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.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Timing is everything...

Today marks a week since we have returned from Sierra Leone.
The re-entry into fast-paced America from the slow downed pace of Africa
can dull your thoughts and experiences; but its only a temporary situation.
The minute you arrive home, so much to do, people to see, long work days, schedules, appointments - you seem to shove your time in Sierra Leone in the background and jump back into the old routine.
But our experiences in Sierra Leone aren't able to stay hidden for long, constantly bubbling forth, Salone becomes a part of you.

I've caught up enough to sit and ponder the whole adventure, process it all, and share it with you. Keep watching this blog, There is much to say.

There is no one-lined statement or phrase to sum up this recently completed Lenten Mission Trip. It is richly facetted with many thoughts and memories.

Did we do what we set out to do? Most definitely!

Did we serve the poor as we encountered them and their needs? Yes! to the best of our ability.

We fed the hungry, aided the sick,
visited the lonely - from every point of view, we can say this trip was a great success.
Even so, I always coming away from Salone feeling as though there was much left undone. Nothing new, its that same ole' feeling every time I leave Sierra Leone and return to the land of the plenty. Though NHA has made a tremendous difference in the lives of many, there are so many more that we haven't reached yet. People who are living their lives in deep poverty, going about it the best they can, looking for ways to make improvements, hoping for something to make a change in it all. This is what haunts me, when I come back to the States, to all the muchness all around me and I think of those with so little, struggle to have the simplest of existence. In the circle of people we encountered, for every person we treated for worms in Sierra Leone,
there are 10-12 people going without treatment (children and adults).
We are one of the few that are in Sierra Leone fighting internal parasites, effectively.
I guess, I am lamenting because I know how much more we could do given additional support.

Even the poorest of the poor in America can be treated for an illness by a qualified doctor without money .... but in Sierra Leone - its a gamble. This bothers me. Maybe, if a Sierra Leonean can scrape up some money, they might get treatment, but chances are its a wild guess and not a real diagnosis.
This Billboard Sign on the side of a Freetown road says it all ....
As I type this, James' brother, Joseph is recovering at St. Laurence House in Freetown.
I am thankful for this, I feel comfortable knowing that our little compound "St. Laurence House" is a safe house for people to be cared for and loved.

Nazareth House Apostolate has come very far and accomplished a lot but there is so much more we must do, so much ahead of us. Its time to take the next step, moving to Kabala will set us in that direction.

Freetown served its purpose for a time, but the high costs, the jammed streets, have become prohibitive of our work. We will make regular visits in Freetown to care for those who have become part of the Nazareth House Family. We won't forget them, but our work will now center in Kabala.

We found a nice 3 bedroom house
looking at the NHA school from front porch of house

to use as a compound.
The house is directly across the road from the school -- our school, The NHA School.
View of NHA School from Front door of House

The builder has only a few more finishing touches
to complete this building.
We have agreed upon the price of $55,000
however, we realize there may be some last minute additions that may raise the price a bit
but it will remain generally in the $55,000 range. This is a fair price, especially since it includes a well.
We will be able to help supply the school with water (right now they are hauling buckets up from quite a ways away).
Back of house

However, for the same structure in Freetown, we could not have touched it for under $175,000 or more.
Living Room of House

There is also a stretch of several acres of prime land
view from backdoor

behind the house which rises up the hill
the cell tower in the distance provides adequate ZAIN internet for our communications.

that was offered to us for $24,000.
This is important ground for farming
and Nazareth House expansion. I am thinking a mango grove and banana farm! Throw in several plots of pineapple, cassava and rice.
We can feed and provide work for many. We would be able to eventually build a retreat house up on the hill
and other structures conducive to our work. This is an awesome opportunity.

Directly behind the NHA School is a very small house that backs up to our property line.
The owner has also agreed to sell it to us and we are negotiating the price at this time. We are considering this building for faculty housing and school office.

The acquisition of the two houses, the land,
view from property behind the house: you can see the house, the school & small house
behind the school.
This would all belong to Nazareth House Apostolate.

and a proper 4 wheel vehicle will fall right at or under $100,000. In Freetown, it would have cost (for less space and less property) well over $300,000.

Kabala is growing and its growing fast. Since our last visit in November 2009, we were amazed by all the houses being built and growth. If we don't buy now... it won't wait on us. The time is now.

