Our Lady of Grace Church at 15661 Norbeck Boulevard, Silver Spring, MD 20906 US - A Letter of Gratitude and Memories
A Letter of Gratitude and Memories
Dear friends at Our Lady of Grace,
First of all I want to thank you for your generosity and kindness and expecially for your prayers for the recovery of my health. Words cannot express how comforting your help has been since I had become incapacitated! At first I was sad and discouraged that I was unable to continue sharing something to help in the activities at Our Lady of Grace. But I am still praying for Our Lady of Grace and the priests and staff and all parishioners! Then, surprisingly today I found on my computer the copy of a letter I had written to my family when I was working In Africa teaching catechism to children there. It made me think: Now I know why I now needed a hip replacement! At least I was then able to travel quite a lot on my bike! Here is some of what I wrote those many years ago:
Letter from Africa
May 10, 1964
Hello to All!
Thanks a million for all your letters! It was very good to hear from you, and to know that everyone is well.
We have been in the villages teaching Religion to the children during the school vacations…for the past two weeks. We were 6 altogether who went out, two in each village. We surely do appreciate our home more after two weeks in a little native hut with only candles for light, etc. It was quite a good experience, and we had quite a lot of children! I had 72 to teach, while my companion had about 40, and the African Catechist had 55, so you can see that we were kept quite busy! The trouble in this part of the world is that the mission extends over such a large area (an area the size of Holland) that not even a quarter of the children can go to school..and the priests are unable to visit each village regularly, so once a year there is a session of 2 weeks of religion teaching…which is certainly not the ideal, but which is better than nothing.
Last Sunday Sr. Jean-Gabriel and I cycled 10 miles to Mass...in the bush with tall elephant grass growing close on both sides of the path, which was about a foot wide…in the evening we cycled the 10 miles back, and I can assure you that it was not like cycling in Potomac Park….On Thursday, which was the Feast of the Ascension, we heard that Father would say Mass at Petauke, which was about 20 miles from where we were (Cifwiti Village)…and we didn’t know that it was so far, so we set out early in the morning on our bicycles….and everybody we met told us that it was"near " (“pafupi”…) which encouraged us…until I asked an old man, after we had cycled for two hours, “How far is it.” And he said “Oh, it is near…only about 8 miles more to go.” Here everything is ”near” that is less than 50 miles, since this is a vast country, and the villages are far apart. I suppose since there is nothing between the neighboring villages, they call it “near”…Anyway, when we were about 5 miles out from Petauke, a kind gentleman in a truck stopped, and gave us a lift, putting our bicycles behind…We were very grateful for that….so we arrived just in time for Mass.
We arrived yesterday afternoon at Minga after exactly 2 weeks of Missionary work in the village. It was very good to be home again….and we saw our electric generator for the first time, as it had just been installed while we were away….What a difference! Except that it begins to get dark here at 5:30 pm, and the gentleman in charge only turns it on at 6:00.…but we are very grateful to have such a thing out here in our bush country.
We have three terms in our school year here, and the second one begins on May 12th, to finish on the 14th of August. (It’s not at all like at home, is it?)…We are looking forward to seeing our boarder students again.
I must go now, as it is Sunday morning, and the bell has just rung for the 9:00 Mass…where I have to play the organ. I shall pray for you all there.
Love to all at Our Lady of Grace from Mary Anne