship scheme. People in the UK donate £10 a month which goes to one of our projects and we provide details about a child. In this case students at PIZZ School. The money doesn't go specifically for that child's use but the sponsor receives details of the child's progress and a little about their background. Often the student gets a boost from knowing someone abroad is sponsoring them. The children at PIZZ are chosen often because they are bright and with encouragement will succeed in their exams. Sometimes children having a very rough life are chosen to provide a little spark of hope and help them realise that they are not abandoned.

I like to talk to some of the sponsored children and over time I can get to know a few. Yesterday I spoke to Jack, Esther, Christine and Gideon. These were all in their initial years at the school, so Mrs. Sianga interpreted for me. The children are taught English, which is eventually used to teach all their lessons. Christine is Bemba by tribe and that is her local language. She therefore has the extra difficulty of being taught in Chitonga, when English isn't being used – neither language is her normal tongue. I wouldn't be able to manage.

Some books had been sent from the UK and I wanted to go through a few of them with the teachers to understand what was useful. Atlases and dictionaries were much needed – even if some of the country names had changed. A few books such as GCSE revision guides were generally too advanced for grade 8 or 9 children, but would be useful at secondary schools, despite the syllabus being different. Some books were designed for individual students – with spaces for answers. Individual books of this sort have limited use. Mr Men books could help the young ones with reading and some books on nature were considered to be very useful. Story books were also considered good. However the problem I see is that these are designed to be read to children not read by them. They are often for young children, however the vocabulary is too difficult for the children to be expected to read, at that age. So for instance if the school developed a library – which is a hope they have – the books would be of limited value in that context.

I also looked at some of their textbooks and was dismayed to pick up a couple of 'activity' books. These were of the type already described where they are designed for an individual child to work through the questions and fill in the spaces in the book. e.g. sentences with words omitted or grids where numbers need to be entered according to particular rules. These books have limited value if the children cannot write in them – and if they do, the book cannot be usefully be re-used. Each book costs at least £4 or £5 and might last a year – possibly only a term - and cover one subject. I am not sure who has the designed the material, but it doesn't seem to be very clever for the Zambian system.

Jennipher came around with Selina and Maambo (a young woman who often stays with Jennipher). After lunch Selina accompanied me to the bank and was amazed at the workings of the ATM, while Jennipher, Maambo and another friend made themselves at home in my flat!

In the evening Teddy came around and we caught up with the latest – particularly in relation to the hospital. There has been a lack of stability over the past few years with Acting Medical Superintendents (who are in charge of the day to day running of the hospital) staying for a year or so, before going back to college. The current postholder has started leave and is also on her way to resume her studies. Unfortunately doctors are encouraged to get additional qualifications – then they get management positions and their practical medical expertise is wasted.

Today I awoke once more to a bright cloudless sky. It is several days since I have seen the faintest hint of a cloud in the sky. Absolutely cloudless skies very rarely occur in the UK – here they are very common.

Every time I come to Monze – at least since 2004 - I ask Ireen to make me a shirt, which she does. Urgency however is not a word in her vocabulary! I saw her very early on this trip, knowing that my time was brief. She said she would choose me some nice chitenge material and make my shirt. So a day or so back I looked in to check on progress! Ireen told me that she would buy the material the next day (except that she had someone to see so it might be the day after.) The shirt would however be ready on Monday, or Tuesday! I will keep you updated with progress!!

A local order of nuns – the Holy Spirit sisters were formed 42 years ago under the authority of the then Bishop of Monze, James Corboy – an Irish priest. During these years the nuns have officially been a local community, but in May this year they were officially recognised by the Catholic Church (with Vatican approval) as a religious congregation of the Monze Diocese. This is a rare event – the first to occur in Monze since the formation of the Diocese. It was therefore right to celebrate in style – so today we did just that.

The main celebration took the form of a Catholic mass. We started at 10 hours and interspersed were talks about the history of the order of nuns, and a few words from various people attending. The processions and dances were elaborate and great fun. The advantage of this service compared with most I attend was that it was conducted largely in English – despite the fact that I was one of only a few for whom it was their first language. Bishop Emilio gave an interesting sermon based on the constitution of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit. (Honestly it was very interesting!) Their charism is to let their lives be guided by the Spirit. He pointed out that their constitutions talks about the gifts of the Holy Spirit – the most important being Joy. He referred to Pope Francis saying that a Christian should always have a smile on his, or her, face. Today there was joy in plenty and smiles everywhere! If only we could follow the example of the people here. Unfortunately smiles and laughter are not the norm in Catholic churches in England in my experience!

Bishop Emelio, thinking of the 42 years, also mentioned how 40 was an important number in Christian tradition – he could also have mentioned that 42, according to “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” is the answer to the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything! Maybe in fact when thinking of the Holy Spirit this is close to the truth!

So with lots of singing, dancing, drumming and laughter we finished our service just before 14 hrs!!

I remarked that it wasn't likely that we would experience such an event in the UK. Fr. Kenan pointed out that it would be inside the church not outside in the grounds, I mentioned we would be unlikely to have dancing and drumming and I doubt if our congregations would be happy with a 4 hr long mass!!

I enjoyed every minute and felt spiritually refreshed as a result. We are hoping for action on the visa and I am happy to storm the heavens over the next few days.

There was a feast laid on at Homecraft for those with tickets and something for everyone – so we were told. Some people were checking for tickets at the gate, but I felt I should be allowed in as it is my home!! I suspect that I would have been welcomed at the feast, but I would be uncomfortable barging in because I am a 'white man'. I headed for my flat and a welcome cup of tea and a couple of sandwiches.

I then popped into town for a couple of items and on my return wandered over to the assembled gathering to seek out friends. There are a few nuns from the congregation who are away from Monze but I know from my connection with the hospital. A few greeted me. In particular it was good to see Sr. Juunza who told me she had just finished her studies. She had travelled from the Copperbelt, arriving this morning, and was now back at the hospital. I hunted for Sr. Christeta who worked closely with Dilys when she came in 2006. Eventually I found her. When the bishop spoke about joy, I thought of Sr. Christeta! She is the bubbliest nun I know, never without a smile and was in the thick of all the dancing today. It was good to have a brief chat with her, unfortunately, though she will be around tomorrow, I can't see how I will have time to get together with her again.

