24 SEPTEMBER, 2022 This has proved to be a super busy day here at the monastery. First of all, we have a Bulgarian Orthodox priest visiting us from Toronto. He was here today and helped serve Vespers in English and Macedonian. Following the Vesper service, we adjourned to the kitchen where Georgeta and Kirill had been getting things ready for the evening meal. Andy and Sorin had been painting the newly installed windows and frames and cleaned all the gutters on the main building. After eating and a considerable amount of talking, things wrapped up and everyone prepared to go home. Then, Fr Andrei arrived with his wife and they corralled Kirill into helping clean the Georgian Besedka, in preparation for the Georgian Liturgy and picnic tomorrow. You could say that today has been a fruitful and busy day with work and prayers.
17 SEPTEMBER, 2022 Today has proved to be a rather busy day here at the monastery. A number of people were here accomplishing a variety of tasks, such as painting the newly constructed stairway leading into the church hall, various cleaning chores, and a second little group is rebuilding the kitchen area in Archbishop Lazar’s little house. Later in the evening, we had Vespers which was followed by dinner in the kitchen, with the usual, gallons of tea, a delicious and healthy meal, and generous amounts of conversation. I might mention that the new thermostats were installed in the church so that now we can easily find the controls for the heaters, rather than having to squat down on the floor, which for some people is quite difficult to do. There are now 2 new thermostats, one for each side of the church and it was quite a job to install them so thankfully this is a task that no longer needs to be completed.
11 SEPTEMBER, 2022 Today was quite an extraordinary day with the commemoration of the Beheading of Prophet John the Baptiser. Thankfully we have the complete and full Matin service for the day and we had the proper number of people to serve it. Fr Mircea was able to provide a proper icon for the feast, showing St John and reminding us of the sacrifice which St John made. Following the serving of the Matins and Liturgy, we then had a Pannikhida served in English. As is often the case, we then had a lenten meal in the church hall, with a variety of fruit juices to wash everything down. Even though it was still hot and it is presently also smoggy from the many fires burning in the area of Hope, a good number of people worked on the monastery grounds and in the garden. Much work was accomplished and following the work period, the workers retired to the kitchen for tea and light desserts to accompany their period of fellowship at this time.
4 SEPTEMBER, 2022 This Sunday, the first one in the month of September, proved to be another eventful day. As always, the day began with the reading and chanting of Matins, with the commemoration of the Martyr Agathonikos. By the time of the beginning of the Liturgy, the church was fairly well filled. One of the special aspects of the Liturgy today was the introduction to the congregation of the two newly baptized babies, both named Boris. As well, it was the first reception of Holy Communion for them both, and specially meaningful for their parents. There were also a number of energetic children in the church, which resulted in an atmosphere more lively than usual. Following the Liturgy, there was the blessing of children, teachers and those related to education, for the beginning of the school year. Even following this, there was then the blessing for travel of Shpressa, who shall be returning to Albania at the end of this week. With all these many prayers being accomplished, we then retired to the kitchen and church hall where lunch was prepared and the remainder of the afternoon spent in lively conversation and sharing companionship with our fellow believers.
3 SEPTEMBER, 2022 What a busy day today has been. Most of it was taken up with both prayers and with celebration. The first prayers were the service of Baptism for Baby Boris, the son of Igor and Alba. The church was quite filled with those attending the service, which was served in English. Everything went smoothly and there were hundreds of photos taken both of the service and following the service, with innumerable “family photos” being made, of both the blood relatives and the spiritual relatives. Following the service and photo session, there was a good size celebration luncheon in the church hall, which lasted for many hours with everyone sharing in the joy of the occasion. As 17:00 rolled around, it was time for the serving and celebration of the evening Vespers service, which was attended by many of those same people who had been attending the baptismal service. Again, the service went smoothely with help in the chanting, from people who had not practiced beforehand. As after the baptism, so after Vespers, we again had tea and dinner but this time, in the kitchen since there was a smaller number of people. Dinner was served, again there was the sharing of time and companionship which was an excellent ending for the long and eventful day.
