My contribution to our «Virtual Museum» (PE nr. 1084)

Objects that marked our life in mission

In the Petit Echo n° 1081, you were invited to send your memories of unusual objects you might have encountered, or even used, during you life as a missionary. Here is the contribution of a first confrere, Marien van den Eijnden. 

Will you, too, share your memories… and photos?

Episcopal Mass-kit

When I arrived in Kigoma diocese, Tanzania, November 1966 and let the community know that I did not have a Mass-kit, retired bishop Jan van Sambeek (+ 25.12.1966) gave me the one of Bishop Birraux (1884-1947) who had left the diocese to become our Superior General. I was struck by its plainness. A plain rectangular wooden box, an alb with industrial lace, a worn Tridentine chasuble [in the Netherlands one calls that a «violin case»] which I replaced by one in local «khanga» material, and a silver chalice a dozen cm high. No episcopal dalmatics, nor shoes in liturgical colours! I tied it to my Honda-150 motor-cycle with strips of inner-tube one could buy in markets. But after a few years on our bumpy roads and paths it disintegrated. Our then current Bishop Holmes-Siedle (+1995) kindly gave me his rectangular wickerwork pick-nick-basket! Quite symbolic for the Eucharist! That served me famously until I left Tanzania in 2006, except for the wickerwork handle which I replaced with an old leather belt. The silver chalice I handed over to the then Regional residing in Dar-es-Salaam, with the specific information that it had belonged to Bishop Birraux.

Combination pliers with prongs to mince Meat

Ndala presbytery in Tabora archdiocese, Tanzania, usually had some elderly confreres as it was opposite the diocesan hospital. Before the time of dentures [in Swahili «meno ya duka»= teeth from a shop] those had trouble eating meat, so they had a clever device to mince it: besides their knife and fork they had a type of combination pliers with prongs working as crossing fingers! On one of my visits there I saw someone at table using it.

Around 2000 when I was in the parish of Kaliua in that diocese, my molars had to be extracted. I remembered that clever device of Ndala, and went to ask the then resident confreres whether they could help me with one. They were no longer using any, but I was welcome to have a look in their large loft, where the most extraordinary museum pieces were kept! But sadly no pliers with prongs!

Metal  «Christmas-tree»

When I visited for the first time the M.Afr. house in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, [now called «Atiman House»] in the 1960’s, I saw in the courtyard a sort of metal Christmas-tree and wondered what one would be using it for. The top was 1.5 m high or more, and it had some 50 upending branches. The amused confreres explained that one used it to drip-dry wine-bottles after having been cleansed and rinsed. But in those days they rarely used it anymore.

The house was the procure, and imported the Mass-wine and table-wine for upcountry. In addition to individual bottles one used «damjan» [= dame-jeanne], bottles of  + 20 litres in a wickerwork basket. Later-on drums of  100 litres were used, which were bottled in the respective diocesan headquarters.

Marien van den Eijnden, M.Afr.
Heythuysen (Nederland)