I am very happy at my first Christmas in the brush. I went to say Midnight Mass in one of our “chapels”, an hour and a half hike from here, but what a hike! First you have to go down a steep slope for three quarters of an hour, and then cross a large river on a sort of a “monkey bridge,” then go for three quarters of an hour up an equally steep slope. Walking that way under a beautiful blue sky and a brilliant sun, through a forest resplendent in leaves and even flowers, I could barely realize that it was the 24th of December! In the village, I heard confessions (in Laotian, a language which the adults know well enough, even though it’s not theirs). After evening prayers in common, some kids kept me company until Midnight Mass.
At midnight, almost the whole village was there, squeezed into the little church of mud and bamboo. Many came back for the Mass at Dawn. After that Mass, I had to take care of the sick; there are always a lot of them, from minor injuries to high fevers, and it’s sometimes disconcerting with the few drugs and the little bit of medical knowledge that I possess.
Letter of Blessed Michel Coquelet to his family,
28 December 1957