June 2010

Time goes by so incredibly fast. Saturday and the children’s Mass with a prepared talk comes on frighteningly fast. I thought time was supposed to slow when one got old! I just got the cover for Piyanoot’s grave, and it has her photo on it. I told the lads working on the little tomb where to bury my ashes. Thai people do not like to talk about stuff like that, and I kind of grossed out the lads!!

                The monsoon rains are still not here. The paddies should already be full of water, and people should have their seedlings down and growing. But this is the year of “el nino” once again, which harbors ill for the northeast. Last year, we went all out buying rice fields and Wan and Peh and their workers prepared the fields, and we dug a giant fish pond for water storage. We had a field for years in which we dug two wells and planted a big garden, plus fruit trees. But this year is so dry that we had to pump out two fish ponds to keep a pond full in which we were raising baby fish. We did start plowing though, and pray the pace of rain steps up a lot, because it would be grim indeed if we could not grow and harvest rice to feed the kids. I feel like the guy in St. Luke’s gospel that bought land and built himself a bigger granary (Luke chapter 12!). The children do all the plowing and planting, and also harvest our rice, together with the staff. We should be able to feed ourselves rice the entire year, if the rains are abundant.

                It has been a month since 16 year old Piyanoot died of AIDS and kidney failure. Her ashes and bones rest on a cabinet in my TV room, and we will bury her ashes next Saturday, June 19. Her friends are still in sorrow. The other gravely ill little guy named “Ben”, returned to the hospital in Nongkhai. He received treatment for his eyes so he does not go blind from AIDS. He also has TB which is not going away easily, plus a bacterial infection in the brain. He is awfully thin, and a desperate looking little guy. We are really concerned about him. I visited him in the hospital on June 10, and he is getting I.V., but is really listless.

                Last year June, we picked up a three day old baby whom we named Maggie. The mother wanted to abort her, but we stepped in to offer her 3,000 baht a month and all doctor’s expenses paid until Maggie was born. The mother would get another 3,000 baht a month after Maggie’s birth, whether the mother wanted her or not. The mother did not want her and took the money, and then this month, they demanded her back. The father had left Maggie’s mother for a new woman (despite having AIDS) and Maggie’s mother thought he would come back to her if she had Maggie. The case went through Social services, and thank God the lady running the government program is a dedicated woman, and she cut to the chase real quick. We have Maggie, but we are going to change our way of doing things, so as to better serve the children and keep them safe. We were too naïve.

             I wanted to be in Richard Louisiana for the Charlene Mass this year, but I was already home in March to visit my best friend from Thailand, Fr. Larry Patin. We were together for 44 years, and jogged together, lifted weights and drank beer all those years. Larry has terminal brain cancer and I wanted to visit him before he wouldn’t remember me. Well, he is at that stage now, and it is kind of painful. I am 72 years old, and slipping down the ladder myself. I keep thinking of our mutual buddy, Father Dick Strass. Dick, too, died from brain cancer. So, I don’t think I will be home this year for the Charlene Mass or Ceboride, our fund raiser in Wisconsin. I will use the ticket money to bring over Fathers Chuck and David Polek instead. Fr. Chuck and David are retired but they work like mad and do a great job of fund raising for the kids.

             Again, thank you so very much for your kindness, concern and generosity toward these kids.  May the good Lord bless you and yours!

Father Mike

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