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29th January 2010

Greetings! This time last year I was struggling with a heavy head and chest cold, while also adjusting to the cold conditions of Dalgan Park. Now, it is a case of coping with a prolonged hot and dry spell, wishing that there would be a days rain to break the monotony and freshen the air. The network was malfunctioning last week, Being without communication with the outer world is, to say the least, a bit frustrating. It is so good to be able to receive the Irish Times Digest early in the morning, not to mention emails. I spent Thursday morning visiting the sick and housebound. One elderly woman had eleven children. Only three are alive. The others were victims of AIDS. A lot of loss in her life. I had Eucharist at the school on Friday at 7.00am. The children sang “Early in the morning I will rise and praise the Lord”. They pass by our house before 6.00am on their way to do homework or study at school. Few of them bring their copies/books home. One English teacher told me she has 50 pupils in class but only ten English text books for comprehension work. Local TV news informed us last week that there are areas in Mutare which had no running water for the past four years.There are thousands of people living in crowded accommodation in these locations. I had Mass at Padua on Sunday. It is a very hot place.The maize crop is turning yellow while only about eighteen inches high. It was good to see the new altar, ambo and celebrant’s chair in place. A local parishioner had donated the materials. A big improvement on the worn out timber fixtures.The church was packed and the people were in celebratory mood. Since Christmas we had been hoping to have a game of golf at Leopard Rock, about forty kilometers from Mutare overlooking the Mozambican border. It is a spectacular place. In former times,Royalty, including the Queen,stayed at the hotel One of the tees is named The Queen Elizabeth while others are Kilcullen, St. Andrew’s and World’s View.How the architects/engineers designed it on this mountainous range is baffling.The course is 6164 meters long with lots of water and other hazards. Situated at between five and six thousand feet above sea level, the air is refreshing.The psalmist would be at home there;”And you mountains and hills, bless the Lord.”Or the opening line of Eucharistic Prayer Three: “All creation rightly gives you praise.” Four of us teed off at 11.00am on Monday 25th, taking the best placed ball for our next shot.The ninth hole, a 165 meters par three, is surrounded by water on three sides. I had par on it, which made my first nine. A young African man was up to his waist or higher in the water searching for lost balls. We had a hamburger for lunch and were finished the round by 4.00pm. Eighteen holes, plus caddie, a hamburger and soft drinks for lunch, cost each of us $35.00US. A room in the Hotel(sharing) during the World Cup- costs $200.00US per night. A few drinks on the verandah after the game and we were on our way back to the Priory. The mountainous road is very steep and crooked. Sadly, there was a horrific crash about half way down. At least three people were dead on the roadside as a mini bus and car crashed into early other. The car was a wreck and the mini bus had gone over the edge. I went directly to Kriste Mambo from Mutare to take class with the novices on Tuesday morning. The Novice Director is taking a few days off. Once again, the views are extraordinary, a combination of hills and valleys with the odd stream. On Wed. I took both prenovices and novices for class, discussing Pope Benedict’s letter “The Year of the Priest”, with special reference to St. John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of all priests, whose one hundred and fiftieth anniversary the Church celebrates. Hope all goes well with the farmers during the lambing and calving season. Love and best wishes to all.