Apologies to Sarah who had sent her post last week but it was swallowed up in cyberspace.
Our last day at the lake had come and we spent it the way it should be done -completely relaxed. We started off our day with a trip to (Can’t remember name) beach, where we just sat, relaxed and had a drink. The beach was absolutely stunning and it was amazing to just sit in the sand and listen to the waves crash on to the shore. After heading back up the biggest hill we had ever seen and not thinking we were going to make it, we headed back to Mayoka for some lunch.
After lunch me, Gemma and Keelan decided it would be nice to walk in to town and have our last drink in Kaya Papaya and say goodbye to the place … only to get there and find out that it was closed on a Wednesday! Where is closed on a Wednesday?! So, we set back on our trek back up to Mayoka sad and disappointed and did some last souvenir shopping before a well deserved siesta.
In the evening we all sat and had a drink enjoying our last night at the lake with music from a one man band who had the biggest guitar we had ever seen! I use guitar lightly as it resembled a guitar but only had one string and he hit it with glass bottles so I’m not quite sure what exactly it was. The night was completely relaxed and enjoyable. That was until me and Gemma got back to the room to find that Keelan had brought in one of his favourite dogs ‘Bushy’ who he had become friends with into the room and was lying on the floor playing with it. After a lot of laughs and maybe a few selfies we finally managed to prey the dog from Keelan and sent it away … as Keelan emotionally watched from the window calling him to come back.
On Thursday morning we set off back home to Rhumpi. After a quick stop in Mzuzu for a ‘triangle’ at the famous Coffee Den we finally arrived back at St Patrick’s and were served lunch by Mr Gondwe who’s cooking we had really missed. Especially his rice! In the evening we went down to the main hall and had movie night with all the boys for their last night at the seminary. We watched part of the Twilight Saga and then some strange movie that can’t quite be described but did give us all a few laughs. It was nice to be able to spend the last night with the boys and catch up with them before they left in the morning for their holidays.
We celebrated our last mass with the boys on Friday morning where we got to say our final goodbyes to them. We then watched them all pack in to their buses and waved them off as they departed to many different places around Malawi. The seminary was very quiet without the buzz of the boys which was very strange.
Later on that night we had dinner over in the Fathers’ house and afterwards me, Gemma and Keelan went off to join Chikumbutso and the boys in the Formation Centre, who hadn’t finished up for the holidays, for their ‘study session’. Instead of studying of course the night was filled with eating sweets, chatting and listening to music. Let’s just say we’re not very good at the whole studying thing. It was great to be able to chat to the boys and see what life was like at the Formation Centre. It was also nice for me and Gemma to be able to catch up with some of the boys who we had met in 2013 and see how they were getting on.
The night had been going so well until we got back to the house. Me, Gemma and Keelan had packed up our things and said goodnight to the boys and everyone in the Fathers house (who were in full party mode) and made our way to the house. We arrived at the house, said hello to the watchman and went to unlock the door… only for it not to work. We called the watchman over and he couldn’t seem to get the lock to come undone either. Despite the many attempts by the watchman and Keelan, who thought it would be a good idea to take the door handle of the door, me and Gemma decided it would be wise to go and get Fr Dan. However even after the attempts by Fr Dan, we were still locked out and it wasn’t looking good. That was until we remembered that mine and Gemma’s bedroom window didn’t fully close or lock and the only way to get in was through there. If only there was someone small enough to fit through the small gap between the security bars… So there I was hauled up on to the window ledge and managed to squeeze through the bars, run through the house and let everyone in the front door! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group of people happier to enter a house before!
After the drama, we all had a well earned Fanta and headed to bed, ready to start the next day.
On Saturday we had a very early start to leave at six o’clock to give us enough time to make the ordination. After a mad rush trying to get ready and throw together a quick sandwich for breakfast we finally set off on our three hour trip along the treacherous road to Mzambazi where the ordination was being held.
For the ordination me, Gemma and Keelan decided to get into the African spirit with some traditional African dress. Me and Gemma wore traditional Malawian wrap skirts and Keelan wore his exotic pink, tie-dye Malawian shirt with the map of Africa on it… it’s as funny as it sounds wait until you see the picture.
