Thursday, July 05, 2007


We arrived at Châu Sơn at 830 pm the night before.
The next morning, expecting to be able to sleep until noon, we were woken up at 7 am by ALL the priests. They expected us to be at mass by 1030, after breakfast and a tour of the big church. Mass was Lễ Tạ Ơn Gia Đình and after mass, Cha Hòa, Cha Hùng, and Cha Cố Thảo took us on a tour of the church grounds.

Breakfast was a feast. We had rice congee with fish and dill…and the BEST instant coffee of my life. The brand is G7 and I am determined to bring home a few boxes of these…just in case America does not have them. G7 is completely manufactured and made from Vietnamese coffee so that is another reason why I am in full support of this brand! Not to mention that Vietnam is the second largest coffee exporter in the world.

We saw the architecture, the history room, the bedrooms, and the gardens. We even saw the parts that are still under construction. The new kitchen that will serve not only the priests and students, but also the community, will be done soon enough.

Châu Sơn is in the middle of the jungle in Northern Vietnam. The only way to get to it is in a xe ôm or small automobiles … and the roads are not marked. One knows his home only by sight and memory. However, all around Châu Sơn, there are barracks where 5000 Việt Cộng soldiers are currently training. The monastery is under constant scrutiny and harassment form the nearby camps. They have to keep a perfect document record of everything they have because they could be called out on any little thing.

The real estate of the church has been mostly taken away by the Communist government. Currently, we are trying to regain as much land as possible for cultivating more rice fields to feed the people. However, winning such a case is very difficult task and both the American government as well as the Việt government are reluctant to give anything back to the people.

We took pictures of all kinds, both color and black/whites until we were called back down to lunch. After lunch, we hiked up 299 steps to see the cave of Mary in the mountains beside the church. 500 people can accumulate to the top and mass can be carried out up there.

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