I must remark that religious congregations all around the world generally lead a life which revolves around a pattern of formal prayer – much of it based on the Psalms from the bible (used by the Christian and Jewish religions). The psalms have a verse and a response – traditionally the verse is sung in a very simple chant. In our mass we sing a psalm between two readings. Today the sisters sang the psalm and I immediately recognised the simple chant in the first verse, then as the second verse began a vibrant beat was introduced and my mind drifted to 'Sister Act' because it was very much in that vein. (Those who have watched the film will know what I mean!!) Religious services can be, and should be, fun!!

I was meant to be picked up by Edward for another night on the town. However, I decided not to remind him. If he turned up I would join him, but to be honest I have so much to fit in in these last days that I am better of doing some catching up. Which is what I have just been doing with my blog as he hasn't arrived!

Please keep praying – and smiling!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Visiting Pemba

Thursday 25th July

It might only be a couple of days since my last blog was written but it appears that there are three days to catch up!

On Tuesday I spent a long morning at PIZZ school – that is to say that it was 14 – 15hrs when I returned to the flat. There was much to discuss with the teachers. In particular the issue of what happens to children when they finish at PIZZ school. The school teaches to grade 9. Some pass the exam at the end and are awarded a certificate which allows them to finish their secondary education. Those that fail have limited prospects, though we hope they will have developed in many ways at the school.It will undoubtedly be a struggle for most. One boy Boniface who didn't do well academically is now earning a living as a musician, both as a performer and songwriter. I am sure that his time at PIZZ school helped him to develop this talent – if I can I will meet him and find out more. Those who pass grade 9 often cannot afford the secondary school fees and drop out if we cannot find some extra support.

Diven's shop is taking shape. He tells me he has a system, but why he has several shelves filled with different varieties of detergent paste instead of other goods I cannot quite fathom. Still he tells me this is part of his master plan!

After supper Edward called to take me out. We started at the golf club and moved on to Moonlite! The Moonlite Guest House used to be called Nampeyo and was were I stayed with the team on my first trip to Monze. Mr. and Mrs. Chiiya – the owners – were not about on Tuesday and I felt bad that I hadn't been in touch. Edward and I caught up with the events of the past year or so. It is good to chat over a beer or two. We have known each other for a number of years since I got involved in a project he initiated at Monze Basic School were he was head. We continue to meet when I come over here and it is interesting to share our relative perspectives on the world. We discussed some of the difficulties between the indigenous population and others in the country. Unfortunately there are still some who belief there is a natural hierarchy. He dropped me back home and we will probably meet again on Saturday. I will also call on his wife to say hallo if I get the chance.

Yesterday I headed for Pemba. It was about time I said hallo to Jennipher's family. I didn't fancy the buses outside Tooters – near empty buses usually mean very long waits! I wandered up to the main road and was told a small bus was going to Pemba now now! I was suspicious when I saw another empty bus and when a Rosa came by I jumped on that instead – without realising this was also empty! The conductor I had just ignored, jumped into the full bus a little further down the road and away they went. I went to dismount, but my bus continued moving slowly. To my surprise it then sped up and headed for Pemba – still virtually empty. I went to ring Jennipher to tell her I was on my way and realised I left my phone in the flat. I have come to realise that, particularly here in Zambia, a mobile is a very important asset – especially if you intend to meet with someone. The conductor of the bus main a vain attempt to gain extra passengers at Chisakesi – even to the extent of trying to pull passengers from another bus – much to the amusement of all of us! I arrived at Pemba Post Office with no Jennipher to collect and guide me! I spoke to a man at the grocers and told him I was going to try to find the house on my own and to let Jennipher know if he saw her!

My sense of direction – or lack of it is renowned. I can get lost in a building – many times I have found myself in a cupboard when trying to find the front door! I have a vague idea where Jennipher lives – the fact that I might have visited on 10 – 20 occasions is only marginally relevant in my case! After walking a kilometre or so up the main road I decided to follow a dirt track. There didn't seem to be any obvious paths off this track, so I kept going. At one time Jennipher might not have been known beyond her immediate neighbours. This is no longer the case, most people in Monze who I talk to know Jennipher. I heard today that she had recently been on the radio telling people of her forthcoming trip to the UK – not necessarily a good idea, knowing how jealous people can be. Anyway being a bit unsure I was confident that if I mentioned the name I would be put on the right path. Surprisingly I was heading in the right direction and might well have found my destination alone. However, an elderly lady – who turned out to be one of Jennipher's members – led me by the hand (literally) to the family home. I spotted Jennipher and she alerted Selina who ran to me and jumped into my arms.

In the past I have got to know all of the children Jennipher is looking after, but I confess I lost track of who was living with her and who was just visiting! Maggie was around but Emmanuel and Obadiah were with relatives when I arrived. There was a succession of Support Group members who came in one by one and greeted me. Jennipher told me a little about each. There were two main groups – those who hadn't received any seed and fertiliser for the coming season and those that had! The ones without of course need some ( but at least they had received some food) and those with the seed, were hungry because they didn't receive the mealie meal! Jennipher does her best to find support for her many clients – she has done well to get seed etc from various agencies, but invariably there is a shortfall – which she tries to fill from other sources!!

There were two educators from local organisations teaching her group today. One of these teachers had been involved in prostitution until only a few months ago but was persuaded to take a different route. She is now a volunteer trained to teach others. As with Jennipher, the testimony of one who has a wealth of hard experience, is much more powerful than one who is talking from theory. In general peer educators are used to teach about AIDS - as such they share the burden being HIV positive themselves and speak with authority.

An elderly gentleman came into Jennipher's house and sat down. Jennipher said he always spends the day with her and receives his meals there. A small house – the original one that Jennipher used – is now occupied by a young mother and her baby. Rogers is a little lad who has also joined the expanding family. So Jenniphers dependants increase. Soloman is a great help, looking after the family when Jennipher is out and about.

Selina spent some time making herself pretty before being photographed with me. She reminded me that she wants a bike and a school bag!

I am reminded how fragile life is in Zambia, when I visit Jennipher's home. The stories of terrible hardship follow one after another. Mothers looking after children with disabilities with no support and perhaps also having elderly parents to look after. People reliant even more than most on a good food supply have managed to grow nothing because of last years drought. For many Jennipher is literally a lifeline. Some people walk 10 – 15 km to attend the weekly meeting despite their illness and lack of food. Some sump with ground groundnuts was provided for those at the meeting and I was also given a bowl – which tasted good. (Sump is made by boiling maize and is a little like rice pudding.)

A small pre-school group also receives some lessons from volunteer group members in the garden. Soloman and Selina were also helping these children when I was around. Everyone was enjoying the experience.