When we arrived we were greeted by the many priests that were there and were able to say good luck to the boys who were being ordained. The four of them, Raymond, Petros, Philip and Philip were so excited that their big day had finally come as they had been waiting a very long time. It was also extremely special for us to be there as we knew Raymond from the trip in 2013 when he was based in St Patrick’s and created such a special friendship with him so it was amazing to be able to be there on his very special day.
The celebration kicked off and it was truly spectacular! 5,000 people were in attendance and in true Malawian form were singing, dancing and celebrating the special occasion. It was amazing to be able to sit and watch all the different traditional dances by all the people. Some of the dancers were dressed in the traditional warrior outfits which was also amazing to see. The singing as always was phenomenal and listening to 5,000 people all harmonizing together was just incredible!
The ordination was 4 hours and 50 minutes long which to some people was disappointing that it didn’t make the full 5 hour mark, but somehow it flew in! The ordination came to an end and the church now had four newly ordained priests and one of the new priests, Petros, has been placed at St Patrick’s and will be working alongside Fr Dan, Fr Angels and all the other teachers to teach the boys, which is very exciting for the seminary!
After the ceremony we headed back to the Fathers’ house where we had lunch and caught up with everyone… I don’t think I have seen so many priests in one place before!
After lunch we started our journey back to Rhumpi before it got dark. In the evening Bernadette and Christine went over and joined the priests in their house for a farewell party and to celebrate the ordination. It was also Fr Dan’s six year anniversary in the priesthood so they also celebrated that with him.
Me, Gemma and Keelan spent our last night with Chikumbutso which consisted of sports hour and singing hour. During our sports hour we were visited by a praying mantis which Chiku managed to kill and decided it would be fun to play tennis with it with the large tennis bats. Keelan thought this was a good idea too… until the praying mantis came flying towards him and he ran away screaming!
Singing hour commenced and as always we were sounding beautiful! All was going well until Bernadette, Christine and Fr Dan returned to the house with worried looks on their faces and Fr Dan’s face crumpled with pain… before anyone starts to think it, it was not because of our singing. It turned out that whilst we had been belting our hearts out they had been standing outside listening to us for a while (we obviously must have been good) and whilst standing Fr Dan was stung by a wasp! It looked very sore so we gave him some sting spray, made sure he was okay and then all headed to bed in preparation for our long day of travelling ahead.
Sunday morning came and it was time to say goodbye to St Patrick’s for a while. We packed up our stuff in the pick-up truck and then said our final goodbyes to Mr Gondwe, Fr Angels and Chikumbutso. It was very emotional to have to say goodbye to them but we all know that we will see each other soon which always makes it a bit easier.
We set off for Mzuzu where we would go to St Augustine’s Parish to attend Raymond’s first mass. The mass was just like the ordination full of celebration for Raymond and full of singing and dancing! We even joined in on the dancing at one point. It was such an amazing experience to be a part of Fr Raymond’s first mass and we all felt very proud of him and how far he had come.
After the mass we were able to congratulate Raymond once again on his achievement and then say the dreaded goodbye to him and many others. Felix had joined us at mass that morning which was so amazing to spend some more time with him. We said our goodbyes to Felix and many of our other friends who we had met along the way which once again was very emotional and then finally set on our last journey back to Lilongwe where we would stay for the night before flying back home.
As always on our way we stopped off at the Kasungu Inn for some ‘triangles’ and a drink. When we went to head back on the road to Lilongwe after this however our mini bus wouldn’t start and unfortunately had broken down. After the attempts of Fr Dan and some mechanics who had somehow just been passing by, the bus wouldn’t start and we had to call for another mode of transport to pick us up. Luckily the driver was nearby and brought his car along and we headed back on the road to Lilongwe. The journey wasn’t very comfortable for me and Gemma however, as we had to share a seat in the back of the car with all the luggage. Honestly, we thought we didn’t have any legs half way through the trip but we managed to keep strong and fight through the pain and we finally made it to Lilongwe.
When we arrived at the hotel we checked in and had dinner in the restaurant, getting our Wi-Fi fix and then heading to bed to get ready for our journey back home in the morning.