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Greetings from Saigon,

November already, so I had better write this now before another month slips away. I hope you and yours are doing well, and in good health.

If you receive this on Wednesday, you might storm the heavens for the 5 postulants here, who have their IELTS, English reading, writing, listening and speaking tests tomorrow morning, are 4 hours ahead of here.  If they do OK, then they can go to the Novitiate in the Philippines. If not,ouch!

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The current unfolding of the deaths of so many Vietnamese in England is awful. Another case of the quest for the promised land turned tragic. They borrow a fortune apparently, and if they manage to get to England, for example, they end up in debt bondage, in low paid jobs, that take years to pay back the debt and interest. One of the deceased is married with four sad, what some parents try to do to support their family. The tip of the iceberg.

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Of course, there are many local Vietnamese overseas..170,000 studying o/s (17,000 undergrads in Oz!)...more than 140,000 legal "guest workers".

October saw both Thoi and myself back in Sydney for health reasons; Thoi for his post cancer regular check up (clear!), and muggins with the inner ear issues. So the ENT drilled a few more holes in my head to try to help, and reasonably successful, but complicated by a continuous head cold...still, no complaints allowed. Sorry I had so little time to catch up with you.

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A great highlight of October was the visit of the two "girls", Sharron and Di, from St Brigid's school and parish in Coogee. Their itinerary could be worth following, if you are thinking of visiting. They left their husbands behind, and went with a tour company from Oz, to Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Mekong, and Saigon. When the tour left, they spent days with nearly all the MSC here... Hoang, the community leader, and the older....visit to War museum, palace, classes, liturgies with the postulants and the scholastics, and an afternoon in an orphanage with pre-postulants.

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They sampled some great Vietnamese food, including students' excellent cooking!

Vietnam is still dealing with the results of the war. I just noticed that a large area around Bien Hoa airport has been handed over to US AID for dioxin clean up. The clean-up is expected to take 10 years. Oz has fire and floods, and Vietnam has floods and storms aplenty. The recent typhoon Matmo destroyed 35 schools in a central Province. Speaking of schools, it was great to hear that the Downlands Year 12s went out singing THE song (Shout out my soul).

Teachers' day here has a song, which includes the idea that the chalk dust turns our hair white!! but includes lines like: "I love the way you changed my life, you opened my heart and mind." We are looking forward to the return of Quang, after his 9 months formation to help on staff.

Lots of love to you all. Have a great holiday, when they come, school people. Let's keep the prayers going. See you in the new year.   God bless.  (Uncle) Bob

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