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New Year's message
I’m writing to thank you all for your interest and concern for our kids. We have had a lot of health concerns with the runts, especially virulent TB. But they seem to recover and soldier on. We are desperately trying to get a grasp on this TB outbreak and eradicate it. Some of the kids who do not have AIDS have caught it from those who do. Now, we have two nurseries.

The news from the south (tsunami) is improving a bit, but it is all so really sad and depressing. Father Joe Maier from the Klong Toei slums took a group of workers down there with visions of doing all sorts of stuff, but the military is doing most of the work with foreign NGO’s. He finally offered that he and I would be willing to take any orphans with AIDS (they won’t let other orphans out of the province in which they were born. There are the usual rumors of people stealing babies and orphaned kids, but no one wants the AIDS babies). We are geared up to take the kids, and the first three will go to Maier’s center first.

We had our New Year’s party the evening of January 1. The staff were all pretty weary, but reached back into their reserves and gave the kids a real show. It was very cold, but the 114 kids had a lot of fun. I hope those poor folks down south aren’t experiencing this type of weather, which has been getting colder every day! They have enough crosses to bear.

Rumor had it that we were to get U.S. Butterball turkeys in the market this year. They never made it to the supermarket though, thanks to our P.M., who was miffed that some Thai seafood was barred from the U.S. The local Thai turkeys taste like boiled buzzards, and it takes a chainsaw to try to carve them. So, at the Christmas party, the rodents gnawed on ham, chicken and beef from a cow that must have been about 40 years old before it died of old age. Tenderizer didn’t help (the folks up here soak the meat in lime juice…kind of puckers one up eating the meat afterwards!).

When I had the first Christmas with 14 kids five years ago, I bought the kids clothes and wrapped them for Christmas. The boys were content, but the girls (I think I had 9 girls then) told me my taste was foul and they wouldn’t be caught dead with those clothes!

Now I give the whole posse of little people money to shop for at the mall for whatever they want at Christmas (and my birthday, since in Thailand, it is the person who has the birthday must cough up to entertain others). This year, each kid got $25. It doesn’t mean much to the little ones, but the older ones are more clever, spending on what they want and saving up for another trip.

Again, sincere thanks and gratitude for the interest and help for the AIDS children. We are still praying for those dead and missing from the tsunami. I heard that since the king’s grandson also died there, the government is going to build an orphanage down there and name it after him. We pray that the hurts are healing quickly and they can move on, despite the enormous loss of life.

Father Shea
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