Yes I am still alive! It had not been easy to get a passable internet connection in the past days, but here I am.
The last news I sent you were from Manila, with the hope we could take off before another typhoon would hit the city. Well, we made it! Though the flight to Bangkok was pretty bumpy…
From Bangkok airport we reached the PIME house, at the northern boundary of the metropolitan area. Fr. Angelo Campagnoli, who worked in the States in the 60’s and then in Burma, welcomed us. In his seventies, he has a very strong missionary spirit and a deep knowledge of the Thai language and culture. He is the rector of the house.
We met there Fr. Adrian Pelosin, another PIME missionary who worked in the States. Fr. Adrian takes particular pride in the beautiful orchids he grows. They are beautiful but delicate flowers. But then you understand that his most beautiful orchids are the many children he rescued from the slums, fed and sent to school. Their stories are – to say the least – heart wrenching. In the past years he put together and organization of lay and religious who now take care of the children. They call him “Po” – that means “father.”
The city of Bangkok is fascinating, despite the hot and humid weather. If you think that Rome has many too many churches, you should see how many pagodas and temples are in Bangkok! Thailand is only 0.5 % Catholic with and overwhelming Buddhist majority. We visited several temples and I was surprised to see a temple guard making the Sign of the Cross, when he saw the Crucifix Fr. Guy was wearing! I asked him “Are you Christian?” and he said “No, but I saw many soccer players on TV making that sign when they enter and touch the field, before starting the game.” Interesting, isn’t it?
Then we moved north, to Chieng Mai, an hour flight north of Bangkok. It is the center of a Mission Diocese, where our PIME missionaries mainly work. We drove a hundred miles north, through beautiful mountain sceneries and with great roads. It was already dark when we reached Fang, where Fr. Claudio Corti and Fr. Massimo Bolgan reside. Immediately, we paid a short visit to the boys and girls they are caring for. They are “tribals”, Akha or Lahu, from the mountains. Very simple and very shy, they cheerfully welcomed us. Only the high school children are still here in Fang, because normally they have vacations for the month of October. I took some pictures for our Foster Parents, given that the majority of the children are helped through that program.
This afternoon we will move to Ban Thoet Thai, another big center of the Fang mission, from where we will reach the Burmese border tomorrow early in the morning, and eventually Kent Tung.
I’ll be back Saturday night in Fang, and I’ll send you my report on Sunday!