Friday, August 1, 2008

Getting Settled

Well it has been a couple of weeks since our last blog post, so much for the weekly update. Sorry to keep y’all waiting. We are still getting settled into our new home and can’t believe that we have only been here for 5 weeks. The past two weeks have been very busy.

Just before Penny and I were to leave on a four day break at the coast, I had my first death in the parish. It was obvious that he was highly respected and loved by everyone who knew him. He was Kwanyama and was the principle at a High School in the North. I visited his home the evening after he died and was invited in to be part of the mourning to read scripture and say prayers for the family and Damien. It was an incredible evening of Kwanyama hymns and offerings of condolence to his widow and children.

On the Saturday after he died we held a memorial service at the Cathedral in the morning. Close to 150 people came as we said prayers and heard remembrances. After the service the family and friends left Windhoek to travel to the North for the full service of the Burial of the Dead. That service can take 4 hours or longer we have heard.

That afternoon Penny and I left and drove across the Namib Desert to the western coast. On the way we were stopped by the police. The officer was checking speed with a radar gun, but I knew we had not been speeding. We had been warned that Namibian police were out in force to catch speeders so we were watching. He pulled us over by stepping into the road and waving us to the side. When we stopped I asked if we were speeding and he said “No”. Then he began asking for something that I could not understand and finally Penny heard the words “Red Triangle”. He finally communicated to us that he needed to see our red triangle. I had absolutely no idea what he was wanting but came to figure out that each car is required to carry a set of red triangles to put on the road in case of an emergency, to alert other cars to your presence. As we were driving the parish car I had no idea if there were red triangles or not. I got out of the car and checked the boot, (the ‘boot’ is what they call the car trunk in Namibia) No triangles. So he told me that he would have to give me a ticket, but that it was only N$100 or about $14 US. I said ok and then he asked if I knew were to go and pay the ticket. I told him I had no idea, and he said we would have to go back to the last town we passed (about 45 minutes ago) and pay it. I told him that we were on our way to the coast and would be coming back on Wednesday, and I asked if we could pay it on our way back. I also told him that we would buy red triangles as soon as we got to Swakopmund. At this he got very confused and said he didn’t know what to do. Finally he decided that he no longer wanted to deal with us and told us that we could just go, which we did.

We stayed for 4 nights in a flat across from the ocean loaned to us by some friends, in a small tourist town called Swakopmund that is sometimes referred to as being more German than Germany. Swakopmund means “mouth of the Swakop” in German and refers to the Swakop river that flows into the Atlantic when there has been significant rainfall. There are all kinds of shops and restaurants that cater to the many German tourists who visit. The architecture also reminds you of a German village as you can see from this photo. We did not take this photo. But we did take others. We got a new camera just before we left the United States and have not had time to download the software to our computer. As soon as we do you will have more photos then you ever wanted from Namibia.

We stayed in Swakopmund until Wednesday and then drove home. It is about a 4 hour drive over paved roads, some of which are in major need of repair. A few times we had to slow down for baboons or warthogs in the road and mainly tried to stay out of the way of the crazy drivers.

This past Sunday I was Celebrant and preacher for both services. The service is from the Anglican Prayer Book of the Province of Southern Africa 1989 and is similar in many ways to the BCP 1979. It follows the same pattern more or less; Ministry of the Word, sermon, Prayers of the People, the Peace, and then the Communion. I think anyone visiting from an Episcopal Church would be able to follow along with very little problem. Our Old Testament reading last Sunday was about Moses being sent by God to the Hebrew people in slavery. So I taught everyone Go Down, Moses in my sermon and we sang together a couple of verses. It was great. Some people really got into it and other now just think I am crazy.

This past week I was really busy with parish administrative issues and working on the Clergy training program. We begin the selection process in 2 weeks with interest meetings in Windhoek and the North and then the Commission on Ministry will select the ordinands in September. Penny and I had our first tutoring session in Oshikwanyama the past Wednesday. We have scheduled regular Wednesday morning classes so hopefully we will know how to say something more than good morning. Penny is doing well and is about to begin exploring where her skills can be most useful.

We also want to say a special thank you to everyone who has sent us mail. It takes at least 2 weeks from the US to get a card and longer for any kind of larger package or box. We will try and let you know when we get your mail so that at least you can know it arrived. We are still looking for people to download SKYPE. It is a very easy way to connect and talk to us. The best times to call us are between 7am-3pm Central Time. We are 6 hours ahead of Alabama. If you want to call the best thing to do is to send us an email and tell us a good time. We have been having a little trouble with our internet connection the last week or so (it goes out for 24 hours at a time with no real explanation, and Telecom who runs the system stops answering the phone) So we have not been able to really say for sure we could be available. So if we make a plan to talk and you can’t get us please know that we have no control over the system so keep trying.

I hope you enjoy reading our updates. Thanks to everyone sending email it is great to hear from you. It helps us to feel not quite as homesick as we are. Blessings and Peace, Jeremy

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