Convoy’s Payton Helstad poses with Buddhist monk Sutham Nateetong whose cross-country journey brought him through Van Wert on Monday. (Photo submitted)
Convoy’s Payton Helstad poses with Buddhist monk Sutham Nateetong whose cross-country journey brought him through Van Wert on Monday. (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT – On March 2, Sutham Nateetong, a Buddhist monk, left Santa Monica, California, on foot with the goal of spreading peace. On Monday, his journey brought him through Van Wert and Delphos where he was met by many willing to greet him and hear his story.

“I walk for peace,” said Nateetong. “Our world has many bombs, killing, and many wars. I think if the world has peace everybody will be happy.”

Nateetong walked along Route 66 to Chicago which he said was very historic. He took U.S. 30 into Ohio and then walked Lincoln Highway into Van Wert Monday morning. He said Americans have been very friendly to him on his trip.

Nateetong’s destination is the Statue of Liberty in New York and he plans to be there within 30 days. He walks around 30-40 miles a day.

“When I walk I meet many people and talk about peace,” said Nateetong. “When I walk I use meditation and have a power in my mind and I send love and kindness to everyone I meet.”

Through his journey, Nateetong has many people who provide him with food or a place to stay at night. On Monday, two individuals from Fort Wayne, Mitch Siripanya and Sommano Simasing met up with Nateetong in Fountain Park along with Lima’s Thai Jasmine Restaurant owner Thitina Vorachack, to provide the monk with food. He ended his day’s journey outside of Delphos where Vorachack provided him with a place to stay for the night.

Vorachack, whose brother is a monk, was very excited to meet Nateetong.

“We believe in Buddha,” said Vorachack. “It’s something in your heart.”

“I tell many people Buddhism is about peace and love and kindness,” said Nateetong.

“No matter what religion you believe, all of us want peace and to be happy,” added Siripanya. “Why don’t we create it together?”

During Nateetong’s journey, he sometimes teaches people how to meditate, which is one of many core practices to help bring about enlightenment in the Buddhist tradition.

This is not Nateetong’s first walk; he has taken great journeys through Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, and India.