I miss paper towels, Kleenex and wet wipes. I miss the morning paper, NPR and Good Morning America. I miss the Sisters, convent employees and my friends. I miss brewed coffee, instant technology and PJ (my cat). I miss being within driving distance to my mother.
Being without these things has given me the ability to focus on this African experience. The sacred experience of being welcomed into a country that is over populated and maybe devalued. The African women, men and children are physically beautiful people. They are talented dancers, musicians and singers. They are quiet, respectful and grateful. The sacred experience of witnessing the ministry of the Presentation Sisters across Africa is one of the deepest and longest memories I will have of my trip.
In the villages, towns and cities of Lusaka, Pemba, Kalomo, Livingstone, Kaoma and Mongu, our Presentation Sisters are meeting the unmet needs of the African people. Presentation Sisters from Ireland, India, New Zealand, England, Zambia and the US live in community and follow Jesus and Nano in teaching, healing and development of these African ministries.
These ministries include administration, leadership, IPJ contact, spiritual direction, home based care, high school teaching, youth/young adult education, formation, a novice, an orphanage, Nano’s farm, parish ministry, nurse/midwife, sustainability projects and a Cheshire Home for physically handicapped children. This entire ministry is being done by 27 Presentation Sisters.
If you remember in my first blog, I said I was coming to Africa for three reasons: to experience the African people, to experience IPA and to visit where Sister Virginia McCall and Sister Deb Nelson live and minister.
As we/I prepare for our return home, I have fulfilled my reasons for coming. I came for the reasons I have shared. Thank you to the African people, thank you to the Presentation Sisters and thank you to God for helping me leave my distractions behind and experiencing God alive in Africa.
See you soon
Hello readers of this blog. How was your weekend? Our weekend was packed with surprise, challenge and excitement.
The surprise was that an ox became ill. This ox belongs to the woman who manages the Widow Farm that is owned by Monze Diocese. Sister Theresa got the call and with these animal type calls, Sister Deb assists.
Sister Theresa organized the student vet and the widow who cares for the ox. With Sisters Janice, Mary and me in tow off, we went in the land cruiser to the farm. It was pitch dark as we made our way across a wet and bumpy path. It felt like a roller coaster. Four or five men went off to get the ox and out of the darkness, they appeared leading him to be treated by Sister Theresa and the student. Sister Deb’s role was to hold the torch, that’s a flash light to us. Sister Theresa went to see him today and his medical update is that he is doing better.
We went to the Tangon Sunday Mass. As soon as the white folk came through the church gate, the welcome and hospitality began. The welcome ranges from hello mama, hello Madam, how are you to, to cupping your hands and clapping three times. (I will demonstrate when I return).
The church was filled with adults, women on one side and men on the other. There was an earlier children’s Mass. There were very few children at this Mass. The singing and moving to song was so inspiring and prayerful. The depth of the faith and trust in God was so joyful….so expressive.
When the entrance procession singing began, the altar servers came down the aisle in their colored altar boy vestment and were followed by the readers and a priest from the Tangon culture, my arms filled with goose bumps. My heart filled with gratitude that I was in Africa experiencing love and commitment to God. The celebrant mixed Tangon language and English and we went on singing, moving and praying for two hours. I realized that some of the people walk miles to get to Mass, why only stay an hour!!
Sing on Tangon folk sing on.
On Friday, we had the morning free. It was a treat because we have been going on the fast track since we arrived. A few ideas about our hostess Sister Deb Nelson – you may have heard the expression butcher, baker and candle stick maker; Sister Deb has an expanded list of duties and responsibilities. She is our team leader, tour guide and cook. She manages a rescue squad and serves as our driver as well as our official technology person. Sister Deb is the only one in the group that has ridden on an elephant, and she is adventurous as well as imaginative. She uses her imagination to think up things for us to do or try.
Sister Deb’s official ministry in Kalomo is education, youth and young adult ministry and computer teacher. She is also over-seeing the building of the Education Center. Sister Deb has been a wonderful hostess and an outstanding Presentation Sister. Let me say for all your visitors Deb, we love you and want you to know we are very thankful for all you are doing and being here for us.
A few days ago, those visiting Africa, drove from Lusaka to Kalomo. It was a 5-hour trip. Kalomo is where Sister Deb Nelson lives and ministers with two other Presentation Sisters. Sister Theresa is a nurse from Ireland and Sister Ireen is a teacher from Zambia.
The African terrain is beautiful and lush with green grass, bushes and trees. What I observed was the people walking on the shoulder of the road. A man along the road with a can of gas, with a rock as a cover, was selling gas. There were branches in the lane of the road signaling other drivers, there was a stalled car ahead. The women are straight and poised wearing their bright colored chitenge (wrap around skirts) carrying water, maize flour, beans and other items needed for daily life. The men are riding their bikes carrying wood, household items, sand, bricks and all other things to assist in caring for their lives. The travelers on the shoulder of the road ranged from children to mature adults, and all walked with purpose and a silent strength of survival. I watched with awe, these beautiful African people, and silently prayed that I could learn from these people a simple life.
More later, walk on African folk, walk on.
Hello from Lusaka, Africa! It is almost 1:00 p.m. here and very shortly, we will eat lunch. The warmth and welcome from the Presentation Sisters was so touching and inviting. It was very late when we went to bed, to demonstrate that point, I heard a rooster crowing as I drifted into a deep sleep. This will be short because it is mainly sent to let you know we are here and getting settled.