Back from HELL!

16 April 2010
My first entry for this year and it’s already the start of the second quarter! Hope all of you had a great Easter holy/holiday! A week ago, on Easter Monday, a small group of Sisters and I visited a national park in the Naivasha, Rift Valley area called Hell’s Gate! (hence the title of this post!) It was an adventure from the start with me at the wheels of our 20-year old 4-wheel drive Isuzu called The Trooper. With the power out the previous day on Easter Sunday, my plan to check out the highlights of the park was laid aside since I could not get online. Needless to say without a map and a guide, we traversed tracks less travelled, dodged ditches and molten induced crevices and came across another car which unfortunately did get stuck! Our sisters tried to help heave the car up but to no avail and the park rangers eventually came to the rescue. There are lots of stories of our day’s adventure but I’ll leave the pics below to do the narrating. Hell’s Gate is known as the Grand Canyon of Kenya but we actually missed hiking in the midst of colourful strata gorges which lead to the hot springs – the real highlight of the park! The hunt for the caves composed of obsidian, a striking black glassy rock formed from cooled molten lava, took most of our energy and time. We all vowed to return soon to do the hike! Our day concluded with a visit to Sr Helen’s brother who lives in Naivasha with his family and a quick stopover at the vegetable market where all one has to do to shop is to remain seated in one's vehicle! (check out the snaps!)

Last time I posted, I mentioned working on two projects which have now been completed – the English dubbing of The Choice (Sacrament of Holy Orders) and the DVD on the Festival of Christian Arts. The latter is to accompany a book containing all the lectures during the festival. Here’s a snippet of The Choice originally produced by our Sisters in Ivory Coast (unfortunately uploading on youtube affected the audio sync somewhat) :

And here’s a preview clip of the Arts Festival video which I edited on Final Cut Pro. This covers the highlights of first day of the festival minus excerpts from the lectures/talks which is in the DVD. The total duration is 70 minutes (!) - the longest and biggest production thus far.

Most of the paintings during the festival were exhibited at the Paa ya Paa (Swahili for ‘the antelope rises”) Arts Centre run by Elimo and Philda Njau:

It was alo a treat for me to finally visit the Nairobi National Museum late last year whose local art exhibit was a feast for the eyes:

Right now, I’m working to complete the series of scripture music videos based on the parables of Jesus. (The first in the series, A Father and Two Sons was produced last year.) Obviously since they are music videos, they contain music and I’ve been back at the Bosco Studio recording and producing songs, some written by me, some commissioned to other songwriters. The parables in progress include – The Unforgiving Servant, Parable of the Talents, Good Samaritan, and The Sower. Below is the shooting of the Unforgiving Servant.

Amidst the apostolic projects, my classes with the novices continue  (here are the both the first and second years)

and preparations are also underway for the annual Catholic Media Festival which will take place on 13-16 May with the theme – Living the Word in a Digital World. This year we have a day dedicated to the clergy and religious. (poster from the Consolata Fathers' Seed Magazine) 

This was to be my third and final year in Kenya but recently when our General Superior made her fraternal visit, she requested I extend my stay and I said ‘yes’! (at least until a Kenyan Sister returns from her studies in Communication and joins the Audiovisuals Sector.)

Fraternal Visit Feb 2010 Nairobi Community
So I’ll probably be here for another year or two … which is fine with me as there are still so many apostolic projects to be completed. I’ve also grown to love the cool, near perfect weather – low 20s throughout most of the year. To my surprise I have also learned to appreciate the gooey staple dish, ugali – basically cornmeal mush! And now I even know how to cook it! Helen, a Pauline Cooperator and my guitar student treated me to a typical East African meal in her home last month:

Just outside her home were some goats (!) as well as stores where I got a pair of rather crude but nevertheless pretty cool “Masai” sandals made of - get ready for this- used car tyres! !! Check them out:

