Just a few quick words today. I got up this morning and got ready for church. Kind of steamy out, humid and hot but sunny. Mariette came about 8:00 and we walked off to St. Camille. We got there and the 7:00 Mòoré Mass was still going on. As it turned out, today was a special day of recognition for the family, because of the Synod on the Family taking place in Rome, and also a day to recognize monks and nuns, of whom there are a bunch.
So I stood outside in the shade with Mariette and looked up Saint Camille on Wikipedia. Come to find out he was a 17th-century Italian guy who took care of sick people. He is the patron saint of hospitals and the Cammellian order run hospitals. That’s who the priests at this parish are, by the way, the white habits led me astray since in the classic image of St. Camille he wears a black habit. White has got to be a lot more comfortable in Africa, though.
So into church, pretty sweaty even though as early arrivers we got a spot right under the ceiling fan. Then, about halfway through, just as they finished with the sermon, a huge wind kicked up outside. In seconds, the whole church was filled with a thick cloud of dust. There was dust on everything including the inside of my mouth (and lungs, no doubt). Then, rain started and quickly developed into what we used to call back in mountainy Virginia a real gully-washer and a frog-strangler. The people who had been sitting outside for lack of space in the church came streaming in, dripping wet, and thronged the aisles. The ushers ran to pull down metal shutters across the windows and doors on the upwind side. And it suddenly got about 15 degrees cooler. The BBC weather website says Ouagadougou is 35 and sunny but I’d say it’s more like 22 or so tops (72 for you non-metric types). The roof of the church is tin, and so this was all accompanied by an ear-shattering roar of rain on the roof. And then the lights went out.
Catholic priests are notoriously hard to distract, so the Mass went on without any hesitation. Of course, without amplification I couldn’t hear a thing. All the people around me knew the responses by heart but since I was trying to follow along in my Missal I got completely lost. By the time the Mass ended, the rain had died down to a steady drizzle. That was when the parade of nuns began. About 10 orders of nuns are active in the community, and each one got a few minutes to tell us about their activities. The lights were back on, so I could hear them. They seem to be doing good work. This was what made the 7:00 service last until after 9:00, and ours lasted until well after noon.
When we got out, the gentle rain was still falling and it felt a little like an Oregon spring day.
My house is on the left, behind the tree. I think everybody is thankful that the rainy season is not over and we have got at least one more good soaking. The season started late and now with today and Friday night’s heavy rains it has lasted a week or so longer than usual. I was enjoying the cool and the feel of the rain. But poor Mariette was freezing her tail off. She had to run home and sit by the fire, she said.