November 2010

It has been two months since I wrote! I was asked to return to the U.S. to represent Thailand in the elective convocation in St. Louis. Since the ticket was paid and the elections held in a hotel close to our nursing facility 30 miles south of St. Louis, I jumped at the chance to visit my friend Father Larry Patin, who is being treated there for brain cancer. I spent three days with Larry, and I just returned to Sarnelli House November 10. It sure is good to be back.
                As usual, things ran well here without me. We picked up 3 new kids, one of them being a boy from the Kalasin province. Some of the hospital staff and a doctor brought the boy to us. A 12 year old girl, Cookie, was brought while I was home in the U.S. Cookie was orphaned and lived in a shack near relatives and she would walk, once a month, from her home in Bahn Pai to the University Hospital in Khonkaen for her ARV medicines. This is a walk of nearly 50 kilometers (over 30 miles). She would start out in the morning and get to the hospital late at night. The night watchman would let her stay with him until the offices opened the next day. She had no one who gave a damn, and I tell you she is the sweetest and most grateful kid I have ever met. My first evening at Sarnelli, she walked up and introduced herself as the new girl. Yesterday, I heard of how she was treated by relatives and neighbors and the sacrifice she made to get medicine. Needless to say, she is the darling of all the staff. She loves hugs and attention, and Gung took her to buy all new clothes. The two kids will start school next year. The third child, a boy, was abandoned by her AIDS ridden mother who is a few bricks short of a load. He stays at St. Patrick’s and is in school.
                The wee ones at the House of Hope are doing fine. Maggie is confused and hurt at all the attention the two new ones are getting. Jonah is now 9 months old (born at 6 months) and 3 month old Eileen is no longer the hideous looking slob she was when she was born. She is now much cuter and doesn’t look like an over ripe tomato! We have another child coming around Christmas time; the baby of one of our girls, Namtan.
                Despite earlier projections of failure due to late monsoon rains, we have rice to harvest. I think that about 30% of the rice died from lack of rain. Some paddies are choked with weeds, which would not have grown had we enough water in the paddies. But we take what the Lord gives. The kids come to Saturday morning Mass in their work clothes, carrying their scythes, ready to cut and bundle the rice for threshing. The older kids harvest and the younger ones tie the bundles with strips of bamboo. They work every weekend until the rice is all in the granary.
                We do not have Thanksgiving day over here, but we are thankful every day for the help and support of the Lord. We are thankful for all you good folk who sacrifice for these kids, despite the economic problems. We are thankful for the prayers and love of all for the little people of Sarnelli. God bless and reward you all!
Father Mike

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