27 AUGUST, 2022 Today is the eve of the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. A number of people were here so we had a small group attending the evening service. People were here working during the day, even though it was a bit warm and sunny. When it was time for Vespers, we gathered in the church and, even though we had not practiced the chanting, it went very well. Also, the Litya was served using our new Litya tray, which added grace and a bit of solemnity to the event. Following the service, we gathered in the kitchen for tea and homemade borsch and bread, which are always so much more delicious when homemade.
19 AUGUST, 2022 This was an exciting day, a chance to celebrate one of the most important holy days of the Orthodox Church calendar: the Transfiguration. Yesterday things were set up before the Vesper service was read and so today everything was in readiness. The Matins for the feastday were served and then the Liturgy, with the various changeable parts. In spite of the heat and discomfort, the chanting went very well. Following the Liturgy, there was the traditional “blessing of the first fruits” and then the dismissal. The festal luncheon in the big hall was quite interesting since it mostly was composed of all the fruits which had just been blessed: nectarines, peaches, several varieties of grapes, perfectly ripe watermelon, and delicious purple plums. Someone had made also a delicious container of dumplings stuffed with vegetables and also there were baked perogies stuffed with potatoes and lightly spiced. As a result of the heat, there was lunch and then people noticeably slipped away so that by 13:00, almost everyone had departed, including me.
18 AUGUST, 2022 Today has proved to be another hot and muggy day, even though it has been overcast and there is a breeze that is noticeable. The only activity worth mentioning for today is the preparation for the feast of the Transfiguration. This meant, putting out the icon, decorating it and also setting up the service books. The most difficult part of the whole process was finding flowers for the decorating of the icon. With the heat being so severe, many of the flowers that might normally be fresh and bright, are wilted and many even in the process of drying up. Even so, there were some beautiful greens, and it was possible to scrounge a few beautiful flowers from some which had been brought to church the previous week. These I cut and arranged around the icon, stuffing the stems into the greenery to form a kind of frame. It wasn’t too bad and at least offered the chance to honour the icon and the feast that the icon is teaching about.
7 AUGUST, 2022 This Sunday has proved to be another hot day in a series of hot days. Even so, the daily services were conducted and people attended, though it was noticeable that many of them had improvised fans to lessen the shock of the heat. Following the completion of the Liturgy, Archbishop Lazar served a Pannikhida which was attended by a smaller group of people. After the service was ended, we then had lunch in the hall, though it was obvious that people were feeling the heat and almost everyone left early.
6 AUGUST, 2022 Well, today the hot and humid weather have returned to the monastery. David came early this morning and he and Andy have been again working in the fields, watering, mowing and doing other kinds of work, so are having a very long and exhausting day. Kirill came over a little bit after noon and we spent some time discussing a few things before it was time to begin preparing for the evening Vesper service. Kirill kindly volunteered to go over an hour early in order to fix the lampadas and get the coffee maker ready for me. We had the Vesper service in the hot and uncomfortable church. After the Vesper service, Kirill refilled the Holy Water containers while I set up the service books for tomorrow and put the coffee into the coffee maker, also for tomorrow. I completed the repairs on a number of garments and now am planning to make a couple of repairs to a set of curtains that someone gave a couple weeks ago.
4 AUGUST, 2022 Today it was cloudy and raining, which also meant that it was very cool and wet. Kirill is still here and helping me to sort a few things. There is no internet, which also means the computer is down and no work can be done on the computer. As a result, I am working on some serious sewing projects, which include the lengthening of sleeves and the removal of unnecessary pockets from several of my pieces of clothing. With it being cloudy and overcast, it has been necessary to use an extendable lamp which shines the light directly onto whatever project is being worked upon; in this case, several pieces of clothing. Since we still have electricity, in spite of the rain and clouds, Kirill is busy cleaning, a lot. The rain finally stopped in the evening which has allowed the N.A. people to meet in the parking area, with a fire in the little fire pit. For the first time in three weeks, Vladika Lazar was well enough to attend the meeting. Kirill left just as the meeting began and I am finishing work on the sleeves of the last garment. It feels good to complete a long anticipated project.
