Saturday, August 29, 2015

Almost Over

Once again I must apologize for not being faithful to the blog - Facebook has become the priority with easier pic posting and what seems to be more people following my posts.  With that said, since my last post Deacon Harold and I have been meeting ALOT as he gets ready to take over.

Ginni and I will fly to Nassau on Tuesday, SEPT 1 to meet with the Archbishop and conduct our exit interview.  We'll spend the night at Holy Family Parish, then fly to Boston on Wednesday.  No time to relax, however, on Thursday we drive to NH and pass papers on our log home in Hillsborough.  We've been trying to sell since we began this ministry 7 years ago.  When it wouldn't sell we would rent it and that is how we paid the bills.  When our last tenant moved out we put it on the market with another agent and this time, BOOM, we have a reasonable offer and it looks like a done deal.  It was a wonderful property for us when the boys were young, but now its a financial drain and we have no time to use it.  Glad its going to another family with youngsters.

Anyway - since Harold was ordained we have met mid-week and have gone over CCD, RCIA, Funerals, Baptisms, yada yada yada - - we also set up a schedule where each week he'd take 2 weekend services and I'd take two, alternating which two week by week.  Parishioners have said they enjoy his homilies and he seems to know what he's doing. Praise God.

This is our last weekend here - we have been packing and cleaning and uncovering one memory after another.  Last night the AUTEC Navy Base had a farewell party for us that was fantastic.  Great friends, great memories - felt more like family than you can imagine.  One of the guys is a computer guy that documents everything done at the chapel.  He presented us with a list of dates and services I've been part of.  We were surprised to see it included 355 events.

It made me look up other stats. I've baptized 45 children, taught 1st communion for 33 kids, brought 23 teens through Confirmation and introduced 14 adults to Catholicism thru RCIA.  Finally we put 12 faithful men and women in the ground after their funeral.  Things that make you go hmmmmmm.

Tomorrow is Sunday, we're having a combined service of all 4 parishes coming together in Fresh Creek at 11AM, followed by lunch - should be a hoot, even with the remnants of tropical storm Ericka blowing thru.

Not sure if I'll continue the blog once we are home.  As far as we know 5 parishes are interested in my joining them when we return.  We interviewed with them and we have 3 of the 5 that we think would be good - its all up to the Cardinal.

Keep us in your prayers, we need it.
Bye Bye

Friday, July 10, 2015

Another Deacon!

When I last wrote Ginni had just had surgery and I was returning to Andros without her.  Well she is still in the US (since April) and I am still here alone - but not for long.   On Tues, July 14 I go back to Boston and will return with her - Praise God!

This trip has 2 causes.  First, I see my bride once more - Second, I will be doing a mission appeal to solicit funds for our work here.  A year ago when I was in Boston I was checking in with the Permanent Diaconate Office and it was suggested I meet with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.  This is a Vatican Society that promotes missionary work to propagate the faith world-wide.  Boston has a Vatican representative and I met with him.  Fr. Copp was very supportive and I think I mentioned him here on this blog before.  Well, its been a year, and the weekend of July 18 I will be preaching at Masses in Abington and Whitman, MA.

I will also continue the interview cycle I mentioned in my last post.  So far three different pastors have requested I join their parish back in Boston.

The big news here on Andros is that on June 9 one of our parishioners was ordained a Deacon.  Harold is from Cargill Creek and will be my replacement.  Having a replacement was a key factor in our considering returning to the US.  Since June he and I started by doing all 4 parishes together, but now have set up a schedule where he takes 2 and I take 2 every weekend.  It is a major change for us not to run non-stop, covering 4 parishes.  So far all who have spoken to me about Harold have been positive.  One even said, "I think you are leaving us in good hands, Deacon".  Made me smile - God loves these people and HE is making sure they are in good hands.

