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.

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.

Monday, March 31, 2008

St. Laurence House Weekend Update

I heard from James in Freetown this morning. Little Roo was spiking a fever up and down all day yesterday so the family stayed inside and enjoyed some quiet quality family time together. Roo has recovered for the most part from his most recent bout with malaria. We are not sure what the fever is that he currently is experiencing but he is playing and active - that's a good sign. Maybe its simply flu.

A Nazareth House Apostolate mailing is about to go out this week. It has some exciting news about our future goals and includes a DVD. Look for it in your (snail mail) mailbox at home this weekend.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, JAMES!

Today is the 30th Birthday of James Mansaray of Freetown, Sierra Leone! Nazareth House wishes him a blessed and joyous day. We are so grateful for his undying faithfulness and diligence. He truly is a gift of God to us. He tirelessly goes about each day caring and loving his neighbors as he brings comfort to them via the Nazareth House Team - which is all of you - who support the work through prayer and financial donations! What a fantastic full body team we all make - all of us using our various gifts and talents to bring about better lives for the people of Sierra Leone. Glory be to God. Amen.

James spent three hours with Alamamy, a young man who has been helpful in giving medical aid to so many in Freetown. Alamamy is very ill and it seems close to death. He has been the breadwinner for the family and therefore Alamamy is so worried what his transcendence may mean for his beloved family. James comforted him and told him that God will provide and that if it is his time to depart this life he must accept this and enjoy real freedom for the first time in his life.

Unfortunately, death frequently strips you of your friends and family in Sierra Leone. Everyone there has experienced an untimely death of someone they love. This is why it is so important for Nazareth House to establish a "dying house" which we will name "Lazarus House". Do you remember the parable about Lazarus the beggar ? (Luke, chapter 16). Lazarus, a diseased beggar, laid at a rich man's door, longing for scraps from the rich man's table. The beggar died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham in heaven. The rich man also died, and his soul went into hell. The rich man didn’t kick Lazarus, he didn’t beat him or be mean to him. He simply ignored the beggar. We plan to establish Lazarus House within the Freetown Compound - our center of operations. As with our recent struggle during the illness of Gladys as she was left to die alone. This is the sad fact for many Sierra Leoneans. They are left to die lying under a few sheets of cardboard propped up next to a building. Gladys was more fortunate than most because she had us to provide the hospital for her and James & Kadijah to keep her company. There is a great need for such a ministry as Lazarus House because there are so many left to "drop the body" alone, hungry, without any comfort while rich men ignore their existence.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More people sick in Freetown

I finally heard from James after the Easter Holiday and he had more illnesses to report. He did inform me that Roo is still not totally perfect yet but continues to improve from the last case of malaria. Lucy is fully recovered from her incident in which she passed out. His email says:

"Dear Mama Hicks,

I happened to stop by today to see Paul and Hannah and the new baby and they are all doing fine. Samuel recognised me well and was smiling and calling me Uncle Jane. So funny. On my way back i stopped again to say hello to Hannah's mother who has not been feelign well the past three years. To my surprised i met Alimamy Hanna's elder brother seriously ill too. I mean very very serious. He is the doctor who circumsized ROO when you visited several months ago. I remembered Fr. greeted him well. He is the same guy that help me out when i was seriously with the Typhoid illness last year.
Please pas this on and keep him in your prayers. Doctors still cant diagnose what is wrong but his condition so bad and he feels so warm and losing so much weight. he cant eat well, nor talk much. The other sad thing is his wife divorce him five months ago and took away his only child, long story.
He was happy to see me and firstly ask for ROO and then you guys in a low tone. I felt so terrible to see a medical man so seriously ill.

Thank you very much. I will be seeing him again tomorrow.

Thanks for you concern.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed! Nazareth House Apostolate Wishes you a glorious Easter.

Tomorrow it is a tradition of Nazareth House to celebrate in commemoration of Luke 24:13-35, Emmaus Day or in Coptic Tradition : "Sham el-Nessim". The tradition is to pack a picnic and travel as the men did while Jesus walked with them on the road to Emmaus. Other religiouns celebrate Sham el-Nessim as a welcoming of Spring.

Sham el-Nessim literally means "sniffing the air" or "breathing the air" occurring annually on Monday, the day after the Easter Sunday.

