May 2020 Update

May 2020

    Usually, we are out cackling “’tis the merry month of May”, but with this accursed virus darting around, there is nothing merry about these times. I must admit that although Thailand was the first country outside of China to announce the coronavirus had invaded the country, the Thai took firm steps immediately. People were more or less confined to their own villages and towns, and anyone trying to come back home had to go into a 14 day quarantine. Our kids went into virtual lockdown, and I am proud to say they are taking it in stride. We cleaned and did some renovation work with one of our empty houses, and prepared it for eleven 2-4 year olds to live, and keep them kilometers away from our ten tiny babies and NuNa. Older girls from Our Lady of Refuge house do a great job keeping them busy, and they can raise hell and not bother the babies. Other girls have been sewing masks, and other pieces of apparel, which I can’t yet identify. The Nazareth girls travel to the village of Pai Si Tong to help with the babies and the kindergarten boys. Some girls even prepare food and sell at roadside stands in the evening. The older boys stay busy at the farm and with fishing to stack our larders before the monsoon, if it comes this year. This area of Thailand is awfully dry. We had to drill three deep wells to make sure the kids and the garden have enough water. This was accomplished thanks to Stichting Vrienden van Sarnelli )Friends of Sarnelli House), Holland. 
    A few of our girls rebelled at lockdown and other restrictions, and began climbing over the wall to meet boys on motorcycles and go missing the whole night. They refused to listen to explanations of why they should stay away from other people, so I finally told them to pack up and take off with their boyfriends or get jobs in Nongkhai. Well, with the virus, they got laid off from their jobs. So, I now pay for their room and board and give them food money but won’t let them back. Some of these girls have HIV, and a couple of them aren’t taking their ARV medicine properly. In months to come, those boys might regret drooling over these girls if they start having health problems themselves.
    As for me, on Palm Sunday I was told I had to go into lockdown (by the AIDS doctors in the Khonkaen University hospital) and stay away from the kids and staff. I am still in lockdown. I hurt my back working out, so had to go to physical therapy in the Wattana hospital in Nongkhai. The first time I had to see the doctor at 6:00 PM. By the time I got out, it was dark. The streets were deserted. Very little traffic, no pushcarts with people selling food, and every store closed. An eerie sight. Then, with me hobbling around with a very sore back, the government put an edict out that through the month of April, they banned the sale of beer, wine and alcohol. They were going to lift the ban on May 1, but announced instead no sales of spirits through May. However on May 2, the Mullahs were overruled, and the sale of beer, etc., was allowed at noon May 3. I trampled women and children in the rush to the Heineken beer aisle! Actually, with my sore back, I dragged my right leg along like a wounded crab.
    There are no Masses, weddings, funerals etc., allowed in public. I really miss praying with the villagers and they miss the Sunday Mass, Mother of Perpetual Services, etc. No one has died in our villages, thankfully. I offer private Mass, and pray daily for our kids and staff, villagers and all our friends who help us so in keeping the runts fed and watered. May the good Lord keep you all safe and healthy!

Father Mike

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