To drive to the next outstation in Kyamuko, I must drive past the main parish church (about 20 minutes) and then drive another 40 minutes. This road is terrible! Part of the road is made of small rocks that put the tires in danger of puncturing. We are also in the rainy season and another part of the road is very muddy.
There are several bad spots, but there is one very difficult place to negotiate. It is a bit of a stream, but the problem is that the ground slopes downward on both sides. The challenge is to have enough momentum so that you can get up the other side without getting stuck in the mud. If you do get stuck, you must keep calm because if you just “give it the gas,” you are liable to spin the tires even deeper into the mud.
Unfortunately, I got stuck. I was already thinking that we were behind schedule. I knew that I had five baptisms at this outstation. After some futile efforts to get unstuck, I realized that I had to engage the four-wheel drive. To do this, you must get out of the cruiser to turn the screws on the front wheels. So, I stepped into the mud which went up to the top of my shoes, turned the screws, and engaged the four-wheel drive. At first, it seemed like we were just stuck for good, but I was able to slowly rock the cruiser and began making some progress until we were free. The two altar servers let out a cry of joy! We were free!
Once we got to the outstation, I found out that people were not prepared for the baptisms. So, we would just have the regular Easter Sunday Eucharist without the baptisms, and we would re-schedule them for the Second Sunday of Easter.
After Mass, the children were waiting and hoping that I brought them a treat! Of course, they would not be disappointed because I had a large bag of lollipops.
Now it was time to travel to the last outstation at Kizaro-Matongo. This meant that we had to negotiate that bad place again. But I had a plan this time! Before we got to the bad space, I stopped, engaged the four-wheel drive, and looked closely to see where it might be best to cross.
Unfortunately, my plans went for nought! We got stuck again. It seemed, again, that we were stuck for good. But I managed to get the cruiser to rock ever so slightly, until we had a little space. Then I gunned it!
There was mud flying everywhere, but slowly we climbed out of the mud. By this time, we had attracted some onlookers, who all clapped and waved us on our way.
I was relieved. I don’t think there is anything more stressful for me here than to be in this type of situation. I just don’t know what I would do if I was “permanently” stuck. To state the obvious, there are no tow trucks around!
After Mass, I had treats for the children. The servers—Augustino and Joseph—were a big help in distributing the candy to the youngsters. In fact, they were a big help all day long. We had a meal at one of the parishioner’s houses after this Mass. I usually do not eat too much. At this point, I am more thirsty and tired than hungry.
But, wow, can these altar servers eat. They just pile the rice and beans and chicken on their plates. You wonder if it will be possible for them to eat it all, but they do. This is clearly one of the “perks” of being a traveling altar server!
The people who hosted us were very gracious. They offered us the food, watermelon slices, water, and soda. It is always interesting for me to see how the soda is opened. Sometimes people will just bang the cap on the edge of the table. But other times, people will use their teeth to open the bottle. I try not to look!
The first thing people asked when I returned at 3:00 p.m. was: “How was the drive?” My answer: “It was an adventure!” That phrase may summarize the whole Triduum for me. There were so many new things for me: to be able to proclaim the readings and the many different prayers in Swahili, to prepare for the baptism of so many new Christians, to participate for the first time in the Triduum liturgies in a parish setting, to travel to the different outstations as people wait patiently and joyfully in anticipation of the Good News of Jesus raised from the dead.
Fr. Maciej recorded an Easter greeting message from me in English. I have attached the YOUTUBE link here: https://youtu.be/FGahbWNDXFM
One thing is fair to say: I am not Frank Sinatra. I will let you view the video on the link so that you can make your own judgment. The choir in the main church sang Handle’s “Alleluia Chorus” on Sunday. I had heard them practice for weeks and they sang it for me on Easter Monday after Mass.
I have some “big things” coming up. In two weeks, on April 23rd, the parish in Buhemba will celebrate my 40th anniversary of priesthood. (The actual date is April 29th.) Then on April 27-28, Fr. Yohana and I will drive to my permanent assignment as rector of the philosophy and theology students in Morogoro.
More to come on www.resurrectionists.ca
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