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Cards and Christmas carols

Once again, I send you news of Sri Lankan adventure. My days remain fairly routine, but interesting things emerge fairly often.

For example, a number of weeks ago, I mentioned to the novices that I brought decks of cards with me. One night they asked to borrow them. I offered to join them and found out that ONE of them knew ONE game, kind of a four handed version of War. The others didn’t know the suits, the order of jack, queen, king, etc. So after we played a few hands of War, I taught them Crazy Eights.

Sister Nirmala, the young professed, knew two games and taught those. Playing cards has become the weekend entertainment. Last week, I found an old UNO deck in the cupboard. Though I have always considered it a “dumb game,” I taught it to them and they had a ball. I finally left the group (one hour of UNO is my limit!) and retired to my room, but I continued to hear shrieks of joy coming from the card room.

Another added diversion

As I have mentioned, Sister Chamila teaches at the public school next door. Though most of the students are Buddhist, the school honors all traditions and so there was a Christmas play on Dec 3. She asked if I would teach a group an English carol and I heartily agreed. She chose something I didn’t know well — “Long time ago in Bethlehem.” She said that this carol is sung here in Sinhala. So to date, we have had three practices, the last one of which was in the school hall. I was delighted to get to see the school. We might consider it a little drab with its cement floors and concrete walls but all in all, it was a totally adequate facility. I got to visit the primary classes before I left. They were all busy with arts and crafts. There was some great childen’s art both on the walls and on their desks. I was impressed.

I am happy to say that “cool” weather (probably down to 65 at night) seems to have come. However, it is still incredibly humid. I have actually gone out three afternoons to walk in the neighborhood, a warren of winding, one-lane, paved roads. I have to pay attention to where I turn so that I can get back.

As I expected, there was no awareness here of the Thanksgiving holiday. I decided not to mention it and didn’t find it difficult just to follow the usual schedule. There were a few nice surprises that day. At lunch, the novices served a tasty watermelon for dessert. We don’t usually have dessert. And at afternoon tea, a cake appeared from some outside source. I felt blessed by a provident God.

So Advent has arrived. There is a lovely Advent wreath in the chapel and another in the church. To my surprise, the novices don’t know “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” The prominent Advent song here seems to be “O Come, Divine Messiah,” which they sing quite slowly. I taught the novices “Stay Awake, Be Ready,” a children’s Advent song that includes some clapping. I invite you to look it up and make a joyful noise.

Indeed our God is here. My prayer is that we all continue to awaken to the inbreaking of the divine in creation!

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Sister Rosemary Schmalz

Sister Rosemary Schmalz

Sister Rosemary ministered 38 years teaching mathematics and training future teachers of mathematics. After retiring from this ministry, she served as General Secretary for seven years. Currently, she updates the Congregation's member database, serves when needed at Linden Leaf Gifts, experiments with vegan recipes, and dabbles in art.

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  1. Avatar Carol Nolan on December 4, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Thanks, Rosie! Interesting about the cards. You never know. The weather sounds a little bit like here, though it’s usually very dry here.
    You are making a real and very nice impact there! I hope that Advent will be a beautiful experience for you. Hugs, Carol

  2. Avatar Donna Butler on December 5, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Like our Mother Theodore, you seem to be a writer, recording your experiences as you go along. Thanks for letting us be a part of your life there. I enjoy learning about your many adventures and you seem so at home except for the humidity!!!

  3. Avatar Sue Paweski on December 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I just now practiced, “Stay Awake, Be Ready” to the choir at St. Gen’s. I’ll be sure to tell the kiddos that the hymn has international fame! Rosemary, you sound like you’re having such a great time. Blessed Advent!

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