Edit Blog Post
Published: August 5th 2007
Ho-hum. Another beautiful beach in the Seychelles!
It’s hard to believe that I’m in the final month of my three month placement here in the Seychelles. Time has passed quickly especially since my family, Guylaine, Jonathan and Michelle joined me here one month ago. My time off is time on for them as we tour the beautiful beaches, forests and waters of these wonderful islands together. We are now living on the island of Praslin, 40 km from the main island of Mahe, where I am replacing the rector of the parish, Rev. Bryan, who is in England on a training course for three weeks. For over a year, I have been assisting various incumbents in the course of internships in Canada and on Mahe. Now I’m on my own to lead worship on a rotating basis in four congregations, using English, French and Creole, the local language derived from French, on alternate weeks. It’s a good taste of rural ministry on this island of just 8000 inhabitants. Even when Rev. Bryan is here, about half the services are led by lay readers, and reserved sacrament is used for the eucharist. I guess for most of the parishes in the global Anglican Communion this is normal practice, despite
Michelle and Steffi
Michelle's friend from Kenya
the fact that urban Anglicans at home take for granted the presence of an ordained minister to lead worship and preside at the eucharist. The question of how to best conduct rural ministry is a global issue. Here on Praslin, there are two committed lay readers who shoulder much of the load.
The approach that the Bishop of the Seychelles is taking to the delivery of ministry is to identify and train people for ordination as deacons, with the possibility in some cases of subsequent ordination as priests. With only four full-time ordained ministers currently serving 12 congregations in the Seychelles, the need here is particularly great. As the initial element of a deacon training program, I started giving a course, an Introduction to the Bible, to five adult students on Mahe in June. I’m really enjoying working with this group, the interaction is great and the commitment and interest are apparent. Since I’ve arrived in Praslin, I’ve started giving the same course to another group of five students here. The challenge is to try to compress the work that we’re doing in seven weeks on Mahe into two and half weeks here. Initially we agreed to meet three
Tasiana and the shark jaw
My friend Tasiana showing me the shark's jaw that one of the Praslin fisherman brought back. Don't worry, it was caught a long way out, and more people die from falling coconuts than shark attacks!
evenings a week, something which I thought was a major commitment from the students since most of them have full time jobs and family commitments. But after our first session, they approached me and asked if we can meet five evenings a week, so that they can get more done while I’m on the island. Their commitment is a witness to their hunger for learning and their dedication to the church.
This past Sunday I led worship in the small church of St. Thomas, Consolation, a community near the south east tip of the island. The congregation of about sixty filled the church, and the service was a great celebration. In contrast with many of the churches I’ve seen here, the building itself was well looked after and had a new roof and a fresh coat of paint. Afterward the service, the parish council invited us for tea, and we had the chance to meet and talk. Despite the apparent laid-back, worried free atmosphere of this beautiful tropical island, some of the Praslinois shared with us their concern that too many of their young men were abandoning fishing, the traditional work of men here, and instead there was a
Anse Lazio is rated by several magazines as one of the top ten beaches in the world. I agree, it's beautiful, with great swimming and snorkeling.
growing problem of drugs on the island, particularly heroin addiction. One can only suspect that this is the downside of a place that has gone from being dirt poor in the days before air travel and tourism began in the 1970’s to a place that by African standards is doing very well economically.
Last night we were invited by one family to dinner at their home. They prepared a wonderful meal for us, grilled fish, Creole curried chicken, fried breadfruit and much more. Our male host, an older man, is an animated story teller. After supper he captivated us all by telling us how he had been thrown into prison as a political prisoner for opposing the government here during the worst days following the coup in 1976. While he was in jail, he told us, God taught him how to pray, instructing him to make a cross with toilet paper on his cell wall, and then eventually freed him by making him ill so that he had to go to hospital. There, a doctor intervened to have him released. I couldn’t help thinking while he was speaking that this was such an incredible experience for me and for
Jonathan looking over Anse Major
We had to hike along the coast to get to Anse Major
my children to be hearing his story first hand.
Yes, we are fortunate to have been given this opportunity to share in the lives of people who live on the other side of the world from our home, people whose lives are so different from ours in some ways, and yet so similar in others.
Three more weeks to go . . .
Tot: 2.36s; Tpl: 0.067s; cc: 13; qc: 63; dbt: 0.0464s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb