Monday, June 5, 2017

Getting Close

Monday 5th June

On Saturday morning I introduced Ben to the local buses, as we headed for Pemba. There seemed to be a lot of amusement when I asked to be dropped off at the lion. Maybe they thought I wasn't aware that it was made of stone!! Ben now knows why the big anthills, he had pointed out around Monze didn't impress me a lot. In Pemba anthills can be over five metres high and probably ten wide. (Yes metres not feet!) They are a good source of fertiliser and Soloman has also built a couple of houses making bricks from the material.

Soloman met us at the lion and escorted us to Jenniper's house where the children were waiting. Selina had come from school and Maggie, Jennipher (little), Emmanuel and Obadia came to greet us. Jennipher's little sister had also joined the family. Like most of Jennipher's younger children their parents were members of one of Jennipher's support groups. The mother died. Little Jennipher was adopted by Jennipher and her sister by another family. Unfortunately the woman also died and now Jennipher has also adopted that child.

It was particularly good to see Emmanuel again. It must be at least three or four years since we met. He was staying with Sandra – another of Jennipher's adopted children. Sandra was a nurse in Livingstone, but became ill and two years ago she died. Emmanuel stayed with a colleague of Sandra's until a suitable point came when it was felt a move would least impact his education. Emmanuel is gradually picking up Chitonga again – where he has been living for the past few years the language spoken was Losi. In 2011 Amy met Emmanuel and Jennipher has a photo of her with Emmanuel on her knee – apparently Emmanuel tells Jennipher that Amy is his white mother!

It was good to spend a little time with Jennipher's family and Ben seemed to enjoy it too.

On the trip home I talked with a guy who had been involved in a local development organisation. He had some ideas for trying to help people in his community – unusually on a first encounter I let Onex have my phome number.

It was Charles' birthday on Saturday so after our trip to Pemba, I had to pop around to wish him many happy returns. Charles has been out and about for sometime now, so we have met rarely over the past few years. He has been in charge of the PEASSA project for many years – supporting elderly and disabled people. It has never been a great success – with all manner of disasters befalling the project. We always put the world to rights, but concluded maybe this time we are too late!! We enjoy plenty of banter about the political situation at home and abroad. It was great to catch up.

Yesterday was Pentecost! The celebration of mass was good – if a little long (just over three hours). There were about 50 candidates for confirmation. We were expecting the Bishop to preside, but in the event Fr. Milimo – the Vicar-General took the service.

I felt I needed a rest in the afternoon. There is a lot happening here and plenty of challenges present themselves daily. The needs here are so enormous that it can become overwhelming. Very easily I am caught up, running from one place to another – almost literally. It is important to find some space to just be for a while.

Today was one of frustration. The lighting is still stuck at Lusaka while we try to get a reasonable solution. The computers refuse to behave and just eat time and my data-bundles!

Delia – Diven's wife- cooked me a nice lunch, which was the main highlight of the day. I returned to find that I forgot to bring my key with me and Ben was out at the shops. This evening Raymond came around and joined us for supper, giving us the latest gossip in town.

We easily find ourselves keeping busy trying to do things, yet deep down we know that it is people and relationships that matter. It is here that we touch the true essesnce of our being, where I believe we meet God. The book I am reading written by Jean Vanier is all about relationship.

On Friday there was a girl called Matron who was at Obert's family home. She is blind and deaf and
has some difficulty in walking. Her mother has died, but her grandmother now looks after her. Obert's father spoke to her, held her and helped her to her feet. I was moved by the tender way that he was communicating with her. He didn't recognise it as communication, but it was obvious that there was love and trust between them. I was also moved by the sacrifices made by the grandmother to look after Matron. Jean Vanier talks about the difficult realities of living with people in his communities - most of whom have considerable needs and are often very disturbed. He always talks about how much he gains and learns from their presence. I can understand that – it is a wonderful mystery that the weakest, poorest and most vulnerable people teach us so much – if only we are willing to get close.

Being around children here is a great joy. In the UK there is almost a fear of getting close to children and they are in danger of being deprived of normal physical contact. Here children will automatically sit on your knee and want to hold your hand. Jennipher's family has become an extension of my family over the years and most of the children have come to know me over a long period. It is great to see them growing and looking healthy. We had great fun and laughter when they decided to wear our hats and glasses.

Best wishes,


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