It looks like after this mission trip - our next flights out of here will be or last.  On the first week of SEP
-- Till next time.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Surgery 4 Ginni

Hello again - hope you are well.  Over the last few months my wife Ginni has had a few healthcare issues and so she has flown to the US to see what her options were.  The answer from the gynecologist was surgery.  So we jumped thru the hoops we need to jump thru as Americans living in the Bahamas and using Bahamas health insurance for surgery in the US.

With the lack of clergy, my leaving to be with Ginni requires some planning, but we did that too.  Then, about a week before I was to fly home and Ginni was to have the surgery she experienced pain in her legs and they found blood clots -- so cancel surgery while they deal with that, and cancel my flights until we know when the operation will really happen.

Time goes by and a new date is set, new flights arranged, all is set - and then a week before I am to fly home we discover that the doctor and the hospital were  not in agreement on the availability of the operating room - cancel flights again and get another date.

Finally, on Monday of this week I flew back to the US and Tuesday surgery happened.  Wednesday she came home and, as I write this, she is curled up next to me on the sofa as we watch the Red Sox.  All is well but she won't return to the Bahamas until July while I return next week.

This is only one of several developments for our ministry.  Ginni's health issues are one factor, this year both my parents turn 90 - another factor, and the Archdiocese of Boston is in the midst of a consolidation were pastors are being asked to cover 2 or 3 parishes as 'collaborations'.  As this has been put into affect a few Boston pastors are beginning to ask if I might be available.

When we came to the Bahamas we said it was a 3-5 year commitment and its been 7.  Boston regulations are that deacons should be open to reassignment after 5.  Additionally, next month a Bahamian man from Andros will be ordained a Deacon.  So - it feels like its time for us to come back to Boston.  Our plan is to stay until SEP, giving us three months to work side by side with the newly ordained Deacon Harold.

So while I am here to support Ginni, part of this trip will be to meet a few of these pastors to see where I might best fit in.  Time will tell, God's will be done.

So for now, keep Ginni in your prayers. (Actually not just 'for now')
Till next time

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Easter 2015

Hello Again - Well we are entering the 4th week of Easter and I finally am getting all the pics together so here goes.

As Lent came to an end we were told we would have no priest for Easter (but I have been told that before).  As in prior years I put out feelers at Boston College and with a few contacts at the Archdiocese of Boston but most were not hopeful.   What was frustrating about this was that we had been told that the same priest from St. Vincent's Seminary in Boynton Beach FL would join us - but then one of the Nassau priests returned to Haiti with virtually no notice AND our faithful Vicar had a minor heart attack.  Combine that with another Nassau pastor who had been recalled to NY several months ago and we were down 3 priests.  The needs of the larger parishes in Nassau were going to gobble up our promised priest unless something happened.  What happened was an unplanned visiting priest offered to help out - great news for us since we had 5 RCIA candidates expecting Baptism Eucharist and Confirmation.

Fr. Mike arrived on Holy Thursday morning and we had a great Holy Thursday in Fresh Creek, washing the feet of all who wanted (we've never limited it to 12 men).  Good Friday began with a morning service in Cargill Creek and another with the Navy folks at AUTEC at noon.  We were also able to have all 4 churches pray the Stations of the Cross at the same time - 6PM, up and down the island, we walked with Jesus.  Holy Saturday day is a special time for me - Jesus is in the tomb - but we know what is coming.

This is the day I build the fire pit, pull sticks and branches from the bush and build the fire so all will be ready for the Vigil. I also prepare the Candle -- let me tell you about that.  Here on Andros there is no source for the Easter Candle, and if there were we could not afford it.  Our parish in the US, St. Timothy's in Norwood is very generous and gives us the candle they are taking out of service.  If we have to we cut it down so it fits kitty-corner in our suitcase and we bring it to Andros.  Now each candle has wax letters and numbers, usually alpha and omega and the year.  It is the year we need to fix. 

We have found something called wikistix.  They are colored wax strips that is cut to size with scissors and remold them into a number.  This year I carved off the 4 of 2014 and molded my wikistix into a 5 and presto a new 'used' Christ candle for 2015.

