February 2012

I remember when I entered the novitiate in June 1958. We were together with the class ahead of us, who were 6 weeks from taking their first vows. During their training of our class, they warned us about the ennui and depression of the “tunnel month”, namely, February. One would have to be from a cold clime to understand. In Wisconsin, February was still cold and grey and depressing. Spring in Wisconsin was months away. The hockey rinks were covered with heavy snow, and being outdoors, the ice was way too rough to skate on. The only exercise was jogging, since we had no indoor gym.

                Here at Sarnelli, February is the anxious month. Kids are cramming for yearend exams. Kindergarten and M.3 (the end of junior high school) take their exams early. Early March brings the giddy time of a two month school vacation. The staff braces themselves for irate runts demanding action and trips and endless games.  This is why we are so happy to receive volunteers who have new ideas and are usually young enough to take the kids on trips and swimming and inventing games to keep them occupied. Some kids go home to stay with grannies or relatives. One girl, Pat, went home for the first time since she came to Sarnelli, about 8 years ago. She enjoyed the stay, but was happy to get back and be with her friends here. I asked Pat how many brothers and sisters she had, and she did not know. More questioning followed and it became apparent that Pat’s visit was not appreciated by all her kin. And Pat is a lovely kid.

                We are in our usual 5 month draught, with just a wee bit of rain in January to get the mangoes going. I am trying to get the troops out to the fields to build steps into the fish ponds, and cement pillars in the fish ponds to raise chickens and ducks. But the ponds have to be dry. We have electricity run into our fields, but the government has not put in poles and wire to give us three phase electricity. I paid the dirt balls, but still no action. We need that electricity soon!

                 God willing, I will go on home leave in June sometime. Father Ole, my replacement, will be with me then for about two months, and it would be good to get out of the picture and let him get his feet wet. My current newly ordained priest, Fr. Jetana (Fr. Bird)I is vowing to come back to work here after his trip to a seminar in Rome. They have him slated for working at our International School. Having these two priests here would be terrific, and I could keep up the correspondence with donors and sponsors, and continue to write grants. I will have to find a new place to live, though, as the house is only two rooms for priests.

               Again, thank you for your interest and generosity, and God bless you and yours. We pray for you every evening!

Fr. Mike

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