February 2022 Update

Today is a big day for me. I arrived in Thailand on February 2, 1966. If I have figured right, that puts me 56 years in Thailand. 55 of these years have been spent in the upcountry missions along the Mekong River. Not one day passes, that I don’t think of thanking the Lord for my Redemptorist missionary vocation. I know that there has to be some people that wish to hell I had stayed stateside instead of coming here. I am not the easiest to get along with. And, approaching my 84th year of life, I feel I am not pulling my own weight, but can’t do much about it. And there are only 2 American Redemptorists left in Thailand. One in Bangkok and me upcountry. Both of us working with abandoned and abused children, and people sick with AIDS, and old people. The last of the Mohicans.

We are now well into the New Year, and the flu season is here. Many of our workers are afflicted, and Sunday nurses from the General Hospital in Nongkhai are coming to inoculate the kids. The older kids have had their Covid jabs already. But flu shots will take in kids 6 years old on up. I hope those nurses have a sense of humor, because they will be running after wee ones all morning. The nurses giving the shots are usually students from the nursing school, who are appointed to hospitals for training. I hope they are in shape and can run a lot!

Two Dutch volunteers, Ben and Angelique, are here, helping with our sick and the sick people in the Good Shepherd clinic near Nongkhai. Ben is a physical therapist, and Angelique helps him and works with small children as well. Our two veteran volunteers, Brian and Kate, are hopefully due back to us around Feb. 14. Both came down with Covid while in Ireland, and were in quarantine, delaying their return. It will certainly be good to see them come back.

The children are back in school, and are very happy not studying online. Some of the kids who returned home to Sarnelli at the beginning of the pandemic have gone out to take new jobs. Most of these kids are girls. Some of the boys went, but returned after they found out others had taken their jobs, and they could find no other work.

Back in my seminary days, we used to call February the “tunnel month”. No parties or creature comforts were provided by the staff of priests who ran the place, and the weather always sucked. The ice on the lake (Lake La Belle in Oconomowoc, WI) would get dozy, so ice boating was dangerous, and ice was too soft to play hockey. Spring was right around the corner, but it was a big corner. Early May was about the time things would look up. Here, we march from the cold season right into the hot season (March to the end of June), one extreme to another.

Anyway, we hope and pray that everyone is healthy and staying safe. God bless you all. We pray for you daily.

Fr. Mike, staff and children


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