Selina and Soloman escorted me to the road and Soloman flagged down a car that took me back to Monze.

It was Charlie's birthday – the last of the series! I decided to ask Andy if we could get together on Skype to wish him a Happy Birthday.

Jennipher followed me to Monze – she had further work to do in relation to her attack and other local issues. She arrived with Selina who had expected to come with me – though I was unaware. I told Andy they were around, but he was not yet home to set up Skype. While we waited, I showed Jennipher and Selina some of the uses for the Internet. I showed them the Hands Around the World website and associated Facebook page. I decided to take a picture of Selina with the Facebook page and post it with a comment. I reflected on what a different world we live in today. Only a few years ago this wouldn't be possible. Until very recently access to the Internet from Zambia was very difficult, if not impossible. Today I sit here in my flat and have easy access to the world!

Eventually Andy came online and we were all able to see Charlie and sing him the traditional birthday greeting. It was good to be able to connect the two worlds in this way. Maybe in a little over a week Jennipher will be greeting Andy and his family in person! I hope you are still praying for a miracle!

Today I had arranged to visit Buntolo. A project to support orphaned children was started at the hospital and, about the time of my first visit, they starting using a place called Buntolo for meetings and training sessions. Some of the guardians make baskets, bags, aprons and other items for sale, to bring in a little income to support the children. At one time I had an outlet in the UK where some products were sold. In recent years this source has dried up. The market here is very limited, so on my visits when I make contact, I somehow seem also to fill a case with sundry items! The amount of work that goes into each item is enormous, but a charge of a few pounds can seem expensive when compared with the mass produced goods available these days.
I enjoyed the opportunity to walk a bit. It allowed me to reflect and slow down just a little. On the way back into town I was passing Tagore school and decided it would be rude not to call on Mrs. Chiiya, who was a former headteacher of the school and lives at a house on site. I was able to make up for not seeing her at Moonlite and also met Mr. Chiiya. The nursing school she set up is still operating, but like most ventures, it is not without its challenges.

I had agreed to visit a couple of places in the afternoon. Heading for Chisikili with Jennipher we were still in town when met the leader of the group we had intended to see. Since he was on his bike it seemed sensible to talk to him at the flat rather than journey to the site and wait for him. Warren has a support group that has the use of a little land suitable for growing various crops. They have a well and a water tank, but no pump to take the water from one to the other. Deana who came to Monze a couple of years ago as a Hands Around the World volunteer has acquired funds to provide a solar pump. She asked me to talk to Warren about the progress if I had a chance. It appears that the scheme has been planned, quotes obtained and contractor organised. Shortly the installation should start. There should be sufficient money to provide for the pump and water distribution system. This will mean that the group might be able to support the members with very little need for outside support.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with Fr. Raphael and Fr.Clement discussing the link between Our Lady of the Wayside here in Monze and St. Gregory's Parish in Cheltenham. There are various connections being made and we are currently supporting 18 young people with their education at secondary school and a small church run local university.

Raymond joined me for supper – for which I was grateful. I was enticed by some of the lovely vegetables in the market a day or two back! I wanted a small cabbage, then spotted some Chinese cabbages. I was told they were 1Kw (12.5p) and expected to be given one 'cabbage' only to find there were about four strapped together. (These look a bit like large cos lettuces but cook like cabbage and retain a lovely fresh crispness. A little further I came across the sort of cabbage we are used to, but I wanted a small one!! I was told that the one offered – again for I Kw (or maybe 50 ngwee ½ Kw) was small! It must be 2 kg at least!! So I will need plenty of help to get through my stock!

Again time has run away.


P.S. Today I will treat you to a few photos taken recently.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Martha and Mary

Tuesday 23rd July

All is well!

My camera came back into life after I charged up some new batteries. I have Internet access back and this morning I managed to transfer some cash to bring my bank balance back into credit! So life is good!!

I awoke on Sunday morning to find I had no power. I had slept in a little and it was after 8 am so I wasn't surprised. I assumed that Zesco were doing work and that power would be restored in the evening.

I went to mass at Our Lady of the Wayside and met a few more friends. It was useful to have reflected on the Gospel the previous Sunday. Since the service is in Chitonga I don't understand any of it!! Perhaps that isn't entirely true, because the format is the same, I am aware of what stage the service has reached and know the standard prayers. However, I was able to think a bit more about the story of Martha and Mary. Mary who just sat and listened to Jesus and Martha who rushed around doing things of less importance. We live in a world where activity seems to be admired, however pointless and spending time with others – particularly listening is often frowned upon as wasted time. I have come to realise that the great gift I was given when made redundant 17 years ago was the freedom to be available to listen. Yet too often I fill my life with activity of less importance.

After mass I had a sandwich and headed for St. Veronica's section meeting. I called in on a lady who said she would direct me to this week's location (the meetings move between the homes of the members each week). She invited me into her house while she got ready to come with me. I was aware that her family had suffered a great tragedy and asked how they were. For the next hour or so she shared the details of the horrific events. A story of suffering, courage, forgiveness and outstanding loyalty. I listened! I was aware that here at least I was able to fulfil the role of Mary and I had no doubt of the presence of the Lord. It was an enormous privilege that someone who I don't know well was happy to share such personal and private events with me. I was deeply moved and promised to remember the family in my prayers, please will you also pray for her and her family.

By the time we arrived at the meeting it was winding up. I was reprimanded for being late, but knew that I had already spent time deep in prayer.

They were making preparations for the feast of St Veronica on 16th August. I told the group that I wouldn't be there. I mentioned that Veronica was a special name for me. My mother and a cousin who recently died were called Veronica. They were both very gentle people who would put themselves out to help anyone and their lives were an inspiration to me. I asked them to remember my special Veronicas on the feast day. There will be a special mass followed by a celebration and meal for the Small Christian Community.

I returned home and unsurprisingly the power was still off. I used the laptop until the battery power ran out and then read for a while. I have candles and a torch so I could cope with the dark.

I expected that at about 20 hrs normal service would be restored and was a little surprised when the time passed and there was no change. I decided to look outside, only to find that mine was the only house in darkness! I tried lights in the corridor – they too filed to work. I decided to head for the security guard and ask him why I had been singled out to continue in darkness. He suggested a trip switch, but didn't seem to know how to address the issue, so he suggested I spoke to a member of the projects staff who was outside her house. Eventually she came around and confirmed that they use a meter and someone must have forgotten to top it up!! She offered her house for me to make a meal, but I decided to chop up a few vegetables and make a coleslaw, then follow it with a bowl of cornflakes and a couple of glasses of mango juice!! (A well balanced meal!)

