Back on the block…

Fr. Hung Nguyen was an associate priest with me starting in 2001 and then he returned to his diocese of Seattle. Now he is looking at possible Asian mission again and today he and I met with Bishop Olivier to discuss the possibility of Hung’s working with the English community here. I hope so!

A fried returns…

More than fifteen years ago, Fr. Hung Nguyen and I were Maryknoll associate priests together here in Cambodia. After his term, Hung returned to his diocese in Seattle, Washington where he has been pastor of different parishes. Now on a visit to Cambodia, he joined us today for our liturgy and dinner. Here he is speaking with Hang Tran, a Maryknoll lay missioner.

November Trip to Bangkok

My trip to Bangkok was rather simple, just a consultation with the surgeon who removed part of my kidney in May to make sure all things are going well. There weren’t a lot of exciting photos!

The focal point of the trip was BNH Hospital in Sathorn in Bangkok. A good hospital with really good staff and good medical care. And a garuda mounted over its front entrance.

I was at the hospital from 9:15 AM to 1:00 PM and had eaten nothing since supper the day before because of the required blood work. When I left the hospital, I was headed for Subway (a required stop on all my trips to Bangkok) but on the way I decided to just eat at this sidewalk food stall. Got a really big, really good meal for a really good price.

The next morning I was up at 3:00 AM to get to the old Don Mueang Airport for an economy airline flight back home. In one of the main passenger areas there was this large Buddhist depiction, just to remind travelers that they are in Thailand!

November Trip to Bangkok

Tomorrow I go to see the surgeon in Bangkok who in May removed part of my kidney, for a six-month checkup. I suspect it will all be rather routine but it requires a trip to Bangkok. The beginning of that trip was not routine–beset by horrendous Phnom Penh traffic–but then, maybe that unfortunately is becoming routine also.

The first thirty minutes on the tuk-tuk ride to the airport were not so bad but then about a mile from the airport chaos reigned. This is on the street in front of the airport. These are the three westbound lanes with cars going in every direction, some trying to turn into the airport, others trying to turn around and go back the way they came. But the eastbound lanes are just the same. Gridlock.
This is a view back to the highway from inside the airport grounds. I sat in my tuk-tuk in that mess for about fifteen minutes and then paid off the driver and just walked between cars in the middle of the highway to the airport entrance.
These are cars and tuk-tuks trying to get out of the airport on to the highway.
Once I got in the airport, I checked in within three minutes. Finally it was time to board. This view from the jetway shows much less congestion on the airside of the airport.

I was on an economy airline and limited to just a carryon so I exited quickly, bought a Thailand SIM card, and headed for the airport bus stop. I took at A3 bus to Lumphini Park, the closest I could get by bus to the Maryknoll house. From the park I then took a taxi to Maryknoll. Today the the US dollar = 34.21 Thai baht so the 50-minute airport bus ride was 50 baht, about US$1.50.

An interesting Saturday…

Yesterday turned out to be a very interesting Saturday. President Biden flew in on Air Force One in the morning for the ASEAN summit meeting held in Phnom Penh this weekend. He is Catholic and I had read that he tries to go to mass on Sundays wherever he is, so I was not too surprised when the US Embassy here asked me to have mass with him yesterday. The time for the mass changed three times during the week but finally we had a morning mass at the Raffles Hotel where the United States delegation was staying.

President Biden is a very warm and personable person, a good human being guided by gospel values. We had a group of ten people for mass, staff from the White House and the Phnom Penh U.S. Embassy. At the end of mass, noting that it was lunch time, President Biden invited me to eat with them!
This is The Beast, the vehicle used to transport President Biden on the ground. It rated its own separate enclosure on the grounds of the Raffles Hotel. I was hoping they would offer me a ride home in The Beast but I had to settle for the usual tuk-tuk.
The U.S. delegation took over the entire Raffles Hotel and made many adjustments. Here the main lobby and reception desk is blocked off by partitions erected to move people like me through security. Secret Service personnel were everywhere!

Quite an interesting day!

Mission Sunday

This year Bishop Olivier invited the lay missioners working in Phnom Penh to attend mass with him on Mission Sunday. There are not nearly the numbers of lay missioners we had before.

After mass Bishop Olivier blessed the ashes of two veteran lay missioners who died here in the past year.
Then the lay missioners met for more than an hour with Bishop Olivier as he discussed his thought and plans for the diocese and for the missioners.
Before we left we had a group photo.

Siem Reap MKLM Retreat

On the morning of the final day of the MKLM retreat, we had another session with Beth Goldring.
Then we had a closing liturgy. Beth introduced it with a Buddhist chant wishing the well being of all living things and all creation.
We then continued with a simple mass.

The rooms at the center are simple but quite adequate.
The environment cooperated for this retreat. There were a few rain showers but the weather was not uncomfortably hot and we didn’t miss air conditioning. There were some mosquitoes but they were contained by repellent and the mosquito nets.

Siem Reap MKLM Retreat

Friday / 28 October 2022

For this retreat, the Maryknoll Lay Missioners were served all their meals in this dining area at the rear of the property instead of in the big dining hall. This is Friday breakfast.
Jesuit Refugee Services (JSR) is one of the leading actors in the campaign against landmines, both in Cambodia and in 50 other countries. This Metta Karuna Center also provides jobs for people disabled by landmines and so all the buildings are accessible. Here a long wheelchair ramp provices access to the second floor.
Beth Goldring (R) presented in morning and afternoon sessions about precepts and ideas from Buddhism and there was much discussion about how they could apply to our lives and our ministries and how they relate to nonviolence.
These are two of the Khmer-style statues found on the center grounds.
This evening we watched an hour-long video on the peace marches of 300 Buddhist monks walking through former Khmer Rouge territory to support and inspire the people in the aftermath of the Pol Pot regime.