Sunset on Saturday was 7:30 here and so we began.  First I take the taper and light the fire pit.  I should mention that after building the fire pit I poured last year's chrism and oils over the branches so they too are part of this.

You can tell by that glow that the fire is blazing away as Fr. Mike blesses the 'holy fire' that will be used to light the Christ Candle

With the candle lit I proclaim 'Christ our light' and the procession begins

Once inside the church the fire is passed from candle to candle so that the church is aglow with candlelight.  Here I am putting the candle into the stand as we prepare to incense it and sing the Exsultet.

While I sing Fr Mike and the altar servers in the glow of their candles (what a neat pic)

 With that, the lights came on and we blew out our personal candles.  Eight readings and a homily later Fr. Mike blessed the water of our baptismal font.  Note the conch shell we use on the table to do our baptisms

Indira and her sponsor stood patiently as Fr. Mike began the sacrament of Confirmation - Indira began RCIA in Nassau but, as a nurse, was transferred to Fresh Creek so we were thrilled we could complete her formation and bring her to Easter joy and full communion with the Church.  What was really cool about this is that her sponsor was standing in her shoes two years ago.  Now she is sponsoring someone else - Praise God.

Easter Sunday day we had one service at the AUTEC Navy base, then another in Cargill Creek, and a 3rd in Mastic Point.  Usually all those receiving the sacraments do so on Saturday on the Easter Vigil, however, due to island life and the difficulty in transportation the Archbishop gave us permission to administer the sacraments on both the Vigil and Easter Day

Here, at Christ the King in Cargill Creek,  newly baptized Sandra pose with Fr. Mike.  Her sponsor is in his wheelchair with Sam there to help them.  Sandra is his care taker and had been coming to church with him for months when I asked if she'd ever considered becoming Catholic.  She said yes and a year later here we are.

From here we drove 2 hours north to Mastic Point were three other people were waiting to join the Church.
Here Fr. Mike baptizes Sharee as her husband and sponsor lends a hand.  Note that we are using the same font and Easter Water blessed during the Vigil on Saturday night.

After Sharee was baptized it was Colleen's turn, including their receiving the Light of Christ.  Here Ginni stands with Colleen.  As her sponsor Ginni holds the baptismal candle as Fr. Mike prays we keep this light of faith burning brightly

 After baptism came Confirmation.  Here Barry is anointed with the Sacred Chrism

And here Colleen is anointed as well

And finally Sharee is anointed
 With that the Easter Liturgy continued - another high point their reception of their first communion.  Here I am privileged to share the Blood of Christ with Barry

A long day to say the least, but on the way home we stopped for a great chicken dinner.  It was a GREAT Easter celebration.  The next day Fr. Mike was on a 7:30 plan off of Andros to Nassau, then on to Florida - no rest for him.

We hope your Easter was just as blessed as ours - till next time

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lent begins

Hello again my friends - as I write this we are in the 3rd week of Lent, how you doing?  Are you having a happy Lent?  Well you should!

That was actually the theme of my Ash Wednesday homily - in Lent we are called to repent, a call to prayer, fasting and almsgiving (not exactly the most uplifting of tasks).  Yet, it is through repentance that we are forgiven - and in forgiveness we have JOY!  Happy Lent!

Each Ash Wednesday our church and the Anglican community have an annual joint Ash Wednesday service.  We take turns hosting and whoever hosts keeps the collection - whoever is guest, preaches.  So this year it was the Anglican church's turn to host and I preached.  I always enjoy this and it seems they enjoyed my message.  The church was full and many of my parishioners were there.  The Anglican church, of course, has its roots in the Catholic Church so many parts of the service were identical, but there were many differences as well.  The bottom line however, is that the Word was proclaimed and we joined together as we began our Lenten Journey.

