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Finally, back to Thailand!
(23.7.2008)
I am back in Thailand as of 19 July, after a two month stay in the U.S. I slept for three hours, and then went to the 60th anniversary Mass at Holy Redeemer church in Bangkok. The cardinal presided, and then lei were given to the last 7 American foreign missionaries. At the age of 70, I was the second youngest! There were 4 bishops and about 80 priests celebrating. The next morning, I took the early flight to Udorn, since I had heard that Josie wasn't doing well at all.

I was taken directly from the airport to our House of Hope nursery, where little Josie lay dying. Josie was 6 years old, and the victim of a botched abortion and then another attempt on her life after birth. She had permanent brain damage as a result. She was still in ICU in Udorn, a mere few weeks old, when doctors asked us to take her, since they figured she wouldn't survive the next attempt. Josie's father was Swiss, and her mother a Thai Catholic! Some of the staff were initially not happy with my decision to take Josie, but I tried to tell them Josie would be a source of great blessings for us. And she was. She had difficulty breathing all Sunday. I traveled back and forth from Sarnelli as Josie weakened and finally died 6:30 Monday morning, July 21. We had her funeral yesterday, and there were genuine tears for Josie. The staff that took such great care of Josie was lauded, as they sat there with tears streaming down their faces. Her little friends from the nursery were perplexed and tried to wake her during Mass. We had all of our 134 kids plus the staff there to send off Josie. We celebrated her short life with the Mass of the Angels.

Also, another tragedy was that one of our boys in the OUTREACH program, named Art, drowned in a fish pond after school, together with a little buddy. They wanted to take a dip to cool off, but when they got into the pond, the sides were slick clay, and neither of them could get out, and no one heard any cries for help. I haven't met their folks since this happened, but they drowned about 10 days before I was due to return.

Other than that, all the work that piled up during my absence was here to greet me upon my return! The first point of concern is our rice paddies. We try to be as self sufficient as possible with the rice yield and also the orchard produce, for the kids and staff. The kids and staff do their own plowing, planting and harvest. But we need rain. We still pump water to high ground, but the clouds are too high this time of year. So, we pray for rain and pump when necessary. All the poor are affected the same way. And with gas at $8.50 a gallon, we would rather have rain.

The rest of the kids seem healthy and happy. Again, thanks to everyone who support us, especially with prayers. God bless you!
Father Shea
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