God's Word for today

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Just when I thought I'd seen everything...

One thing I'm fast finding out is that people here in the Rosedale area are a lot tougher than most folks, and the result is that one gets to witness some strange and interesting things!

Two Fridays ago my family and I were doing the "Sacramental Safari", which involves taking Communion to the elderly folks in our congregation who are no longer able to attend services. Because the majority of them are infirm, and also poor, one cannot expect the normal "niceties" of home visits, such as a cup of tea, and it becomes thirsty work doing what amounts to 10 Communion services in one day! I'm thankful to the Phase One college for providing me with a two-page order of service, because in a "normal" service the Communion part alone takes about an hour. Even so, one normally spends about 40 minutes at each home.

So while I was thinking about how one needs to be tough to be a minister, and admittedly feeling a little bit sorry for myself as I left the last home (due to the fact that by this time I had far less energy than the 99 year-old lady whose house we had just left, who - unlike me - had more energy than the Duracell bunny), I came across this rather large bull standing in the middle of the road. As I came gingerly to a halt, wondering how I was going to maneuvre my nearly two ton double-cab bakkie around this beast, a little boy (who couldn't have been more than about 10 years old) skipped up to the bull and gave it a resounding slap on its rump! Even more astounding - the bull took off like a rocket, scampering off into the bushes in abject terror!

Today's funeral was another eye-opener for me. Technically this is supposed to be my weekend off (we get one per quarter), but since the family concerned had tragically lost their eight-year-old son to meningitis, I felt that the least I could do to comfort them was to conduct the service. Now for those readers who are not familiar with the customs in a coloured community, most funerals start on the Monday, with house services every night until Thursday. The family is given a break on Friday, and then Saturday starts with a service in the house, the procession to the church, the funeral service itself, off to the graveside, the burial, then back to the house for final prayers and a meal. I've often wondered about the burden that this places on families, and have also felt uneasy that the mourners sit outside while "the Reverend" is given the prime seat in the house (at the family's insistence). Then this gargantuan plate of food is put in front of me, and once again I feel that while I have probably committed a grave insult by not clearing my plate, there is just no way that I'll get through that quantity of food! I haven't yet come up with a method to (delicately and graciously) either turn down such offers, or request a smaller portion, so I guess I'll just need to keep at it on my bicycle.

But the eye-opening part came just as I was leaving. In this particular area, there is a bend on a section of dirt road that is notorious for accidents - especially when the car in question has no brakes! So when I was informed that a BMW had left the road, gone down the embankment, and overturned, I feared the worst. However, while I was trying to get hold of the emergency services on my cellphone, the occupants of the vehicle - who were all totally unharmed - had climbed out of the windows, and together with half of the community (who had come out for the "show"), managed to get the car back on its wheels.

I can only but imagine the expression on my face when, as I was hearing "Welcome to Vodacom's Emergency Service" in the one ear, one of my Local Preachers was yelling, "Don't worry, Rev, your prayers have been answered" in the other ear, the BMW (now with a somewhat more "streamlined" appearance due to the roll), was being driven away under its own power (the car had, apparently, started first time). Maybe there's some merit in that laid-back, 45-degree-tilt, head-behind-the-B-pillar stance that many young drivers of E30 and E36 BMWs (and Citi Golfs) adopt as their standard driving position...

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