St. Simeon Skete, Taylorsville Kentucky USA

With St. Simeon, the God receiver, as our patron, the skete seeks to practice the ideals found in our Rule, The Thousand Day Nazareth. In simplicity and poverty, the skete embraces the struggle of inner life through the practice of the Prayer Rope.

The outreach of Nazareth House Apostolate is in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Matthew 25:31-46. For more information see our website at

Donations should be addressed to: Nazareth House Apostolate, 185 Captains Cove Drive, Taylorsville, Kentucky 40071.

Important Notice: All writings, posts, graphics & photographs in this blog are the copyrighted property of (unless otherwise indicated) Nazareth House Media, a division of Nazareth House Apostolate and cannot be copied, printed or used without written permission from NHA Media, Taylorsville, KY.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Surplus to Need

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As I sit before this computer to write this blog, my heart is racing.  My adrenaline is up and  I feel the  extreme urgency to move our Surplus to Need project quickly to completion.

All morning I have been chatting with Medical Doctors in Kabala via whatsapp to find out their exact needs to prepare for Ebola and maintain health care in the district.

In Kabala, these sacrificial doctors are trying to brace for approaching Ebola and they have very very little to work with.  I am calling on each and everyone of you to stand in the gap where there is no separation and do what you can to give these doctors the tools they so desperately need.  In life there are those moments when we can make a huge difference in the lives of others and in order to do so we put away our petty prejudices, dissolve divisions and become one - this crisis is one of those moments.  What a beautiful way to help each other and forget our differences by an outpouring of love.

Yesterday while reviewing the process for shipping at Supplies Over Seas in Louisville, Kentucky, I investigated the Protection Suits we plan to send.

I was nonchalantly fiddling with the hood and gloves, when Melissa Mershon of SOS showed me the boots that must be worn.  The boot was heavy.  As I held this heavy boot, I stopped fiddling with the equipment as my heart sunk and my eyes welled up with tears.  I pictured the medical workers in the scorching heat and drenching humidity of Sierra Leone trying to save lives in this sauna suit of shiny plastic.  I can't imagine.  

Nazareth House Apostolate is preparing through Supplies Over Seas to ship up to 100 hospital beds,
The beds that are available for shipping once we raise the funding
Lucy and Melissa Mershon of SOS with the mattresses for the beds to be shipped. 

Ebola specific treatment and preventative equipment and dress,

Melissa Mershon of SOS with Ebola Suit Hood

and much needed health care supplies to the Kabala Government Hospital in Kabala, Sierra Leone. 

The 300 students, their parents, our teachers and our staff living in our compound, namely James and Kadijah and family, are the responsibility of NHA.   It is up to us to provide them with the protection and means to survive.   The Government of Sierra Leone is doing all they can to combat this Ebola Outbreak but they need our help.

There are other groups waiting to raise the money like us in order to send these supplies to Liberia.  The situation is, whoever raises the money first sends the available supplies faster.  More supplies will come available, but I'm hoping to be in the first run before supplies run out.   There is no competition,  of course, the need is great everywhere.  Sadly the fact of the matter is --  it is the funding that is holding back the surplus we have access to here in Kentucky and keeping it from meeting the need they have in Kabala.  With Liberia in the news,  shipments are arriving.   There have been many shipments to Freetown and also Kailahun District in Sierra Leone.  But Kabala is late in registering Ebola cases and nothing has been sent their way.  We are the first responders, so to speak.  We need $25,000 to send this shipment on and we are on very limited time.

We ask you to give and give generously.  Lives are at stake.  Your financial donation may be made to us through this link: or directly to Supplies Over Seas at this link:  --make sure to indicate NHA EBOLA - Sierra Leone on your donation.

The enemy Ebola is an adversary to all humankind.  It makes no distinctions of race, creed, sex, social status, Nationalities, or economies.  To combat this enemy we must unite not divide ourselves.  Stopping Ebola in its tracks in West Africa prevents the spread globally.  This is an opportunity where the people rise to the occasion to make a difference   ...and the difference is life and death.

It is our duty as humankind to help those in need.  Your response to this plea gives way to a blessing.

Deuteronomy 15:10
Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

The much repeated verse:  "God helps those who help themselves" is nowhere in the Bible.  Besides, there is nothing available after the terrible war fueled by former Liberian President Charles Taylor for Sierra Leone to use to "help themselves". Instead the Bible says in 1John 3:17

New International Version
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
New Living Translation
If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion--how can God's love be in that person?
English Standard Version
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
New American Standard Bible 
But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
King James Bible
But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

Thank you!  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Note from James

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Written by James B. Mansaray, NHA Director - West Africa Division; NHA School Headmaster - Kabala.

Greetings from Kabala, Sierra Leone!

It has been a long while since I last wrote on this blog. Yes, I am anxious to say a word or two as there have been so many miracles since June 16th 2014.  

