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Dear Dhamma Friends,

The year 2002 which some people considered "black and bleak" has given way to the year 2003, which promises "prosperity and happiness". The changing of the year, in this case, also signifies the "changing of the guard", since the term and service of the current Board of Directors for TBSA has reached the final chapter. {mosimage}Over the twenty years of existence, TBSA has seen countless, dedicated volunteers in general, and the Executive Committee members in particular, who have helped the Sasana grow beyond the Bay Area. Most of their names can be found in the 20th Anniversary special issue of the Dhammananda Newsletter. I would like to supplement that list here.

It's been three full terms (six years) that I have served as President of TBSA. I was blessed to work with excellent Board of Directors that provided physical, moral and monetary support without fail. I am fortunate to have a kind and understanding soul mate, My wife and family wholeheartedly gave physical and mental support to "go the extra mile" during my entire tenure. Without their help, it will not be possible for me to serve on this board for this long.

To all my colleagues serving on the board, especially U Kyaw Tay Za (General Secretary) and Shirley Win (Treasurer), who have shared and endured all the ups and downs during these years with me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Without their help, encouragement, coordination, team-work, and a sense of camaraderie, achieving a fraction of the goals is unimaginable.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all our Dhamma friends, who have given us unfailing support and invaluable advice.  I am very grateful to all the generous donors who have contributed money and kind -- large and small --  towards the reconstruction of the Dhammananda Vihara Monastery and Meditation Center and for the propagation of Theravada Buddhism in the Americas and beyond.  I am extremely delighted and thankful to see donations pouring in at record levels despite the slowing US and global economy. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

As we reflect on the past two years (of the current term), we see several successes as well as temporary failures.  For every roadblock we encountered, we have tried our best to analyze the root cause(s), take remedial actions, and also ensure that such mistakes or hardships will not be repeated in the future.  I truly hope that our Dhamma friends will understand our cetana and metta and will forgive our unintentional mistakes.

During my tenure, TBSA has overcome several major obstacles and has reached important milestones. Dhamma Friends can now rejoice and enjoy the majestic view of the new Meditation Center building rising high above the panoramic landscape.  This would not have been possible without the following. First, the young volunteers in the "Ponya Kusala" group, headed by U Tun Lin and U Ye Sint, sacrificed their precious weekends for several months of hard labor in cleaning and fixing up the new Dhammananda Vihara compound during the move from Daly City to Half Moon Bay. Next, we were blessed to have U Richard Shwe, a devotee of Sayadaw U Silananda, to give some of his services voluntarily for the Monastery Construction project. Finally, we received numerous donors and pledges.

This year, a record number of youths – 45 to be exact --  passed the Aye-Thet scholarship Buddhist examination, now in its tenth year. This is a significant step in passing the dhamma torch to the next generation.  This has been made possible by the foundation laid down by the generosity of Burmese philanthropists and devotees of Sayadaw U Silananda Dr. Lynn Swe Aye and Dr. Khin Nyo Thet. The achievements are due in great measure to Sayadaw U Silananda and all Dhammananda Sayadaws, who place emphasis on pariyatti, paripatti, and pariveda. They have given us and continue to give us wisdom, insight, and guidance.

Earlier this year, we were alarmed when Sayadaw U Silananda suffered a mild stroke, but we can now rejoice to know that Sayadaw has recovered completely to carry on his Dhamma Duta missions. Recently, we had a 75th birthday Pu Zaw Pwe for Sayadaw U Silananda. In addition to the physical Pu Zaw Pwe, the attendees were given a Dhamma dana book "First Sermon", a reprint of Sayadaw's early exposition of the Dhammacakka. The book also contains Sayadaw's biography in Myanmar and English.
My sincere appreciation goes to the doctors and nurses, who took special care of Sayadaw U Silananda during his illness, and to all the friends, devotees and well wishers --  near and far -- who expressed their concerns about Sayadaw’s health and their kind wishes for Sayadaw’s longevity.  I am also grateful to Tathagata Meditation Center (TMC) for providing comfortable accommodations for Sayadaw U Silananda from the beginning of the reconstruction of Dhammananda Vihara until today.

There are numerous unsung heroes. The members of the Mettavihari group have chanted parittas and suttas at every TBSA festival without fail. The culinary group of TBSA led by Daw Yi Yi Thein, Daw Hla Hla Win, and Daw Tin Tin Win has prepared delicious and authentic Burmese food for every event.  Auntie Daw Than Kyi and Sayalay Ma Sukhakami deserve special thanks for their tireless work and their loving kindness in caring for Sayadaws.  I would also like to express my gratitude to all the volunteers young and old for their immeasurable help over the years.

Last, but not least, I wish to tender my heartfelt acknowledgement to the Dhammananda Newsletter team (which also doubles as the TBSA web team) for their dedication, and hard work to prepare the news and articles in time for our Dhamma friends.

In conclusion, I would like to encourage readers, who wish to help propagate the sasana in general and TBSA activities in particular, to serve on the next Board of Directors. We request them to give their names to the Venerable Sayadaws as candidates as soon as possible. We, the outgoing team, will work together with the new board to assure a smooth transition and for the successful completion of New Dhammananda Vihara Meditation Center.

May you all have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Sabbe Satta Sukhita Hoontu.

With boundless metta,

Myat Htoo