Ash Wednesday, however, did not begin with the ecumenical service.  That was actually the last of 5 services that day for me.  We started at 9AM with our Ash Wed liturgy in Cargill Creek.  That was followed by an 10:30AM drop-in at the Bowen Sound Primary School, then the 12:00 noon service at AUTEC.  I stayed at AUTEC until 1:00 so that those whose lunch break didn't allow them to be present at noon could still come by and be 'marked'.  At 1:00 I left AUTEC and drove the 90 minutes north to Mastic Point where, at Mastic Point Primary School over 60 received ashes, then back south to the ecumenical service with the Anglicans at their church in Calabash Bay (boy, was my thumb black).

Of all these services, by far, I had the most fun at Mastic Point Primary.  Just like last year the Principal had called an assembly and when I arrived they were all seated in the school auditorium.  This school has Pre-K, Kindergarten, and grades 1-6.  Different from the US, Kindergarten starts at 4 years old.  The little ones are so precious, I really enjoyed them.

This is a pic of the younger ones singing "This Little Light of Mine".  Its a great song for the kids because  I can make up different words that the kids sing, for example "Shine all over Mastic Point, I'm Gonna Let it Shine" - or - "Shine all over Mrs. Edgecombe", I'm Gonna Let it Shine" (Mrs Edgecombe liked that one).

Now, as we are singing I notice a teacher waving frantically to someone behind me.  I turns out this girl arrives late and she came in from the stage door, behind me.  The teacher was trying to tell her to go around, but when I realized it I hammed it up a bit.  "Who is this?"  All the kids shout her name.  "Shanika", I say, "come sing with us"

"Shine all over Shanika, I'm gonna let it shine", and the song went on with me holding her hands and clapping them as we sang - it was great and the kids loved it - even Shanika whose smile was literally from ear to ear.

After the song I began to explain why we put ashes on our heads.  To do this I told the story of Jonah and the whale - except I started with Jonah being swallowed by a Grouper "Nooo", the kids shouted.  OK he was swallowed by a shark, "Nooo Deacon", was he swallowed by a Lionfish? "Nooo, it was a whale".
As you can see I was a very animated preacher.

I had lots of fun with them, explaining that when the people of Nineveh repented they put ashes on their heads to show they were sorry for being bad - and today we are going to do the same thing.  We put ashes on our heads in the shape of a cross because, while we do bad things, it is through the cross that Jesus came and we get forgiven - and so the line of kids began, beginning with the youngest.

and it continued, and continued

 and continued and continued

 and even included the teachers!

When we were finished they all thanked me very much and I must say  it was a joy - which is what Lent is supposed to be - a time to experience the Joy of Repentance.

Once I finished here it was back on the road to get home for the 7PM ecumenical service and then, after a rather full day, get home, put my feet up, and begin to plan a homily for the 1st Sunday of Lent. 

How blessed am I do have the honor of being allowed to serve like THIS!
Till next time

Saturday, February 7, 2015

February already!?

Well I must apologize - to go from DEC to FEB without a post - WOW, even for me.

As you remember, the Archbishop was with us in SEP for Confirmation and we went without a priest until the first week of DEC.  This week we have our first priest since then.  I actually went to Nassau to get more consecrated hosts a few weeks ago.  I must mention Fr. Glen Nixon, the Rector at the Cathedral in Nassau.  He is absolutely the most accommodating when it comes to this (He is a great friend too).  We have a standing invitation whenever we are low on consecrated hosts to come to the Cathedral and fill up a ciborium to help us through until we have priest visit.  It is great to have such a resource at our disposal.

When a priest comes he consecrates a full ciborium here at St. John Chrysostom in Fresh Creek, and also at the AUTEC chapel.  Both churches have a large tabernacle that can hold a large ciborium.  We dip into those two to provide hosts for Christ the King in Cargill Creek and Our Lady of Hope in Mastic Point.

