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30th December 2011

Greetings from Rusape! Traffic, crowds, shoppers dominated the days leading up to Christmas. It was almost like an exodus. There were so many people on the move struggling to get transport on mini buses, which had hiked their prices by a high percentage. Of course, there was carnage on the roads. It is so common here that one is no longer surprised. Over one thousand people were killed on the roads in South Africa during the festive season. I had a leisurely lead into the feast. On Friday am I had just put the finishing touches on my homily and enjoying a cup of coffee when old Sr. John arrived with a gloomy look on her face. ?Baba, my sister in the rural area has been bitten by a snake could you bring her to the hospital.? We set off on the 25km(15miles) journey into the bush towards Headlands. The dirt road was very bad in places. When we arrived at the homestead, someone had already taken her on a different route to town. There was no mobile phone signal in the area so they could not contact us. A trip in vain. Fr. Andrew went to Harare on Friday, got dirty diesel in his truck and was delayed returning. He did not get back until late Saturday evening. I went to Ruqueza for Mass on Saturday am. Only a few people present. The death of Vaclav Havel, poet and former President of the Czech Republic, gave me a thought for my Christmas homily. I used two quotations from the Irish Times. The first from an English unbeliever, Swinburne, of 1871 who wrote A Hymn to Man concluding with the lines ?Glory to man in the highest, for man is master of things?. The second from John Betjeman?s poem Christmas: And is it true This most tremendous tale of all The maker of the stars and sea Became a child on earth for me In between these two quotations I made reference to problems in our world today. The shops were super busy on Saturday. I went to the supermarkets three times but left on account of the lines of people at the check outs. A cooking and glazing leaflet came with the Horseshoe ham with instructions on how to prepare it. Part of the process was glazing with one cup of honey, one teaspoon of mustard, two cups of brown sugar and one tot of sherry. I was at Spar on Christmas morning at 7.00am to buy a jar of pure honey and some loaves for the Sisters. I celebrated the 8.00am Mass at St. Simon?s followed by midday Mass at Nembaware about 50km away. Both congregations were in great voice. Living liturgy. A most fulfilling experience. I was home by 3.00pm to prepare for dinner. Peter, our new cook, excelled. Turkey, ham and Ballinlig plum pudding washed down with a glass of South African wine. He does mixed vegetables in sauce and a bit of chilli. The vegetables are always crisp. A delicious meal enjoyed by ourselves and six Carmelite Sisters from two local communities. I drove to Harare with Fr. O?Regan on Monday pm, played golf at Borrowdale Brook on Tuesday and at Windgate on Wednesday. Both enjoyable outings. We returned to Rusape on Thursday am just before the downpour and thunder storm. 102 mm(four inches of rain) fell between Wed and Thursday or early Friday morning. The forecast is for more rain. The Kariba dam, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, will be opened before the next heavy rains in early January. The media are warning people to be careful as there will be serious flooding in some places. I had to do a detour on the way to the Sisters farm this morning as the river was in spate. There is no electricity after the thunder storm and the heavy rains. I?m using the battery for my laptop. Wishing you God?s blessings in 2012. Love and best wishes.