Like I did at the beginning of my service in the Vicariate of Ingwavuma, I decided to visit all the communities of the Diocese of Manzini. Last year I was able to visit all the parishes. Now I visit the "outstations", the small communities where people gather on Sundays for the celebration of the Mass or a communion service.
Again, like I did in the past, I prefer to arrive "unannounced" so that I am able to see what my priests see on a normal Sunday. The priests tell me where I could go and they are not supposed to tell the people.
These Sundays I am visiting the eight communities of the Cathedral. Fr Ndwandwe shows me the way on Saturday or during the week. This time he showed me two communities but told me there were three places a priest would normally go on that Sunday.
I preferred to keep those two as it takes me time to learn the way. I could go to the third one another day.
I was still praying on Sunday morning when my cellphone rang. Too early for a Sunday. I did not get the phone in time and did not know the number. "Maybe they phoned the wrong number...".
Few minutes' later it rang again. "Bishop, please come to celebrate Mass, we are all here". This was at 7 am and Mass was supposed to start at 7.30. I tried to explain: "I do not know the way..." but they would not take "no" for an answer. "We'll fetch you".
In my mind I was already wondering what time I would be able to start and "how late" I would be for the other two Masses.
They knew one of the priests would not be available and wondered if they would be having a priest or not, so they phoned the Cathedral and ask. When they knew the bishop would be at the other two communities, they insisted on having my cell number to make sure I would be there with them too.
I must say they were right and I am happy I accepted to go. Everything had been prepared. They wanted to "begin" their Lenten Season with the celebration of the Mass and receiving the ashes. It would not have been the same on another day...