Sham el-Nessim is celebrated by both Christians and Muslims so it is considered both a national and religious festival in Egypt and other parts of the world. The main features of the festival are:

People spend all day out picnicking in any space of green, public gardens, parks, at the zoo, etc.

Traditional food eaten on this day consits mainly of salted fish (canned tuna works well), lettuce, scallion or green onions, tirmis or Lupini Beans and boiled coloured eggs.

Even if you have to go to work on Monday, take some time to walk away from your desk, get outside, sniff the breeze and celebrate your personal walk with Christ.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Week & Easter

Nazareth House extends love and greetings for a blessed Easter. There is not a lot of news coming out of Sierra Leone during the Holidays. Shops, internet cafes are closed. Sierra Leone is predominately a Muslim Country but Religious Holidays are respected by all religions of of Sierra Leone. Muslim, Christian holidays are respected by all (and celebrated by all to some extent). This is unique to most nations and Sierra Leone does it better than most.

St. Laurence House Report: Lucy passed out at church in Freetown last week, but it seems to be nothing serious and she is doing well. It is incredibly hot in Sierra Leone right now. Roo's malaria has subsided. Kadijah is dealing with a growing boil on her arm, but she's okay. Ann Marie is well. James is working hard and tired.

Many of you have reported to me that James should "keep his day job as a photojournalist and not seek desires to become a professional vocalist." I agree, although in all honesty, James can sing in lower tones and is able to do it well. I wanted to have a bit of fun with him and show something on youtube about Sierra Leone that was NOT poverty and sadness. The video simply was for fun. I hope it got across the fact that Sierra Leoneans have very little but are generally very happy people. You can view our videos at

Two Presidential Election videos have been uploaded to our You Tube Channel as well. They show the total jubilation over what the people felt as a positive democratic vote for CHANGE.

We continue to pray for the remaining funds to come in to complete the school, that is purchasing the remaining bundles of zinc and materials for the furnishings. We are so close to finishing this school project in Kabala. Hopefully it won't be much longer to we've accomplished it all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nazareth House Kabala School

I've just heard from James in Freetown, I've been worried. No word since Friday. He's been doing photography work to generate money to live on and aid his neighbors. Our financial assistance has been a bit short due to everyone taking all the extra they had to sustain the rent for St. Laurence House one more year. The school in Kabala is almost complete, we still need 5 more bundles of zinc for the roof. We are trying to scrape that together so we can at least get the building done. Then we have to start on all the benches, teacher desks, supplies, uniforms and ongoing monthly support ...sigh... I am hoping tax refunds might help generate a little extra towards our work in Sierra Leone. We'll see.

New videos are frequently added on You Tube at our channel: Give them a look and share them with friends. The latest is one of the precious students of Nazareth House School, Kabala. The children are singing a welcome song. These kids are just beautiful. It is so hard to review these videos and see the faces of loved ones so far away... and be here in Louisville. I want to be with them very much. Hopefully, things will work out for a trip back very soon.

You know, there is so much sadness around the people of Sierra Leone: poverty, illness, hunger, death, violence, theft, death...its everywhere...but yet, AND YET, I find more truly happy and generally accepting people there than anywhere else in the world. There is such a great degree of dignity, of love for thy neighbor - A people of so little that GIVE so much! On our last visit, each time we noticed our brother or sister in need we'd buy food, rice (whatever the need) and bring it to them. By dinner time a meal was prepared and brought to us at St. Laurence House - they wanted to share with us what we had just given them. Its incredible. For many, simply knowing that God loves them and that God is aware of their enough...its all they need. Of course, every culture has those who don't love their neighbor and are consumed in greed. Sierra Leone is no exception. But on the whole, you'll find Sierra Leoneans to be a gentle, loving, welcoming people.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

We have St. Laurence House building ONE more year!

Nazareth House is extremely grateful to all of you that prayed, got the word out and gave so generously to pay the rent for another year at our current location in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This is, however, our absolute last year to utilize this building. The landlord will not rent it to us again. Therefore we will have to look to other alternatives. The most practical and stable thing to do is to purchase our own property, rather than wasting rent money each year. Renting in Sierra Leone can be a difficult and unpredictable event. Our current landlord has been fair and up front with us relative to terms and availability. This is NOT the norm. We've rented in places where once we fixed the place up, we were asked to leave so the owner could use it himself - contracts and paid rent meant nothing.

In my next post I will explain further our goals and needs for the future. Thank you again, for everything you have done.