Yesterday by 9 hrs power was back on and I celebrated in the traditional way by making a cup of tea! Still suffering from Internet failure, I went to the cafe to check my bank account and to see if there were any important e-mails. At 8 hrs the cafe was closed. I asked the guy in a neighbouring shop what time they opened – he confirmed 8 hrs. Almost next door is HHI, so I took the opportunity to call around and ask if anyone knew anything about bee-suits! I was directed to Joseph who expected them, though not from me! I took the opportunity to pass the goods over to Joseph who accepted them gratefully and promised me a trip to Gwembe where their project was based, if I could fit it in.

Makwembo Internet Cafe now open I proceeded to sort my business and returned for another cuppa before heading out again. Raymond was going to collect me and take me to the PESSA project the other side of Hichaanga Dam. I have been involved with this project for many years. They struggle to support a few elderly and disabled people through growing a few crops. Floods and drought destroyed most of the maize – a little harvest of cow peas was all that came from the rainy season. Animals have broken into the garden and helped themselves to the impwa! One Ox died and the cart is in need of resuscitation, but the well is in good condition and still providing water – if only for washing clothes at the moment – so there are plenty of challenges ahead!

Diven joined me for banana sandwiches. I hadn't managed to get to the hospital during working hours so I headed over and looked for familiar faces. There have been a lot of changes – even in the past 8 months. The long term secretary and receptionist have moved. The acting Medical Superintendent has been replaced by another and other changes have occurred. I headed for Teddy's office. I have known Teddy since at least 2004 so it would be good to meet an old friend. I entered his office to be greeted by Sichone. He used to work in the stores and in 2004 I introduced him to a new stock control system, which despite our joint efforts was never fully implemented. As we got down to catching up on the past year or two, I received a call from Jennipher. She had just arrived at the hospital as a patient. Someone had beaten her with a stick and kicked her and she needed treatment. It is a sad fact that too many disputes here are settled with violence. I went to the outpatients department to meet her. She was walking but in pain. She needed a medical report to present to the police and needed 50 Kw (£6) which seems a lot of money. She was going to be seen by the doctor and given some medicine, so I left her and she was going to call later for a coffee.

On my return to the flat I decided to ring the MTN helpline once again (they don't appear to work at weekends!) A girl checked my account and found that I had failed to activate the data bundle and the connection was just eating my talktime. I had little choice but to take the hit and buy some more – this time making sure that the data bundle was confirmed. 1 GB should keep me going for the rest of my stay.

I met Jennipher as I headed to pick up some talktime. She decided to head straight for Pemba. Soloman wasn't around when the incident occurred and she was afraid he might be very angry and retaliate, so she wanted to return quickly.

At last I was back on the Net! I realise just how dependant on it I have become. While in Zambia it is important to feed back as much information as possible – not only in my blog, but in reports to the many groups and individuals who have an interest in what I am doing. Somehow a report written a few weeks later when I am back in the UK hasn't the impact, more importantly it is too late to interact and respond to the thoughts of those back home. Only a few years back this communication would be impossible.

I was invited to supper by Fr. Clement and it was good to chat over a meal. Fr. Gabriel from St. Mary's parish about 12km to the west of Monze joined us and was interested about my views of the church in the UK and how we encouraged the youth. Unfortunately I had to say that most young people find the church irrelevant and it isn't surprising when they live in a world of Facebook, I-pads and smartphones and the church sings hymns from the 18th and 19th century! Personally I think we need to embrace the new technology and not be afraid to use it in the services. I told them that people rarely laugh or even smile during services, which is very different from what I experience here in Zambia where mass is a wonderful joyous occasion where people are undoubtedly celebrating.

After supper Fr. Clement, Fr. Gabriel and myself headed for Mayfair where the pool table awaited. In the event Fr. Gabriel decided to forego the game and chat instead to another priest based at St. Kisito which is within St. Mary's parish. There was another guy at the table and he was persuaded as the winner of the previous game to defend his position against Fr. Clement and having succeded against me. Again he was successful – he then admitted he was just beginning to learn the game! We played a decent series of games and Fr. Clement came out on top overall. We returned a little before 23 hrs.

More news soon!



Monday, July 22, 2013

Back in Monze

Saturday 20th July

It is good to back in Monze! Not that Chisamba is unpleasant, but here I have my own space and it is where I have made my home over the past ten years. I also have hot showers! In Chisamba there is neither hot water, or a shower!

Yesterday I spent the morning talking to the staff I missed on Thursday. I have found it useful to get to know all the people involved in making a project work. I try to make sure that everyone has a reasonable idea of how Hands Around the World fits in and I like to listen to their concerns and ideas.

Just before 13 hrs I headed for the taxi rank. I couldn't find anyone in the morning to take payment for my stay at the guest house, so I left money with Persis to settle the bill.

It appeared that there was a passenger too many for the taxi, however one guy was just saying goodbye to his friend. So once again there was no wait. This time I didn't notice any zebras or Marabou Storks but a large solitary monkey sauntered across the road in front of our car. I was a bit concerned that he wouldn't be quick enough, but fortunately he had the situation under control.

It was then straight onto a bus and away to Lusaka. Just before we reached town the bus pulled over and we had to transfer to another bus for the remainder of the journey – not an infrequent occurrence in my experience here in Zambia!

I met up with Best outside the CHAZ offices and we had a drink at the cafe just inside the gates. He has returned to his university course, but the driver of his taxi has had his licence suspended following the incident were he hit a child that ran out in front of his car. The child subsequently died. Best is currently using another driver. As you can imagine the incident has been very traumatic for all concerned.

Best told me that he is president of the Lawyers Association. One of the things they are looking into is the treatment of prisoners. He has visited a number of prisons to observe the conditions and hopes that they will be able to influence the authorities to improve them. He says that the current government is sympathetic to their concerns.

I headed to Downtown where there are Rosa buses heading for Monze. On the way I picked up a roasted cob of corn. While I waited for the final roasting a guy at the stall told me that God was coming – it said so in the bible. We exchanged a little good natured banter and I took my lunch towards the bus. I was directed to a vehicle and I hoped that the guy understood my strange accent. For some reason many don't recognise Monze when I say it, though when I hear local people say it they seem to pronounce it the same! To be sure I asked the guy who sat next to me where he was heading – since he was also going to Monze I was reassured!