James and Lucy at the chapel of St. Simeon Skete 
On that day, my dear daughter Lucy and I made a trip to the U.S.A. - most especially St. Simeon Skete in Taylorsville, Kentucky.  Lucy was visiting for her very first time and met all our NHA Board Members and many sponsors at St. Simeon Skete.  Then she met even even more sponsors as we traveled to La Grange, Georgia, West Point and then South Carolina. It was a wonderful trip and we got to see  a lot of America.

Thanks to Mama Vicki for all the hard work and long drive through thick and thin to get  us to meet a host of NHA family. I must confess, it was the best trip ever. Lots of wonderful  people I met on this trip. Wish I could name everyone individually but you know who you are and how much you mean to NHA.  And so does God. 

The miracles of this trip were everywhere but most especially in the diagnosis 

and treatment of Lucy's heart condition.  

She is now perfectly healthy and we are all so very thankful.

As my time drew nearer for the return to my beloved homeland, the deadly EBOLA disease
outbreak raised its ugly and foul head trying to control of my Country; killing hundreds and spreading rapidly like a plague. My heart was broken and I was terrified. But the question was should I let my beloved family suffer and be in danger alone and I sit back in the U.S. and enjoy more food, access easy internet and sleep in a warm bed or go and be with them? My answer was, of course, without hesitation "go be with my family". Mama Vicki and I battled a bit about this for she was worried about me going in to the Ebola's war front.  But as much as she and Seraphim worried for me, they worry for Kadijah and my kids as well.  They know that my place is with my beautiful bride and young children. But they did give me the option to stay.  

Finally the day came for my departure and I was ready for it more than anything else. 

I always cry when leaving them but this time I was smiling wanting nothing but to be on that plane and return to my homeland and my wife and kids. 

Off we go and at my first stop I noticed only a few Sierra Leoneans. These people got guts like me so am not the only one making the attempt to return to our Ebola ridden towns and villages.

In Brussels I noticed lesser people in the aircraft. I stretched my body out well on different seats -  making the aircraft mine for few hours.   Forty-five minutes before landing my eyes were drawn to the small TV in front of my seat.  

I noticed we are flying through Kindia, the home of Pa Barrie. That was an honor for me to do. 

Going home to help my family and friends be safe from the deadly disease and at the same  time seeing this noble, honorable and prayerful man’s home gave me such courage.  

I prayed and asked Pa Barrie to pray me home safe.  Seems as if he was there looking on the airplane.

Upon arrival I noticed fear in most of the people I met. I know Sierra Leoneans to be warm and always smiling with a welcoming hand to all.  This time around, the smiles were there but you could see and feel the fear.

Back again on the broken ferry. It brought to mind all the new cool boats on Taylorsville lake. The ferry  is old and scary but its all we got to take people back and forth.

Back in rainy Freetown. Excited and happy I greeted my wife and kids well with tight hugs.
The following day, we were on the road to Kabala for I learned from a friend that all movement in and out of Kabala will be stopped for it’s the only town with no Ebola case yet. Tons of people wanting to go in to Kabala that night.

From the airport in Louisville Kentucky and now back in my beloved hometown Kabala.  As we drove through the broken road down the hill to the Compound, I noticed several NHA school kids. I guess they expect me to open school for them the following day. But with the Government ban on all school openings and fears of the spread of the disease;  our students are doing their best to stay with their families at home for now till the disease is

It was easy for me to notice more suffering and difficulties amongst people in Kabala. More beggars around, and a whole lot asking for job and finding ways to help feed themselves in the midst of this crisis. More  people being asked to take leave from their jobs.  

With businesses and schools shut down employers can't pay employees.    It brings memories of our ten years war. This time the disease seems even more scary.  You don't know where it is hiding and there is no good guy or bad guy like with the rebels.  The disease just hits on anyone. 
Children receiving rice from NHA in Kabala 

As I type this, Kabala is still safe but you never know. Even without any cases of Ebola in Kabala, the disease is still taking a toll. 

Family receiving a rice distribution from James in Kabala

We cant afford it as the price of local commodities continue to take a step higher every other day. Now the word that the whole Country will be shut down for few days makes it even worse. Yesterday I had to pay more than I ever had for  bags of rice to help feed some people and getting them ready with clean water etc.

Roo, Sia & Vicki sitting on bags of rice for villagers 

No word yet on schools but we are ahead of the game, making preparations. We are repairing and fixing the school so that we will be ready to start school when the government gives the okay.  Now would be the perfect time to build the much needed expansion of the school as people are so desperate for work.  But NHA is having difficult time meeting needs now.  So we wait for the funding.  It needs to happen, there are 200 students waiting to enroll.  Education brings independence.  

Right now your NHA in Sierra Leone are doing their best to help all those around us during this Ebola Outbreak Crisis.  

