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, December 9, 2014

The Wait of Advent

Here we are, well into the Advent Season.  A time of preparation of our hearts, a purging of our habitual transgressions.  A time of expectation of His arrival, Our Saviour.

This anticipation, this Advent, is intensified in Sierra Leone.  As people of faith, we know we can do nothing on our own, it is our Creator that guides us through.  The villagers of Sierra Leone see this in reality in their everyday life and they have no doubt that their existence is sustained by the Almighty. Day after day, I see from those Sierra Leoneans (who are able to find an internet connection) posts on Facebook of thanksgiving to God for seeing them through the night and enabling them to see the sunrise another day.  In the midst of the current 'plague', I see  and hear from them, far more prayers of thanksgiving than petitions.  This has been going on before Ebola was a word in their vocabulary or a reality in their life and it will continue long after the disease disappears.  The villagers for the most part live off the land, they know the origin of what they receive to provide them sustenance.  So when their needs require hospital beds, medicine and supplies they have no choice but to wait for its arrival.

So as we contemplate the Season of Advent, Christmas and the New Year; as we wait in anticipation of the celebration of the meaning of Christmastide; lets bear witness to the waiting and anticipation of those in the Ebola Hotspots of West Africa who must wait and hope for that which saves them.

To give towards the NHA Shipment of Hospital Beds and Equipment desperately needed in Kabala, please CLICK HERE.  And while you are at it, won't you consider making a recurring monthly donation through this link as well?

Our NHA School in Kabala has been forced closed by the Ebola Outbreak.  All schools in Sierra Leone have been ordered closed by the Government.

Last week, James noticed some of our boy students playing along the road, getting into mischief - a very normal activity for little boys.
So James took them to the local Automobile Mechanics in the town and had them provide a little "vocational" studies.  The students loved it.

NHA has been hiring locals for odd jobs to stimulate the work force in the area.  So many shops and companies have had to shut down due to ebola.

We've suffered an outbreak of snakes taking refuge in the rocks around the school and compound.  James hired some laborers to remove the rocks in order to keep the area safe.  These husbands and sons worked very hard for us. We are very thankful for their help and they are happy to receive good pay to provide for their families.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#GivingTuesday: Its about Love

I was just asked if I have anything positive to report.  "Don't give me the negative, my day is bad enough, I want to hear the good news."  I can only respond to that demand by giving you Nazareth and by that I give you love.  That's what Nazareth House Apostolate is today, tomorrow, everyday.  It is love and it is relationship.  The recipient giving birth to the giver so that they both may shine.  An honest ongoing relationship of the two blessing each other.  The love of NHA shows in this video.

Nazareth House Apostolate is not wrapped up in a neat little package; or decorated all fancy - a feast for the eyes.    We don't glitter and sparkle.

We are real and many times we are messy and dirty, spilled out on the floor, broken and troubled.

Things go wrong, things get fixed, things go wrong again - its life.  Yet in the midst of that we make life happen and in our living life - we shine!

And through it all we smile because

we know that God is deeper and more real than any of our pain or troubles.   We are not alone.  God sees, God hears, God knows, God loves...

Today is #GivingTuesday, please consider giving a donation to Nazareth House Apostolate 

 Tomorrow, another crisis may rise.   Jesus didn't teach to run away from, ignore,  or hide from life's miseries.  He taught us how to go through them.  One foot in front of the other.

"Let's do this thing, okay?" 

you can also set up an ongoing monthly gift at the above link.  Thank you. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kabala Hospital Reality

Dear Friends,

Nazareth House Apostolate continues to push ahead to raise the money to send the hospital beds and supplies to Sierra Leone where James and the doctors desperately wait their arrival.  James went to the doctor at the Kabala Hospital to reassure him that he was not forgotten.  

The hospital was fairly empty, there were people being treated and James was so sad to see what they were contending with. Lying sick with no good equipment to be used to comfort them. 
small child in bed (far left), adult male in next bed.  No mattress, no sheets 

  Fears of #Ebola keep people away from hospitals these days.   What James saw was the soiled and rusted beds, no mattresses and broken and outdated equipment.  

Ebola is pressing closer and closer to Kabala Town.   19 more cases reported earlier this week, inching its way towards our NHA School and Compound. 

The Ebola Holding Center is open but needs beds and equipment.  We have them right here in Louisville, waiting for the funding to pay for them so we can ship them. 

In the meantime this is what you see at the Kabala Government Hospital.  These pictures were taken on Monday, November 17, 2014 - yesterday.    This is what they are equipped with to fight Ebola! 

And this is what we have waiting to send them!

Please give today to help us get what they need to them.  I know you hear it all the time but this is true and not said matter of factly -this is a matter of life and death! 