I don’t think I can complete this post without a comment on the child sexual abuse scandal that has been rocking the church in recent months, especially in Ireland and Germany. Besides the abuses, the general anger and disgust from those within the Church and outside it are over the cover-up of these abuses throughout the years. While bishops have resigned, some are rooting to get rid of clerical celibacy. Hans Kung makes some rather convincing points in his article, Against Celibacy which appeared in the Tablet and under a different title in NCR. But the evidence that married clergy in other Christian churches are just as guilty of committing child sexual abuse makes the anti-celibacy argument weak. There are also thousands of single lay persons who by choice or circumstance remain celibate. Surely they are not potential child abusers? Who knows, as the church evolves, it may return one day to having married clergy (and even introduce women clergy - though probably not in my lifetime!) but celibacy
will always be regarded as a gift and a call in the Church and one is free to accept this gift and live it or not.
Unfortunately there are some who appear to choose it but are not able to live it. While I truly sympathise with the abused victims and their damaged lives, I also sympathise with the perpetrators who are victims themselves of their psychological pathology in relation to their sexuality. My respond to all this is “There goes I, if not for the grace of God.” We are all sinners in small and big ways and if we are not in the shoes of the perpetrators or their victims, it is only thanks to the grace of God. But I believe grace is also very much present in their lives, perhaps not in an obvious way but nevertheless still present.
Timothy Radcliff's recent article (also in the Tablet) explains why he’ll stick to the Catholic Church, shameful as it is. The former Master of the Dominicans provides a wider perspective of the whole issue, taking into consideration the different contexts set by time and culture. It led me to realise too that one of the reasons why there is such a widespread coverage of the scandals today is due to the fact that we now live in a media culture where cable/web news sharing is instant and global (compared to the the 60s-80s). Fr Radcliff is grateful to the media which insists the Church faces its failures while interestingly, Sam Miller, a Jewish businessman in the States
has this to say in what he sees as a full blown 'persecution' of the Catholic Church by the media.

My own prayer is that this unveiling of the truth (which started as far back as 2002 in the States and perhaps even earlier elsewhere) will help purify the Church somewhat. Like a bitter pill, it must be swallowed with humility and honesty. Only then will healing gradually take place within the whole body of Christ. Jesus (who himself was celibate) did say that he came for the sick not the healthy.

It certainly has been “hell” for the Church (leaders as well as members, victims as well as offenders) these past weeks but sooner or later we’ll be back from hell to continue our earthly pilgrimage towards our final destination - heaven. While justice must reign, may love, understanding and forgiveness always overcome evil, hatred and vengence. I guess that's the challenging journey we all are invited to take. Safe traversing and may you avoid the ditches and crevices along the way!
PS: This Sunday April 18, we will celebrate in Nairobi the Golden Jubilee of two of our Sisters - Stephanie Robel from the Philippines and Teresa Marcazzan from Italy. 50 faithful years of joyful, loving, celibate service! Congratulations and prayers for them.


  1. Hi Wendy,
    Those are nice pics. Wished I could be there as well to see the world.
    fook sun

  2. Dear Sr Wendy,
    As usual your blog is great! Thank you for sharing your trip to Hell and back. Actually it was quite beautiful. If that is hell, imagine what heaven must be! I also enjoyed the photos of the groups,etc.
    I hope all is well. It seems you have many apostolic pots on the stove. My best to you and the whole Community for a blessed Easter Season.
    With much love and fond memories,

  3. Thank you Sister Wendy for your great and most educative and life-giving blog. A big Easter hug to you in the joy and victory of our Risen Lord.

  4. Yo Sista,
    Loved your recent postings. The pics from Hell's Gate resembles a Nat Geographic type expedition. And I loved the paintings and stone sculptures both at Nairobi Nat Museum and Pa Yaa Pa. Do they also sell these paintings? Given their uniquness,I would mind exploring buying 1 or 2 of these. So, how do you have your ugali - with tabasco, chili and lime? :)

  5. Sister Tracey (via FB)April 17, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    I loved this post. Thanks, WENDY! can I come???

  6. Hi Wendy,
    Thanks for sharing with us again on your adventure and reflections in Kenya. Good that you have your joyous moments of play!

  7. Great blog post, Wendy! Makes me feel like I am with you. You are so creative. Your remarks at the end sobering.... Congrats to the two sisters celebrating 50 years!
    Kudos on the videos you have made!

  8. Hi "Boss",

    Thank you for your wonderful pictures stories telling. Is this part of your global warming act; to wear a recycled rubber sole? Your “Masai” sandals looks comfy and I likes them too. =D

    May Jesus our Divine Master, continue to shower you with His holy graces and blessings in all your apostolic projects.

    Congrats and cheers to Sr Stephanie Robel and Sr Teresa Marcazzan. ;p

    Take Care
    Jo Tan

  9. Thanks so much for your updates! Thoroughly enjoy'd reading them and thanks for sharing the great shots of how you spent your tme, the people and the scenery!
    You look great, still so young and doing so much and happy!
    Wishing you Easter Joy,
    Take care & God bless

  10. Hi Wen,
    I am very proud of you and am very happy that you are doing God's work. You must have put a lot of effort to do such a lovely dvd and lovely pictures to show where you have been and all that you have shared with us.I thank the Lord for giving you all the graces you need to accomplish your mission in Kenya.
    Please congratulate both Srs Stephanie Robel and Teresa Marcazzen for their 50th anniversaries. May they be blessed with Good Health, Happiness and Peace today and always.

  11. Dear Wendy
    Love your blog and the photos too...can almost feel as if I was there too :) but another two years before you return seems like a long time!
    Hope everything is fine in Kenya?
    Look forward to catching up when you are next in Singapore...
    keep safe