Happy Easter!

John and Peter rushing to the empty tomb (by Eugene Burnard, 1898)

"I came that you may life and have it to the full!" (John 10:10)

March 2008

Easter Blessings to one and all!
I wasn’t sure if I’d manage to post some recent happenings but the Easter Triduum break gave me some free moments so here are some other news bits on my life in Kenya. I can’t say I’ve totally settled but that I’m still settling….(while missing the conveniences of Singapore not to mention all the delicious food at home!)

Indiana Jones and the Doomed Road!
One afternoon I was asked to accompany a Sister to buy some hardware materials for our “animal farm” – a plot of land which the Sisters acquired with the intention of building a house for our Junior Sisters, our students of Theology. But until we can raise funds for the building, the land is used for a little farming – breeding of rabbits, chicken, and goats. Sr Maria De Carli who’s responsible for the animals (and who’s also with me in the AV sector) needed a driver to ferry her to the hardware shops and she asked me. So off we went on our one and only 4-wheel drive , an Isuzu jeep which incidentally is more than 30 years old! We were taking the jeep because the terrain we were covering was "rough,' I was told. Well, the moment we hit the roads near the area where most of the hardware shops are, I really felt like Indiana Jones. The roads were full of potholes! I was driving with all my senses and all my motoring skills perked up, trying firstly to avoid as many potholes and ongoing maniac drivers as possible, then when hitting them (the potholes that is), trying to skillfully maneuver the jeep back to normalcy! Many a time, our heads nearly hit the roof of the jeep! And what a sight we passed by – shops along the streets but with the bare minimal, they looked more like sheds. Then we also passed a heap of garbage (see below) with some kids in the midst of the pile, scavenging for any treasure they could either use or sell….

Eventually we got to the hardware shops and we parked the jeep by the shops which were at the side of the streets but with no tarmac, just on the red earth. It was windy…So the wind kicked up –not with the smell of rain ( for SV and Towies!) but with waves of dust! I had to close my eyes and swirl as if in a dance several times just to avoid the dust from getting into my eyes and face! What an experience! When I came back, I really felt like an accomplished adventurer from yester years – ie Indiana Jones. Only thing is – instead of some archaeological treasures, we returned with sheets of zinc, wired fence, and planks of wood which were stored on the roof of the jeep!

Water, Water, Hardly Anywhere!
Just when you thought things were bad (with electrical power shortages and disruptions) the situation gets worse! For the past 3 weeks or so, we had the inconvenience of no running water for up to 3 days in a row! When the water would return, it would be muddy and last only for a day or half a day. Then “drought” again - ie not a single drop from the tap! Fortunately we have some tanks that store rain water so we have to fetch our water in buckets from these tanks! Real hard work!!! But in a way it put us in solidarity with rural villagers who have no running water too… Anyway life continues… One thing for sure, you really get back to the essentials in life here! I realized that as much as we need it, we can live without electricity but we certainly can’t live without water! What at tragedy! Lent was really brought to the fore for me this year especially with this water crisis.
So, be grateful for running water and electricity at the touch of a button in modern Singapore or USA or UK and the rest of the developed world!

Back to the Novitiate!
I was invited by Sr Margaret Moran, the novice formator for the second year novices to teach the novices in March. If it was a familiar topic on Media Spirituality or Media Literacy, I would have been pretty confident with notes and powerpoint materials already prepared. But she entrusted me with a topic on Vocational Formative Community! “Good grief! What on earth is that?” – was my initial reaction! Then I realized that it was basically on how a community can help in the development and growth of vocation by being formative…. Anyway, after many hours of preparation, I rose to meet the challenge and enjoyed the experience tremendously. Remembering my own novitiate days and that theory hardly stayed with me, I divided my classes with theory and practical / experiential activities which included drawing symbols of community, washing one another’s feet (John 13) and a couple of skits which the novices gamely responded to. I am grateful for the teaching opportunity because in many ways it also renewed my own understanding and appreciation for community life as a place to grow in one’s vocation – not only from the positive elements but especially the negative ones. The energetic and creative novices – there were 10 of them coming from various nations – were also inspiring with their enthusiasm, simplicity and sincere dedication to respond to their religious calling.

Our Young Novices

Stations of the Cross DVD
As far as my main work at the Audio-Visual department, I’ve recently finished the rough script for a DVD production on the Stations of the Cross. It will be an adaptation and compilation of several reflections by different authors on the Stations, all linked to the suffering of humanity today, especially in Africa. Since the context and the audience will be African, we are making efforts to ensure that the whole production is in the local context – from the stations themselves depicting an African Jesus to the visuals and stills that accompany each station. Sourcing and selecting some of these materials was quite a horrifying experience as they depict the atrocities of violence on topics like genocide and violence, the poverty of the slums, the suffering of women... all over Africa. I will spare you the graphic photos of violence and indignity of persons but to give you an idea of the horrors, here’s a relatively “mild” photo of a bombarded or what I'd call a bullet infested building in Angola.

(photo source: Comboni Missionaries)

Pray for the Healing of Traumatized Victims of Kenyan violence
As peace is restored to Kenya, there is now a great need for healing and reconciliation for all the victims of the violence and unrest that took place at the beginning of the year. We also begin to hear gruesome stories of what took place in the violent areas – some of which are pure nightmares. If you are faint of heart and you’d rather not read on, please don’t. I cringe to repeat it here but so that you know the extent of the trauma of the victims when you pray for them - I heard one story of how some men forced themselves into the home of another tribe and found the family in the kitchen. The water was boiling in a huge pot for the evening meal. One of the men grabbed the baby from the mother of the household and threw the baby into the pot of boiling water. After that they forced every member of the family to eat the boiled baby! Then they killed every one of them except the father of the household – just so that he would suffer from the experience. Can such barbaric, evil acts exist this day? Apparently yes. Please pray not only for the victims but also for the perpetrators – how can they live with themselves having committed such heinous crimes?!!! Their lives must be pure hell as well!

Sorry to end this post on such an odious and somber note but the work for peace and justice doesn’t usually come sugar coated. The reality of life is far harsher than many of us imagine. May the peace, hope and love of Jesus, our Risen Lord who conquered death also lead each of us to conquer (in small and big ways) the evil in us and in the world!

Until next time...


PS Here's a snap of myself with Sr Roselyne singing Dan Schutte's "Lover of Us All" for Sr Antonieta B. and Sr Augustina N. as part of their golden jubliee celebrations.

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