Lyn does not often feature in these stories. We have an agreement: I do the blogs, Lyn deals with some of the other aspects of our link with CMSI. Which is why this story is so important. Lyn is the heroine of the tale.
It was a Saturday. Saturdays are quiet around the Seminary. There are no classes, sometimes the students are 'off-site' attending to their own business or on parish placement.
This particular Saturday morning we were slow off the mark. Nothing much was expected to happen, and it had been a late night the night before. I opened up the door to let the morning in, and noticed Francis sitting on the garden wall in the morning sunshine. He had been away all week and I wanted to touch base with him on a couple of matters.
Sitting chatting with Francis was someone I did not initially recognise. Then it came to me - one of our former students, now a busy parish priest in Eastern Diocese. He had come to be with his wife as she graduated as a midwife from our local college of nursing. A great achievement which will become a bonus to the family coffers in the years to come.
Eastern diocese is a largely rural diocese. Parishes sprawl across multiple small villages and rural towns. The bishop has to plan some of his visits carefully, some parishes are only accessible in the dry season. It’s four-wheel drive and take everything you might need with you, just in case, territory.
Like many rural communities in Africa, actual money is in short supply. Most people get by as subsistence farmers, vulnerable to the vagaries of the annual rains, all the more so as climate change destabilizes the once familiar patterns of rain and dry. Life is tough for everyone, especially in those years where the rains or short, or too much. The parish priest is not excused the hardships. Often parishes just don’t make the stipend and the clergy have to farm or earn a living in some other way. Our former student, it turns out, is a teacher.
He came into the house to chat to Lyn and tell her all his news. His wife was duly congratulated, and Lyn asked the obvious question: “What are you teaching”.
“English” he replied, “You inspired me”.
Just from time to time we find that we have indeed fulfilled our calling, that we have done well. “You inspired me”: that’s why we are here, to inspire, to encourage, to build up and enable. A young man inspired by his English teacher goes out into the world and shares what he learnt from her, building capacity both for himself and his community. So it begins…
You inspired me.