Monday, 25 January 2010

Facing The New Year

So far into the New Year I have had no power failures and all three phases working. Not that it is perfect. If I turn the big fan on or the electric jug, the added drain on the supply turns the fridge off. But it is manageable. I cooked a New Year’s lunch for the Sisters next door, to repay some of their hospitality, and am now enjoying ‘left-overs’ from the fridge. Likewise the Sisters!

Sharing is a very commendable way of life in Sudan. Many people see in the New Year in big crowds. So did I but with a difference. Yes, I attended another midnight mass with about four thousand people inside the Church compound and more outside in the street! Actually we started at 11:50 so that New Year came in at the Gloria when all bells rang and one hymn went for 10 minutes – with bells ringing. A long energetic, political homily was delivered by a young priest, Fr Onesimo, partly in English and partly in Arabic, about the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and declaring 2010 a year of peace. It seemed to be well received by the people but I regretted all the humorous parts were in Arabic.

The Sudanese clergy generally seem to be well-practiced orators with homilies delivered forcefully, emphatically and with some humour. One of the communion hymns seemed to me to go to the tune of ‘Old MacDonald had a Farm’ - I couldn't understand the words but I presume they were changed! Mass finished at 2:00am but it took at least 10 minutes to get out one of the two double gates. The traffic outside was chaotic on the dusty, unsealed road, but we live close enough to have walked.

I was invited by the Salesian Priests for the evening meal on New Year’s Day but declined - too
hot, after a big lunch with the Sisters, and too far on a dreadful road (about 8 kms), especially
after the short sleep of New Year's eve. As we all face another New Year, I thought I might
attach some of the faces of the people here – the Sudanese themselves and some of our team
from around the globe. The group photo of our Health Training team in Wau shows two doctors
and three nurses from four different countries united to help the people of Southern Sudan.
Each face in the photos reveals very little of a unique, personal story. What will the New Year bring to each? The gift of a continuing peace would certainly be welcomed by all of us here.

A peaceful and happy New Year to all.

Br Bill

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