There is a rhythm that I have fallen into over the last few months. Since we have three priests and one brother in the parish, we can divide the pastoral responsibilities among us, ensuring that all the outstations are covered each weekend. We devised a timetable where we rotate coverage of the different outstations. On a given weekend, one priest goes to the outstations in Mirwa and Magunga, another priest goes to Nyaburundu and the main church in Biatika, while the third priest goes to three outstations: Tarani, Kyamuko and Kizaro-Matongo.
On January 8 it was my turn to go to the three places. I had been to each before, but this was the first time that I was going without Br. Michael. I had two young altar servers with me, so my comfort level was lower than when Br. Michael is present! Then during the early morning, it started to rain. “Oh no,” I thought! The rain makes these roads almost impassable. So, now my anxiety level was rising a bit more.
Then, I looked at the directions I had made for myself. I knew that I was first driving to Tarani. The road is not great, but I have driven it many times before and I know exactly where this outstation is located. To drive to the other two outstations, you take a road that forks to the right and to the left. One outstation is located about 20 minutes past the right side of the fork and the other outstation is located about 20 minutes past the left side of the fork. Unfortunately, as I read my notes (at 6:00 a.m.) I had noted that to get to BOTH Kyamuko and Kizaro-Matongo, I was to take the right fork in the road! Oh no! I looked for someone in the house, but they had either already left for their outstation or they were still asleep. I found one of the watchmen outside and he told me that Kyamuko is off the right fork and it is Kizaro-Matongo that is off the left fork. Problem solved! And then it stopped raining, and the sun came out! My prayers were answered. Seriously, these types of things are what I find most stressful…not knowing exactly where things are, not knowing what will happen if there is a problem, not knowing how much damage the rain will do to the roads. It is just part of living and ministering here. These things encourage me to trust God more!
The following weekend, Br. Michael and I were teamed up both for Mass at the small Christian community on Saturday and for two Masses on Sunday: the first at the outstation that Br. Michael has responsibility for—Nyaburundu—and then the main church in Biatika.
The small Christian community that we went to on Saturday is named after St. Anthony. On the way, we encountered a few people who were making their way to Mass, so they directed us. Once we left the main road, we drove through some very small lanes surrounded with shrubbery. Let’s just say that I would never have found the place on my own! We parked the cruiser (pick-up) and walked for a bit.
It was a beautiful morning, and the sun was rising as we made our way to Mass.
Usually, there are about 25-50 people at these small Christian communities. It might have been the remoteness of this particular place—each small community rotates the place for Mass each Saturday among its members—but there was a very small group on this day. I think we only had about ten people, but it was a great celebration with singing, praying, and being together.
The beauty of the countryside is in contrast with the poverty of the people. You can see from this photo that many people live in very rudimentary shelters. Even nicer looking places are very sparse inside, with little furniture, and few decorations.
There are always announcements after Mass with some sharing of news and upcoming events for the small community and for the whole parish.
A certain priest was not helping the small Christian community leader!
After Mass, we had some trouble finding the cruiser which we had parked somewhere! There was a bit of a debate about how to get to the vehicle and I know that it took a lot longer to walk from the small community to the cruiser than it did to walk from the cruiser to the small community!
Finally, someone caught sight of the cruiser, and all was well!
Sunday began for me at 5:00 a.m. We usually leave by 6:30 a.m. but I need time (after shaving and showering) to practice the gospel, my homily and the prayer texts for Mass. I spend most of Saturday practicing, but I find that if I can make time before we leave Sunday morning, I do better and I have more confidence in what I am reading.
I have to admit that it is tedious work to read the gospel, the homily and the prayers over and over, but it is the only way that I can keep mistakes to a minimum. There comes a point, however, where I know that I have “put in the time” and I just have to do the best that I can.
We arrived in Nyaburundu at 7:00 a.m. I heard some confessions and then we began Mass. Br. Michael took some photos for me this morning. There was a visiting youth choir that morning, which really added to the celebration.
More to come on www.resurrectionists.ca
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