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January 2018 update

January 5, 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

              Christmas, with its Masses and village celebrations and a party for the Sarnelli kids, has passed. The feast was preceded by weather that got down to 8 degrees Celsius, and today it is much warmer; but not enough for everybody, but at least you can’t see your breath.  

              We had great crowds for Christmas. A week before, the village men and boys began decorating the churches and setting up booths and a stage for the midnight festivities. Young lads climb up the roofs of churches to string colored lights and we have Christmas carols in Thai. It is the first village party since the rice harvest, and people let it hang out. New Year also is big, since the children of villagers who went to Bangkok to work, and elsewhere come back for Masses, and bring money for the old folk. Families have loudspeakers and people dance, drink, eat and throw up to the sounds of Christmas music. One year a guy was warbling drunkenly over a microphone, and then proceeded to ralph up his cookies all over it. The disgusting sounds were audible all over the village.

              Our Sarnelli kids and staff had our Christmas party on Sunday, Dec. 24, since Christmas was a school day for all but those in Rosario Catholic school. They even brought the babies from the House of Hope for the Christmas feast this year. The kids had a great meal, and sang and danced for hours.

              This is the time of year when I have to get all the year end reports out to foundations and grant agencies, plus the ladies in the office finish off the year end financial reports for the audit, and also help me with the budget for the New Year. These reports also help my brother Kevin with the IRS paperwork for the Friends of Sarnelli House Foundation. It is not exactly my favorite time of year.

              We are still building out at the 12 rai site for the experimental farm. Trees and vegetables are being planted, and the kitchen and laundry room for the boys is being built, together with an open garage to park the truck. I was stunned to find out we will have to move the 23 high school girls from Viengkhuk to a new site in Don Wai. The government built a four lane highway through Viengkhuk, and it covered up the irrigation canal that carried rain water from the property to the Mekong River. They also will close our access to the property. The diocese owns the property, and we were renting. I think the whole cost for a building to house them will be around $200,000. I am waiting for a correct estimate from our architect. I told the girls (high school herd) that I was going to sell them one by one, until I had enough to build. The ladies were not at all amused. We have to finish construction before June. I do have a site right next to our Nazareth house for senior high school and college girls. It is in the village of Don Wai. The building will house 40 girls. The amount of girls we are picking up who have been abused and beaten and raped far outnumber the babies and little ones who come in with HIV/AIDS. I want to make sure we have room to take them in. The Lord has so far stuck to His promise that He will keep us afloat, as long as we do the work. Anyway, may all of you have a blessed New Year! May you have happiness and good health!

 Fr. Mike

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