Monday, March 7, 2011

Beyond Busy

Well my friends you cannot imagine how many times I have said, "Oh I gotta put this in the blog" and yet I haven't had a minute to blog - literally.

Lets see, where to begin - well, ever since Ginni returned (and she is already planning her next trip to MA), we have been booked solid, with not a day to ourselves. This is primarily due to our scheduling our first pre-Cana program. We have two couples who want to get married. One is a Bahamian couple, the other a couple from the AUTEC base where he works, while she is still finishing college in the US (FL). This complicates life since, he cannot attend the 10 week series in FL and for her to attend it here, she needs to fly to Andros.

After talking to both couples it was decided that the best thing to do to cover all the material was for us to do two all-day Saturday sessions. It would be a challenge, but she committed to flying back to back weekends from FL to Andros - so we had a plan. Now all we needed to do was build a pre-Cana program.

We spoke with the Archdiocese of Nassau and got a clear understanding of their requirements, then we talked to the parish in Florida and got a list of what they needed to satisfy the requirements of their diocese. Using material we had brought with us from the Marriage Prep program at St. Timothy's, and a six CD set provided by the Archdiocese of Nassau, Ginni and I put together six presentations, and we folded in the six CD's, to come up with a pretty comprehensive program. We were able to get another Bahamian couple to join us for discussion groups and we were good to go. It went off without a hitch and we got a wonderful picture of us all but now we cannot find the cable that goes from the digital camera to the PC so showing you those pics will have to wait.

Now, while all that sounds nifty, you cannot imagine the amount of work putting all that together was, plus keep doing our regular 4 CCD classes, RCIA, and 4 weekend liturgies. To say we did not have a minute is no joke.

Bottom line - we pulled it off, but it meant two, very full, 7 day weeks with no break BUT IT GETS BETTER. In the midst of all that we had a death in the parish. So, while preparing and presenting, we were dealing with a family in mourning and the planning of the funeral.

In past blogs I have mentioned the grandparents raising 7 grandchildren. It is a difficult situation and we are trying our best to help this family in so many ways - everything from food packages to proctoring exams when we learned one girl had been kept home to do chores so often she missed final exams. Well - a year ago Grampa died and it was a very emotional funeral. The death that surprised us all now was Grammie, who died of a sudden stroke.

So our plate runneth over. The funeral was this past Saturday and, after planning it all out with the family, coordinating the vigil and the funeral with the mortician (all morticians here are in Nassau so we had to plan details like shipping the body back to Andros on the ferry). And the elephant in the room that nobody is discussing is willing to discuss right now is what will happen to the grandchildren. Will their mothers take them back? Will the adult children of Grammie and Grampa who are here (all unemployed) suddenly become responsible. Pray.

To describe a Bahamian funeral is not something I think I can do in this blog. Suffice it to say there is emotion. Family members were crying, wailing, falling on the floor, and more. I had 3 surprises during this funeral. First, our representative in Parliament showed up. I think he was there because this family was a major supporter of his party, not because he was particulary close to Grammie. Second, well after the service had begun, the Anglican priest comes walking down the center aisle of the church, in his vestments and comes into the sanctuary and takes a seat. I was blown away! Unannounced, he just arrives. Suffice it to say he did not have a speaking role during the funeral but I MUST talk to other Bahamian clergy to see if this is the norm here - do clergy just show up at funerals of other denominations here? It was not something I would ever have guessed was possible but I guess it is.

The third thing was the most scary. I said Bahamian funerals can be emotional - well we are at the cemetary, the pall bearers have the casket over the hole. It is supported by three straps that are connected to a mechanical gear that, when cranked, will lower the casket. There are 2 pall bearers on each side and one at the head of the casket. Well, the cranking begins, the casket begins to descend, and the pall bearer at the head of the casket, her son, yells "Oh no mama don't leave me" and dives onto the casket - yep, right on top of it, spread eagle! Well the straps at his end of the casket give way and thank God the other pall bearers were still holding on otherwise it would have come crashing down. It took a good 15 minutes to pry him off the casket, all the while screaming and crying. Not an experience I look forward to repeating.

So Ginni and I are going into our 4th week without a break and we're a bit tired, but now Lent is upon us and Ash Wednesday is looming. I will do 3 Ash Wednesday liturgies, one at each church and the final one will be an Ecumenical service at the Anglican church, with me preaching. Last year we hosted, now its their turn. I actually just had a phone call from the Anglican priest wondering what I was doing for ashes. It turns out that, although he is hosting the service, he has neglected to do anything about actually having ashes to distribute - so he wondered if I could provide them. Fortunately I had asked parishioners to return last years' palms for burning to make ashes and I have an impressive pile. He wondered if he could have them by tomorrow! So tomorrow morning I will be burning palms.

Did I mention Jr Junkanoo in all this? Junkanoo is a Christmas festival where local groups make floats and costumes and have bands and dancers and all march down Bay St. on Nassau and are judged. It is a MAJOR BIG DEAL here. Well, the local Minister of Youth and Culture pulled together Jr Junkanoo competition for the primary schools of Andros and, somewhere in the midst of everything else I described, we had a Jr Junkanoo competition here in Fresh Creek. Again I got some great pics that I will post the day we find the lost cable. It really was quite impressive. All the children, the teachers, and adult volunteers did a fantastic job. We saw the start of the competition and 3 of the 7 groups, but had to leave to get back to the rectory to teach our RCIA class (you can only double book yourself so far).

So, right now Ginni is leading choir practice and instead of writing an Ash Wednesday homily I decided to take time out and get something onto this blog for you all. If you can believe it, there is more, but enough for now.

Pray for us. PULEEZE Pray for us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is life without challenges?!!! Hang in there, our prayers are with you.