Sister Wimol’s vocation

“A ghost has come ... a ghost has come!!!” The circle of children in the family of men and women all ran away. This story took place when I was 4 years old, the youngest child in the Buddhist family. I didn't run away, but stood and watched, "What ghost?" When I saw it, I walked over and asked my mother who it was. My mother answered “Ma Mere, a foreign nun, a teacher at Regina School, kind and loved children very much.” Here it was, kind, love of children, a teacher; this was an answer that absorbed deeply in my heart and I have never forgotten.

Ninety years ago, sending one’s daughters to study was not popular. Three of us were sent to Dara Academy School. The school had a policy to promote the education especially of girls. Three students who are siblings of the same parent would not be charged full tuition fees; the third person studied for free, no tuition fee would be charged. My sister was already in high school. I was in grade one until I got to grade two, and then World War II began. There were many Japanese soldiers in Chiang Mai in the temples everywhere. Later, an American plane dropped a bomb and the sound of the bomb falling through the wind towards the Chiang Mai Railway Station was heard. Many people died. The explosive force was wide, a great fire burned, the sky was red, the violent shock crossed the Ping River to the West at the foot of Doi Suthep. Our house was on the West side, we were in a bunker, scared that the house would fall upon us. From that time, we had to move our house and evacuate to the distant place outside the cities. I remember the last place my family made a small cottage at the house of Chao Rachapakhinai in Chiang Mai for safety from general robbery. Famine was everywhere, and a cyclist was struck on the head and the bike taken away, and this happened often.

Finally, when the world's first atomic bomb landed on Hiroshima, Japan, it was the end of World War II, and airplanes scattered flyers distributed throughout Chiang Mai announcing that Japan had surrendered. World War II was over. At the same time, there was a sprinkle of rain, but a Japanese military officer was very courageous to do "Harakiri". Many died in different temples.

When it was calm, the school started accepting students. We were back at home, but the economy was terrible. There were a few large schools, such as government schools. Yuparaj Wittayalai (Male School), Wattanothai Phayap (Female School) Prince Royle (Male School), Dara Academy (Female School), Regina Coeli College (Female School), Montfort Wittayalai (Male School) and Kamtieng Memorial School of the Chutima family

Of these schools Regina and Montfort tuition were much more expensive than other schools. One year had three terms and one year of Regina's tuition fee was the equivalent of studying three years in another school. I was sent to study at Regina, my sisters were grown up and did not continue their studies. On the first day of class, all subjects had to be written on the board and we used a pen that dipped into the Quink ink since there were no fountain pens. There was a Ma Mere as class teacher, all were foreigners. I was so glad to have Ma Mere Mary Bernadette as a class teacher as she was the Ma Mere whom I saw (“a ghost has come!”) when I was a child. She was kind, loved children, and taught drawing skills. She said not to use red and purple together because these two colors bit each other, and she taught English too. Craftsmanship would be distributed only during school hours, and was not to be taken home. She prepared one piece of craftsmanship for everyone to do all year round. Regina would always have a Ma Mere with the children during learning, playing, eating, walking into the classroom, walking straight on the marble floor in 2 spaces. Every morning when coming to school, I would have to say “Good morning, Mother” with lotus flowers as a gesture of paying respect. At 8.00 a.m. we lined up to pay respect to the national flag at Lan Daeng. At that time, there were only students in the whole school from Kindergarten to grade 6. One Ma Mere rang a bell and the students quietly walked up to the classroom. Before walking to turn up to the second floor, another Ma Mere stood there, and before walking past, the students had to bow their head and then pass her up the stairs to enter the classroom.

I was paid one baht per day, for the first hour of studying English. Ma Mare had a milk can while walking alongside every table as we wrote in English. Anyone who wanted to help the poor put coins in that tin. It was not compulsory as each one wanted to help the poor. This was the teaching of selflessness, learning to share with the disadvantaged. So I prepared to drop every day, one dime per day, another one dime, snack, eating at 10 am. At noon, I had lunch brought from home. There would be a large container for food and water at Lan Daeng. Two more dimes were dropped in the jar in order to be kept for personal purchase of Christmas gifts for Ma Mere because my mother said if mom gave money to buy gifts, the merit would be the mother's. If you wanted to get merit, you could collect from the daily snack expenses.

Fundamentals in family life are the most important things in life. Children get a good example from their parents, the foundation of their lives. Love, warmth, and the cultivation of habits, morality, honesty, and gratitude are a big issue including Thai manners. At the age of twelve, I began to think in my heart what kind of life I would take up. Therefore, secretly I told my father that growing up, I would be a Ma Mere. He put his left hand under his chin, saying that his life has reached this point. If you wanted to be a Ma Mere, life would go high. He raised his right hand above his head saying he saw some people who were Buddhists and then Christians, back and forth, not taking it seriously , and that this was a sin, because it must be for a lifetime. You could not play with God. But it was wrong to bring an unhealthy child to be a Ma Mere. If you really wanted to be a Ma Mere you had to eat breakfast every day, two soft-boiled eggs and a glass of milk. I agreed and always practiced that advice. I did not dare to tell my mother because I was afraid she would be sad. I asked permission to study catechism with the Catholic students after class every day before returning home. This was the beginning of life.

           I know the Ursuline Order when I was a student at Regina Coeli College which belongs to the Order of Saint Ursula. A phrase or a thought of Saint Angela that impressed me is “good start is not enough, one must continue to persevere + be honest. The experience that helped me to remain a faithful member in the spirit of St. Angela of the Ursuline Order until this day including the daily life of Ma Mere who loves her students with a pure heart. I like to peek at their prayers. I never felt discouraged in living the Ursuline life. I have settled in this life from the beginning. My father warned me that I can't fool around with God. My family and relatives are Buddhists. I am the only Christian.

          In the current situation, the world is constantly changing including God’s people who are affected. As a servant and follower of Jesus, I am now old and unable to do anything in school, only pray to the Father for His protection with perseverance without giving up. I pray for the alumnae, current students, future students, and parents, the king, the royal family of Thailand and the brothers and sisters in the world that they are not mistaken taking money as a god.