We got a chatty Easter letter from Sr. Augustine, originally of Ohio, but for many years now, a new "Augustine of Africa" (Kenya, not Hippo). She had been stationed in Uganda in recent years; the delegation crosses several national boundaries. She gave me permission to share her news with my blog readers, even though she admitted she wasn't too up on what a "blog" was. And now, Sr. Augustine:
I am using the community email since we have no power in our dept. It has been a long time since I have written and I want to take this occasion of Easter to give you my news.
I arrived here in Nairobi just before Christmas and was immediately put to work in the editorial dept. proof reading, etc. It has kept me very busy these past few months, but I am happy doing what I love the most – reading.
In January, we had our delegation meeting with all of our sisters from our delegation present – we were 49. We should have been 51, but one sister had to go to Rome for a serious operation, and one could not get a visa to enter Nairobi. They are very strict now at the borders. It was so nice to see all the sisters again. We had a lot to share as I am sure you did during your Provincial Chapter. During the meeting, we had a big celebration to commemorate our 25 years in Kenya and 30 yrs of Paulines Publications-Africa.
We were blessed to have the presence of the Papal Nuncio of Kenya, our archbishop and four other bishops, plus about 30 priests and over 200 friends. After the mass we all went into our large hall where we had lunch and entertainment by the novices. The Nuncio, Archbishop and bishops all expressed their gratitude for our presence here in Kenya and how important our apostolate is for the people of Africa. I was really proud to be a Daughter of St Paul and to have been here for most of our growth. When I arrived in Kenya in 1985, we had no African sisters. Now we have over 60 between all the countries.
There is a lot of building going on in our area, between office buildings and apartments. As a result, the water is rationed and we only receive water two days a week. You can imagine what an inconvenience this is – lugging up pails of water to all the floors to flush toilets, etc. Between the community and novices, we are 45 so it is not easy. Thank God we have all these young people who help us to carry the pails. We have four huge outdoor tanks to catch rain water, but it has been months since it has rained and there is not a drop of water in any of the tanks. We bring jerry cans of water from the bookshop to use for cooking, etc. Thank God they are in the city center and have water.
Then we lose the electricity quite a bit, although it is not as bad as it was in Uganda. But it is four days now that one section of the apostolate, including the editorial, does not have electricity. That is why I am using this computer in the community.
About two weeks ago, we really had to laugh. We had been without water for five days – there was no electricity for two or three days. Then to make matters worse, Sister forgot to check the gauge on our huge gas tank outside which was completely empty. Usually the tank of gas lasts for two months before the men come to change it.
Since it was the weekend, the men who bring the gas tank in a truck, were not working. So there we were that whole weekend without water, electricity or gas. We asked ourselves what else we could give up for Lent!!!
The novices, who are on the other side of the house, cooked their meals on a tiny grill outside. We sisters finished all our leftovers and managed to eat sandwiches, etc. The funny part is, I am the only one who enjoys sandwiches. The Italians, Indians, Africans, and other nationalities are used to having cooked meals and cannot even think of eating a sandwich. I think that they secretly feel sorry for us Americans who eat a lot of them. And God forbid – they cannot even fathom eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. No one even looks at the peanut butter jar except me, and I am just as happy not to have to share it with anyone!!!
Anyway, we are surviving, but we really cannot complain over these inconveniences since two thirds of the world’s population do not have electricity, nor running water, let alone gas to cook their meals. Nairobi alone is over 70% slum areas where thousands of people live, and these people have none of these so called conveniences which we take so much for granted. And yet, they are always happy and smiling and I really have to admire them and love them very much.
I hope not to wait too long before I write to you again. Even though I do not write, I always think of you and pray for all of you, especially those who have asked for prayers in the newsletter which I love to receive.