Salvatorian Mission Makanya,
Dear Fr. Dominic, Staff and Boys,
My sincere regards to each and everyone from Africa. I feel highly honoured to be appearing in your schoo1 magazine. As I have only been out here a few months, I feel that before painting a picture of my new home, I should tell you something of my journey here. I regret that I did not have the opportunity of saying farewell to you, as I had to leave on 1st September, a week before school reopened.
I was seen off at London Airport by a group of my confreres on the evening of September 1st and my first stop was Amsterdam. On the 2nd I joined 140 other missionaries on a special chartered flight to Rome where a special audience of the Holy Father had been arranged by the Missionary airline - - RAPTIM - - operated by K.L.M. The audience was my first and greatest experience and one which I shall always remember. Unfortunately I did not have the pleasure of seeing St. Peter's as the audience was scheduled for Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Holy Father, and time was limited. The special coaches taking us to and from the Papal Residence had an escort of motor cycle police, which made us feel very much VIP's indeed.
Airborne once again we were on a seven hour flight to Entebbe and I had the company of two American Salvatorian Brothers, Donald and Bertrand, who were returning from leave. We arrived at Entebbe in the late evening and this proved to be the crossroads for both the majority of the missionaries and the K.L.M. D.C.8 which had carried us from Europe. As we said 'goodbye' to the wonderful crew and alighted on the tarmac, there was a happy group of missionaries, with beaming faces, already waiting to board the flight for the journey home. I heard one Irish priest say to another, homeward bound - 'Don't forget to kiss the green sod for me!' We cleared the customs - which took some hours - then we were once again airborne for Nairobi which we reached at 5 a.m. the following morning. On the same afternoon we left for Dar-es-Salam, the capital of our new country.
In Dar-es-Salam we had to wait three days for the flight to Nachingwea, three delightful days which we spent with the Salvatorian Sisters, receiving true Salvatorian hospitality. Words cannot express our gratitude - all I can say is - "Thank you Sisters and may God bless you". At Nachingwea airport we were greeted by Bishop Arnold Cotey S.D.S., Father Alan, the Vicar General and Father Augustine, Superior of the mission. Father Wilfred, an old boy of the College, was also on hand to greet us, accompanied by a large group of smiling African children.
At the moment 1 am stationed at Makanya Mission with Father Luke and Br. Donald. This mission station is in the heart of the bush, about 25 miles from the main road and another 20 miles to the nearest Post Office. We usually make this trip once a month to pick up the mail and get in a supply of food. When one has spent 3 weeks out in the bush, it is quite a thrill to see the 'bara-bara' or main road once again. I can assure you that there is no trouble here with queues for the 114 or 158! I am also learning the language which is an experience in itself. Each day I go for a walk through the bush und meet the people. The usual greeting on entering a house is 'Hodi'; the answer is 'Karibu' – “come in”. A chair is always brought for you to sit on and you are expected to say 'Starehe' - "please don't trouble". Of course here it is rather difficult to open a conversation by saying - "Isn't it a lovely day" - the people would think that you were feeling unwell, as every day is a lovely day. When my brief vocabulary is almost exhausted, I usually get out of a tight spot by saying – ‘inanipasa kwenda su pata kikombe cha chui, Kwa herinina. osanta sana' - which being translated is - "I have to go now and get a cup of tea. Goodbye and thank you very much".
The adults are wonderful, but the children are absolutely marvellous. They will repeat a word a thousand times for your benefit, all the time having a good honest laugh at your mistakes. As to meeting lions, elephants, leopards or crocodiles, this has still to happen; I have seen a few monkeys, but when they saw me they ran away!!! Snakes are dangerous but one is always on the alert. The rainy season is now almost on us, so going on safari will be a new experience. Most of the houses are built of mud blocks and thatched with dry grass; they are also built so close together that a fire catching one soon spreads to the others, and out here you cannot dial 999. Last week Fr. Luke, Br. Donald and myself were anticipating our evening meal when we were called to form the fire crew at a neighbouring house. By the time the Post-mortem was over, I had lost all appetite.
Remember our missions, our people and our difficulties in your prayers at the Crib this Christmas time. Goodbye and God bless you all.
Brother Colum, S.D.S.
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