Update from Sr. Sandy Wardell at St. Lucia in Natal, South Africa.

“Things are going very well here, we live on the edge of the wildlife reserve, and the hippos roam the neighborhood at night, I wake to the sounds of the guinea fowl or the cries of the bush babies.  It is an “insect enriched environment” with no screens on my windows I have no idea what I will find in my room at night.   The night is full of the sounds of all kinds of birds, it is a birdwatchers paradise.

The children are very loving and affectionate, eager to learn and very attentive, a teacher’s dream come true.  My Sunday school class ranges in age from 2 to about 12, they love to sing, especially ‘I got that Joy,Joy,Joy,Joy down in my heart’.  Zulu is their first language, but they are very proud when they can speak English.  I am being    tutored in Zulu by Sister Elizabeth (from France).  Everyone is on a school break; the school year is from mid January until mid December.  So there are lots of tourists in our little town, many people come here for the beach and the wildlife reserve.

Our community had a little outing at the reserve when I arrived.  I saw elephants, zebras, giraffes, deer, monkeys and animals I’ve never heard of before, all out in the open.  There are a few lookout points where it is safe to get out of the car; otherwise the animals always have the right of way.

My brain is almost rewired for driving on the opposite side of the road in a car with the steering wheel, clutch and break on the passenger side.  I’m fine as long as there is a car in front of me.  South African drivers are more impatient and more reckless than NY drivers if you can believe that!

Right now we are a community of four:   Sr. Catherine from Zambia, Sr. Elizabeth Marie from France and Sr. Frances Boston from Australia.         The Retreat Center was recently built and is really beautiful, it also functions as the local Catholic Church, check it out on line (http://stluciaretreat.org).  As the song says ‘All are welcome in this place’.  There are only about 10 regular parishioners, again most are Anglicans or Lutheran.  It is the only Sunday Service in St. Lucia.”
Sr. Catherine oversees the Training Center, and trains some of the people from Khula Village in weaving, sewing, making rosaries, jewelry and hopefully soon pottery.   The Village of Khula is about 20 minutes by car.  It is a traditional Zulu village, very poor, dirt roads and homes built of mud brick and straw.  The Catholic Church, which is more like a storefront church, is packed every Sunday and the music and all of the movements are so uplifting and full of joy.  You can imagine my preference, but I attend both.
I hope to begin teaching English to high schoolers 3 afternoons a week in an after school program in the village, continue to teach Sunday School, and help out in the Retreat Center as needed.