You can donate by clicking here: Click here to DONATE 


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Face of Ebola

On November 11 this video was aired in the UK. At the same time NHA is desperately trying to get as many hospital beds as possible to Sierra Leone.  The inventory of surplus hospital beds is here, right before our eyes, waiting for us to send, we only need to pay $25,000.  This is an excellent price for the over $700,000 worth of equipment we expect to ship.  We've raised $8,000 already and are pushing ahead.  We need your help to meet our goal and get these urgently needed beds to Sierra Leone.

Kathy Webb remarks of the video "A very sobering video to watch. A women writhes in the dirt as she dies of Ebola in the hot sun. No bed. No wet washcloth to cool her brow. No touch to make her feel less alone. In a warehouse in Louisville there are a hundred beds. Nazareth House Apostolate will get those beds and other desperately needed medical supplies to this stricken country with our help. Also in the video: A man is sick; an ambulance has been called but they know it will never come. The man faces the same fate as the woman who lay dying in the dirt. His wife looks on, I'm sure wondering if she is next."

On Monday night, I couldn't sleep.  Its one of those things that happens frequently to us at the skete.  Up all night praying and many times - weeping.  This night I was so concerned with the overwhelming crisis in Sierra Leone and the abundance we have here that is sitting in a warehouse waiting to be used.  Surplus to Need.

Earlier that day, James had attended the opening of the Ebola Holding Center just 20 minutes from our NHA School where we have 300 students enrolled.  

The school is closed these days - ebola.  The students are with their families dispersed out in the villages.  Ebola is spreading fast in the district and the authorities expect it to reach the center of the Koinudugu District, Kabala Town very soon.
As the Ebola Holding Center opens, James informs me  via Whatsapp that there are only 7 beds and no supplies at the new center.  There is not even a box of gloves.   We have the beds, we have the gloves, masks, we have it all -  we simply must raise the money to pay for them.

Early on in the Summer, NHA began to plan this shipment and we've made all the proper preparations.  We've been in contact with the Sierra Leone Government and the Ministers of Health and Sanitations have granted it a Duty-Free Waiver.  We've applied through USAid for free shipping and have other back up arrangements to get this flown over.  We have the doctors at the Kabala Hospital ready and waiting to accept the supplies at the hospital and holding center.  James is set to receive and help the doctors sort and distribute.  Colonel Brima and the S L Army are ready to accept and transport.  We've done the necessary leg work and security measures.  Yet, the beds sit in Louisville, stacked up at a warehouse waiting for their journey.  For information on how to give to this project click here.   For more information about this project  click here 

As the needs become more critical and more and more lives in danger, especially that of our staff, students and loved ones in Kabala, I look at Lucy sitting in my living room.  We brought her here in June with her father, James, so that she can meet with the board and we can prepare the necessary sponsorship for her Medical Schooling.  She's going to be a doctor in her country, Sierra Leone.

One month after arriving on American soil, she has received unexpected heart surgery in Louisville, Kentucky

and within another month her father makes the return trip back to Sierra Leone (straight into the midst of Ebola) without her.   Lucy came here to prepare for Medical School in Sierra Leone.  She thought she was returning home with her father.  Her life goal is to save lives.  She didn't know that she'd be working on this end to raise money to save the lives of her people in Kabala.  She didn't know that Ebola would invade her country like it has.  And now her dad and mom are in the midst of it.

James was given every opportunity to stay in America but he chose to be with his wife and Lucy's small siblings and to be there through the crisis for his country.

James doesn't flee from danger.

He didn't during the war and he's not doing it now.  He stays and does what he always does - helps others.

Nazareth House Apostolate's work in Sierra Leone is simple - we run and operate a school for over 300 students, we feed people, we provide seed to grow crops, we fix roofs, we provide jobs for people, we are family - a part of the community.

We don't go to Sierra Leone to change culture or practices for anyone, we simply go to love.  Through that love we help one another.

James is on the ground in Kabala trying to save lives by preparing the acceptance of this shipment of beds.  Lucy is here in Kentucky trying to raise money to get the beds and supplies to her father so that the lives of her family and friends have a chance to survive the Ebola creeping their way.

The night before last, I had my "meltdown".  The needs are so great and overwhelming.  This is a huge task for us at Nazareth House Apostolate - trying to raise $25,000 in such a short amount of time is daunting.  But not doing it, knowing the beds are right here and available while doctors beg for them in Sierra Leone is unthinkable.

And now as I look at my phone this morning I see a text from Lucy.   She is talking about the beds, a sweet reassuring encouragement from a very courageous young lady.

So I say with Lucy.  "Let's do this thing, okay?"   Give to Nazareth House Apostolate today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Surplus to Need

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!