August 2019 Update

August, 2019

I just reached 55 years as a priest, having been ordained in 1964, on July 2. On August 2, I  celebrated 60 years as a Redemptorist. I took my first vows in 1959. I spend a lot of time recalling incidents over the past 60 years or so; but at 81, just grateful to God I have a memory left to recall stuff. Enough about me.  
We have some news; good news, I hope. All the work that went into trying to make Sarnelli House a Thai Foundation, has succeeded. Fr. Ole worked hard to get the ball rolling, and the lady chosen to do all the Foundation books is assured a permanent job. Some of the expectations I had for the Foundation now appear to be wishful thinking at best. I was hoping we could give out tax exemption forms like the U.S.; and make it easy for our volunteers to get visas and work permits. None of these and similar presumptions are going to become reality. 
Our college kids are getting ready for another year of study. Some spent their long vacation going to summer school, and some found part time jobs. Others have graduated, and return to announce their good fortune, and to give kids struggling in school the good example the younger ones need. One of our college girls nearly died of AIDS years ago, and the doctors of Srinakarin hospital saved her from the jaws of death. When she recovered, she was blind on one eye, and didn’t grow much. She would beg to stay home from school. And we would beg, bribe and shame her into returning to class. She suddenly quit feeling sorry for herself, and got serious in her studies. Today, she is studying horticulture and is a healthy poised young woman, taking advance courses in another college east of here. She counsels the younger crowd to faithfully take their ARV (anti-AIDS) medicine, and work hard to have a good life.
I think many people think that once a baby or child has AIDS, they are doomed, but also dangerous to be around, since they might infect other people. This is not true. Once someone with the HIV/AIDS virus takes their medicine for a period of time, their CD4 count will climb steadily, and their viral load will drop to zero. They will have to take medicine for the rest of their lives, and be checked constantly to make sure the medicine is continually working for them. But some of our kids have married people free from AIDS, and their partners only do not contact the virus; their children are also virus free. 
This time of year sucks, when it comes to weather. It is awfully hot and humid, and the monsoons have not appeared; just random thunderstorms. Since this year “el nino” appeared, the rainy season is erratic, and the weather shows signs of a possible drought. So, we plowed and prepared rice to transplant when and if rain comes, and pump water from our fish ponds to keep the shoots from dying.
Brother Keng and our nurse Kate still go on the Outreach program every Thursday. They meet and help many poor, desperate, sick people who have no money or ability to go the hospital, and others who have little to eat. Kate takes our foreign volunteers on these trips, and guests and volunteers see firsthand the wonderful work that is being done to alleviate suffering, and to bring love, care and concern into the lives of these folks whose plight is ignored by society. We really appreciate the generosity and concern of people who donate to help Kate and her little band of disciples who continue to do this work.
God bless you, and the kids and staff pray for you and yours daily, at their evening prayer before bedtime, and we pray for you at our Saturday children’s Mass.

Father Mike

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