by Fr. Michael Greene
29 Jan 2010
We woke for Matins and mass, and then charted the day. Nicolas, Sister Anna-Marie, and I were to go into town to meet the Bishop, and to shop. The ladies would stay together with the sisters and talk, meet the children, and minister to them. They clearly had a very productive time and it was a great ministry to the sisters, who are in need of good ministers to encourage and support them in the tireless work that they do. I went, dressed in the Mirfield habit, to the top of the hill to await Nicolas and Anna-Marie, and caught eyes with a short man in a purple shirt who scowled at me and ran back into the old CR house. The three of us on the trip met with somewhat more limited success, as the messages were garbled (something that one can count on in Zim) and the Bishop said he was leaving Harare at 11, rather than arriving at 11. We were met by Fr. Luke and Fr. David however, who told us some more harrowing stories of their adventures and lives in the ministry of Manicaland. It was good to see Luke, who seems to have come into his own here, and is clearly a leader of the Church. In the end, we left them behind and, with the promise of the Bishop heading into town at 2:30 we agreed to dine at the Christmas Pass Inn, a run-down, formerly grand, hotel right at the start of the pass. Then we went to the TM to do the shopping that had been entrusted to us. Following the same pattern we had done before we went to St. Augustine’s, Nicolas drove the car around while Sister and I did the shopping. It didn’t work quite as well as it had with the American ladies, though, because, while we were able to divide and conquer in a very brief time, Sister Anna-Marie had to follow me around everywhere, and she always begged for me to buy ‘just a little more’ of everything on the list. My one concession was when she asked for a small $3 tub of bath soap for herself, which was probably more than she’s ever gotten for Christmas, and I couldn’t say no. I also bought a large bottle of Coke for each of the sisters, since it’s a special treat for them. In the end, I filled up 2 large gunnysacks with groceries and we trundled off to the hotel for a lunch of cheap sandwiches and cold Castles.
Apparently we missed the bishop by about half an hour, but headed back. At the gate we were told that Jakazi had given strict instructions (illegal instructions, as it turns out) that we were to be denied entrance to the facility. Nicolas and Anna-Marie spoke heatedly in Shona to the guard, who was a friend to them both, that this was rubbish, but the man was afraid for his job. In the end, he gave up and let us in. I was livid. How dare some f***wit little bishop-pretender stop a priest, a monk, and a nun from delivering groceries to a group of orphans?!? How can he call himself Christian? How can he live with himself? How is it that he seems to enjoy himself, bullying people around like that? I cooled down in the end, at least from the rage, but if ever there was a doubt that this man was evil, it should be sorted out by that one action. That evening, we had vespers, and afterwards, Mother Betty invited me to give a reflection on a recent major concern of their community—healing. So, after a sort of homiletic reflection, I laid hands on each one and anointed them with holy oil. I was puzzled to see Mother Betty disappear for a short period, but as I found out later, she had good cause. After healing was a supper of the sausages we’d brought, and a lot of merry-making, as the beer we’d also brought was served. We closed the evening again with a lengthy reflection time, and Nicolas disappeared for a while, oddly, but again with good reason.