It’s Sunday evening and I’m back at the Bishop’s House, watching Stoke play West Ham in the Staffordshire sunshine. It must be time to come home – especially as Brenda has just been showing me photos of snow – yes snow - on the roads around Mafeking! It has been very cold here too, and we had 22 hours non-stop rain, and some more since. It is too late for the crops but it will help the domestic water situation.
This final weekend has been restful, and I have been staying with an army family, Wayne and Rosemary Stevens and their children, Channing and Megan. They well remembered the visit of the Westwood family in 2012. There is also a photo of them in the ‘People of Matlosane’ sequence at the side of the blog. We got up late on Saturday and eventually went to the Mall in Potch for a couple of hours. We then had fish and chips for supper – but South African style!
This morning we went to Promosa where I had the privilege of preaching and con-celebrating with Fr Sydney. Promosa was originally a coloured community and so much of the service was in English, although Setswana made an appearance. At times, it was hard to tell that it was Pentecost Sunday – the music certainly didn’t reflect it. But I was made very welcome and Pentecost as the antidote to the Tower of Babel was very real.
Rather than come straight home I called in at the Cathedral in Ikageng, only a mile or two from Promosa. The service had just finished and I was greeted by many as an old friend. It is good to be able to do these informal visits. The last time I was here Nonto, the priest, was preparing for her wedding. Today I was able to see her photos and share her joy. Her husband is also a priest but hadn’t returned from his church before I had to leave.
On the table in her home was her holding cross. In October Lichfield gave every priest here one in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Diocese. I have heard so many stories about how important those crosses are for individuals themselves and in their ministries. I have seen them in places where they pray, taken out of pockets and held in the hand. There are at least two stories of healing. Someone is now looking to see if they can be sourced more locally. They have been a real blessing to the clergy – thank you Lichfield.
Tomorrow it’s the drive to the airport– and I’m not looking forward to it. The traffic can be very heavy around Jo’burg in the late afternoon, so I’m just hoping the airport is very well signed – not something South Africa is renowned for! But living in the present, there is the smell of the braai coming in through the door. The Bishop was determined to end my stay according to custom, despite the cold and what has been a hard weekend for him and Brenda, with a family funeral, followed by a family wedding. I just might have to resort to my fleece tonight – there were times when I wished I’d taken it with me on my travels!
People here want to know when I’m coming back – all I can say is watch this space! This Diocese is now part of me, and while I’m able, I’ll be coming back.
So once again it is time to thank all those who have followed me on this journey, prayed for me and supported with comments on the blog and emails – but as always, to God for his faithfulness and protection.