Last Easter three churches were bombed by terrorists in Sri Lanka and 290 people were killed. World Vision International became concerned about its facilities around the world and has them to increase their security practices. The English Catholic community rents the auditorium of World Vision in Phnom Penh for its Saturday evening mass and now we need to introduce new security measures. We had an extensive meeting with World Vision and heard their requests for really stringent measures that wouldn’t be suitable for a church service, e.g., signing in and signing out, bringing no bags, backpacks, etc.
In the end we arranged that all our members will be issued ID badges which they must wear each week. Because we get tourists and others coming to our services irregularly, people without badges will be asked to sign in and possibly have their backpacks checked. It’s a nuisance but a measure we can live with. About ten years ago I was talking to an official of the U.S. State Department and he cautioned me that our congregation would be a prime soft target for terrorists. It’s all foreigners, we have various ambassadors and UN officials coming, and it would generate a lot of publicity which would be attractive to the terrorists.
The Philippines has a pre-Christmas tradition called Simbang Gabi in which, every morning on the nine days before Christmas–at 4:30 AM or 5:30 AM–everyone attends mass in their parish church. The Philippines Embassy couldn’t replicate the full custom here but is having masses in the evening on the first three days of Simbang Gabi. Fr. Charlie Dittmeier was asked to preside.
On the first evening, after the mass, the Phnom Penh Choral Ensemble performed a medley of Christmas carols.
I have been planning to get a haircut at the DDP barber shop where we train young deaf men. The road–terrible before–is even worse now because of construction on the road, and I could barely get to our barber shop.
In a country like Cambodia where there is little regulation or even a sense of discipline, anything goes. In terms of personal style like clothing, hair color, etc., it doesn’t much affect society, but the same easy-going style influences things like traffic where just about any kind of vehicle, with or without standard safety features, is fit for the road. Here are a few unusual vehicles that appear around Phnom Penh.
We had a short meeting session this morning and then everyone departed the Bangkok Christian Guest House–and Bangkok—for our mission sites all over South and Southeast Asia. Click here for scenes from the final day.
While I was in the US, my e-mail client (the software that I use to read and write e-mail) got corrupted and I have been fighting with it ever since. The software puts markers on e-mails that have arrived and flags them as read, deleted, etc. Somehow the markers got scrambled and I have not been able to view some of the mail that I downloaded to the computer but now cannot display. I’m sorry if I haven’t answered something you sent me!
My main activity centered on lunch and dinner today. Before and after those meals, I was able to do a lot of work on the computer. Especially I need to prepare a homily for next weekend since I will get in to Phnom Penh late Friday afternoon and have to preach the next day.
At lunch time I met with a group of former seminarians from St. Thomas Seminary in Louisville. They were students a couple years after I finished there but I have known them, especially through David Browne, my brother-in-law who was in that class with them. We had a really enjoyable lunch with them and their wives.
It’s Saturday morning now in Phnom Penh. Last night I was trying to do an update here on the website but a convergence of hardware, software, and scheduling gremlins intervened. After opening and working on the computer twice and after re-installing some programs, I think I’m back on the air now.