Our visiting priest is the retired Vicar from Jacksonville, FL.  He was with us 2 Christmases ago for a month.  This time he is here for 2 weeks and then will go to another island for another 2 weeks.  It is a joy to have him here, he is very personable and our conversations are great.  His presence gives our people an opportunity for Confession and an opportunity to participate in the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass, which we skip when, as a Deacon, I provide Eucharist Services.

Fr. V. is also technically savy - he has an IPhone that can do amazing things with the apps he has on it and, as someone into Apple Technology, he was able to get a MAC that was given to us up and running.  He even transferred docs from my laptop onto the MAC.  Maybe now we can use that as the parish PC rather than my personal laptop.  After 6 years that would be good.

Advent and Christmas were great - we had the same issue with people leaving the island to visit friends and family on Nassau or the US so that Christmas attendance was low.  It always has been that way.  With so little to do on our island many of our parishioners go to Nassau or US for Christmas.  Especially since Christmas and Boxing Day are huge events on Nassau.  The Bahamas celebrates "Junkanoo" from Christmas thru New Years - think Carnival on steroids.  It is a fabulous time with parades and competition between groups with dancers, music, elaborate costumes, - - -  you get the idea.  With all that, why stay on Andros?  We watch it on TV, as well as the usual US parades on New Years.

This year Christmas and New Years were on a Thursday so we had services on the Wed night Vigil, then the 3 services on the Thursday feast day, then the Saturday weekend Vigil and the 3 Sunday liturgies - two weeks in a row - I think that's 16 liturgies over the holidays - with no priest.  A bit crazy but we did it.

Fr. V's visit will overlap with friends from VA who will be visiting us  Feb 10-17.  Frank and Ellen have been great friends for years and it will be good to see them.  It will be nice to have them meet Fr. V for the 4 days their visits overlap -- I know already they will be fast friends.

A benefit of Fr. V being here is not only do we have a Mass on the weekend, we have a Mass during the week.  A few days ago a stranger dropped in during the reading of the Gospel.  He was clearly uncomfortable and out of place so I went over to him.  He had a pillowcase with all his belongings and said he came by because a friend had told him when you were down on your luck you could come to the church and get a sandwich.  We left church and in a few minutes he had a peanut butter sandwich, a coke, and a few apples and he was on his way, thanking us profusely.  When I returned to church Fr. V said, St. Vincent de Paul said 'when you are at prayer and the poor man comes to your door, leave your prayer and provide for the poor man'  -- here we are living the Gospel - it happens more often than you can imagine.

As we enter our 7th year here we are beginning to notice the need to paint our churches is becoming obvious.  In Calabash Bay we have an old church we converted into a class room/parish hall.  I know a parishioner who does painting who can use the work so we struck a deal and he has started.  Last weekend he called and said he was done.  I had given him half the fee for supplies and the second half was now due since the work was done - until - he says, "Do you mind that I only did 3 walls?  Its OK if I leave the back undone, nobody sees that anyway."   Well I explained it is not OK and he really needed to finish the work before I'd considered it complete - his written estimate was not for 3/4 of the church but for all the church.  I have learned you can be friends,  but when it comes to money you gotta be firm.  Hopefully he'll finish the job this weekend.

Ash Wednesday is fast approaching.  Fr. V will be gone by then and if this is the same routine as last year we will have 4 parish services and 2 services in various public schools.  In Fresh Creek we usually do an Ecumenical Ash Wednesday service with the Anglicans - this year it is their turn to host, but I will preach.  It is a blessing to be able to share at least this one liturgy with them, the Priestess at the Anglican church is very welcoming.  This Sunday and next Sunday we are collecting palms for burning to make the ashes.  Last year I did the palm burning with our primary school students, I think this year I might do it with our secondary school students - it is a kick for them to see the actual making of the ashes we use on Ash Wed.

