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.

Friday, November 22, 2013

News from Kabala

This post is written by James Mansaray, Kabala, Sierra Leone

Hello Friends,
...or as we say in Sierra Leone: Kushé! I am sorry I have been so silent but I’ve been trying to catch up from my recent visit to the States. 

St. Simeon Skete
I want to first thank you all for everything that you do through Nazareth House Apostolate.  And not only me, but the students, parents and teachers of NHA School in Kabala, as well as the many who have received help (food, hospital fees, medicines) from you guys through your donations.  You must know that you are very much appreciated.  We are very thankful that you’ve acted upon what God has placed on your heart and saw fit to think of us.  

I loved my time at St. Simeon Skete, in Taylorsville, it is truly a place of peace.  It is very beautiful with the lake peeking from behind the trees and the stunning sunsets - but the feel there, the peace there, leaves the beauty in its shadows.  

Beginning the day with Mass so very early in the morning (4AM) set the day up right.  

To save cost, they don't heat the chapel.  It was COLD at 4 AM
And then we ended the day with Evening Prayers and the Jesus Life Prayer Rosary.  

Every morning we put our prayer ropes in the plate to be blessed and to offer our prayers to God

Afterwards we had dinner and then gathered 

around the fire for some good chats.  

Mama Vicki always likes to make things special and she set off some Sky Lanterns.  

Later we had compline and it was time to go to bed.   We did this almost every night but we only had a few sky lanterns. 

We went out into the world a few times to get Pa Foday medical tests and when we did we met up with people.  

I tried different restaurants, even an Ethiopian Restaurant

 and then I even tried my hand at Bowling. 

  Yep... look at the score board!  

We visited St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana

There were so many things to experience and so little time, but I think we did a lot.  With all the fun, I still missed the school students and my family back home.

I am back home in Salone now (Krio for Sierra Leone).  

Ferry to Freetown
Its always a huge adjustment coming back home after being in America. 

 I must tell you I gained almost 10 pounds in the month I was there and I do miss the ready availability of food.  Mama Vicki,  Mama Liz, Aunty Anna, Uncle Ray - they all made sure Pa Foday and I had all we could eat - and more.  

see my large belly? 
 I always make sure to open the refrigerator and say a special good-bye to the food before I leave, I won’t see it in abundance like that for a good while.  Seraphim and Mama Vicki eat simple, I can image what other people’s refrigerators hold. 

Its a rough travel in the airplanes and airports to and from Salone and the USA.  

At SDF in security line returning home

On the way there, we were forced to spend the night in the Heathrow Airport.  Strangely, they swept the area of “questionable looking” characters such as Pa Foday and I and locked us up all night in a room with 25 other people.  There was a bathroom but we were only allowed water.  In the morning they unlocked us and told us we were free to wander the terminal until time for our flight.  That was unnerving to me, and to Pa Foday.  It was very uncomfortable being locked in a room with strangers and no way to get out.  Nevertheless, we survived and arrived in Chicago next.  Finally we made our landing in Louisville Airport.  
Packing to Return

For the return trip, Mama Vicki and Ray helped us pack our luggage well. 

We got all the medications and everything packed in and labeled very good.   

However, My welcome home to my country was less than to be desired.  

Upon going through Customs and reentry we discovered that the airport workers had stolen two of the laptops that we had to further education!  

They also made off with Pa Foday’s new clothes.  He had ironed them and neatly laid them in his luggage.  I just jammed mine in my suitcase and the thieves just left them with me, but they took Pa Foday’s neatly folded clothing. It really broke my heart that this is the welcome home we received.  

At least the NHA School Teachers and Students were there with open arms to receive us  home joyfully. 

We’ve filed claim with British Airways for the missing items but they don’t seem to be to anxious to help.  I’m sure Lungi Airport is not top on their list of people to listen to.  I can’t say that I blame them when the airport workers are so very corrupt.  Nevertheless, the incident happened on British Airways watch and I would like to think they would at least consider us. 

Soon after my return home, my little daughter, Vicki, became ill but she is better now.  It was very frustrating watching her be so sick with high fevers and no way to care for her.  Thank God I had medicines and help from you guys in America.  Other children who were sick and at the hospital were stacked up two kids in one hospital bed.  They lay there crying and no real help.  I can’t wait to start the Clinic next year in memory of sweet Cindy.  I wanted so much to meet her but I was a week late.  I know she knows now how much we prayed for her from Kabala and how much we love her without ever meeting her.  

 I was very happy to meet her husband Brent and her two sons.  

In our absence the NHA School Teachers and my brother, Joseph, in Kabala kept the school running proficiently.  I didn’t expect anything less, they are fine people and very professional.    This week they called a staff meeting which I was not aware was going to take place.  I informed Mama Vicki and she became concerned that there was a problem.  

NHA School Teachers
Thankfully, these wonderful teachers only wanted to note the progress being made.  They assured us of their faithful support and continuance and they were very excited to learn that we are hoping to complete the project of clothing every student in a uniform (only half of the kids have new uniforms, there are still 150 students without uniforms) and to expand the school.

It would be a great Christmas Gift if they all came back from Christmas Break with new uniforms to wear. 

While in America the Board of Directors of Nazareth House Apostolate met.  

I can't wait until next visit when newest board member, Drew Miller, will also be with us.  
We had several goals, projects, needs and dreams to discuss for St. Simeon Skete and the mission here in Sierra Leone.  One of the major goals is to expand the school.  We must do this as there are many children waiting to enroll and we just don’t have the room.  There are other schools in the area but the parents don’t have the tuition they require so these children must stay home and receive no education.  It is important for us to make room for them.  


We decided to think practically for this project.  We will build a first floor structure so that as we grow we can build up.   What I mean is we can build up another level and add more space as needed as we continue to grow.  The NHA School is very very prestigious in Kabala.  It is an important school and it is you and your generosity that makes it all happen.  Please keep up the good work.  

I will write more when my mind clears better.  Returning is really an adjustment and it takes time to get back in the rhythm of things around here.  

I have lots of medications and supplies that NHA purchased from Supplies Over Seas that I will be taking to nurse Ami this week.  

It was great to be with Mama Vicki and Fr. Seraphim.  

I enjoyed my time with Seraphim so much, he likes to be hidden away in prayer and it was good to get time with him. 

I also had a good time with the chickens that run all over the Skete grounds.  

I will have to get a good set up like that going here in Kabala so I can have lots of eggs everyday.  I think the secret is the coop for them to hide in at night.  

I will never forget the special time with friends:  

I want to thank all of you - my sister Melody, my sister Aleica and her family, Emily, Joanie and Denny, Anna and Jeff, Ray, Claudio, Liz, Matt, Dr. Baumann & Kathy, Donna, Tracey, Anthonie, Jesús, Ronnie, Kris - all those that I met at the Markwell farm (I hope you are working on our deer jerky because we are waiting for it), Loretta & her family, Aaron, Brent, Judy, Samuel and Lucas, Cecil & Sarah, Jerry, Laurence & Miriam, Fr. Sterne, all those that greeted me at the skete and all of you who always keep us in your prayers and support us.  

I wish I could name you all but I have very little time left at this internet cafe - but I know who you are.  I love you all - everyone of you are part of my family even if we haven't met in person we have met in my heart.   Thank you for looking our way and seeing where we need a bit of help and then doing something about it.  My heart is so full.  Thank you, thank you. 

With gratitude and love,
James B

Oh and my beautiful daughter Lucy sends her greetings and thanks you for assisting her in medical school.  I can’t believe we will have a resident doctor in Kabala and that its my daughter!!!!