While we waited to fill up (about 1 – 1½ hrs) I was able to finish another thriller! Before setting off the conductor lead the passengers in prayer – this time the prayers were not in English. So having asked for God's protection we set off. Here religion is very much part of everyday life unlike in the UK were it seems to be pushed more and more to the sidelines.

In Zambia – at least on the roads I have travelled - there are many police check points. I don't profess to understand the workings of such things, however vehicles are stopped and I assume that obvious defects are looked for, and, from what I gather, a check is made that a vehicle is not overloaded. It is interesting to notice that some vehicles turn off the road just before a checkpoint, passengers dismount and often walk past the checkpoint etc. Yesterday one of the guys at the front of the bus seemed to find it necessary to climb over the top of the seats only to completely vanish, then reappear a little later – strangely this magic display seemed also to coincide with the check points, but I am sure that there was no connection!

It was clear that there were no roadworks around Chilanga! However there were plenty a little further down the road and a considerable diversion near Kafue Quarry. Like last week, we should have been held up considerably, however our driver ignored the queues by driving up the inside whether there was a road or not! He then barged his way back into the stream of traffic – though not surprisingly the other road users were less than keen to go along with these tactics. I must confess that this sort of behaviour is one that most irritates me in the UK and I am not in the habit of being very obliging myself!

I arrived in Monze at about 8 pm – about 3½ hours after leaving Lusaka and 7 hours after leaving Chisamba. It was time to relax by starting another thriller, having a bite to eat, a hot shower and then creeping underneath the mosi net for a good night's sleep.

Today I decided to have time to myself. First I rigged up a clothes line and did some washing. Being mid July and the date divisible by 4 it has to be a significant birthday. This year I haven't managed to produce cards for the three children that form part of the birthday season, so I decided I should at least wish Asia a Happy Birthday by phone. She spoke briefly and passed me to Cheyenne who was visiting. Asia is one of the 3 cousins who were born in close proximity. I was in Zambia when she and Charlie were born (4 days apart) 7 years ago. I might try a Skype session with Charlie on Wednesday – if the internet is accessible again!

This afternoon I walked to the small reservoir and sat for an hour or two enjoying the sun and the birds. Some birds are easy to identify. The African Jacanda is a good example. Just a brief glimpse from the corner of your eye tells you what it is. Maybe its a flash of white neck, the distinctive flight, outstretched legs or something else but there is little doubt. Other birds are not so simple. There is a wonderful book published by the Zambian Ornithological Society called Common Birds of Zambia. I had to acquire my own copy via the internet, having failed to get one in Lusaka! However, it is a great aid. I also have a book “Birds of Southen Africa” which has most of the birds of Zambia but also a lot of others not seen there. The Zambian book allows me to discard most birds, since it contains a list of all those recorded in the country. Between the two books I stand a good chance of positive identification. Today I spotted a number of black birds about the size of a blackbird with longer tails. I had previously assumed that these were all Forked Tailed Drongos, but with hints from my bird book I realised that some didn't have forked tails and in fact there were two species – the other being the Southern Black Flycatcher.

I realise that birdwatching does not fascinate everyone, but for me it helps me to recognise and appreciate more of God's world. It also allows me to spend time using relatively little mental activity. I have heard that we are at our most creative when we are doing some undemanding background activity, but the mind is not being stretched. I think that too often these days are minds are kept too busy. Weren't many of the great breakthroughs in science made during periods of relative inactivity! I am thinking for instance of Archimedes in his bath and Newton sitting under the tree – proof if ever you needed it! Very often after a long walk I myself thinking more clearly about the most significant issues.

On the way back from the Dam a Lilac Breasted Roller was radiant in the evening sunshine as it took up its favourite perch outside PIZZ school. This is a very colourful specimen – with dazzling metallic blues on the wing and tail, turquoise crown, crimson striped neck and lilac breast – quite a looker!

Raymond arrived around supper time. My sandal strap broke on the way back from the dam so he offered to find someone who would fix it for 50 ngwee (about 6p). I thought the least I could do was prepare him a meal for his return. Sure enough he completed his task – at the stated price. (Coins have been reintroduced in Zambia after a long absence. However this causes further confusion since 100,000 old kwacha is now 100 new kwacha but 500 kwacha is now 50 ngwee!) Raymond was looking at my bird book and was surprised when I told him that very few of the birds seen in Zambia are also present in the UK.

The blogs are mounting again. The connection dropped on Thursday evening and, as yet, I haven't managed to regain access. Today my camera also failed to work. I am hoping it is just the batteries, although replacements that I thought had been charged also failed!! No doubt all will be well before too long.

Once again it is long past my bedtime.



Bundles of fluff

Thursday 18th July

Yesterday I arose at 5.30am. It was just after six when I left my flat – I decided that was not a good time – just before six is good, because there are some buses that head off for Lusaka promptly at 6 hrs. Anyway I walked past the bus stop and headed for the 'tarmac'. On the way I was accosted by a lad who enquired whether I was heading to Lusaka. He directed me to a bus – possibly a little bigger than a Rosa and not in the usual Zambia blue. He told me is was a time bus and that it was setting off at 6 hrs. Since it was half empty I said I doubted that it would go for an hour or so. Anyway I asked the price, 55 kwacha I was told, and I decided to board - expecting a long wait. Almost immediately it made its way slowly along the Lusaka road. It stopped by the showground – a popular picking up place. I was surprised that instead of turning around it continued towards Lusaka – still there was still plenty of opportunity and many empty seats. We reached the Golden Pillow and tried to persuade a few more passengers on board. A little way along the road the bus pulled over and the conductor said prayers for the journey. Still half empty we picked up speed in the direction of Lusaka – maybe its true it is a “time bus”!! I paid my 55 kwacha but a little later the conductor came to me and gave me10 kwacha back, saying that Monze to Lusaka was only 45 kwacha! Miracles do happen!!

I had been worried that it would be late by the time I hit Chisamba (at least late afternoon or early evening). The bus driver made good progress at a sensible speed. We made a detour at the Munali Hills, going closer to the quarries than I have been before. There was a short section of roadworks after Kafue but I am beginning to wonder whether I was hallucinating the other day. The massive roadworks near Chilanga had evaporated! So at 9hrs I disembarked and headed for the next bus. I have always made a long trip via Cairo Road in the past, but seeing a road named Lumumba Road and wanting Lumumba Bus station I thought I would take the chance. Sure enough my destination was a kilometre or so straight along the road. A bus was waiting – as usual and after no more than ½ hour I was once more on the road.
Other than walking there is little option but to take a taxi from the crossroads. Again it wasn't unusual for a taxi to be waiting - in fact it would be extraordinary if one wasn't. What was incredible was that the taxi was waiting for two passengers and since another guy on my bus was heading that way, we set off immediately.

