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6th January 2012

Greetings from Rusape!

It was good talking to all the family in Ballinlig on Christmas Day and in the New Year and hearing that all were well. Michael, Marita and Aoife had the week off work while Joe and Martin were busy preparing for the lambing season in January.

I like the idea of Christmas Day falling on a Sunday and the first of Jan on the following Sunday. It reduces the work load and does not interrupt our four week cycle of masses.

The few days in Harare were relaxing even if the weather was very hot. I got quite a bit of sun burn on the lower parts of my legs. We always wear shorts playing golf. It was our first outing at Borrowdale Brook, about half an hour?s drive from Mt. Carmel. The course is surrounded by bungalows and Spanish type mansions. Obviously built in better economic times. Hard to believe that such a place exists along side or not far away from so much poverty. For Seniors the green fees were only $5.00. The fairways, in places, were covered with white clover. Something I have never seen before in Zimbabwe. In other places, they needed a bit of maintenance. We played at Windgate on Wednesday, which was in excellent condition. We took the brethren from Mt. Carmel to nearby Borrowdale for lunch. The restaurants were packed. No booking. Consequently, service was slow but we were in no hurry except for one of the brethren, who is a slave to his watch.

I was glad to be back in Rusape before the downpour on Thursday pm. In typical tropical zones, it was accompanied by heavy thunder and lightning. The 102 mm rainfall was followed up by another 15mm on Saturday night. It is great for the crops except for those who have recently applied fertilizer. Much of it will be washed away.

I had a busy and long day on Sunday, going to St. Joseph?s at 7.30am and returning from St. Andrew?s at 3.00pm.

I brought some of the ?Seeds for Zim? to St. Andrew?s for a local family. After Mass I visited an elderly woman who has terminal cancer but is hanging in. Her speech is gone. She has arthritis in her hands and is unable to lift them to her mouth. I celebrated the sacraments with her and her elderly husband. From there, we made our way to Ambrose, the impaired man, who had prostate surgery over a year ago. He was sitting on the hard rock underneath the shade of his hut. We brought the monthly supply of groceries plus ten kg of maize seed and two 50kgs of fertilizer. The latter, a gift from our New York brethren. He was delighted. Santa had come to him. The maize, well cultivated, should produce about a tonne.

Driving on the wet dirt roads takes more of my energy than ministry. After the floods, some places are very difficult. It sometimes raises the question, how long more can I do this? By the time I return to base, have a shower and a good meal, the energy is restored and the question is put on the back burner for another day. Such was yesterday. I was back on the road for Mutare by 3.45, getting in on time to watch Man City lose an important Premiership game of soccer against a lower ranked team, Sunderland.

BBC and SKY gave blanket coverage to London ringing in the New Year with spectacular fireworks, showing the world how well they can do things in preparation for the Olympics, not to mention the Queen?s Diamond Jubilee. Merkel and Sarkozy?s New Year messages indicate hard times ahead. When will it end??

We played golf in Hillside on Monday. The ground staff are cutting the rough. Hopefully, they will tend to the fairways in the coming days or weeks.

I weighed in on Jan 4th. The pounds or kgs had increased quite a bit from the end of November. However, I am encouraged by the words of my former Terenure College pupil, Dr Donal O?Shea, in a recent Irish Times article: ?It?s important to stand on the scales once a fortnight for adults and know your weight, and if you have a few pounds to lose after Christmas, lose them over the first four months of the year, not the first four weeks ? if you lose it over the first four weeks your body will put in place every mechanism it can to get energy back on board.? It makes good sense to me.

Love and best wishes to all for the Coming Year.