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.

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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, January 31, 2012

The Jonah Fast

One of the practices at St. Simeon Skete is to observe the three day, Jonah Fast beginning at 12:01 AM EST on Monday, February 6th and lasting until after Vespers on Wednesday, February 8th.  
Icon housed at St. Simeon Skete

The Jonah Fast, commemorates the three days that Prophet Jonah spent in the belly of the beast -the whale. It also commemorates the repentance of the people of Nineveh and is sometimes called the “Nineveh Fast”. It begins the Monday after Septuagesima - which is two weeks before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. 
While the normal service schedule will be adhered to at the St. Simeon Skete, the faithful will observe the fast by refraining from food (and drink if they wish) from midnight until Vespers (or sunset) during these three days. If, for health reasons you are unable to do without all food during the day, we encourage you to at least refrain from something i.e. meat, fish, and dairy products during the fasting period. At the skete, fasting is considered abstaining from an otherwise normal activity for the purpose of spiritual pursuit.  Usually people abstain from food, but may also abstain from other activities - in example - refraining from the media i.e. news, etc.  

This is a special fast at St. Simeon Skete because life at the skete embodies the experience of being in the belly of the beast where one must live in the “darkness” of faith.  - where one seeks answers; but is turned back to live with the questions that make the answers possible; where every good answer simply makes the question vibrate all the more.  Just as supply cannot be separated from its source; the answer cannot be separated from its question - nor the question from the answer. 

Whether you participate in the fast or not, now is a good time to prepare yourself for the upcoming Lent.  The days peel off quickly and without preparation your Lent can easily slip by with no gains within.  A good choice of preparation is to read the Book of Jonah as a prelude of the forty days of Lent.  It is a beautiful story of repentance and fasting.  

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.
Jeremiah 36:9 In the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, a time of fasting before the LORD was proclaimed for all the people in Jerusalem and those who had come from the towns of Judah.
Daniel 9:3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
Joel 1:14 Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.
Jonah 3:7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tomorrow Baby Vicki will be three weeks old and to mark that date she will be making her first trip from Freetown to Kabala.  Due to James malaria/typhoid illness (he has now recovered), the family had to remain in Freetown for a extended period.  But now they are on their way to introduce little Vicki to her home in Kabala at the NHA Compound.  There she will also meet her extended family - grandparents, cousins and all.  

The Mansaray family is doing well - James is tired and weak, but recovering.  Kadijah is healing; Vicki is thriving and so is Roo!  The vitamins seemed to have replenished the iron in his system and we are hoping that it was a diet deficiency and nothing more serious. Lucy is healthy and continuing her studies in Freetown. 

James and I have had a discussion, recently, over little Vicki's feet.  He told me that they were very tiny.  I told him "no worries, I've made it through all my life with little feet, she will be able to stand on them"  I asked him to send me pictures.   As you can see her feet look perfectly proportionate.  

"By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. 

The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet." - Thomas Merton

"Be good, keep your feet dry, your eyes open, your heart at peace and your soul in the joy of Christ." -Thomas Merton

"What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear, the sighs, and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like." -Saint Augustine

Nazareth House Apostolate

Its all about love....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The path

As usual, Nazareth House Apostolate 

During a rainstorm, we noticed the letters N H for Nazareth House spelled out in the leaves of the trees at St. Simeon Skete

packs a whole lot of action into a years time; 
Humanitarian medical supplies delivered to a clinic in Sierra Leone from NHA

2011 was no exception.  

James mails packages to Sierra Leone from Taylorsville, KY 
2012 is panning out to follow suit. 

James receives the packages in Sierra Leone that he mailed in Taylorsville. 
January is not yet over and NHA has welcomed this New Year with President Koroma in Kabala, said goodbye to our dear friend, Thomas Landess, welcomed baby Vicki,  
Young boy at one the newest villages that NHA will give aid.
brought aid to new villages near Kabala, reopened the NHA School after the holidays and

St. Simeon Skete,  Meeting of the Lord Chapel
 continued the daily life of ongoing prayer at St. Simeon Skete.  