There is a man from our parish who has been in the Deacon Formation program for the last 4 years.  He will be ordained, God willing, in June.  The Director of the program as told me that what he really needs is time around the altar - he needs to get experience before ordination so that after ordination he will be more comfortable than he is now.  He was consecrated as Lector a few weeks ago so we have begun using him at our Sunday services and once a month we have him prepare a homily for the upcoming Sunday and present it to us on Tues.  This Tues Fr. V will be in attendance as well, we will see how that goes.  There is no greater teacher than experience and we'd really like him to succeed.

In closing I must tell you a funny experience Fr. V and I had together.  We had gone to the local clinic to pick up a prescription and were sitting in the waiting room.  Two kids were acting up and Grandma had just about had it - "Go sit over there  -- over there -- go sit -- will you just sit down!"  you get the image.
Well, "over there" was the seat next to me and Fr. V. and I decided to see if I could give her a break.  With my white beard and belly, as they sat I said, "You should be good over here because I am Santa".  They looked doubtful so I said, "I am Santa, I come to the Bahamas after Christmas to get a rest - right now in the North Pole my reindeer are out in the field playing but Rudolph has a cold and has to stay in the barn".  Well now their eyes widen and Grandma begins to giggle in the seat behind us.  So for the next few minutes I tell story after story about flying my sleigh and how Mrs. Clause keeps the naughty and nice book and go on and on until the nurse comes from the pharmacy with my pills.  By that time I have one kid on my knee, the other curled up on the seat next to me. Grandma is now laughing and Fr. V is shaking his head in disbelief.  We say goodbye and they promise to be good and head out to the car.  Fr. V says 'boy you had those kids eating out of your hand' and I said "Yes, and I'm hoping that now Grandma will come to church - I'm always fishing for new members"  It was a fun experience and good for a laugh - we shall see if we meet them again Sunday.

Till next time

Monday, December 15, 2014

Necessity is the mother of invention

Hello my friends - Happy Advent!

So much to share and tell you but this morning I had an experience that I would like to start with.

Every morning I go into the church and do Morning Prayer in front of the tablernacle and this morning was no exception.  Many of my friends up north have been experiencing the cold of winter and so have we.  Temps in the 60s are not uncommon in the Bahamas during winter but it throws us for a loop.  Ski parkas and knitted hats start showing up with regularity.  To get back to morning prayer - I am in the church, prayer is good, and then I hear a new noise - a racket actually.  It seems to be coming from right outside the church so I look and see nothing, but following the noise I end up in the east end of the church facing a neighbor's house.  Years ago he had done some construction and had left a 20' high pile of dirt between our two lots.  Children had discovered the pile and, like children up north, had decided to go sledding on the pile of dirt - but to do it Bahamian style.

Kids here don't have too much, but they make do with what they have.  If your bike's tires are flat - take them off and ride on the rims - it makes a racket but its kinda cool.  Well these kids had the cover to a broken cooler - one kid actually had an old door from an abandoned fridge - and they were using these as sleds.  They would climb to the top of the dirt pile, sit on the cooler cover, and then down the pile of dirt they'd slide.  Just like up north on snow - except we don't have snow - so a tall dirt pile works just as good.  The old saying 'necessity is the mother of invention' is a very real reality here.

Speaking of mother - my mother turned 90 last week and Ginni and I took Tues-Fri to fly to Vero Beach and celebrate with my sisters and all my parents friends.  It really was a hoot.  We put our father thru his paces as he tried to make sure every detail of our visit went well - and he did a great job.  The party was quite the event and we all had a great time.  Ginni and I were even able to take a side trip to the seminary in Boynton Beach. 

Here is a link to their website. It really is an amazing place.

If you recall, last Easter Fr. Mike joined us from Boynton Beach and we were very thankful to have him.  After his stay he was impressed with our ministry and the lack of priests here so he asked if he could come back!  It turns out that, since Easter, he has returned to the Bahamas 3 times and hopes to come back once a month.  Our Vicar General has been spreading him around the Archdiocese and we hope that one of these months he'll be sent to us.  When we went to FL for my mother's party we flew into Fr. Lauderdale and Boynton Beach was on the way to Vero where my mom lives.  We set it up to stop and see him for lunch and it was a wonderful visit.  St. Vincent's Seminary has over 100 seminarians and it is glorious!  No kidding, we got the grand tour and this place is top of the line.  Seeing Fr. Mike again was a joy and we were thrilled to see him and all the good work being done there.  What a great ministry he has.