We especially are trying to reach the aged and young who can't get help on their own. 

It is my pleasure to write this blog. I promise to write more from time to time. The internet is slow and intermittent so I have difficulties communicating.  Our generator has broke so charging my laptop and phone can be a chore.  But we are getting along.  We have flashlights and candles enough.  

My gratitude and love to all. Thanks being there and supporting NHA, me, my family here in Kabala and in Taylorsville, Kentucky.  Kadijah and I miss Lucy a lot but we know she is being cared for good.  Thanks for giving life back to my
people, they need you now very much.
Love ,

Saturday, September 6, 2014

September 6: An important day for NHA

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Not intentionally, the NHA Blog seems to have been on Summer Vacation. Though the NHA blog has been inactive - Nazareth House Apostolate has been extremely busy.

Today is the feast of Mary, Messenger of Peace.  Her statue resides in our chapel, the Sanctuary of the Holy Name.   The details about Mary, Messenger of Peace can be found on a previous post at this link: NHA Blog Post Messenger of Peace   This link also include the Litany of Mary, Messenger of Peace.

This special Feast Day is the perfect guide as we step quietly into the Autumn Season.  At St. Simeon Skete we begin the Novena of the Seven Sorrows of Mary today.  For Nine days we will say the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows through the 14th of September which is the Feast of the Holy Cross. September 15th is the Feast of Mary of Seven Sorrow.  September is pregnant with spiritual devotions and learning.

As we edge towards a new season, falling leaves and changing weather,  I am forced to stop and take a look at the events of this Summer.   Among many events,  the arrival of James Mansaray, our head of operations in Sierra Leone and his daughter, Lucy are the highlight of the activities.

Lucy has never been out of Sierra Leone and this was a considerable undertaking.  I remember the first time she looked into the sky and wondered what the airplane vapor trail was.  There are no airplanes crossing the sky in Sierra Leone.

As I type this post, I can hear Lucy in the kitchen singing. Its hard to believe that on Monday it will be two months since she had heart surgery in Louisville.  What an event in her life, in our life and that of all Nazareth House Apostolate.  Can you imagine coming to a foreign country, passing out at Eucharist and finding out that you need heart surgery?

Lucy has handled it all beautifully, choosing to take advantage of the situation as a learning tool.
Dr. Mandrola with Lucy and James 

Every nurse and Doctor she met, Lucy asked questions and the wonderful staff at Baptist were more than happy to help her out.
During the past few months at the skete we've had an incredible amount of guests from all over the world.


Plus all of the Nazareth House Board of Directors came for our Annual Meeting.

And we've also made visits to our friends and supporters in other areas of the country.

Through it all, The Prayer Offices continue.    This is what sustains us, feeds us and keeps us going.

Too quickly, the time for James to return to Sierra Leone came.  Afraid of blood clotting after surgery,  Lucy has stayed behind.  Sending James back to Sierra Leone is always difficult, but sending him this time, knowing of the prevalent Ebola Outbreak in his country tore at our hearts like never before.
Seraphim giving a blessing to James as he travels

This brave man smiled and waved at us from the airport security checkpoint and armed with a suitcase full of rubber gloves, he made the journey to his homeland where Ebola is wreaking havoc.

He was anxious to be with his beloved wife, Kadijah and children, Roo and Vicki.

Roo and Vicki (August 2014)

As Headmaster of the NHA School, he is excited to prepare for the school reopening.  And he wants to return to be there for those who are without.  Especially the children, he loves the children of Sierra Leone so much and wants to in some small way better their future.

Food and jobs have always been scarce around Sierra Leone, but these days with closing of schools, shops and such because of Ebola; people are suffering more and more each day.
Kabala Children (Septermber 2014) 
Because of the regular  monthly donations NHA was able to continue to provide for those in Sierra Leone.  Our teachers are getting paid, even while school is not in session due to the Ebola.  We are doing our best to keep the economy stimulated by buying paint and supplies from local shops in order to paint and prepare the NHA School in Kabala for the opening of a new school year.  We've hired workers to help us get this job completed.   James also hired some workers to cut the overgrown brush from around the contract.  NHA is providing work where there is not.  This helps people to provide for their families and helps us get our work done.   Though travel from area to area is forbidden and curfews issued, James is able to get funding to Freetown to the people we take care of there.  We cannot ship items at this time but we can purchase supplies there if we have the money. Ebola is pressing hard, but NHA continues to do our work one way or another.

Child of Kabala (September 2014)
The reality is that, things will get worse before they get better.  This means more and more people will have to do without.  They have very little to begin with.    Please in your charity, consider lending a hand to those without.  God bless you all

Child drinking  well water from dirty water bottle.  Kabala, 9/2014
Donations can be mailed to:

Nazareth House Apostolate
185 Captains Cove Drive
Taylorsville, KY 40071

or made through our paypal donation link at