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.http://www.svdp.edu/portal/
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