February 2024 Update


After our first Christmas and New Year celebrations since Covid, cold weather moved in. We have been dealing with cold, rainy weather, and the kids are showing flu like symptoms. We call these rains “Mak Muang Rains”, but this year, they came with the cold weather. Right now, it is 15 degrees Celsius, with a cold wind coming out of the Lao mountains.

This past Saturday, the village of Pai Si Tong had the first church celebration in four years. During the past four years, church festivities were forbidden, thanks to Covid. Covid is still here, but in a much milder form. The bishop, over 40 priests and 30 nuns, plus a church full of Catholics, made the celebrations a resounding success. The parish took the opportunity to also celebrate my 60 years of ordination. I was ordained in 1964, and came to Thailand on February 2, 1966. After I finished language school, on my birthday July 30, 1967, I was sent upcountry by train to begin my missionary life. I have been stationed in many villages along the Mekong ever since. God really blessed me with happiness and the kindness of villagers every place I was stationed. The latest blessing came when I started working with people with AIDS, and especially their children, although now we are taking in children of drug addicts and those serving time for selling drugs. 

Our latest venture is for babies whose mothers tried to abort, and babies whose mothers took drugs during pregnancy. These babies are mentally and physically harmed. We have an assistant physio from Maastricht in Holland and he and his wife work with the disabled children for seven months of the year. We have four of these babies now, and the provincial governor is urging us to finish renovating the old bakery, where we will house these children and try to help them become aware of their surroundings, and to get them to live to their capacity as much as possible. The governor has a waiting list of babies from different hospitals, where mothers abandoned their new born infants. He plans on giving them all to us. The government does not help us with any expenses, though.

Our chicken coup has been built and completed for a month now. We are due to get 150 chicks late this week. Thank God we waited for the cold weather and rain to subside. When I was home and still on the farm, we never raised chickens or ducks, so I have a guy hired who used to raise chickens and knows what to do. He had a flock of his own, but someone burning rice stubble from their fields, had the fire get away from them and burned down his chicken coup and all his chickens died in the fire.

I hope all is well, and that the Good Lord blesses you and yours. Thanks again for your kindness for and interest in the children of Sarnelli!

Fr. Mike, children and staff


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