Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rome - Ho Chi Mihn City

April 7, 2013 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. This has been quite some week for me. On Monday I flew out of Rome and arrived in Ho Chi Mihn City (Saigon) the following afternoon. This is my first time in Vietnam, and I really did not know what to expect. It was relatively easy to get the visa, and entrance into the country was a cinch. I was put up in a small hotel near two of the friaries (because there is no room in the inn). It is not fancy, but clean and well run. Ho Chi Mihn City is huge. It has a population of around 12,000,000 people. The whole population of Vietnam is around 80,000,000. What one sees immediately is the motor bikes. They are everywhere, and going in all directions at the same time. There are very few stop lights. Everyone just sort of drifts over where he wants to go and sooner or later arrives there. We have 23 friars now, most of whom are in initial formation. In fact, yesterday morning we have the simple profession of five of the friars who just finished novitiate in the Philippines. I was asked to preach (in English). I had to make sure to speak slowly, slowly, but a good number of people were able to understand me and I was quite pleased. The mission is run by friars from the California province. There are four friars here from the US, three of whom are Vietnamese in origin. They have a difficult task as they try to set up new institutions at the same time they are guiding the first vocations. From what I can see, they are doing a good job. Last year the general asked me whether I had ever been to Vietnam, and I told him that I had not. He told me to think about going. When the Minister General says, “think about it,” it means you might as well set the dates. The food is great. I love soup with noodles, and they have a dish called Pho (pronounced FA) which is just that. Not a lot of meat, but plenty of rice, noodles and vegetables. The weather is hot, hot, hot. I engage in activities in the morning and evening, and try to hide out in the afternoon in the air conditioned room. Later today I will fly up to Hanoi to visit a leprosarium that the friars are running. Then, on the 10th, I will head down to Melbourne in Australia. I finished a few books: Skin Trade by Laurel Hamilton This is one of those vampire, werewolf books which takes place in Los Vegas. The author spends a lot of time explaining the dynamics of how these creatures work. The premise is that a woman who is the lover of the head vampire in a certain city is also a marshal of a special unit of the federal government that hunts down and kills rogue paranormal creatures. She, herself, has been infected by the blood of several were-animals, including were-tigers. It turns out that her lineage gives her tremendous psychic powers over other creatures. She and her team must hunt down a group of vampires and were-animals that have massacred a swat team in Los Vegas. The book deals an awful lot with her strange relationships with other creatures like herself and her lovers. The sex is really described in too graphic a manner. The book was OK, but not much more than that. The End of the Line: Romney vs. Obama: the 34 days that decided the election by Glenn Thrush and Jonathan Martin. These are two authors for Politico, and they go through the dynamics of the last month of the campaign that led to the re-election of Obama. Their analysis is very good and the book is very informative. It is not a full sized book: more like an extended article. Nevertheless, it is well worth reading. It puts into perspective various strategies, the polls, the debates, the state by state strategy, etc. D Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevoir This is not the first book that I have read that was written by Beevoir. He is an excellent war historian. I have read his books on Stalingrad, the Fall of Berlin, and the Spanish Civil War. This one covered the preparation for the landing in Normandy, the landing itself, the fight to make a “break out”, and the fall of Paris. He knows just how much information to put into the story to make it interesting without overloading the reader. He tells many stories of what the individual soldiers or units experienced. He is not afraid to give credit or fault to either side. He never loses respect for the suffering of the soldiers and civilians involved. Hope you have a good week. Shalom Fr. Jude


Post a Comment