Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer on Andros - with vaca

Hello again - and again its been too long.
Summer on Andros is a bit different than the rest of the year.  First, its hurricane season; Second its hot, really hot, my son calls it Africa hot; Third, because its so hot many of our local folks leave.  School is out and there really isn't anything for the kids to do.  Families leave for the US or Nassau or to visit families abroad.  Even some of our Haitian friends in North Andros go back to Haiti - its too hot for the crops to grow so there is no work, why stay?

With attendance down, so are donations, which makes it even more of a challenge.  The people who stay are the poor.  They cannot afford to leave and so they endure the heat with us.

A side effect of the heat is that the usual 'visiting clergy' from the US have no desire to take a vacation here during these months so we go for months without a priest.  This year we were blessed to have a priest from FL for Easter, but by the end of July we hadn't had a priest since.  

This year we had a family wedding so I went home the last week of July and first week of August.  Ginni had taken the whole month of July to help a friend pack up her house and move.  The result was I spent July here alone, then flew to Boston and met up with Ginni then.  While I was gone a priest flew in from Nassau to provide weekend coverage, not once, but TWICE.  In my six years here that is the first time we had a priest two weeks in a row.  Our next visit should be in September when the Archbishop is due to come for Confirmation.

Our trip to Boston was great, we met many old friends and family AND we went to northern VT for a wedding, which was a real vacation.  Usually a trip to the US is filled with meetings and lunches and fundraising and, while I love seeing old friends, fundraising is not vacation.  This trip I swore I'd take it easy and just be on vacation, but God is good and fundraising just sort of happened, without our planning it.

First, our parish in Norwood, MA has had a change.  Our pastor of many years was reassigned and for the first time was not at St. Timothy's.  Ginni and I went to a mid-week Mass and met the new priest.  I asked if he needed weekend help and he said if I wanted to be with Fr. G, that was fine with him.  Fr. G is a retired priest with some health issues so I called him and he was thrilled to have me serve with him and even asked if I would preach.  SUPER.  So Sunday comes and I serve at the 9:30 and the 11 with Fr. G.  He starts Mass by recognizing me and the whole church applauds - I was amazed, touched, and really felt welcome.

After each service I stood at the door, as usual, shaking hands and thanking people for coming.  Eventually some little old lady passed be a $20 (put this to work for me Deacon), then someone else did the same, and it happened over and over and over again.  By the end of Sunday I have over $300 in bills simply stuffed into my hand.  Then for the next few days we met with friends, who all wanted to go out to eat.  I think in the 2 week trip we ate at home 3 times.  During these meals, an envelope would appear, totally unrequested, simply because they love us.  It was really quite overwhelming.  At the end of the trip we had almost $2000.

Then, as part of this trip we had to check in with the Archdiocese of Boston.  As a Deacon, my status is "unassigned, with permission".  We do need to check in and do a sort of 'status' with them and we did.  The head of the Diaconate program spent about an hour with us and was very supportive and encouraging.  Then we met with the Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the Archdiocese of Boston.  This is the group that promotes and supports missionary work.  I had hoped to get him to put me on the schedule of missionaries allowed to do missionary appeals in Boston.  Well, he really surprised me - not only did he know about us and our work in the Bahamas - he had discovered and read this blog!  Then he had gone onto the website for the Archdiocese of Nassau and confirmed I was working there.

Well he could not have been more affirming, or more welcoming.  After we met he took me around the office and introduced me to his entire staff.  He asked that the Archbishop of Nassau write him, confirming I am a Deacon in good standing and would represent the Bahamas missions (which Archbishop Pinder readily agreed to do).  After introducing me to his staff he asked, is there anything you need?  Then opened a closet with vestments, candlesticks, bells, chalices - "let's see what we have here you might use".  How great is that!

We found a set of red vestments (which we don't have in the new church in North Andros), an altar boy alb, an extra priest alb (which our Deacon candidate here actually needs), a white and green set of priest vestments, a red deacon stole - and a magnificent chalice and paten.  Now let me tell you about this.  In North Andros we have a ceramic chalice (we should be using gold), and a gold chalice that is really too small.  This chalice is perfect, but get this, its engraved "To Richard Cardinal Cushing, in memory of - - - "
IT WAS CARDINAL CUSHING'S CHALICE.  What a hoot!  I really think I may keep this gem in Fresh Creek and send my Fresh Creek chalice up north.

So - all in all it was a great trip -- then it was on to VT for the wedding.  My son Joe is married to Lily's sister Liza.  Lily and Pat have been together for several years and now it was time to tie the knot - and boy they did it big time.

Lily and Pat decided to not do a traditional church wedding and reception in a hall - they wanted country and they got it.  Way up north, quite close to Canada, they found a perfect spot.

The wedding was outside on a lovely lawn behind a grand old inn.  Here is John walking down the aisle to give Lily away.
and here is the happily married couple after the blessed event heading down the hill towards the reception.

The reception was held in a huge tent for the event and when I say huge, think big

The food was great and then, of course was the first dance

We all had a great time and, for us, it really was great to see all our friends and family and reconnect with New England.  Driving to VT was like being a tourist again -- nothing like driving through mountains after living on the flat flat land of Andros for six years.

Anyway, enough for now.  Our next job is to crank up for the school year and prepare the curriculum for CCD - not to mention the financial reports for the end of the fiscal year that we need to do as Administrator for the island churches.  Suffice it to say vaca is over, back to work.

Till next time

1 comment:

Emilio Fernandez said...

Good morning how are you?

My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

For all this I would ask you one small favor:
Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Bahamas? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Bahamas in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

Emilio Fernandez Esteban
Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
28902 Getafe (Madrid)

If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

Yours Sincerely

Emilio Fernandez