How things have changed over the last ten days! The big event of course was the arrival of Guylaine, Jonathan and Michelle on June 25. They showed up at the airport early on Monday morning. As soon as Jonathan and Michelle saw me on the other side of customs, they ran out to see me, not realizing that they had left Guylaine to clear all their bags through customs for them. Peter had graciously offered to drive us, and so we bundled everything into his car and went home to the Bishop’s house where we would stay for the next week. It was a busy week for me as I tried to juggle my work with making sure my family was fed and entertained in a town that had no beach. Luckily there’s also been a shift in my work program. I’m now working in a different parish each week, assisting and preaching on Sundays and participating in whatever activities are happening during the week. But because these are smaller parishes, there are fewer activities during the week. This past week I was assigned to St. Luke’s Bel Ombre on the north west side of the island. On Wednesday I was scheduled to do home communions with the rector and then assist at an evening service. I figured that this would be a long and tiring day. But the priest called me and told me we would meet at 2 pm, then he showed up by 2:30 and we finally caught a bus to Bel Ombre around 3 pm. By the time we arrived at 3:30 it started pouring rain, so we ducked into the house of the closest parishioner to stay dry and drink tea. By the time the rain stopped it was too late to do any of the scheduled home visits, so we made our way back to the church. But by then it was pouring again, so the priest decided to cancel the service, figuring that no one would come anyways in the downpour. So we returned to the bus stop and caught the next bus home. Welcome to laid back parish work in the tropics.
The other change in my work program is that I’m giving a course on the Bible every Saturday morning to a group of five people who are training to become deacons. When I get to Praslin, I’ll repeat the course for four more trainees there. There’s no theological college in the country, so this is the first exposure they’ve had to theology. The Mahe group a good group, willing to participate and share insights. I enjoy teaching, and this sort of work has the added advantage that the preparation can be done anywhere, anytime so it gives me some flexibility in my schedule while the family is here.
After all, I may be working, but Guylaine, Jonathan and Michelle are here for some serious vacation time. Tuesday, one of my parishioners who works at the exclusive resort on Ile Ste. Anne invited us over to spend a day on the island. The pool was great, the beaches beautiful, and we took a glass bottom boat over to the nearest reef for some snorkelling. The coral is a bit bleached but there were thousands of fish and even a big octopus gliding along the ocean floor. Joy, our hostess, took time out to show us the best suite at the hotel, a beautiful three bedroom villa on a point overlooking the ocean that goes for a mere $9000 a night!
Yesterday, we moved from the town of Victoria to a hotel on the beach at Beau Vallon. It is a taste of paradise. We’re right on a long white sandy beach, the water is warm and the finally after a week of rain, the weather is just right, sunny and warm. The kids spend their days swimming and kayaking, Guylaine jogs on the beach, and I sit on the balcony of our room looking out over the Indian Ocean, putting together lecture notes and my homily for this Sunday, and sneaking out for a swim in the ocean whenever I need a break. Last night there was a festival in town along the ocean walkway with barbeques grilling meat and fresh fish, and a group dancing a traditional Seychellois dance to the music of drums heated in the fire which blazed on the beach.
Based on our last few days, it’s easy to see why people call this place paradise. (And yes, I do feel a bit guilty - but I’m getting over it!)
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