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Diana thanks the many friends at St Richard's parish and sends good wishes for the New Year.
Her diary for December records the opening and Blessing of the new office and overnight room - made possible by St Richard's successful Mercy House December Sale. Then follow accounts of their midsummer celebrations and events - all in Southern hemisphere sunshine! There's the marathon, a braai (definition later!), and a wedding . Then for those who have not looked in at Emmanuel's website, the astonishing story of the finding of Shadadi's long lost mother. (Diana described this as mind boggling - it is!)
So the office and overnight room extension has been opened and now blessed.
"On Sun 29 November, Father Joseph Sandri, Provincial of the Combonis Missionaries, blessed our new extension. It was fitting indeed that he should do so, as he was the very first priest who assisted us at the time of the genocide, in 1994 in the very foundation phase of our Mercy work and he has been extremely supportive ever since. Again our thanks to those in the UK who made this new office possible for us. It really looks beautiful inside and is being put to good use"
"On Friday 11th December our local parish group of the St Vincent de Paul Society generously provided our annual Christmas braai: that's Afrikaans for Barbecue."
"Then to our annual picnic and marathon at the park. The runners lined up, bursting with energy. They kept their cool with ice cream dispensed by Anja, our German volunteer."
" The winner was Festus, way ahead of the others since the reigning champion, Shadadi, was in Cape Town that day (see why, later!) and the ladies race was also convincingly won."
"Festus needed to recover after his win."
"The youngsters were not to be outdone!"
"Moise won, coming in with his best friend, Norbert, a close second. I presented Moise's prize. You willl remember that Moise arrived in March 2009 with his guardian Sari."
" Then we had the joy of a wedding when Denise and Jean Paul were married, flanked by their six beautiful bridesmaids and five rather smart best men."
"And the day was also joy for our German volunteer, Anja. This photo was taken at the wedding and shows Anja, with Ms Hilary Wilson who has been a very loyal supporter of our Mercy work for over 10 years, together with Richard, whom we put into school and who is now a 2nd year engineering student - another community professional in the making."
"We in Mercy House are accustomed to near miraculous happenings, but this Autumn I was at the centre of our next story."
"This is a long story - but it recalls everything we have said about Shadadi over the last six years:
Tuesday, 1st December 2009 was perhaps the greatest day in the life of our "orphan" Shadadi. He was 5 years old when his family was fleeing from war in Burundi, he being carried on the back of his his motherís brother, Bina, who was only 12 years old at the time. Sadly, they got separated from the family, and got lost, and were not able to find the family again. We have the last photo of him with his mother, just before they had to flee from the war in 1998".
"Bina cared for his little nephew with great devotion, bringing him down, through many difficulties and many countries to South Africa in 2001, where they were placed in the care of Mercy House. We have this photograph of him on arrival, and a later photo of him with Bina,"
"Shadadi is talented and has done well at his school."
"By Godís amazing co-incidence, they found out that a young Rwandese orphan girl, who was living at Mercy House at the time, actually knew Sifa, Shadadiís motherís sister, whom she had met in a refugee camp with her in the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC). She even had the telephone number of Sifa, who had in the meantime been re-settled in the U.S.A. This was a key discovery, since they were able to contact her. This led to Sifa and ourselves to commence the mammoth task - of trying to find one woman somewhere in Africa, Shadadiís mother. We did not even know whether she was alive or dead!
Our chain of searching led to getting to know a distant relative, Uncle Theo, in Cape Town, who finally became instrumental in Godís plan that, in 2009, Sara, Shadadiís mother, was found to still be alive and located. Through the assistance of the same Uncle Theo and Sifa, Sarah, Shadadiís mother, arrived in Cape Town on Friday 20 November 2009. Uncle Theo immediately passed the amazing news on to us Shadadi, now 16, had not seen her since age 5 and could not even remember what his mom looked like. She, in turn, had always presumed her first born to have been killed in their flight from the war in 1998. Shadadi has never worn such a smile as the day we took him to the airport, Tuesday 1 December to meet the mother he had missed for so long, in fact for 11 years. Their reunion was very moving. So also was his meeting with his family."
"This story is the surest proof that God is with us and working the most amazing miracles in our midst."
"Christmas at Mercy House was really wonderful. We enjoyed a concert accompanied by a group of singers. We had a huge number of children singing 'Away in a Manger' and the three music makers included a man from my choir who offered to come with his sound system and guitar. The young adults also put on a Christmas play." (Diana plays the keyboard):
Diana wishes everyone a Happy New Year and suggests catching up with everyday life at Mercy House on Emmanuel's website. Mercy House website.