February 2014

  We were blessed by the presence of the Old Pro from the Redemptorist retreat House, Crooked Lake, south of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Fr. Chuck Beierwaltes comes every year, and is one of our best fund raisers. Poor old Chuck headed back to the frozen tundra of Wisconsin on February 6. The children gave him a fond farewell, and Fr. Chuck did not disappoint them! He cried on cue!

We have been reading a lot and watching weather reports, etc., on TV, about the bitter cold snap across Canada and the U.S. Here, in north Thailand, we also experienced a cold snap that lasted for two months. It was like the old days, over 40 years ago, when I first came to Thailand. I remember the second Superbowl, with the wind coming out of the Lao mountains; the temperature close to zero Celsius, and listening to the game at 2:00 am. I had an old Gruendig radio that took 18 flashlight batteries (no electricity in those days), and a thermos of hot Ovaltine, huddled under quilts, listening to the game being broadcast from Vietnam. Donors here bought new water heaters for all the 6 houses, so the kids can have reasonably hot showers, and we invested in heavy comforters and coats for all the kids. We still have though, the “macho” older boys swaggering around in T-shirts in the freezing weather.

The kids are busy back in school, and guests and volunteers have departed, giving our Charlene crew of three ladies time to relax and get some time off. The place was packed for two months, with guests using Kate’s house as well, and even the priests’ house put up some guests during this time.

Our nurse Kate had returned to Australia in early December, after an operation at the BNH hospital in Bangkok. She spent the holidays with her mom and family, but also got a second opinion on what was diagnosed as possible cancer. She passed the medicakl exams, and the operation done in Thailand was successful. This was a great consolation for the kids, who love and revere their "Phi Kate". After back hoeing all the holiday cheer had to offer, she is now back and has an appointment with the tread mill to lose some unwelcome pounds.

This is the time when the senior high graduates in May begin to seriously consider their future. Thanks to their sponsors and several other grant foundations, they can choose the university, college, vocational school, or apprenticeship from companies recruiting out of high school. We have a bumper crop of 17 kids for a possible move to further education. This is when we are so thankful for grant agencies and individual sponsors stepping in to make their dream come true. This is also when the kids and I are grateful for Fr. Ole and Brother Keng, for their expertise concerning schools and the talents of each child.

Farm work continues. We pumped out one fish pond, and were amazed at the huge size of the fish and the amount of the catch. That was only one pond. We still have 7 more to drag net. We pumped out that pond so as to build more chicken coops, which are erected over the water. Chicken feed and poop go into the pond; feed to eat and poop to help plankton grow. Brother Dtic is in charge of this project, and all other farm related work. We also mount some lights over the ponds, and the zillions of bugs are attracted by the light and fall into the pond to be eaten.

On February 2, I celebrated 48 years from my arrival in Thailand. The three priests who picked me up at Don Muang airport in 1966, are all gone. They were great friends. This year, I also celebrate 50 years of priesthood. The Lord has been very good to me. I have a happy priesthood, and being a Redemptorist foreign missionary is really special. May the good Lord also bless you with happiness, good health, and peace.

Fr. Mike

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