Its going to take all of us, adding more to the fold daily, spreading the word. The future is very exciting! Don't keep it to yourself, invite others to join us. Together, we can do more and more to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Having the compound and surrounding land in Kabala provides NHA with unlimited possibilities to do our work, providing for the poor, caring for the sick, being there, loving the people. We are told that the poor will always be with us, but we are still called to make a difference, one person, one village at a time. Please join us in our efforts. Support Nazareth House in your prayers, your donations and your actions.

Donations can be made through The Nazareth House Apostolate website (paypal donation button) or by mailing to:

Nazareth House Apostolate
2216 Goldsmith Lane
Louisville, KY 40218

All photographs on this blog are the exclusive property of NHA and its photographers, all rights reserved, and cannot be used or copied without written permission from NHA.

mini updates

Dear Friends,
Catch up work that I left behind while in Sierra Leone, has kept me busier than expected but I am making my way through it all and this blog will be attended to much better in the very near future. Bear with me.

In the meantime, I am happy to report that James' youngest brother, Joseph is out of the hospital, recovering from Typhoid and Malaria safely and effectively at St. Laurence House. Thank God for St. Laurence House and our staff that keeps in going - James & Kadijah!

Our staff in Kabala, report that, sadly, Emmanuel remains MIA (missing in action). His parents returned to Kabala without him stating that he was left with relatives in a village 65 miles away. This gives me great concern, but as I stated before: we have done all we could physically do for Emmanuel - we leave it in God's hands. Please keep him and his parents in your prayers.

We have been able to send the first installment towards the payment of our new Compound in Kabala. We have now paid $7,300 to the builder. This was a surprise as I had told the builder we could only manage $5,000 at this time. We only owe $44,700! Needless to say we are taking donations - PLEASE! The house, the land, our plans in Kabala - all of this info- is coming soon on the blog. We are finalizing figures, etc.

Time, money and delays, kept us from giving rice out to everyone we had on our list while in Freetown. Never fear, James is taking care of that situation now, as I have replenished his "Rice to Others" fund. There are also a few who needed a 'cash' supplement to make ends meet on necessary items for sustenance and James is also prepared to care for them.

NHA is going about its work, helping and loving others - thanks to people like you that express their compassion in donations. God bless you all.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Update on Joseph Mansaray

Hello Friends of Nazareth House,
Just got word from James that Joseph (James' youngest brother) is still in the hospital and James has been running all day getting medicines and taking care of his needs. (makes you wonder what the hospital is supplying besides the naked bed - James brought the bedding sheets). Anyway, it is definitely a severe case of malaria. He should be released by tomorrow or Monday. He is being treated with medication that works... so this is good. Thank God, James is close by his side to make sure all goes well.

On another note, Mako sent word that Emmanuel's parents apparently abandoned him into the hands of his grandmother in a village 65 miles away. The young couple are worn out and unprepared to continue the struggle for his survival. The thing is, he had a whole village prepared and ready to care for him in Kabala. The NHA team of Pa Foday and Mako are there, plus others to help care for him. We are praying that he is brought back before it is too late. Without his mother's breast feeding, his chances of survival are slim - even though we have cleared him of the worms - the nutrition is an important and necessary issue. He must get nourishment. This is very sad, he had a chance but cultures and traditions clash sometime and people don't understand. God does, He knows, He sees. We leave it in His hands.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Added Feature to this NHA Blog

Dear Friends,
Beginning today, we will post weekly school reports from our Nazareth House School, Kabala on our blog (when school is in session). Mako Mansaray will be giving us an update every Friday and it will be posted on the blog once received.

Here is this week's news from the school:

By Mako Mansary: Kabala, Sierra Leone

Greetings from NHA School Kabala.
We, the teachers and pupils of NHA School Kabala want to thank you all
out there for giving us the support we need to have and run this
We also want to thank you for sending Fr.Hicks,Mama Vicki and
sister Emily to us.
They are a very wonderful people.
Their help and support to us in Kabala has changed the lives of hundreds of school
going children.

They have supported us in every aspect to keep the school
running,helping the kids and teaching us to put God first in all that
we do.

We have ended another week in the school.This week has been very busy
as the kids were writing their Second Term Exams.Today marks the end
of the exams,and school will close down after today for two weeks for the
Easter Break.School reopens again on the 12th of April.

I am pleased to inform our friends and supporters that only 10 of our
students were not able to write their exams. Sickness was the major cause
of these children not writing their exams. But the school, in our own little
way, has a illness record book which will help these kids to get treatment from
the Kabala Government Hospital. So far it has been helpful.

One of the kids by the name of Abu Mansaray of class 4,was unable to
write his exams as his mother was sent to prison for six month last
week.The mother could not pay the rentage she owed the house owner
for about a year now. Abu is presently staying with a relative. All so sad.

