It is not always easy to recognise a bishop! This is especially so when he is divested of his episcopal finery. I suspect that I have been in the presence of the bishop during my stay here at the Curia without being aware. David told me that the Red Bishop was resident in the garden here at the Curia yet I haven't noticed him around! He is a handsome fellow in his rich regalia and should stand out from the crowd. However, on further investigation, I find that, like most bishops, he only wears his robes during special occasions. At this time of year he blends in with the crowd and is hard to distinguish from other weavers or even females – yes they do have female Red Bishops here in Zambia!!
It is easy to become blaze about the bird life here. A lovely rounded tree just beyond the garden is a perch used alternately for Black Headed Herons and Brown Breasted Snake Eagles. The snake eagles sometimes fly in formation two or three at a time. They hang in the sky like a kite without a string, on their long wide wings surveying the ground below. Other birds show aerobatic skills twisting and turning – the Fork Tailed Drongo is a master. I even saw a Pied Crow use the power lines as asymmetric bars – hanging on by its toes rotating upside down!!
I have become so used to the sights here, that I find little surprising. A lady balancing a single wellington boot on her head was a little unusual – baskets of food, cases and even pumpkins on the head are routine! I couldn't resist asking if I could picture two children sitting comfortably in a wheelbarrow – something we might even see in the UK, less common in our Country is to see adults resting in the same way. Ox-carts are a common sight in the centre of town, but there are also large lorries that find their ways onto the smallest dirt tracks and park outside mud huts!!
On Thursday I went to the Immigration Office to extend my visitor's permit. Fortunately there is now an office in Monze and the operation is very straightforward. In the past, a trip to Mazabuka was required. This took a good half day by the time transport was found. For some reason you only get a 30 day Visitor's Permit – it can be renewed twice without any difficulty or extra cost, but you can only get 30 days at one time! On one occasion I had to travel to Mazabuka just to extend my permit by one day!
Ireen had almost finished my shirts by Thursday evening. A couple of weeks back I brought two pieces of material for Ireen to choose the best to make a shirt (I also had another chitenge in the bag which was to be for display back home). She said all three would be good!! So this year I will be very well adorned! Rather than wait for buttons to be attached I agreed to meet Saturday – later today – when they should be complete.
I continue to meet friends from the past – most of whom I don't recognise. A guy reminded me that some years back I gave him a manual on ACCESS – Microsoft's database design software. Somewhere in the distance it rings a bell! He is keen to meet up and catch up again. Sarah greeted me warmly when on one of my trips through town. I always confuse Sarah with another woman from the hospital, but on this occasion I was completely confused!! Sarah told me that she is still in the laundry, where they have a lot of new equipment. It seems that provision of equipment is improving, yet there are routine drugs where shortages occur and staff who retire may never receive their gratuities.
Mr Phiri who owns the hairdresser's Sweet Sixteen bumped into me as I passed by. He has plans to open a lodge and other businesses, but says he is having a bit of a rest at present. He cut my hair in 2004 and I seem to remember he took rather a shine to Emily – the physio!
I have seen Deana and Charles a couple of times now – always rushing!! I will ring Deana later and arrange a proper meeting.
I seem to have lost a week!! I thought I had a month remaining, but it only appears to be three weeks!! As usual there is a lot to sort out. I spend quite a lot of time with Mrs. Sianga discussing the progress of the school and the huge challenges they face. I find I need a lot of time to think through the issues and try to plan with them a way forward. The school has developed over the years, but PIZZ is so much more than just a school. We have a rich community of families where the students range from grade one to University, and family members involved must count in the thousands. Maintaining the delicate balance which makes the project so successful is extremely difficult – my job is to work closely with the people here to avoid its collapse.
I have taken a break from working on the computers and decided to see if I can jump to a proper solution. For years I battled at Monze Mission Hospital to establish a process to maintain antivirus software and have regular back-ups. Eventually I admitted defeat!! I have the same challenge at the school. Access to the Internet has improved, but the same issues remain. I am willing to give it a shot, but doubt if the odds are in favour of success – we shall see.
Another book I have with me from which I am gaining inspiration is called “Ostriches, Dung Beetles and other Spiritual Masters”. It is written by an American nun Janice McLaughlin who spent 35 years living and working in Africa. Ben enjoyed this book while he was here. She reminds me of the importance of giving time for rest. We are now programmed to be busy all the time. Even in Zambia I find it difficult to stop! To stop reading and listen to the birds for ten minutes is uncomfortable. Yet we need to try to adopt a more natural rythym – Sister Janice looks at the animals and sees that they have plenty of time to rest and to play.
We shouldn't feel guity about stopping, resting and taking in our surroundings. We are much more likely to be productive if we follow the natural rythms of life – we might also learn to listen more and talk a little less!!
With love and prayers,