Early in the morning on November 7, 2022, we were awakened to a blazing fire in the building that housed our chapel, woodshop, workshop for the nuns, 3 women’s guest rooms and a large attic. In that building there were over 30 relics, many icons, thousands of books, 30 years of belongings of the nuns, and much, much more. As the dawn broke with the smoldering flames, I found a page that had survived lying on the ground. It read, “those that love God must have no attachment to any earthly thing,” an excerpt from the journal of St. John of Kronstadt’s, “My Life in Christ.” Later that morning. Fr. Dragan Petrovic called me and encouraged me with the reminder that when the relics of St. Sava of Serbia were burnt, his enemies thought that would be the end of Serbian Orthodoxy. Instead, the sparks from the relics flew far and wide, sanctifying the entire region. So, now, we tread softly on holy ground.
Through your prayers, sacrificial gifts, donated labors, and insurance funds, our mortgage is paid off, the building that was burnt will, God willing, be completed in early Spring, the woodshop is near completion, and the wine building is nearly done. Funds were spent as designated, and now, we are preparing for the coming year.
Before the new building began to be built, the small stone box that had held relics of St. John the Baptist was found among the rubble. We saved it in honor of the Holy Forerunner. Then, not long after that, a priest came to visit us, without knowing about that box, and brought us more relics of St. John the Baptist! He knows what we need before we ask.
A week or so after the fire Igor, a Ukrainian refugee, was sent to us. He’s been here since then while we seek to find him needed housing and support. We have been learning much from him, not the least of which are a few common Russian phrases. He is a favorite of the chickens and turkey (who thinks she’s a dog and likes to be petted when she feels safe).
Our vineyard produced around 1000 liters of wine this past harvest. Now the wine is waiting while we are in the process of getting licensed as a domestic winery. The work in the vineyard is a reminder that preparing for Holy Communion doesn’t begin the night before Liturgy. It begins with the pruning and preparation of the precious vines, that eventually produce that which becomes the blood of Christ.
Due to an attack of beetles in 2022, our beehives were wiped out. We thought all was lost for the hives. Then, one day, a swarm of thousands of local bees flew into the honey house, and we were able to transfer them to a horizontal style of hive that the nuns had made. Now they are resting for the winter.
There is much more to share. But just know that our hearts are abuzz with preparing our hearts and place for Christ and Christmas. We are so thankful for you and all you’ve done and are doing. May His grace multiply to enable you and us to be His Lights, shining on His Evergreen and Living Tree in this world.
Christ is Born!
Fr. Alexii and all of us here
Retrieved from the internet on 12/16/23 from https://katherinehpurdy.com/tag/candles-on-christmas-tree/