Hospital Day 23

Given my choice, I would prefer not to spend a week or ten days in Covid isolation, but if I have to do it, the Maryknoll house in Bangkok hasn’t been so bad. I’ve spent much of my time alone on the third floor so others can use the house and not worry about my infecting them, but for days at a time I have been alone and able to make use of the rest of the house.

Here are some scenes from the ground floor of the office.

Standing just inside the front door of the office, this view looks toward the rear of the house. The rear desk is that of the office manager. On the left is a desk for Fr. John Barth and at right front is the desk for Serge, one of the volunteers working with Maryknoll in Thailand.
Going through the partially opened sliding glass door in the first photo, one enters a corridor area, with the office behind and the dining room and kitchen through the door at the rear, by the large Chinese painting on the wall.

Hospital Day 14

I was discharged from BNH Hospital on Thursday and have been up and about since then. I have been surprisingly free of pain. Today I went to mass at the Bangkok cathedral with Fr. John Barth and then we had lunch with some Filipinas here working with Maryknoll.

The Cathedral of the Assumption is a large downtown church that is invisible from the streets. It fronts onto a courtyard and is surrounded by the cardinal’s residence and church schools and offices.
The 100+ year old church is reflective of the French influence of the century before last. It is quite beautiful and very well preserved.
The black structure jutting from the wall is the pulpit from which the priests used to preach in the days before microphone systems. (I’ve always had a secret desire to try one some day.)
Fr. John Barth and Charlie at a dim sum restaurant after mass. With us is Arlene Sale (white top) who has been a lay missioner with Maryknoll for many years, working with refugees. Two of her neighbors joined us.

Hospital Day 4

This is the cardiology department of BNH Hospital where I have been having my physical exam after two years of waiting. My doctor found a nodule on my kidney and wants to remove it so I am scheduled for surgery Saturday morning, but first I had to be checked out by a cardiologist. He noted that my heart rate was 43 beats per minute when I had an EKG on Monday and he made a note to the surgeon to have an external pacemaker ready in case my heart slowed down even more during surgery! An odd twist! I never heard of anything like that before. As you can see BNH Hospital is quite nice, part of the medical tourism package that Thailand offers to people especially throughout Southeast Asia.

New Director of Missions

Maryknoll Lay Missioners this month got a new Director of Mission, Ms. Elvira Ramirez (top left). Because she is responsible for all the lay missioners in the field, she is beginning her tenure by meeting everyone online and then she will start visiting the actual mission sites. Today she had a Zoom call with missioners in Cambodia and Haiti.

Bill Burns Funeral

Our friend and lay missioner Bill Burns died here in Cambodia and his funeral was held 24 March 2022. Because of new environmental regulations, most cremations are prohibited within the city boundaries and even the ones on the edge of the city can only be held at night when the ashes in the air are supposed to be less of a problem. Bill’s funeral was held at the Church of the Child Jesus in the morning but the cremation was delayed until 6:30 PM in the evening at a Buddhist wat.

In the morning, after the funeral mass, Bill’s body was taken to Wat Dombok Khpuos to await the cremation in the evening.
Bill had taught English to some of the monks, and monks from that pagoda were familiar with many Maryknollers over the past two decades and so there was a Buddhist ceremony at the wat with about ten monks chanting their ritual prayers. The coffin is on a catafalque at the top of the stairs.
After the prayers the coffin was lowered into the pyre structure into a crematorium where it was burned out of sight. A symbolic coffin replaced it at the top of the funeral pyre. The smoke from the cremation can be seen coming from the white chimney pipe at the top of the structure.

Maryknoll Visitor

Today the Cambodia Mission Team was delighted to welcome back Sr. Luise Ahrens who was with us for many years before returning to Maryknoll, New York. It was great to see her again and to celebrate the eucharist with her. She reported it was the first time 2 1/2 months she has been to mass because of Covid restrictions in the U.S.

Fr. John Barth

Wednesday is our regular weekly meeting day for Maryknoll Cambodia and today the liturgy after the meeting was made special by our celebrating the 40th anniversary of ordination for Fr. Kevin Conroy (L) and the visit of Fr. John Barth (C) who worked in Cambodia before being elected to the Maryknoll Society’s General Council in New York.

Battling the rats

There are always things to learn about a new house, and when we moved to a “new” Maryknoll office on St. 420, one of the things we learned is that it has its share of rats.

We had asked the landlord to put screens on the downstairs windows, and he did, but the second night we were there rats chewed through the plastic screening. That was in the dining room through the door in the picture on the right.

Here in the kitchen the rats found they almost had a red carpet invitation. The kitchen is basically a semi-room built onto the back of the house, probably because the builders were cooking on charcoal braziers (like most Cambodians) and the smoke would not get into the house. A solid wall extends up about five feet and above that was sheet metal and chainlink fencing–an open invitation to the rats.

We finally had enough of the intruders and installed a metal screening in the areas where the metal sheeting was penetrable. In this picture, the new screening is silver colored and above the refrigerator.

There is a door leading to the outside in the kitchen and it would stop a human being but not much else. There was just a grillwork in the door, chainlink fencing above the door, and a 3-inch gap below the door. Very convenient for rat traffic.

We put glass in the door, an extension on the bottom of the door, and more of the silver screening above the door. All of this happened just three days ago. We haven’t seen any rats in the kitchen since the modifications but we’ll have to wait and see if we are successful or not in keeping the rats out.