Merry Christmas!
    In hot, humid Don Wai, we hear the jingling of harness and the breath
of the reindeer. Christmas is closing rapidly, and we are getting
little done so far. Christmas is a massive task, since not only do we
have the Great Unwashed to prepare and entertain, we have three
churches we minister to. So, Christmases will be begin on Dec. 22
through 25! Then Dec. 29, we take the kids to Nong Saeng for four days
camping, over New Year. Usually, our Christmas Eve Masses start with a
Thai version of the Christmas story, with Thai dancing and song. Then,
after Mass, villagers bring in homemade stars for a Star contest.
Then, village kids and youth, and usually village women, will mount
the stage for songs, dances and skits, while everyone shares a common
feast. Santa always appears with candy and gifts for the wee ones.
After the Christmas morning Mass, people have games and sporting
events. The proceeds from the bountiful offertory procession are
divided up to give to the poor and the elderly. One of the soccer
games used to involve fathers against mothers. We had to discontinue
it, after the village head man got his leg broken by his wife. Some
other men either had concussions or stitches. It was payback time from
the women for infidelity, drunkenness and general bad feelings. No
women ever got hurt, though.
    The weather should be cold in the morning and late evening, but
instead we have heat and humidity, and more rain coming. Thank God we
finished our harvest and have our rice threshed and stored in the
granary. The harvest looked really bad when I first returned, but we
pumped water from the five fishponds and the rice headed out and we
have enough for about 10 months, which is much more than we expected.
We figured, before we pumped, that we would get about 10%. I hope to
get enough money to dig a big holding pond of 40 x 40 meters, and that
should take care of our water problems, IF enough rain falls during
the monsoons.
    The kids are doing fine. None are seriously ill, and are hard at work
in school. I have always had trouble with nuns (since the 8th grade),
and one of our high school girls got kicked out of school, and I put
her in another nuns’ school in Sakolnakorn. My girl was the only one
in the fracas who was expelled. The other girls were daughters of
teachers or government officials. I let the nuns know what I thought
of their school and their decisions. I also congratulated my girl on
winning the fight; three against one, and I did so in the nun’s
presence. (“Tis the season to be merry..”)
    Again, thank you so much for your interest and concern for the
children of Sarnelli House! Have a very blessed Christmas and all
God’s good graces in the New Year!
    Fr. Mike