Back on Andros we hit the ground running with RCIA and CCD.  Actually last week's CCD class was the last one until after the Christmas break.  This year, however, we have 6 people in RCIA, spread out over three churches, so coordinating classes is a huge task.  Inevitably one or two people can't make a scheduled class so each week we do the class, then one or two make up sessions for those that missed it.  We had a funny situation develop because of this. 

One candidate is a bus driver.  He has a bus and drives the route from AUTEC to North Andros - not an easy task with the horrible roads we have.  ANYWAY - he had missed a class in North Andros and we had a system set up that when he did, on his Tuesday route he would stop in Fresh Creek and we'd do a makeup at 8AM on Tues mornings.  This has worked fine and last week we expected him, and he showed up.  At the door, however, he was apologetic, saying that he was ready for class but he had 3 people in the bus who were going to wait and wanted to make sure it was OK with me that they sat in the bus for the hour we talked.  Now we could clearly do the makeup the next day - but he was totally willing to let his passengers sit in the bus for an hour AND they were totally willing to wait, knowing he was going to 'church school'.  Don't you just love Bahamians.  I told him that we should just do it tomorrow and he didn't have to let his passengers sit outside like that and he said, "Oh good, one of them is pregnant and on her way to the clinic".  Blew me away that the passengers, including the pregnant woman, were fine with waiting like that.

While RCIA can have moments like this - so can CCD.  In our last class we were talking about Christmas and the gold frankincense and myrhh that the wise men brought.  I have frankincense so we lit some charcoal and burned the incense as I explained about what the wise men brought and why it was important for the newborn Christ - gold for a king, frankincense for a priest, and myrhh for burial.   After all this talk I turn to the kids and say "so are you ready for Christmas - who comes on Christmas?"  Without missing a beat, the answer - SANTA!  I wanted to beat my head against the wall.

Speaking of gifts - as Christmas nears we occasionally receive gifts from the US and these checks are very helpful.  Our bank here, however, charges a fee to process US checks so out of a $100 check I might only get $95.  To get around this I send the check to the Archdiocese, who deposits it in their US Account, and then sends me $100 Bahamian.  Everybody gets 100% of the intended donor but it takes a few weeks since the Archdiocese has to wait for the US check to clear before they cut my Bahamian check.  Well it turns out that while the church account that we have here is in Bahamian money, Ginni and I have personal bank accounts as well.  One of these is in Bahamian money, one in US currency for when my family sends money for our personal use.  Last week we had a US visitor who donated $80 by check in the plate offering and I made the mistake of putting it in with all the other monies from that Sunday rather than the usual process of sending it to the Archdiocese.  The bank teller pointed it out and began to compute the fee when I light dawned on my dull brain.  I said, wait a minute, deposit that in my personal US Account - and she said, Oh, we can do that and she does -- 100% no deduction since its a US currency account.  Then when all is done I say - can we do one more transaction - can we transfer $80 from my personal US account into the church account?  No problem Deacon - and poof, I've invented a way to get US checks into the church account without sending it to Nassau or being charged a fee.  "Necessity is the mother of invention" Indeed!

One last story for you.  We had a tire with a leak that I needed to get fixed, except it wasn't a nail as you'd expect - the rim itself was so dented from hitting potholes that it was the source of the leak.  I bring it to our mechanic, certain I need a new rim and he says 'No problem Deac, I can fix dat" and he breaks out a sledge hammer and WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM he beats the rim back into shape, filled the tire with air, and we are good to go.  Ya gotta love it.

Till next time