PIME Missionary talks about the grace of Advent amid kids in the shantytowns
by Adriano Pelosin

Boss, 13, grew up in a family wrecked by drugs. With his care and way of doing, he managed to put a smile on Few’s face, a boy pushed driven from home by his mother's second husband. In May 2018, Boss entered the seminary "to become a priest like 'Kun Po A' (Father Adriano)". Few now wants to be baptised too.

Pathumthani (AsiaNews) – What follows are long excerpts from a letter Fr Adriano Pelosin sent to us, to his friends and donors for Advent, describing his mission and the stories of grace and conversion born through it.

Originally from Loreggia (Padua, Italy), the 72-year-old missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) has been in Thailand for about 40 years where he serves as superior of the Thai missionary Institute and has been working since 2013 in St Mark parish, Pathumthani, a small Catholic community that is full of vitality and spirit of initiative.

Dear friends, family and faraway supporters of our children,

As Christmas approaches, I am reminded of the many people who are close to me in thought, prayer, encouragement, understanding and material support. I want to thank everyone on behalf of Thai missionaries, of the poor and orphan children, and of all the people I can help thanks to you.

Let me assure you that the children and I pray for you every day that God may give you good health and peace in your heart and courage in facing the difficulties and sufferings of everyday life. Recently I visited Fr Rachata in Maechan and I saw so many Akha, Lahu and Yao children who can go to school thanks to your contribution and sacrifices. The Lord God will certainly reward you.

Let me tell you the story of Boss and Few.

Boss is a 13-year-old boy. I met him three years ago in one of the many slums on the outskirts of Bangkok. He had come to live in his aunt's hut since it had become too dangerous for him to stay at home. He used to live with his grandparents but unfortunately his step-grandfather forced him into selling drugs (methamphetamine). He earned the equivalent of US$ 9 a pill. He kept one dollar and gave his grandmother the rest. The grandmother came out of prison recently after being convicted of drug dealing, his father is in prison and his mother left home with another man.

Boss has an older brother who is now 15 and a younger brother who is 11. When his grandmother was in prison, he was cared for by his aunt Sim’s family. She too got in trouble with the law in late 2017, again for drug dealing; her aunt's husband was arrested for murder in January 2018. The aunt’s eldest son is also serving time in prison, whilst his 17-year-old cousin Pok has problems with drug addiction.

I realise that all this might be hard to take . . . These are mind-boggling things . . . but this is the situation in which the children in the shantytowns just outside Bangkok live.

With some young people who help me in St Mark Parish in Pathumthani, we organise activities for the kids in such conditions. Boss came along to give a hand. At one point I noticed that he paid special attention to other kids. He had befriended a 11-year-old boy who had come to live in the parish in recent some months, Few. Few had been abandoned after his father died and his mother married another man, who didn’t want Few with them.

Thanks to his care and way of doing, Boss managed to put a smile back on Few's face. Boss came to Sunday catechism and wanted to be baptised and go to the seminary "to become a priest like 'Kun Po A' (Father Adriano)”. Soon Boss became an altar boy, and at Easter this year he was baptised. On 12 May 2018 he entered the seminary.

After some time, Few came to me and suddenly asked me: "Why can’t I be baptised?" I answered: "You never want to go to catechism, you prefer to play.”

“Do you believe in Jesus?" I asked him. "Yes," he said with a sweet smile and bowing his head. "Who is Jesus?", I asked him again. "Jesus is the son of God," he said raising his head. "What did Jesus do for us?" I asked." He died on the cross to forgive our sins," Few replied.

"How do you know these things?" I asked, a tear in my eye. "You always repeat them when we pray together," Few said unfazed. "You seem distracted and uninterested when I say Mass or when we recite the breviary," I told him a little surprised.

Few gave a big smile. "Once I hated my mother's husband, but now I understand that I have to forgive him," Few said. And so, I too smiled.

I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May God fill you heart with his love.