James from Sierra Leone visits California
A year ago at this time, James was returning to Sierra Leone after his visit to America.  
James during his visit to St. Simeon Skete. 
While in America (his first trip outside of Africa), 

James was able to 

meet in person many of 

those who have been with him through the struggles of rebuilding life after such a terrible war.  His heart had already been touched by them, now he was able to meet and physically touch them. 

 He was also provided a complete health screen by NHA. 

Now today, a year later, he is back in Sierra Leone, struggling with a rather stubborn case of Malaria combined with an even more stubborn case of Typhoid.  

He has just returned from opening a new village in need of NHA's assistance, he has a new two week old daughter 

and much more responsibilities added to his charge.  

children in the newest village under NHA care

As they say in Sierra Leone "it no easy"; however, through the love, care and compassion of our supporters, NHA will do its best to lessen the load as best we can, not just for James but for all of those we serve. 

I remember lamenting at  the first of the year in 2011 "so much to do!"  But now a year later, as I review the year, I think "Oh wow! so much accomplished!"  

We kicked 2011 off in Chico, California attending the Pray Love Walk-a-thon sponsored by St Augustine's Anglican Church.  This was the catalyst for the campaign to retire the debt of building the NHA Compound, our center of operations in Kabala.  We did, indeed, by the year end, retire the debt in 2011, which was one of our biggest expenses for the whole year.  The construction was completed and our staff, James and Kadijah, moved in.  

The move from Freetown all the way to Kabala was a difficult chore, one with its own expense, however, that too was accomplished through the assistance of NHA. 

The NHA School (which is right across the street from the new NHA Compound) needed painting and the rooms needed to be divided in order to accommodate the need for more classrooms.   

The Nazareth House Apostolate Teachers and Principal (January 2012)

Thanks to the support and generosity of all of you, this was accomplished before the start of the 2011/2012 School Year.  
Another successful school year is well underway at the NHA School and we are very proud of our teachers and our students and the tremendous discipline of both.

James daughter, Lucy, with plans to be (a much needed) doctor, entered a private boarding school in Freetown where her she can excel in studies and preparation for medical school.

Her tuition has been paid for this year. 

Every month (sometimes late but never missed) NHA was able to maintain the support of humanitarian aid to the families we regularly support in Sierra Leone plus random emergency needs that are presented to us.  The teachers received their salaries ($100 per teacher per month) and the school continues to be maintained and in good operation.   

Our monthly expenditure to provide for our staff, the school, the teachers, and care of the people in need - in Kabala, Freetown and area villages is $2,200 a month.   We depend on our regular monthly donors to maintain this commitment. 


Fire destroys the One Hut Village housing

NHA provided a new home for the One Hut Village 

The newly constructed home for the One Hut Family.   It has rooms with walls and everything

after a series of disasters destroyed their thatched hut not once but thrice.  

Clinics have been stocked and restocked with medications from NHA. 

 Many children were treated

 for internal parasites (worms).   We even cared for a snake bite...      Lives are being saved.

Illnesses, labor and delivery and other medical situations that required hospitalization were paid for by NHA for several in need, including Kadijah's expenses for delivery of Vicki 

and Roo's anemia diagnosis.  (Remember James' shingles, how painful that was)

So much accomplished.  A review through the blog posts only hints at all that we've done together.  Working together as a family, helping each other, caring for each other.  Lives are being changed for the better, bellies fed, educational opportunities granted, love exchanged.   

And all the while the ongoing prayer and stability rising from the work of St. Simeon Skete 

keeps it all in prospective and generates the discipline to carry it all out.  2011 was a remarkable year.   

And with the same perseverance, Nazareth House Apostolate in 2012 continues on the same path.   Come join us....

its all about love...

Nazareth House Apostolate
185 Captains Cove Drive
Taylorsville, KY 40071