New Priest in Pattaya

Had somebody told me ten years ago that I would become a Priest in < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Thailand I would have thought it was ridiculous. But life is unpredictable, says the new Norwegian Priest in Thailand with a thoughtful but happy smile on his face. Lars Haugan, who was born in Trondheim sixty years ago this summer, has proved that it is never too late to change direction or career in life. Ten years ago, Lars Haugan had his own lawfirm in Oslo where he also graduated as a jurist. Having gained lots of experience with insurance, particularly in the financial sector, Lars Haugan has met at least some people who could need a good talk with the almighty. Its not the reason though that he wanted to do something else.
“I think it just came down to a general interest in theology which I always had that made me decide to start study,“ the priest says. Apparently the spiritual interest was so big that Lars Haugan was able to combine his business and the studies and eventually he graduated as theologian just six years ago. Now being able to concentrate fully on his call Lars Haugan was assigned as priest in Karasjok in the very Northern part of the very cold part of Norway. For his wife Marie Kemi it meant going home as Karasjok is where she comes from. Lars Haugan wouldn’t know that his gown was soon to be his warmest clothing.
Might be that Karasjok is heaven and Pattaya is hell or maybe the opposite all depending on the eyes. The two  places do, to say the least, not have a lot in common, but it may not mean that the Priest’s work task will be a lot different as heaven and hell maybe is present everywhere.
“Before I came to Pattaya I was working four months as an assisting priest in Alicante and has also been substitute priest for four months at Gran Canaria so I have had a chance to adjust to the climate the priest laughs and continues.
“One of the main tasks in Pattaya will first of all be to adjust and get to know people here. Neither me or my wife has been to Thailand before so it will take some effort both to get to know the staff, as well as all the people coming to the church. It will also take time to get to learn the local customs.”
Even if it is just Monday morning, people are coming to and leaving the church in a steady stream. Besides Lars Haugan and his wife five people (three Norwegians) are doing their utmost to make sure all arrangements become a success.
“The seamen’s church is also about having a good time. The church is having an important social function as well. It’s not a secret that even Pattaya is a holiday destination and a paradise seen from the outside it’s also a place with some foreigners dealing with big personal problems,” the priest explains and continues.
“My task is to be a foundation for people who want it and for people who need it. To pass on the message of the Bible – and lead people towards Gods Kingdom by believing in Jesus Christ.” But you don’t need to believe in anything to frequent the church. Everybody are welcome to come around and have a cup of coffee and this does not only count for Norwegians. All Scandinavians are welcome at the church open six days a week from midday to 4 PM in the afternoon.
Lars Haugan sees one of his greatest tasks as taking up the challenge and develop the organisation in Pattaya. The foundation is already there even its just one year ago the church opened. Although the church is situated in Pattaya, Lars Haugan will be travelling to all over Thailand with his gown.
This year 75 Norwegian couples have already been married in Thailand, many a couple living out the dream of a romantic ceremony at a beach in Thailand. The less romantic side to the Priests job is to visit hospitalized Norwegians or Norwegians staying in prison around the country but again this is where it’s possible to make a difference and help when help needed.
Living so close to the beach Lars Haugan will be able to enjoy one of the things he likes the most which is swimming and keeping himself fit. Another thing Lars Haugan appreciates is driving car which he definitely will be able to, due to his job. Living in the land of trafficjams there should be time to combine both driving and also reading Agatha Christie, being one of Lars Haugan’s favourites.

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