January 2013 Update

I am sorry for being so late in sending out the January newsletter! It is a lovely month; great cool weather here in Thailand, but also brings with it year-end reports, and also a scramble to try to raise funds by appealing to foundations and grant agencies.
After our Christmastide camping adventure with the kids, beginning
with the trip up and down the hills and mountains over the New Year
holidays, I felt like a tinker. I caught up to our caravan of old
trucks and vans as these vehicles wended their way up and down hill
and dale, and all those old stories of Ireland and the tinkers came to
mind. Kids were hanging out of windows and over engates, earnestly
ralphing up their curds and whey, but determined to keep moving. Just
the trip itself would have made a great beginning to a movie! We have
trees growing up there now, and there was much more shade for tents.
This year became brutally cold during the evening and night, but the
mid-days were warm enough to dry pee-soaked blankets. But there was
freedom to roam; trips to view other mountains and hills dotted with
pagodas to be check out. More importantly, kids had their Christmas
money in their pockets, burning for the desire to shop, and shop they
did. Every afternoon, trucks rolled out, full of unwashed urchins,
going to shop at Big C; Tesco-Lotus, Robinsons and other stores. I
found out that kids could buy a tiny little i-pad type of gizmo that
plays an infinite number of songs (Mt3’s). Kids sit around chewing gum
and listening to their favorite songs.  All this on a tiny machine
that costs only 186 baht ($6.20).
    Three couples from Maastricht, Holland, were here over the Christmas
holidays. They are people who have donated a rice planter, a clinic
and now a fertilizer shed and machinery to make organic fertilizer
pellets. They also bought land behind the offices at Don Wai to build
a house for themselves, when they and their friends come.
    At the priests’ house and offices at Don Wai, we are adding two more
bedrooms, and a chapel. Fr. Ole and Brother Keng live here right now,
and a new bedroom will be mine, and one will be for Fr. Chuck
Beierwaltes who is a great fund raiser, and other guests when he is
not here. Below the western room, we will build the chapel. People
have given donations in memory of my first cousin Mary Ann Shea
Brickle, and we will use that money for the interior of the chapel.
Mary Ann was a lovely lady, and we will have her picture there as
well. We also will have a memorial for Caitlin Scannell, a girl who
died in a tragic accident. Caitlin was also a cousin of mine.
    The Joseph and Mary Hall is finished, and we had money left over for
two 1.5 meter cameo fiberglass pictures of Mary and the Baby Jesus,
and the other of Joseph. Joe is holding a lily, and I would have much
preferred a hammer and a saw, but it was too late to change! The
building is beautiful; large, airy and cool, even in the heat of the
    People were so kind and generous to us at Christmas. We hope to
continue giving the boys and girls a good home atmosphere, an
opportunity to study at a school of their choice, and medicines enough
to keep them healthy and happy. Again, thank you!
Father Mike

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