Priest Pham Tuyen, priest from Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, celebrated the Mass this morning. When walking behind our backs, he stopped, shook our hands and wished us all the best. As I thanked him, my soul became full of gladness. I thought God and Mother Mary had heard my prayer then they sent Priest Tuyen to us to wish us luck.
Getting home, I got the pack pack and said to Ai Huu: "It's gonna be a busy day. See you at Sea Flower!". On the way of highway 610 East, I called Bao and got to know he had picked up priest Thong. It was 8:35 A.M. when I was coming back to the Church. At that time, only breakfast food of American shop could be brought.
Seeing Bao's car parked in front of the Pastor's House, I turned left to go to the kitchen, seeing priest Thong, Bao and Lieu chatting. I greeted priest Thong and we had breakfast together. Mr. Cong Binh, the secretary general of the parish, came and joined us in our story at the beginning of a very busy day.
Priest Thong seemed tired because of the stents inside his body. I could see his courage, faith and great love deep in his eyes.
Priest Thong got out of the Pastor's House and walked quickly to the Church. Lieu said to him in a surprised voice: "Where are you going? It's still early." Then he said: "What do you mean saying "early"? It's time". Lieu laughed then the three of us joined her. "Oh, Father. Your watch points the time of Atlanta which is one hour earlier than time at Minnesota. We are in Minnesota". He smiled then came back to the Pastor's House and talked about the next coming events.
I walked with him to the Church and met parish's priest at phong ao. They seemed like BFF (Best Friend Forever). Happiness could be seen on their faces when they met each other and talked a lot. Priest Thong's lecture was meaningful. It was burning a warm candle in everyone's soul and guiding us. It was like a spring running to every corner of our souls, waking up our emotions as our hearts were beating.
Priest Thong went to the Church's trench where Vietnamese Doctrine Class were very busy and noisy. They were ready for the Mass. Priest Thong read the Bible. His lecture had lots of fun with many questions about the Bible. It was such an interesting and surprising activity. A kid answered all the questions rightly and got a gift of 20,00 USD.
I was talking with Mr. Hoang (the care taker) at the doorway of the Church. I panicked when I looked at the Cung thánh and didn't see priest Thong. Where is he? Why isn't he there with the junior priest (Cha phó)? I asked Mr. Hoa who was the director of department of liturgy (Ban Phụng Vụ). He told me priest Thong had gone out. I knew what was happening. I ran out and looked around but didn't see him. I ran on the way to the Pastor's House (this is also the office room of the parish) but still did not see him. I began to be very worried and wondered what was going on with him. Where is he now? If anything had have happened to him, I would have taken responsibility for that. That was my work, my responsibility that we had been pointed in our last meeting. But then I met Quang. How lucky I was. He told me priest Thong had been taken to the bedroom used for guests only because he seemed very tired and was about to fall. I opened the living room's door and saw Mother Mary's Heart (Mẫu Tâm) choir practicing. The next door led me to where priest Thong was resting. He was on the bed and seemed very tired. Perhaps he had moved a lot during his lecture then blood in urination way got out more than often. The stents in his body rubbed together and made more hurts... He opened his eyes and looked at me... After letting him take two medicines (the medicines were described by the doctor and priest Thong always takes along with him in his bag), I did the radionics, acupressure and connection between the electrical current on his face (of course, he had agreed for me to do that). Then he fell asleep in just a minute. He breathed softly. His face seemed to be fine and the fever improved. I was very glad that the methods I used turned out to be good. I thought that had helped him like lots of medicines.
Phuong Dao called me. Phuong was the earliest one to be at the Sea Flower restaurant to put seats in order, prepare poster and get everything ready for the event awareness dinner of priest Thong.
All of us gathered at the Sea Flower restaurant. Priest Thong talked to us about important things. T-shirts, polo shirt, wristband, CD were set up in good order on the tables, ready for welcoming the guests coming here. There were lots of people with big hearts there with us like some Confraternity of Christian Doctrines, leader Van, leader Tho, leader Hung, Ai Huu, Hana, Phuong, etc., especially leader Phong, Nhat who were with us from the beginning to that day's event. Ha Dung's family had done like the lyric "when we are serving others and putting their dreams upon ours, we are meeting ourselves". They had helped us in both material and spiritual fields and made a great happiness among us. How I love this little Ca Mau in Minnesota!
Priest Thong looked like he had felt better, funny and had more power. I could see faith when looking at him. Before the party began, he told us: "Thank you all so much for helping me with all of your soul. We have done our best. Now, we give the rest to God. Let him do the rest for us."
The event was supposed to begin at 6:00 P.M. But because people were just coming and coming and bought tickets at the doorway, the event had to be delayed until 6:30 P.M.
His voice was up and down, sometime with funny jokes that made everyone forgot their present problems to be stuck in his stories about misery of other people. I could see the teardrops on their cheeks, their red emotional eyes that could not keep their tears from falling down. And it was him, yes, even him, who also cried when talking about himself and the coffin, the death of Swan and HIV/AIDS. He was crying while he was standing there on the stage.
The event was more successful than we had expected. This was a supportive present to us who were living here at a boring far-way land like Twin City. This encourages us for our next events.
Thank you all, the old and the young, for helping us. Thanks for supporting us silently, praying for us, for priest Thong and for those who are suffering great misery from child sex abuse.
Priest Thong and the Group Leaders were taken to the common room. He rest there and talked about his thoughts on plans he had been doing. It was a long way to minimize others' sufferings and maximize love that comes from God.
Priest Thong and the Group Leaders said goodbye to us for coming to visit Ha Dung's family.
Our house became silent again as it is. There are none of happy voice and laughter of priest Thong and the Group Leaders. I sat there silently in night, thinking of what I had seen and heard. Those are sufferings of my people. Those are misery of lives. But those sufferings have not stopped yet. They are still coming to every corner of our lives. They are hurting our innocent children. That is the greatest misery to our children, our people and ourselves. What can we do to rescue them?
Lots of emotional waves filled my soul. I found myself as a mad man, saying like priest Thong: "I am mad guy. Only mad ones decide to do such these things".
Being there silently in night, I cried with myself...
One Body Village of Minnesota.
Translated by Le Nhat Lam. Click here for the original article in Vietnamese version