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Ad Gentes: News from Sen Monorom

15/10/2012: Cambodia

It's raining - "pliäng" - and we're in full swing! Following an eight month quest we have now joined hands with the diocese and set up a project. It has required much talking, much travelling back and forth, much reflection... And in the meantime a thousand small stories have unfolded. So, for instance, Pedro got himself two rusty nails in his foot while working; he had to travel all the way to Bangkok to get proper treatment. When Max tried the new hoover our dog came and ate the instructions. The City children gave us a kitten as a present. During mealtime she likes to sit on Max' shoulder and sniff at the dishes. Four times already I have found myself flat on my back in the mud on our "street", or rather, our dirt path. These aren't real accidents, seeing as how I was going slowly, but somehow the motorcycle suddenly disappears out from under you. Luckily, I ended up with only a few bruises and a shinbone wound but it is clear that we urgently need an all-terrain pick-up truck.

Furthermore, we have had several visitors, including the District Superior (our dog chewed through the wire of his computer), friends, volunteers, and vermin in all shapes and sizes. The ants in particular are a constant plague; the mice and rats we can take care of fairly easily with a strong trap.

In August we travelled to the pastoral centre of the Camillians in Bangkok to participate in the annual retreat with the brothers from Vietnam and Thailand.

Now, as for our main work. So far, I have only been able to share our plans and inquiries. I can inform you now that, earlier this month, we assumed full responsibility for two "hostels" (a type of Boarding College). It is a concrete project for us which is made real through several smaller projects.

In co-operation with the diocese we now run the existing church centre and our own study centre. The centres are open to visitors and people who need help, and offer accommodation, meals and study hours for 16 young Bunong people, male and female. We are now furnishing the two buildings for these purposes. And this is where the donations we have received are used.

And so we brothers find ourselves in a new situation again. The start-up difficulties, the repairs, being subject to unforeseen occurrences and the demands of the church -- all of this makes it impossible for us to lead a regular "monastic" life. We take life as it comes and are genuinely happy with it.

Now that we have taken up our new responsibility the first problems have arisen. Some young Bunong people don't really know what they should do. And so they sign up for the study hours, then sign themselves out, then up again. One girl who did not want to attend the study hours anymore -- against her parents' wishes -- got involved with a young man and is now six months pregnant, so she has had to drop out. In some ways, the church's ideas about staff policy and admission requirements differ from ours. The rains spoil our English lessons at the Caritas and New Humanity Centre as the muddy street is impassable at night-time. Our new "rooms" on the upper floor of our house have thin wooden walls and no ceiling. And so we hear every noise that is to be heard, feel every breath of wind, and hear every drop of rain on the corrugated iron roof. The ants, too, have an interest in the dry rooms. Hordes of them march up the outside walls and enter the house through the cracks, and so, for instance, they may come into the prayer room, where we already have two big geckos waiting to take part in our prayers and spend the night, which brings some coolness.

Despite all of this, or rather, because of all of this, life is worthwhile over here. Many thanks to all who support us and the people here with their prayers, ideas, visits, voluntary work, and money. We all work together for the future of the people in the Cambodian jungle.

Thank you, "arkun tscheran", "Vergelt's Gott" from

Br; Bongpro Bernhard, Br. Max and Br. Pedro

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