Saturday, February 27, 2010

church dedications, birthdays, & other weekend things.

I woke up at 6:00 this morning, after a night of disturbed sleep.  The sun was shining through grey clouds and although I was really tired, I couldn’t get myself back to sleep again.  That’s what happens when your daily routine starts at 6 am I suppose.
Though we’ve been without internet here in Bothas Hill for the past ten days….. ta-da!  Life goes on.  The break from contact with the outside world was refreshing at first, then tiresome when I turned 23 and couldn’t talk to anyone at home for the most part, but then it was liberating to be able to find other ways to spend our time.  Work keeps me busy and though homesick, I was able to put my energy into teaching, reviewing for vocabulary tests with Grade 6 and 7, and swinging young boys around in circles after helping with homework at St. Theresa’s three afternoons a week.

The four of us spent Valentine’s Day in the valley at the dedication ceremony and Mass for a newly-built church at St. Helen’s Parish, one of the outposts of the Augustinian church in Kloof.  We left the house at 9 am and didn’t get home until 3:00 that afternoon, but the ceremony itself was something that was really amazing to see, as these things don’t happen very often at all.  The mass was a regular Zulu mass, but the words to all the songs sung throughout were printed in booklets, so Mary-Kate, Becca, and I made a good attempt to sing along which helped move time along more quickly.  Following the Mass, the four walls of the church were blessed and a relic of St. Helen was placed under the altar.  The archbishop of Durban was in attendance, and he and some other members of the church and community were thanked in a traditional Zulu ceremony, involving lots of excited yelling from the women in the congregation, the gift of livestock and beautiful blankets, and long speeches lauding each person’s contribution to the finished product.  The inkosi or chief of the area was at Mass with his entourage as well, and it was really fascinating to see him and hear what he had to say about the dedication.
I can now count seeing live sheep during Mass off my bucket list.  One was so nervous it even pooped on the church’s nice new carpet!

The choir in traditional Zulu dress-- mostly black with really colorful beading

The archbishop receiving his gifts: a headpiece, matching staff, and mink blanket from a woman on the parish council at St. Helen's

I wrote last time about going to see the Durban Sharks play some rugby, and the match was a lot of fun.  We had some food and drinks beforehand, then made our way into the stadium just before the rain began.  The Sharks lost (in a pretty dismal end to an exciting second half), but I think we all really enjoyed being there to see a game—and I hope I get to some more of the Super 14 series before too long!

Here's the walkway up to our seats, and you can see the arch of Moses Madiba Stadium (built for the World Cup) in the background 

Our whole community at the game... Becca, me, Mary-Kate, and Meg

I had a very nice birthday; though I was far from home and missing contact with my friends and family very much, I was completely showered with kindness through letters and parcels that have been coming to 8 Warwickshire Crescent in a steady stream since the 17th.  Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness—even if the cookies did arrive in crumbles, or the cards got redirected and didn’t arrive until today, I feel very touched by all the attention.

Evidence of my recent monopoly of the South African postal service

We celebrated here on the 16th, as it was Fat Tuesday.  With my actual birthday falling on Ash Wednesday there wasn’t really much room for celebration that day.  The community of four Augustinian nuns who live next door to us were eager to have us round for dinner, so we braved torrential downpour and some pretty spectacular African lightning and feasted on pancakes, carrot cake, and I was given a dozen orange roses in celebration.  My housemates didn’t disappoint either— Meg treated me to a scavenger hunt on the morning of my birthday, I got some delicious Cadbury’s chocolate from Becca, and an amazing fish-and-chips dinner from Mary-Kate.
Last Saturday, we threw a braai which actually ended up being more of an American barbeque, and had some friends around for drinks and food.  The rain held off and we had a really nice time, as evidenced by an Australia-shaped bruise on my upper arm, texts the next day from our South African friends, and the mountains of bottles and cans we dumped at the recycling center last Sunday.  When you climb up on the roof of a poolhouse to be serenaded with “Happy Birthday” from friends you’ve only known two short months, life is really good.

Smiling faces having a good time at the braai...

... and my Australia-shaped bruise, one week later.  The kids at St. Leo's love it.

On a more somber note, my faithful trusty iPod decided to conk out on me this week.  I’ve had the thing for three years without a problem, so I was pretty sure that I’d see it fail some time during my year here, but not so soon!  Hopefully with the arrival of some American visitors in March, I can get it home and fixed and back again without much issue.  Listening to NPR podcasts on Sundays had become part of my weekend routine, and I’m really missing them already.

This weekend has been much more low-key so far, thank goodness.  This morning, we made good use of our early rising and took a trip to the Shongweni Farmers’ Market, where we indulged in lattes and breakfast sandwiches.  We bought hummus from an Israeli food stall, and also some fresh basil and oregano plants, which Becca planted outside our cottage this morning.  At just over a dollar for each one, we really got a bargain.  We then went to Stations of the Cross at Our Lady of Mercy which was nice.  Stations never fails to remind me of my days at St. Ignatius School, where we’d pray them every Friday during Lent, reading out of grey, red, and black booklets.
The sky is very overcast today, but I’m happy to get a break from the oppressive heat of the South African summer.  We have plans to have a community retreat day tomorrow at the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, just down the road.  There are rumors of a waterfall there, but with or without it, it’ll be a nice day of reflection and relaxation before March arrives.


  1. Great update Shin, we've missed your musings. Hope your Sunday is wonderful and chat soon. Muah xxxx

  2. Fun to read about your adventures Sinead..... the mass reminds me of an experience shared by your parents and ourselves!!! Got to share it with you some day.....Take care ....Ruth : ))

  3. 1. Happy Birthday!!!!!
    2. Did you get my birthday card??
    3. I LOVE YOU!! I can't deal with the lack of Sinead updates!!
    4. If we had been there, Jesus, we would have begged Pilate to let you go...
    5. Did I mention that I love you?!!

    Hope you are having a terrific week!! xoxo

  4. You look so great in that group picture... Even if it is a REPEAT OUTFIT~*~*~. I guess that's fine when you're volunteering though...

    Love you tons! Real nithe potht!