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HAPPY NEW YEAR (OF THE PIG!)
(14.2.2007)
Here in northeast Thailand we had been under the siege of cold weather, at least for us, since Christmas. Temperatures plummeted to the lower fifties, and in mountain villages such as Nong Seng and Na Muang Thai, even lower than that. People huddled around fires early in the morning, and all of the kids have cheeks and hands cracked and sore, despite putting on salves and medicine. The cold snap has finally let up. There are no warm rooms or central heating, nor fire places, although some small kitchens have fires going. Everyone smells like charcoal smoke. This is weather we had 25-40 years ago, when there was lots of jungle. In those days, water would actually form a layer of ice during the night.

Enough senile reminiscing! Dottie, the "Baby Buffalo" is doing well. She no longer lets out her mournful yowl when she gets her daily streptomycin injection. She is a favorite of the house moms, and is basking in the attention. Lyn continues to improve, although she has a detached retina and must undergo surgery at Rama hospital in Bangkok. Josie, who has cerebral palsy, is doing just fine, despite the cold. Bee who is badly disfigured from shingles, will have the first of three operations on her face. It will be expensive, but has to be done. Valentine's Day is here, and I keep telling the kids I have no money this year for a party. Actually, Father Chuck Beierwaltes is here volunteering with us for three months, and brought Valentine's Day party money with him. He is a great help, and his infectious, booming laugh transcends any language problem. He is a very simple man, and is very sincere and loves the kids very much. We now have 126 kids, with 55 with AIDS.

Ash Wednesday is upon us, and the kids will have their own Ashes Mass. This also heralds the beginning of final exams, and the kids hope to be finished by March 15 or so. The school keeps extending the study day, and also the school year, so God knows when the nuns will put a merciful end to the 2006-2007 school year.

Volunteers are coming in from various points of the globe, and they will be a great help during the school vacation. Some are regulars, and some are new volunteers who came to teach at tsunami schools down south, and will round out their time with us, until the new school year starts early May.

May the good Lord bless and protect you and yours. Thank you again for your generosity, kindness and concern for the children! We pray for you every evening!


Father Shea
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