April 2020 Update

 APRIL  2020

              It certainly is a different world just since my last letter. Except for one Dutch couple, our volunteers and guests have all departed. Paul and Chrissy, our German volunteers from the APO Lutheran church in Oberhausen were recalled. As flights out of Thailand began to dwindle, others changed their plane tickets to earlier dates, and left. The Dutch couple who are staying, have a house here and a vehicle. They are planning on returning to Holland in May. We hope and pray that the world takes on some semblance of reality by then.

              Like other countries, churches, temples and mosques have closed. There will be no Masses or church devotions until at least April 30. All schools are ordered closed. Malls, massage parlors, bars, and nonessential businesses are closed. No one knows who is infected, and who is not. At Sarnelli, we have circled the wagons. Older kids have summer school for younger kids. I took the rug rats out of the House of Hope, and eleven of them now live in one of our houses that was temporarily empty. Returning kids from Universities or jobs that closed up have gone into quarantine upon arrival for 14 days. We had two houses prepared for them.

              Another problem is a lack of water. The huge fish pond I dug several years ago, we used to pump to water the big vegetable garden at our 12 rai (6 acre) field. We have nearly pumped it dry. I had a well drilling team come and drill a 6 inch bore 48 meter deep well. They said they found plenty of ground water. Our other Dutch friends at Stichting Vrienden van Sarnelli said they would help pay for the well, the solar cell pump and the PVC pipe we will need to irrigate. It will cost over 6,000 Euro. Even more alarming, (thanks to our severe drought) the well at the Nazareth House, which supplies water to five houses went dry, so we have to drill a deeper well; two wells actually, to relieve the volume needed at Nazareth. I just hope we can use the existing pumps, by pulling them out of the old wells and adding PVC pipe and drop them into the new bores.

              Also, I found out that the price of rice doubles and increased again, from 600 baht for a bag of milled rice, to 1,800 baht, and the price keeps rising. One of my workers had friends in a village close by that had irrigation during the drought (not like us) and they agreed to sell unmilled rice to Sarnelli House.  So, my brother Kevin, who runs the Friends of Sarnelli Foundation in the U.S., sent over enough to buy what we can from them. And this is a big relief. They are giving us a good price.

              What with being cooped up, the kids are bearing well. Four or five girls who have boy friends, are clearly not happy. I told them the next time they sneak over the fence to find Otis the Oaf waiting for them, to take their clothes and not to return. One guy is a known drug dealer, and our girl is one who cannot defecate and chew gun at the same time.

              We pray for every one of our friends, benefactors and supporters every night. We know how upset and depressed people are about this period of time, and there is also real fear out there. But with the Grace of God and common sense, we will survive this. God bless you all and keep you safe and healthy!

Fr, Mike

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