Farewells

Sausage rolls, fried chicken wings, potato chips, peanuts, a spicy snack mixture, and a carrot cake are on the menu. Not the norm for a healthy diet, but it smells good and tastes even better when, after a few speeches and presentations, we get down to eating.

We’ve gathered once more at the St. Augustine Theological School: The ordinands, lecturer John Hamathi, Florence Bogopa, Karen and me. (Fr. James Amanze, the Principal, is away in Uganda.) It’s my final time with them. The next time I see them, if there is a next time, they likely will have been ordained.

They say some kind things, then present me with a framed basket, for which Botswana is renowned, and two cups with Botswana drawings – distinctive, they say, so Karen and I will not disagree about whose is whose. I then present them with some books for the library – useful for the library to have, no doubt, but also reducing our luggage weight considerably.

Thanks to Fr. Murdock Smith, who chaired the North Carolina-Botswana link for some years, I also present each with a copy of N.T. Wright’s Luke for Everyone. Our students do not have texts, and the list of books on theology that they may have is very short indeed. This is a beginning. This church year the default gospel in the lectionary is the Gospel of Luke. We hope to give them commentaries on the other synoptics during ‘their’ year in 2014 and 2015, and the Gospel of John as they are ordained to the priesthood.

That’s the plan, anyway. In the meantime, I encourage them to read (they have heard this from me before), and remind them of the practical help commentaries can give them when they are preparing sermons. John Hamathi concludes: ‘I don’t want this book to collect dust!’ They laugh, and vow that it will not.

Then we eat. We talk about the Zebras’ loss to Ethiopia in a World Cup qualifiers match last Saturday, which Bonny Bashe and I attended. We complain about continuing electricity outages and water shortages and why the stadium in Gaborone still isn’t repaired after five years. It’s all in good humor, with a nice twinge of frustration. They want to know, with more seriousness, when grades will be posted.

Conversation slows down, and we clean up a bit, and we close with the Grace, and go our way.