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29th December 2010

Greetings and best wishes for the New Year!

Tuesday, 22nd, was Unity Day. Doctors were off. However, all shops/businesses were open with the exception of the banks. As a result, there were crowds at all the cash outlets, getting some money out for Christmas.I tried without success to get some money changed. Some shops will take Euro or Sterling and give a better rate of exchange than the banks. I bought a fine boneless Horseshoe ham, seven and a half kgs, about 15lbs.

I played golf with the brethren on Monday and Tuesday and enjoyed the outings. Ambrose was discharged on Wed morning. He was not very happy with the care or lack of it in the hospital. I took him and his son back to St. Simon’s for lunch before taking them out to their humble home in the bush. We provide him with some basic groceries, thanks to a donor in Dublin.

I celebrated the Vigil Mass and preached in St.Simon’s at 6.00pm. Christmas is not a big event in Zimbabwe.The church was about two thirds full. It was the same on Christmas Day in both St. Simon’s and St. Joseph’s. However, a full church gathered at the outstation, St.Andrew’s. A lot of people go to the country for Christmas, bring some gifts and take back some maize and other basics to sustain them in the weeks ahead. I took the theme from this year’s Liturgical Calendar: Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. Many Catholics buy a Liturgical Calendar or Guide for the readings at Sunday and weekday masses.They are well acquainted with the Bible. After Eucharist in St.Andrew’s, I gave a lift to an old couple. The man is 87 and walks 7km to church. He has about 2km to walk from where I drop him off. It was 2.30pm by the time I got back to St.Simon’s.Time to unwind before dinner.Ten of us, eight Carmelite sisters from local convent and farm, plus two of us, enjoyed a delicious meal of turkey, ham, vegetables and a few glasses of wine. Apple tart, custard and ice cream. A local white farmer’s wife gives us a nice rich fruit cake. It is almost like a plum pudding. I doused the Ballinlig plum pudding with local whiskey but it failed to light. Bad whiskey! We enjoyed it very much. St. Stephen’s Day. I had a memorial Mass in the location/settlement area for a 32 year old woman, a victim of AIDS, whose funeral I officiated at some time ago.

Communication wise, I had a frustrating time from Dec 23rd to 29th. Several good friends sent emails and attachments with pictures, music, reflections etc. They jammed the email access, with some messages coming in as often as nine times. The ordinary email phone access in Rusape was too slow to download the material. Thank God for broadband. They have radio broadband in Mt. Carmel. I was able to clear the back log in a few minutes. Good to be back in contact with you and the outer world ..

We had a good Christmas. Sunday 27th was the Feast of the Holy Family. I garnered a few thoughts from Pope Paul V1′s reflection: Holy Family at Nazareth, place of prayer, gentleness and work. I had mass at St. Simon’s. The church was packed. The folks who had gone to the rural area had returned.

It was a real struggle for them, as transport was not able to deal with the crowds waiting patiently for hours to travel home.

Next stop Nembaware, 74km each way, with a little over fifty on the dirt road. As it had not rained for over a week , I was able to take the normal route. Once again, the church was packed. The locals had carried out the plan for the sanctuary, with altar, ambo and chair nicely constructed in local stone. A teenage builder had done the work assisted by many locals.The pointing between the stones could be a little sharper. I congratulated them on the fine work. Another sanctuary completed.

Instead of going to Mutare on Monday 28th, three of us went to Claremont Golf Course between five and six thousand feet above sea level. The scenery is spectacular with the course surrounded by the Nyangan Hills. The course manager apologized for the state of the greens. The broken down lawn mower was being repaired in Mutare so the greens had not been cut for the Christmas weekend.Green fees were $5.00, caddie fees $5.00 plus tip. Nyangan fresh trout and French fries with three soft drinks and tea for three, amounted to $19.00. Great value.

We returned to Rusape for evening meal.The smoked Horseshoe boneless Ham tasted terrific. What was left over, we sent up to the novices. There is a lot of carving on a seven and a half kg ham.

Fr Paul Horan and I made the two and a half hour journey to Harare on Tuesday 29th.,with the intention of staying until Saturday, Jan 2nd. Each of us had some business to do. We combined that with some golf.

Mt. Carmel Student House was built in the 50′s as an orphanage by the Nazareth Sisters. It was acquired by the Carmelites in the early 90′s, renovated and extended. It sits on about four acres of land, some of which is used as a vegetable garden and the rest as lawn with two tarmac tennis courts. Fr. Louis, a French Canadian, keeps the place spick and span. It is a very relaxing environment. Windgate Golf Course is only fifteen minutes drive. We played there on Wed.morning.

With love, best wishes and God’s blessings on all of you for 2010.