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We keep hoping that the influx of sick, abandoned, frightened little people stop, but this past weekend, we took in two little lads , ages 3 and 4; both with AIDS, and both of them orphaned. One little boy is in bad shape and is in ICU in Nongkhai. I visited him yesterday morning, and he is doing much better. He can now eat again, but he has a long row to hoe before he can go to school and have a normal life. We buy food for him and his sister who is staying with him at his bedside, and will use some of your donation to help, since he will be there for a while! The other lad is going through a battery of tests now. Little Miss Lynn has been having convulsions, so she is also in the hospital these days. The doctors think she has epilepsy, besides AIDS. "Miss Tokyo" ( her father was probably Japanese) has to have new medicine. Her virus mutated and skin is coming off her arms in strips. Miss Tokyo, with her desperate, frightened courage, is one of my many favorites.

I returned from 3 days of camping with the herd (about 130 kids and 20 staff) over New Year, in the Nong Seng mountains. It was really cold up there, with a cutting wind. They wouldn't take showers and the wee ones pee in their blankets. Then, the older teenage girls were screaming and fending off mobs of smelly little creatures who wanted to crawl into dry blankets with them. Next time, I will dig a sheep dip behind Sarnelli House and run them through it, when we return home. Every one came back smelly and healthy, save for me, the guy who was trying to give good example in taking a shower with ice-cold water. I came back with a miserable cold, and am the laughing stock of the Great Unwashed.

The staff Christmas party was on Dec. 28 at an outdoor restaurant, where the team had barbequed shrimp and other fish…some baked and some raw, with lots of Leo and Isan beer. Both beers are brewed locally, and taste like swamp water. I guess it was lucky we picked an outdoor place to eat, because some of the women got violently ill from raw fish, and we literally had to hose them out of the truck. Dec. 29 we held the OUTREACH children's party. These kids are infected, but still with relatives. They played games and had a big meal, and gifts of heavy jackets, a blanket each and candy. The last party was January 4, for the adults who have AIDS. They never get invited to any weddings or funerals or any other celebrations among villagers or relatives. This is a big event for them, their only social event where they are truly welcome. We had about 40 at the party, out of 100 of them, and they received heavy jackets and blankets as gifts, because of the cold weather this year.

Again, thank you so very much for your interest in the children of Sarnelli. May the Lord grant you all good health, happiness and peace throughout the New Year!

Fr. Mike and the kids and staff of Sarnelli House.
Father Shea
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