Friday, February 3, 2012

February Already!!!

Well I couldn't believe the last post I had here was Merry Christmas and Jolly Junkanoo.  It is February already and so much has happened.

As I write this, Ginni is back home in the US being a nurse to earn the money we need to stay here.  Let me explain - we do have a plan on the money issue.  We have a 2 family home in Canton and a log home on a lake in NH ski country.  Rental income from those properties allow us to be serving here in the Bahamas while keeping the mortgage, taxes, water bills, and insurance paid up. (If we could sell either of these properties we certainly would, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards in this economy).  The problem is that not all tenants actually pay their rent - its created a financial burden we hadn't expected.  The bad tenants have left and we had a few months between tenants so we are 'financially challenged'.  Ginni should be able to get the hours to help fix this, but it means she'll miss about a month of Bahama time.

So Gin is gone and I am doing the 4 weekend liturgies, and the 4 CCD classes, and the RCIA classes and the cooking, cleaning, laundry, et. al.  Getting time to blog is a problem!

As I wrote those words it struck me that for decades, the missionary priests that came here did all that I just described day after day after day.  When I read about thier lives and what they accomplished I am amazed.  Throw in the fact that for many of them, there were no roads, no air conditioning, not even electricity.  Heros, every one of them.

I do have one anecdote those of you from Boston will get a kick out of.  When we came here we brought all the baggage of the sexual abuse crisis in Boston.  The Bahamas has been spared this scandal and so the sensitivity to 'protecting God's children', while present, is not as in-your-face as it was in Boston when I left.  Bahamian parents tell me if their child acts up during CCD classes the 'beat dem deacon - if  dey be bahd beat dem'.  A major difference from Boston where hugging a child is frowned upon.

So anyway, Ginni is gone and I am driving the kids home after CCD.  Three of these teenage girls live about a half hour away and as we drive one of them says, "Deacon, when we get out into the bush can you pull over so I can get out and pee?"  I say, "Excuse me?"  She says, "When we get out into the bush please pull over so I can get out and pee."  I was blown away - all 3 girls thought nothing of this request - it was a perfectly innocent request from their viewpoint and expected me to just say "sure, go ahead".

Well, fortunately, our route goes past the Andros Town airport and we hadn't reached it yet so I suggested we stop there and they can actually use a toilet and they thought that was a great idea, so we did.  But I gotta tell ya, if we had gone 10 minutes more we would have been driving in the bush and it would have been an interesting dilemma.  Thank God I remembered the airport up ahead.

Other items of interest - the tail pipe on the van's muffler disconnected and I had tied it up with a wire coathanger until I found a parishioner who does welding.  I took it to him and he welded it back on, no problem.  When I offered to pay he was insulted.  "Dis be da choich van Deacon, I do dis for da choich".  A week later the other end of the muffler has the same problem.  The pipe from the engine INTO to muffler disconnects.  Once again its back to the coat hanger solution until I can find my parishioner.  Turns out he is off the island seeing a dentist and won't be back for a week. (Island life dictates when you don't have something you make due until you get it).  So my wire coathanger works for awhile but comes loose so I crawl under the van and wire up another one (to discover I had parked near some fire ants).  Anyway this lasted until he returned and in 20 minutes this was fixed and, once again, he refused to even consider any payment.  Good people.

This weekend we will have a visiting priest - the Archbishop.  We are into our 4th year here and this is his 1st weekend visit to go to all the churches.  It is unfortunate he is coming while Ginni is away but that's life.  This past year the Archdiocese sent a surveyor to map out all the church-owned land on Andros.  He will fly in Saturday morning and we will spend the day viewing all these sites so the Archbishop gets a sense of the property here.  The surveyor found some land I wasn't aware of and determined some that I did know about were much larger than I had imagined.  I am hoping some will be land the Archbishop may be willing to sell to help us with the costs associated with building a chapel in North Andros where there hasn't been a Catholic Church in over 40 years.

On that front - it occured to me that the Knights of Columbus  might be a resource to help us with the new chapel.  Coincidentally, the Grand Knight has an annual dinner to honor the clergy throughout the Bahamas and I was invited.  Unfortuanely I could not attend but I sent him an email, thanking him, then telling him about the opportunity in No. Andros and asking if the Knights could help.  Well I got a very nice email back, it turns out he grew up on Andros and would love to present the need to his brother Knights at their next meeting.  Who knows - this could be a huge help in making this a reality.  Right now the local Bahamians up North, and a few US donors, have reached the $6,000 mark.  I have one builder who quoted me $50,000 and another for $30,000.  All we really need is four walls and a roof (and a bathroom).  I am hoping I can get the costs down but buying materials and getting them here is a significant addition to the price.

Shifting gears once more.  You may be aware that the Catholic Church has changed some of the responses  at Mass to be truer to the original Latin.  For example, for years the response to "The Lord be with you" has been, "and also with you".  Well now its "and with your spirit".  Some people have picked up the new wording throughout the Mass, for others its been harder.  I saw this poster the other day and fell in love with it.

One other area this has affected is music.  At St. John Chrysostom in Fresh Creek the only instrument we have is a drum, and Ginni's guitar.  All the new music that has been adapted to the new words are written for organ or piano.  So my lovely wife took it upon herself to create an arrangement for the Gloria on guitar that uses the new words (as I said earlier, in island life you either do without or make do - so Ginni took the bull by the horns and made do).  It is a wonderful version of the Gloria and we are now singing it at all of the Bahamian parishes.  AUTEC is using a version from the St. Benedict Mass in the missalette.  If I can ever figure out how to post audio here I'll try to record a version of us singing it.  Suffice it to say this was a huge undertaking for Ginni and she did a great job.

Well I really need to sign off - this is the 1st Friday of the month and we have a Holy Hour of Adoration at the AUTEC Chapel I need to prep for.  Please keep us in your prayers
 - Deacon Frank

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