I always hope to see a troupe of monkeys running across the Chisamba Road, but this time I was disappointed. However I was well compensated by seeing a zebra and a large flock of Marabou Storks in a field of cows! I had heard of the zebra before – I believe some wild animals found themselves fenced in by commercial farmers, this zebra seems to have made his (or maybe her ) home with the cows.

I was keen to catch up with the project - “Kaliyangile”, a vocational training centre. There is a lot of activity taking place – they even had some small fish delivered to a tank yesterday – unfortunately due apparently to the transfer taking around 8 hours – the fish didn't survive. Moses who has a large pond offered to try again if they would promise a more rapid transfer. A course in bee-keeping is about to start. The tailoring students have been involved in making bee-suits and they planted some nachas (a citrus fruit like a Clementine or Satsuma). These will become an orchard providing food for the bees. I had a tour of the grounds and also looked at the accounts – still, to my amazement, being prepared using my accounting system devised for Kaliyangile a few years back.
This morning we had a power cut and had to revert to my laptop, the Centre machine having no battery power. This seemed to be an unscheduled outage, as opposed to last Sunday when the power in Monze was off between 8 am and 8 pm! Persis heard today that the father of a cousin staying with her had been killed in a road traffic accident. There is a terrible toll taken on the roads in Zambia and so another family is left grieving as a result of this tragedy.

Walking to and from the Centre I pass over a railway line. On the way to the Guest House for lunch I encountered a goods train on the move. It was moving slowly but these beasts are very intimidating close up – I was walking along the side of the track. I trusted that some metal doors that were clipped back wouldn't open and take me with them. Fortunately the train passed without incident, I received a cheery wave from the driver as he passed.

This evening after talking to the trainers I sought Davison and the new delivery – 500 'day old' chicks! Wonderful fluffy bundles. Each was picked from the box and given a quick feed before being deposited in her new home - they are meant to be layers, so we hope that are all female!!



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A busy day

Tuesday 16th July

Another full day!

I spent the morning (and part of the afternoon) at PIZZ school. The project is doing well despite a shortage of teaching materials and poorly paid teachers. There are various initiatives being followed to provide additional funds and to enhance the education. The garden at the second school is being used to grow some vegetables. The children do a lot of the work, learning useful skills that will help them at home and in their future life. Some tomatoes were sold and the children involved were treated to some sweet potatoes from the proceeds. The current crop of tomatoes will be used to buy a bicycle for the teachers to use to go into town.

There is a problem whereby many of the students come to school hungry and can't concentrate on their lessons. Some funding has been found which should enable the children to receive a bowl of porridge in the morning which will make a difference.

I made a quick visit to the hospital this afternoon, though many had already finished for the day. I met Sr. Beatrice, who was the Administration Manager when I first came. She is currently studying for a degree in Lusaka and is having a brief holiday in Monze. She told me that the government is insisting on academic qualifications for all posts – even a cleaner needs a grade 12 certificate! Personally I think this is evidence of a world gone mad!! There are lots of people who are very capable of many jobs – including those at a senior level – who are not good at passing exams. There are others who are good at passing exams, but unfortunately not much else!! It is a pity that people seem incapable of looking beyond very simple measurable indicators these days. The implications of overlooking experienced and capable staff and placing raw graduates in senior posts are immense! Of course Zambia is following the worldwide trend not setting it.

Christine caught up with me eventually, as did Diven and Raymond joined me for supper!

I now need to get some sleep. Tomorrow I must set of early for Chisamba.

Bye for now


Monday, July 15, 2013

The work begins

Monday 15th July

How time flies!

I am now set up with Internet access and have no further excuses! I believe that the last post on the blog is when I was at Heathrow.

Things have moved on. I have just posted about my journey and this one will bring you up to date with the start of my work here in Zambia.

I easily forget how many friends I have here in Monze. Tonight Bright called around to my flat. Clearly word has got around – even though I have not as yet made it to the hospital. He had tried my usual Zambian mobile number and failed to get through. I lost the SIM card recently in the UK, but I am tempted to see if I can revive the number. There might be others trying the number in vain.

Bright is a gentle man who I have known for many years. He works at the hospital and told me he is now in charge of cleaning the wards. He was a security guard when I first met him. He has a son (Brian) who has hearing problems and attends a special school near Monze. The fees are too high for a hospital general worker and so he has to find support from wherever he can. Despite the difficulties Brian is now in grade 10 he is intelligent and always gets marks towards the top of his class.

On Friday I met Mrs Sianga. I wanted to arrange to meet at the school, to get a feel for any issues at the school and to bring her up to date with where we were at Hands Around the World. One issue that I always try to address and somehow come short, is the collection of some stories about the children and the effect that being at school has had on them.

We have a scheme where sponsors support the school and reports are provided in relation to a child at the school. Mrs. Sianga chooses the children in discussion with me. Usually they are children that show some aptitude in their studies. They are also often children in need of some encouragement. They generally have difficulties at home – e.g. having lost one or both parents, maybe struggling to get enough to eat or often falling ill. Sometimes the sponsors want a child of a certain age or sex.

Initially some of the students sponsored were in the top grades at Mrs Sianga's school. When they left it was decided that it wasn't right to abandon then, so, with our help, Mrs.Sianga continues to pay there fees at local secondary schools. One of these children – Malwini – will finish her secondary school at the end of this year and hopes to continue to study and eventually become a doctor. I hope that we can help her achieve this ambition – her results so far suggest that she has the ability.

We talked a bit about providing some food for the children. Mrs Sianga told me that many come to school without having eaten anything. The children cannot concentrate on their lessons – she says that you can tell which children are hungry – they are listless and inattentive.

A large number of care workers have been trained to support the children. They check on the families and any children that are not attending. They try to find out if there are serious problems at home or illness. Although training workshops were provided there are no funds for ongoing support. At the moment however, these care workers are being very helpful to PIZZ School.

Jennipher was also around on Friday after returning from Lusaka. I was a little dismayed when I noticed that she still had some of my documents. When she visited the Embassy last time her documents were taken without comment, this time they looked through the file and discussed the planned visit. Jennipher was able to point out my mistake with her birth date and talk about the people she hoped to meet in addition to stated friends – Dilys, myself and Amy. I think that my covering notes etc. might, in a strange way, help the cause. It is now out of our hands – she should get the decision by the Friday before the Sunday when I plan to leave!

