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1 May 2010

Dear Friends,

Last time I wrote a newsletter it was a dark rainy day. Not so today. The sun is bright and hot and we are again in need of rain. There’s a lot of corn that looks good now but will need rain into June if it is to mature. These are crops that were replanted after the last dry spell. The rice that is already headed out will do well and there is a lot of it. But there are many rice paddies that are dry and the rice still has weeks to go to mature. They need rain now.

Several people have asked if I had recovered from malaria. I took malaria medicine for 3 days and then had a blood test and found that the malaria was all gone. It took a day before I had a blood test in the first place because I had none of the usual symptoms like a fever and aching joints. I still believe I had some kind of flu or something along with the malaria because it took several weeks to get my strength back and to even feel like working. I eat a lot of salad and cooked greens most of the time but for a month even my usual food did not interest me. The good news is that I am back to normal. I still take a little nap in my lazy-boy chair if I get the chance. Today was not one of the days I had the chance.

For better or worse we are busy about many things and have limited time in which to accomplish them. We have been looking forward eagerly to the opening of our Shrine to the Divine Mercy on 11 June. However, with only 5 weeks to go we are asking ourselves how we are ever going to be ready to receive perhaps as many as a thousand guests plus that many from our own parish of St. Peter. I told our parishioners that they are hosts and not guests. Seating in the church will be for the guests and the choir, not the hosts who are there to serve. We can get over a 1000 in church by seating about 800 and leaving the rest of the space for standing room. (Please see attached photo.)

It has been difficult for people to donate the food and money necessary for the celebration as there have already been several diocesan collections, ordinations and preparation for the 25th anniversary of our Bishop’s consecration that will be held in August. It would be easier for people if they had harvested crops and sold cotton. But that is still a couple months away. We have had several meetings and will need several more.

We have been trying to prepare people spiritually for opening a Divine Mercy shrine that will be a place of pilgrimage not just people from outside of our parish but for everyone in the parish. We have a devoted man from outside our diocese who has been with us on and off for a couple of years visiting outstations and centers teaching the Divine Mercy devotion. We also celebrated for the first time Divine Mercy Sunday here at St. Peter’s on the Sunday after Easter. Happy to say we have had more people coming to confession and to church. This is encouraging as I see the rest of my life more devoted to the saving of souls.

We have done a lot of work in the church in preparation for the celebration. I can hardly call it remodeling as it was never ready “modeled”. Actually it is very beautiful and most of the work is done. We prepared 10 places for hanging banners. We hope to get at it when we get the proper paint. I tried to make one with oil paint on cloth – it didn’t work!

On another front, we have put the metal roofing on our very nice staff house. We are now preparing to put the roof on our new laboratory. We have the metal roofing, the rafters are made and the purloins ready. It is the first of our major building projects needed to have a fully operational Health Center that I expect someday to be a hospital.

On Monday we finished a 9-day novena in the parish praying for God’s direction in preparing to open the Shrine of Divine Mercy as well as praying that we will receive substantial financial help in building our Health Center. We have had no response so far but we say often the Divine Mercy prayer “Jesus I trust in you.” Please pray with us. We have the opportunity of a lifetime to save lives through health care that is not yet available in our area until we provide it.

Looking forward to seeing you this Summer. I expect to be home the end of June.

Love and prayers,

Fr. Paul

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