Thursday, July 26, 2012

We're Back

Well my friends its been awhile -
As you saw in my last post, blogspot has been upgraded and as a result, my computer had issues posting pics,

Well in June I went back to the US and - God provides.  A friend of mine there said that my computer was so old it would make a good boat anchor so - here's a new one.

The generosity of people wanting to help us was astounding.  During my trip to the US I was blessed to be able to preach at all the weekend masses at St. Anthony in Cohasset, then at the prayer meeting at Holy Trinity in Harwich, then the prayer meeting at St. Timothy in Norwood, and finally, at all the weekend masses at St. Timothy.  Suffice it to say it was a working vacation.

We came home with a new computer and a little over $8000 in donations to help build a new church in North Andros, where there hasn't been a Catholic Church in over 40 years.  Additionally, many people promised that additional checks would be sent to us here - so it was a great trip.

Coincidentally, when I got back a letter was waiting for me asking me to submit the budget for the next year.  So in addition to our regualar operational expenses and plate offering income, I added all the finances for building the new chapel, as well as some other building-related expenses in Fresh Creek and Cargill Creek.  I then took a few days to put together a formal financial proposal for all those new capital expenses as budgetary backup and sent them off to the Archbishop.  I expect to hear something in a few weeks.

Clearly the support from the US and my local Bahamian parishioners does show we have a need and there is support for it, but right now we only have about half of the projected $30,000 needed for the new church so we will need help from the Archdiocese to get us to the finish line.  Keep this one in your prayers.

Summer here fluctuates from being incredibly hot, to monsoon season.  Fortunately for us, most of the rain fell while we were in the US, however we have had 2-3 day stretches of just incredibly lightning and monsoon-like rain.  The roads here now are horrible.  Potholes have emerged that can really damage your car and I have had to become quite good and swerving around them, making Ginni's ride more like a roller coaster ride than it has ever been.

One issue with our van is we seem to have lost a gasket between the exhaust pipe between the engine and the muffler.  Fixing this means putting the van on the ferry to Nassau, which is an expense I am trying to avoid.  The problem is that this is what kept that pipe level and, without it there is an incredible rattle.  So, living the island life, I have jury-rigged a fix by taking a metal coat hanger and tying up the pipe to part of the chasis.  Just pulling it up 1/4" makes all the difference.  The problem is, over time, the coathangers break.  So once a month or so I crawl under the van and redo my little fix.  It works fine, but it is a pain.  The current state of the roads, however, is shortening the life span of my coathangers.  I am afraid that unless I find another solution one day soon I will have to ship the van to Nassau and simply take the financial hit on the chin.  For now, after I finish this, I'll crawl back under the van to fix it once again.

Speaking of fixing things - it should be noted that missionaries are not restricted to preaching and teaching and evangelizing.  This past week I stripped the peeling paint off the huge church bell and repainted it (something Ginni was worried about since it was over 100 that day).  It took about 2 days to strip the old peeling paint, then another to do the painting.  Looks much better to me.

On that same front - the church in Cargill Creek has needed work on the foyer of the church and we were finally able to finish the job.  The foyer of this church was so bad a lady in the church took it upon herself to hold a fish fry, then gave me the $1,000 she earned.  This was for new floor tile, paint and stain - but wouldn't be enough for the masonary work to reframe the door and lay the tile.  She told me her husband would do it for free - 'Don't worry Deac, he lives with me, it will get done'.  Enough said.

This week we have local parishioners who offer their own summer camp for about 10-15 kids and I am their bus driver to get them from one place to another.  As conservationalists, they teach the kids about the local environment and really do a great job.  This year they had a friend from FL who works for the 'Turtle Conservancy' take a trip to Andros and teach the kids about sea turtles.  Then they had a local fisherman who works as a tour guide ferry the kids out to where he knew wild turtles live.  The kids were actually able to jump out of the boat and snorkle with the wild turtles.

This is about half the kids that I could corral to pose before we headed out.  For most Bahamian kids on Andros summer is a time to get off the island and go to either Nassau or family in the US.  There is just nothing to do here during the summer and the kids left here are those who don't have the money to make a trip off Andros.  Peter and Gabrielle's summer camp is a God-send for these kids and making our bus available to get them from one place to another is the least we can do to help out.

(Actually, posting that pic was also my test of the new blogspot and my new computer's ability to work together - so I'll try posting more in the future).

Summer is also our time to prepare for the next year of CCD.  Ginni has already been pulling together ideas and we'll have to adjust what we did last year since most of our little cherubs have moved on to the HighSchool (grade 7-12), leaving just a few in Primary School.  In the past we had this huge group of Primary School kids with only a few High Schoolers - over the last 4 years it has shifted so we will have to adapt how we do what we do.  It will be interesting.

One last item I should share is that one of our elderly parishioners, who we bring communion to, seems to be getting more and more neglected by her family.  If it persists we will have to work with social services to have them intervene and see what we can do to help.  Please pray for us on this one, it will be a stressful situation for the family.  It may also be another situation where poverty has made a bad situation worse.  If they have no food, we can help, but we need to find out if they have propane or electricity to cook it too.  A few years ago we brought someone pasta, chicken and rice - only to find out they didn't have water and no way to cook it.  Pasta and rice without water isn't much of a help.  The 70 year old grandmother went into the bush, gathered sticks, and made a fire in the backyard to cook the chicken, but we found out later that the rice and pasta had to wait until someone lugged a few gallons of water to her.  We're learning.

Coming from this, to make a mission appeal back in the US was a bit of a culture shock.  I can remember the first night home I was brushing me teeth and I went to get a bottle of water to use - only to realize that using the water from the tap was safe in Massachusetts - that is not our daily reality here.

Well enough for now - keep us in your prayers
- Deacon Frank

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