Jennipher has acquired seed and fertiliser for some of her clients – but not all! This of course leaves some in her support group less than satisfied – not to mention those in associated groups!

Diven has also been around a number of times. He joined me for supper on Friday.

It is good to be able to make my own meals and to have guests around. For some time I have only made occasional meals at home, because I am not sure how to ensure I conform to Dilys diet. I wondered how I would manage to get back into cooking! I found myself getting excited as I went around the market – the vegetables are different shapes (as they should be), I picked up some impwa along with aubergines, peppers and carrots. I noticed some spring onions – not often available - I picked a big bunch for very little (maybe 50p). I added some kapenta (small dried fish) from a stall just around the corner from my house. I collected 6 large eggs from another market stall – here you buy eggs individually, choose which you want and receive them in a small clear plastic bag. I had to buy some tomatoes from my friend at the entrance to the indoor market (I picked two piles of the medium size. - piles are four tomatoes in a pyramid. The stallholder greets me warmly and tells others that she is my wife.(apparently I have a number of wives in Monze!) She also sells me fresh garlic, ginger and spices – paprika, chilli and curry powder. I see many more items that I fancy, but they will wait for another day.

I am aware that during the last couple of years I have missed the process of meeting the marketeers and exchanging banter - which is so much part of cooking here in Zambia.

Diven is keen to start running a shop once again. He has spotted a couple available in the market – which is unusual, because they don't often come up for rent, being in prime position and get taken very quickly. He is keen to get to work building a new business. Some years back he had a shop in the market doing very well, but a series of events led to disaster!! Lets hope this venture is more successful.

Yesterday I visited the new parish of Our Lady of the Wayside which has a link with my parish of St. Gregory's. I thought that I might get away without being noticed!! - Though as the only white face apart from Sr. Gabriella, that was unlikely! At least I hoped I could stay in my pew.

At the end of mass, the parish chairman said something and people started looking at me. I was told that visitors were to go to the front of the church. I didn't know why they looked at me! I was at home, how could I be considered a visitor! In the end I joined the 'visitors' and passed on greetings from St. Gregory's. I must confess that it was heart warming to receive a rapturous welcome as I made my way to the front.

It is humbling to receive the greetings that I receive in Monze. I try to do my best for the people, but I am aware just how inadequate that is. I had a long conversation this evening with Catherine. She told me how she has two orphaned children who are not related to her.She also has three children of her own. She has no employment and in Zambia there are no welfare payments – unlike a few neighbouring countries. She has been teaching the children at PIZZ school needlework so that they will at least be able to repair torn clothes. They have agreed to buy the aprons they make so that they can buy more material to continue. Life is very hard for people like Catherine, she admitted that sometimes she arrives to teach needlework hungry.

The rains last year have been poor as I have stated in earlier posts. As an example a friend who has a small farm which usually yields 200- 300 50kg bags of maize each year has only produced 28 bags this harvest.

Last night I was tired – it has been a hectic and stressful few weeks! I had an early night and got up at 6 am for mass at the Cathedral. Afterwards Fr. Kenan invited me into the Priest's House for breakfast. It was good to meet some of the priests again and listen to their debates. It was almost 9 hrs when I returned to my house!

It is only when I start to recount a few of the events over the past couple of days and know how much I am leaving out, that I realise what a full life I live here in Monze.

Tomorrow I am very much looking forward to meeting with the children and the teachers at PIZZ school – Catherine tells me that some of the children have already realised that I am about and have high expectations. I hope that I won't let them down!

Please keep me in your prayers.


Back Home

Thursday 11th July

It is 22 hrs Zambian time (which is an hour ahead of the UK). I am back in my favourite flat in Monze drinking a cup of tea after my meal of sausage and chips from Tooters, the Southern Cross is shining brightly above me and all is well!

We left Heathrow a little behind schedule because the luggage was late. I was above the loading bay and I realised just what a physically demanding job it is loading the bags and other cargo. A couple of guys were working flat out throwing (reasonably carefully) one bag after another.

I continued to be fascinated by the plane activity. Thee was a recent short series of programmes live from Heathrow and they explained that the traffic controllers had to mix the planes by size to get the optimum throughput. Apparently the turbulence caused by the plane in front is the main factor which determines when the next can take off. As we taxied to the runway 8 planes took off and we waited stationery while a similar number took off – probably less than 15 minutes in total.

We took off in bright sunshine and were just past Paris when the sun set. At about 10pm BST they started serving meals. I probably finished at about 11.30 being served one of the last. At 2.30am BST the cabin lights were put back on to wake us for breakfast!! I tried to continue dozing and settled for a cup of tea!

I arrived at Lusaka airport at 10 local time, just 15 mins behind schedule.I equipped myself with a new SIM card, settled down in the cocktail lounge and contacted Moses, who was apparently downstairs in the terminal. We caught up a little over a cuppa and I gave him a box of bee-keeping manuals I had brought with me, lightening my load considerably.

On the way to the Inter City bus station we diverted to a CHAZ (Churches Health Association of Zambia) building were I met Sandy, who has become involved particularly in providing transport for HATW volunteers. We had a cup of coffee and a quick tour of the medical equipment workshops before heading once more for the Inter City bus station. I had never been by this route before and after half an hour or so Moses admitted that he was trying to find the Zambian Bee Council offices! I was eager to get to Monze to meet Jennipher, since her Embassy appointment tomorrow morning relied on me passing on documents I had with me.

We arrived at the bus station at about 13.30 – in time for the 14 hr Livingstone bus. I bought my ticket and boarded the bus. I thought that I should tell Jennipher that I had been delayed. She said that would be OK, then admitted that she was on another bus heading for Lusaka – just passing Kafue ( about 30- 40 minutes away!). I quickly dismounted changed my ticket to 16.30 and retrieved my bags which by this time were buried in the bowels of the bus. The guys didn't seem at all put out! So while I waited I rang Justina who was going to accommodate Jennipher (though Jennipher hadn't yet asked her!)

At about 15 hrs Jennipher arrived and we sorted out the documents – I hope they are accepted, another error on my account will not help! Jennipher decided that Justina wasn't going to meet us at the bus station and set off as I boarded the 16.30. I decided to get a drink and bumped into Justina! We managed to retrieve Jennipher so all was sorted!