1 AUGUST, 2022 Today was still a hot day but noticeably just a bit cooler. Even though today is a public holiday, David was here working with Andy and they both accomplished an enormous amount of work. They mowed the field and cleared away lots and lots of blackberry plants as well as horrendous amounts of weeds. Then they both worked on the areas where a variety of grains are planted and growing and in need of watering, weeding. All of this began in the early morning and continued until very late afternoon/evening. Liudmila was also here, working on the removal of large weeds surrounding the garden at Archbishop Lazar’s little cottage. For everyone involved, it was a hot and sticky and unpleasant task but one that we are very much grateful that they are willing and able to accomplish. Later in the evening, we were also surprised by a visit from Oleg, Igor and Elena who were passing by the monastery on their way home. We had tea and gathered in the kitchen for a chat before they continued on their way home.
31 JULY, 2022 I am not sure what the temperature was today but it was again uncomfortable in the church. Following the Liturgy we had a Pannikhida and Igor brought one of the fans to help cool the area but to be honest, I don’t think it helped at all. Many of the people left even before the Pannikhida began but those left, joined together in the big hall for lunch. The hall was considerably cooler so that people were able to have a quiet lunch together and not suffer too much from the heat. Thankfully, this hot period lasts for only a few short weeks so we do have a respite from the heat, to look forward to. Vladika Lazar was not present for the liturgy because the homecare nurse had instructed him not to leave the house because of the heat, but to remain in front of the fans in his “pusteen.” This was a warning to everyone over 75, and especially those in their 80s.
30 JULY, 2022 An interesting but still very hot and uncomfortable day. We had Vespers with the doors wide open, the windows also open and still it was super hot. I honestly thought that I was going to pass out from the heat but Kirill also thought of providing a large container of water, which was used throughout the service. We managed to make it all the way through but as soon as the service was ended, we left for a cooler area.
23 JULY, 2022 What a busy day today has turned out to be. All day was spent in church, beginning at 11 with a baptism. My godson, Thomas, and his wife, Suneet, have had their first child, a cute little girl. As you all know, I am terrible with names so won’t try to write it but she is named in honour of Saint Adelaide, which is also the name of Thomas’ grandmother. Any way, we had the baptism, which was attended by a good size group of family members who pleased me very much by their respectful attendance and behaviour during the baptismal service. I mention this because often the people who attend baptisms, are more concerned with getting good photos, rather than what the service means or how they are disrupting the service by taking photos at inappropriate times and getting in the way of those performing the baptism. Following the service, a reception was presented in the hall, with a good deal of food and drink (no alcohol) and pleasant time spent in conversation with various members of the family. This was an excellent time to talk with Fr John and Matushka Anna and catch up on news of the parish life in Moose Jaw. After everyone left, we had a short time to rest and then it was time for the Vesper service which was attended by a few people. Following the Vesper service, we had a full Pannikhida, in spite of the discomfort of the church temperature. Then there was a nice meal in the hall, next to the kitchen, with a delicious shredded cabbage salad, fish sticks, someone brought a roasted chicken, and we had a selection of cheese and, surprise of surprises, there were 2 tacos, one of which I ate with joy. This was a true taco, made with soft corn tortilla and filled with several kinds of beans, avocado and lettuce. It had been grilled to perfection so was a welcome treat for the palate! This was the end of the long day and now we are preparing for another long day, tomorrow.
18 JULY, 2022 What an interesting day today has proved to be. Again, it was hot, sticky and a little uncomfortable. Even so, there were a few adventures to be had. Kirill came on Sunday afternoon and stayed over night so that he could be here all day today. As all of you know, I am totally against the celebration or remembrance of birthdays because I choose to remember Saint’s Days, which is the traditional form of celebration. In spite of this, Kirill was here to remember Vl.Varlaam’s birthday and in his honour, we walked to the restaurant in Dewdney, which used to be called Michael’s. We had excellent fish and chips and one of the best cheesecakes I believe I have ever eaten. We had water to drink but both Kirill and I thought that the water tasted a bit salty, though we couldn’t understand why. Instead of having coffee, we stuck with the water and had coffee when we returned to the monastery. It was a bit cool when we went for our walk so the walk wasn’t bad but it was difficult to walk all the way back; thankfully I had my walking stick which was helpful. On our return to the monastery, I took note of the large dandelions because I am using them now whenever making a salad, either raw or cooked.