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I have practically visited all the eight outstations of our Cathedral "Our Lady of Assumption". During the week Fr Ndwandwe shows me the way to the ones I will be visiting on Sunday, hoping myself I won't get lost. It is not unusual. Even yesterday morning going to one I had visited last year I found myself turning the opposite way until I met some of the parishioners coming towards me who said: "Bishop we believe we are going to the same place but you have taken the wrong road". They were God's angels making sure I would arrive in time for the first Mass.
Unless it is for the celebration of confirmations I normally arrived "unannounced". This, though, does not mean that people do not know it.
They have heard I was visiting the outstations and it was not difficult for them to guess where I would be today. In fact, someone phoned this morning asking me to take the ashes because many people had not been able to go to the Cathedral on Ash Wednesday. So, yes, on the third Sunday of Lent, we still start our Mass with the sign of the ashes.
The second Mass was at Dwaleni. It is about 27 km outside Manzini. There is a shortcut too but only for those who know the area well. It was not my case. It is not really far but there are 10 km on a bad road which makes the journey much longer.
The church cannot be seen from the road but, fortunately, during the week I had discovered a sign that would remind me where to turn.
The church was full. They had guessed I would be there and had invited Catholics from other areas to join them for the celebration. At least one who was born there but had moved to another area, also joined the special event.
It was a joyful celebration.
The church has been being build for many years. Only the ceiling remains to be done and the altar. "It is a table, bishop, which we borrowed for today's Mass" they explained.
Before the final blessing, the gift of a huge cake where it was written: "Welcome your Lordship" and words of thanks. "We are surprised! We are only 20 people bishop but you came even here. It is a very special day for us. We hope to welcome you again for the opening of this church."
Lunch had been prepared for everyone. It was already 1 pm and, like Jesus in the Gospel, we were hungry too.