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Hello from hot and humid Thailand!
School opens on May 15, and we will send all our kids to school this year, except for 3 kids with complications from AIDS, and our 7 babies. We have a 3-year-old girl nick-named “ET”. Her looks have improved a bit. She still speaks her own language. I can’t wait to get her off to school. Her latest escapade was to plug the vents of an air-conditioner with toilet paper, and she burned out the compressor. It took 3 days to get the machine fixed and the sweating housemothers nearly wrung her neck.

April was a wild month, with lots of happiness, plus some sadness and concern. Since I have four parishes, plus HOLY INNOCENTS chapel at SARNELLI HOUSE, I was busier than a one-armed paperhanger. I had begun Ash Wednesday a week earlier in the mountain villages, so as to complete their Lent by the Saturday before Palm Sunday. Then, we had the usual Holy Week services in the two churches, plus Easter with the fire, water and candle blessings before Easter Mass at Holy Innocents. Many of the AIDS kids had never seen this service and when it came time to renew their baptismal vows (less than half of them have actually been baptized), one kid had set his hymnal on fire and there were other kids dripping wax on each other, etc. The house mothers finally waded into the horde and set things straight!

April 13-16 is Thai New Year, and this year was no different from any other. The people celebrated joyously, and we got a huge rain on the third day, which turned the country in different shades of green, and took the terrible heat from the air. It was a real cleansing rain, and two days later, we got another drencher, which brought out the frogs and other edible creatures. Our little guys at St. Pat’s would get their flashlights strapped to their caps and off they would go, frogging half the night.

The computer rooms are done, and we had to re-pour cement in the girls’ laundry room at Viengkhuk and put in new washers and dryers. We also had to re-wire and put in cutouts, so no one would get electrocuted. Now, we are redoing their septic system, and the girls are anxiously begging us to finish. The neighbors are not amused at the stench, which one could practically cut with a knife. The girls take their food to the pavilion and eat up there, where the smell does not reach them. One more week, and things will return to normal.

The last week of April saw the horde bus off to the Redemptorist center at Pattaya. Two Thai people, a Catholic woman and a Buddhist man, who do not know each other, donate a trip each year. So, the kids have a glorious time in Pattaya and Bangkok. They were well fed and tended by the community, and this year, we had to hire two big buses, since we had 140 kids and their handlers on the trip. Now, they are getting their clothes and books ready for school, which opens May 15. Some of our older girls moved on to college, and several returned home and we will send their sponsorship money to them as they study close to home. One girl goes to Nursing College (none of these girls have AIDS). In the meantime, new children arrived. We took in a worried looking little guy, 2 ˝-year-old Apek and 18 month old Miss Fah Mai. They reside in the House of Hope. Little Masters Ghee-Ghee and Wat reluctantly said goodbye to join the kids at St. Patrick’s. Ghee was terribly afraid at first, but when he met Grandma Wan at St. Pat’s, he lightened up considerably. Little 13-year-old Miss Lynn is still a cause of great concern to us. She is terribly ill from AIDS and TB, and has been in ICU several times. We took her to the University Hospital in Khon Kaen this week, by hospital ambulance. Her liver is badly damaged by ARV drugs, and there is an abscess in her abdomen, possibly caused by TB. Right now, she has about a 30 % chance to live. Our doctor, Dr. Suraphon, told us (and he is Buddhist) only prayer can help her now.

One thing I want to do is to move the ashes of the four little people who died from AIDS. Right now, they are in “ossaria”, and we want them in a special plot, which will consist of a black marble slabs with their photo on each slab, and with grass and shrubs planted to make it look nice. I will put their plot right behind SARNELLI HOUSE.

Again, thank you so much. Everyone knows that the children pray for those who take their parents place; their donors and housemoms, drivers and all the staff. May the Risen Christ bless you and your loved ones.
Father Shea
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