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6th January 2010

Greetings and best wishes as we launch into the New Year!

The difference in climate is immense -minus grades in Ireland while Zimbabwe grades move towards the high 30′sC. It is becoming difficult to sleep at night. On Sunday night, Jan 3rd, I slept with just the mosquito net to cover me. Even with that, I perspired quite a lot.

Christmas week was very relaxing. I had an early start on Monday,28th. Poor old Ambrose had problems with his catheter. I went out at 5.45am to take him to Rusape General Hospital. People were already working in the fields, cultivating and weeding. Sadly, we had no rain since before Christmas. Crops are stagnant and will wither unless rain, and plenty of it, comes soon.

Four games of golf in eight days is very unusual for me. Having played in Clermont on Monday,28th, we played again on Wed.30th and on Friday 1st Jan. in Windgate, Harare. The course is well maintained. The fairways are narrow with pine trees on both sides and a number of dog legs. We played before 9.00am, had the course to ourselves and completed the eighteen holes in three and a half hours.

We went to the travel agent on Tuesday 29th. The lady was not very positive about Air Zimbabwe. However, I still booked my flight for June 23rd, Harare/Gatwick. I have to make my own arrangements for Gatwick/Dublin but that should be no problem. I presume the agent gets a better percentage on higher fares. Collecting liturgical guides and altar breads was more of our business. There were no liturgical calendars, which a lot of people prefer to the liturgical guides. It took over an hour and a half to get some money changed in a bank, where one of the staff is a brother of one of my African confreres. I was standing in the heat of the midday sun, guarding my truck, while Fr Paul Horan waited impatiently in the bank. Imagine having to go to Harare to have foreign currency changed into US dollars!

Business done. It was back to Rusape on Saturday morning in time for lunch. Christmas is a very popular time for weddings. Because of the shortages, both of goods and money last year, many couples postponed their weddings. The reception was held on the church grounds with the local women doing the catering.The loud music was not conducive to a siesta.

I had Mass at St. Joseph’s on Sunday morning. A full church in joyful mood with plenty of song and movement. A good start to the day. We celebrated the Mass of Epiphany. All holidays of obligation are celebrated on Sundays.

I went to Mutare on Sunday pm, played golf at Hillside in the midday to mid afternoon heat on Monday. At the third hole there was a massive clap of thunder and a vicious flash of lightening. I dropped my umbrella with fright. We took shelter in a hut until rain, thunder and lightening eased off. Unfortunately, the rain was only sporadic.

I’m finishing off this message in Mutare on Wed.6th, where I came for the Simple Profession of two Carmelite Sisters. Rain came in abundance on Tuesday pm – about an inch fell in two hours. Good for the gardeners and farmers. Not so good for telephone , email or internet, which were not working this am.