The bus set off on time but the other side of Lusaka there are major roadworks. A mile or two of single file traffic controlled by a stop go system added about 1 ½ hours to the journey. I realised that Jennipher's solution was in fact the only practical one. If she waited for me she might not have got to Lusaka tonight and I wouldn't want to trust on getting there by 10 am for her appointment with the road as it is. She must have left at about 11 am. If I hadn't been delayed with Moses I might not have rung before setting off and we would have missed each other. It seems despite all my frustrations and concerns the Lord is looking after us. It would seem that despite the huge- and mounting – odds against it a miracle might happen!

Its time to sort my bed and catch up on my sleep.

With love and prayers,


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Leaving Heathrow

Wednesday 10th July

I am sitting in the departure lounge of terminal 4 at Heathrow. From here I can see the planes landing and taking off. Two have taken off while I typed the last sentence and another has just landed – I am not the fastest typist, however it will be very different at Lusaka airport!

The morning became a bit frantic when I realised that the printed visa application form didn't contain a signature and date. I was initially surprised when a “signature” was required for the online form. I typed in Jennipher's name and that seemed to be accepted but when it was printed the fields were left blank. On the confirmation e-mail it said that the whole form needed to be printed and indicated that this included the signature and date. However it seemed impossible to add these to the form or go back to a point where it would be possible.

It isn't easy to talk to a human being about visa issues. There are plenty of websites and even e-mail addresses, but at this stage there isn't time! I waited for half an hour on a premium rate number to be told that they couldn't help me and directed me to the British Embassy in Lusaka. I tried the Embassy in South Africa who directed me to a company who dealt with enquiries on their behalf. Eventually I spoke to a man in South Africa who told me if Jennipher signed the form and I added a covering letter it would be OK. I hope so!! I will not be pleased if the visa is refused because the computer didn't print the form correctly!!

The Saudi Arabian plane at the nearby gate is just preparing to move to the runway and take off; an Air France plane is taxiing past the window and a BA plane has just taken off! I can no longer see the Kenya airways plane – I hope it wasn't mine!There is constant activity here at Heathrow, but I had better sort myself out and find my boarding gate.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Back to Zambia

Tuesday 9th July 2013

When I wrote in February I had very good intentions to keep you informed about my friends in Zambia - referring to my communication with them from here in the UK.

Well things have moved on and I will be leaving for Zambia tomorrow! When I last wrote, Zambia was in the middle of the rainy season. In fact the rains ended prematurely resulting in a very poor harvest this year - particularly in the Southern Province (where Monze is situated). I'm told that there will be lot of hunger this year.

My friend Diven has told me that business is not good at the moment. He is struggling to raise enough money for food - anything else is now problem for him. Still he tells me he has a plan! I wait with interest!!

Since Jennipher had obtained a passport I decided to try to arrange for her to visit this year. The plan was to wait to see whether she could obtain a visa and then make the arrangements for her to come in the summer. In the event a few weeks back Jennipher's application was rejected.

The applications for visas in Zambia need to be made online. Jennipher has no experience of computers or the internet and therefore sought help. The form is quite difficult to complete and it isn't obvious how you complete fields where the question is not really applicable – e.g. if you don't know birth dates or have no income. Jennipher's 'agent' did his best, but feeling obliged to put in a figure for monthly income, 20,000 kwacha was entered. This was intended to represent £2.50. Unfortunately the kwacha was recently revalued and 20,000 kwacha is now worth £2,500. Not surprisingly the officials were not convinced about the validity of her application.

At the moment a representative from Global Giving is in Zambia. He wants to visit Kaliyangile and PIZZ school - which both feature on the Global Giving website. I feel that it is an appropriate time for me to visit. The opportunity to show Kai (from Global Giving) the projects helped me make the decision to make a short visit, despite Jennipher's disappointment.

I had expected to find that there was no chance of obtaining visa after the refusal, but when I sent an e-mail to Pretoria they responded by saying that, though there were no grounds for appeal, Jennipher was free to re-apply with the corrected information and proper supporting documents. After a number of attempts to obtain help in Monze, I completed the application myself this morning! I will bring all the necessary documents with me tomorrow and give them to Jennipher when I arrive on Thursday. I have arranged an appointment for her at the British Embassy on Friday. Yesterday I thought we would probably run out of time – today I think we have a good chance to get a decision before I return. If it is positive Jennifer will return to the UK with me.

I have been told that there is absolutely no chance of getting a visa for an African who has no money – it would seem that a miracle is required! Fortunately I believe in miracles!! However, plenty of prayers are needed – so please have a quick word.

So a couple of weeks ago I asked for the Hands Around the World team to find me a flight. Three were found ranging in price from £650 via Dubai to nearly £1,600 a direct fight with BA! Dilys and myself were not sure that Jennipher flying alone via Dubai would be a good idea, the BA flight was far too expensive, so I plumped for a flight leaving on the morning of 9th July via Amsterdam. Somehow the flight booked was one via Nairobi leaving on the evening 10th July (tomorrow).

In previous blog posts I have referred to an experience I had in 2006. I spent 7 days at Loyola Hall, a Jesuit retreat house near Liverpool, on a silent retreat. The Jesuits follow the example of St. Ignatius who recognised that by becoming in touch with his feelings and moods, he could discern the way the Lord wished him to follow. Importantly he found that following the way of God left him at peace.

My experience both at Loyola and in my life since, is that often when I have my own plan, I become very busy and agitated. This was my state a week or two back. In 2006 I only gave the Lord 7 days, so he had no time to waste on my detours. If I tried to dictate the agenda he messed up my plans and almost physically placed me on the right path. I have learnt through these experiences to become excited when things appear to go wrong. When I learnt of the changes to my flights I felt at peace.

I have always felt that Jennipher is probably meant to visit the UK. At this stage it is still very unlikely, but I wouldn't bet against it!

I look forward to my brief visit – I have a return flight booked for 4th August. I have lot to do during the visit, but I need to recognise that my own ability to achieve success is limited. I will try to enjoy the experience and embrace the wonder of what awaits me. I am sure that I m in for a wonderful treat – I just need to relax and enjoy it. I am so fortunate to have these chances – I have a responsibility to ensure they are not wasted.

I think I arranged to stay somewhere at Homecraft and will be met at the airport by Moses. Fortunately Monze is my second home and I know that if no plans work out, I can easily resolve the situation. This should allow me to move forward with great sense of peace.

I will include a few photos from last year to whet your appetite. I will keep you up to date with my new adventures.

With my love and prayers,