To you all we say thank you,and may the good God continue to bless us all.
More on the school when we return from holidays.
Love you all.
It is very hard to communicate treatment to young parents in Africa. Unfortunately, I have just talked to Mako who went to check on Emmanuel first thing this morning, only to find out that they have taken Emmanuel away to another village about 65 miles from Kabala. sigh... His worm treatment is complete, the worms should all be dead. The intensive treatment he needs now is strictly nourishment. I pray that, wherever he is, he will receive this nourishment.

Mako is investigating this sudden move out of Kabala for little Emmanuel and will report back to me when he finds out the details. Please keep Emmanuel and his parents in your prayers. I would have felt more comfortable knowing he was in the NHA environment in Kabala and being looked after by many who care, but it is what it is... Pray.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

NHA's war on worms!

Dear Friends of Nazareth House Apostolate,
Thank you for your prayers, we have arrived safely back in the States. It is a long journey from Sierra Leone to Louisville, Kentucky. The whole return process started out in an automobile (James driving us to the heliport), then we took a helicopter from Freetown to Lungi. At Lungi we boarded a BMI flight to London Heathrow. A bus carted us from the airplane to the terminal, from there we took a United Airlines flight into Chicago. In Chicago we had to switch terminals so we jumped on the train to accomplish that. On a little dinky plane we flew into Louisville. Once in Louisville, Fr. Seraphim and I ended our journey but poor Emily still had to drive an hour to reach her final destination. From beginning to end, this trip involved all forms of motorized transportation - when you include our ferry crossing into Freetown. Planes, Trains and Automobiles...and ferries... Anyway, we are back and ready to get into the swing of life in America again.

One of the most heart wrenching situations that we dealt with in Sierra Leone was that of little Emmanuel.

Emmanuel came to our attention when he was brought to the church service for healing.
We all prayed for him.
At first look, Emily and I were puzzled by his malnutrician.
We couldn't figure out what was causing it until we lifted up his shirt and saw a belly full of worms... moving worms, taking up his whole intestines. You could actually see the worms wiggling under his skin.
He was close to death and we cannot be certain that we weren't too late. He needs prayers, lots of prayers.

Children shouldn't be dying of worms, but there is no treatment out there in Kabala or Freetown or other areas of Sierra Leone for these kids. That is, unless NHA brings it in - $3 per pill. One pill kills a case of pin worms, 6 pills kills the more severe hook and/or round worms. As far as I am concerned, its the best expenditure of $3 (or more) I can ever make.

I contacted my doctor, who told me there was not much hope, but the only thing we could do was to administer the worm pills that we had for 3-5 days (one in AM and one in PM) and pray.

Emily and I crushed the first tablet,
mixing it with water
and squeezed it into his tiny mouth.
At 18 months old, Emmanuel is less than 10 pounds.
Bit by bit we got it all into his mouth,
allowing him time in between to nurse so that it got into his system.
His mother is unreal, all this time she has been nursing
and nursing
to keep her child alive.
Never giving up, never tiring out.
And yet, all the while, the worms continued to multiply.

As crushed worm pill covered his lips,
Emmanuel takes a break,
even cracks a smile at us,
while we continue to make sure nothing is lost and all of the pill gets in.

The second dose, we found an easier way. His mother was able to crush it on a spoon and shove it in... simple, nothing lost. As I keep saying, this mother is remarkable, full of strength and capability. I admire her so much!
Mako, in Kabala, has been keeping an intensive watch on this situation in my absence. I am getting regular reports and Emmanuel is now on his second phase of worm medication. Worms, millions of worms are dying and leaving his body.
We must now push the nourishment, so that Emmanuel is getting the benefits of the food he eats, now that the worms are not. We've put the mother on vitamins and have sent some Ensure drinks for Emmanuel. I will be sending vitamins and Ensure from the States to Emmanuel this week. Please pray that the shipment is not hindered by the Post Offices along the way.

Emmanuel has a lot of spunk, probably one of the reasons he has survived so far, along with his mother's constant attentiveness. His chances are still slim, but at least he has one.

The father and mother said they had spent lots of money taking him to many doctors, who did not know what Emmanuel's problem was nor could they prescribe him a cure. Because of you - the Nazareth House Apostolate Team - working together to better and save lives - Emmanuel has hope.
As we we finished administering the worm pill, Emmanuel reached his hand up to touch his mother's face.
The photo says it all ... May we always reach to touch the lives of those who need us. God bless you all.

Being absorbed into His mercy,