Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Little Good News

More than a little really.

It has been a nice and busy three weeks.  School events and assignments, trips and window replacement at my sister's house have added just a little to our activities.

I have missed writing and wonder where the writing process will take me today. I have put off writing for a few weeks because I just didn't have a whole lot to report. People ask us the same question:  if we are excited about our "adventure" or if we are nervous about our new assignment. Well I can honestly say that we are both.  How can we be single minded about such a trip.  One day one of us is nervous while the others are happy.  Sometimes the feeling is dread.  We really don't want anyone to think that we up and left without any emotions. That's just not possible.  However, we are very eager to get to our destination.  Holy Trinity Church in Aukland will be our new home, and we look forward to meeting everyone there. 

More practically speaking I have felt intimidated to write because I picked up Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind.  I had never read it before and I am amazed at this woman's insight into human motivation and behavior. I felt unworthy of the task of writing anything at all. She had a great perceptiveness, vision and vocabulary.  If you haven't read it in a while, ... well if you're in the mood for that sort of thing, I do recommend it highly.

The past three weeks have "spoken" to us.  We have waited patiently for all the right things to happen at all the right times.  We were wondering when to start looking for tickets, when to tell the moving company in New Zealand that it is time to pick up our things, and when we can finally give you all a real clue as to when we are leaving. 

Now that WE HAVE OUR VISAS, we all feel like another door has opened and we can proceed to the next steps.

 Everything takes its good old time.  But I would like to tell you how we got the news.  It was two Fridays ago when we were on the road to the Carolinas: South for a very little benefit concert, and to see my sister and her family, and then back North for Father Paul's brother's ordination.  We were so excited about both events.  There we were packed to our knees in my mother's little Honda, (a good thing that Georgios is still small enough to fit in the middle), driving  through the Virginia countryside, when a call came in from the New Zealand consulate! No one was expecting a phone call. We were hoping that the visas would just appear in the mail a few weeks later. When the call came we were relieved and our excitement was redoubled as we rolled along the interstate. What struck me is how matter of fact was the woman that called.  All she said was that we would receive them in the mail by the end of the next week.  It was all so easy for her.  For us however, it was another prodding that we are on our way out.  It was a confirmation of what the Archbishop Amphilochios proclaimed to us just 15 months prior.  It was a big door opening. Ominous?  Yes! But the feeling was a very good one.

fabulous albemarle va farm for sale in barboursville virginiaBTW, I do believe that Virginia has some of the most beautiful farms I have ever seen. I don't know what they plant there more than anything else. In Ohio we grow corn. I know that in New Mexico we saw lots of chili farms and we also saw alfalfa farms too, and that great surprise in the valley there just north of Albuquerque Dixon's apple orchard where I got to taste the most delicious apple ever.

But for beauty's sake, the farms we saw in Virginia rivaled those of New Zealand with their green rolling hills and neighboring forests, beautifully kept farm houses and barns and just enough farm animals to dot the landscape.  The beauty of the scenery before us, and the good news in our thoughts were all quite lovely together.

It got dark long before we arrived in Florence, South Carolina, where my nephew, whom many of you have met, was up wayyyy past his bedtime with a stop sign and flashlight in hand waiting for us and ready to direct traffic if need be in his cul de sac.  I-77 is a very nice and well kept road, but I have never driven it without there being a traffic jam or slowdown.  We had experienced 3, and a detour while still in Ohio. Georgios kept us entertained with stories of the great inventor Nikola Tesla, as he was working on a report for school. I was pleased as punch to be reading my new literary interest, as long as there was sunlight.  The girls were a bit frustrated, Raphaela trying to teach herself Trigonometry, and Nicholia ready to hit the ejector button on her seat, (anything to get out of the car). 

So, we couldn't make it on time.  But once we got there, it was like a Christmas holiday in October.  It was the first time for us to be in their home. They gave us tours of their house, their parish, and their town.  

The concert actually featured us, the Von-Patitsas Family singers.  It was something that Father Athanasios had arranged with my sister. Very thoughtful indeed and much appreciated.  We did some selections from the Panaghia with us All CD, and a few other hymns.  We also talked a little about the mission and why we are going to New Zealand.  They were so happy to learn of how many Greek Orthodox people live there and …

Father Paul Patitsas and Family with Harry
about how these families had come to New Zealand in the first place. I was impressed as I am always at the way Greek people really want to know the name of the parish.  I thought that just people who knew the cities in a particular area did that sort of thing, but as I get older I see that Greeks especially want to know the patron Saint or the name of the parish.  There is a tenderness in that and so many of the people there asked.  

And so they took note that we were going to the Holy Trinity parish in Auckland. They expressed joy and gratitude for Father Paul's desire to serve there. They had lots of questions and as most of the people in the audience had come from Greece themselves, they were also very emotional for our sake and promised to 
Transfiguration of Our Savior Greek Orthodox Church of Florence, SC
Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church Florence,  SC
pray for us and to think about us regularly. It was indeed a privilege to be there. It was hard to sing without tearing up too. My sister was in attendance and I could see her weepy eyes from where I was standing. The little Church was so pretty and had been newly remodeled so that they could have extra seating and even more room in their Narthex. The dome offered great acoustics when we were singing but not so much when we were talking. If the quality is good enough I will post the concert for you to see.  I am very picky about performances and only want the best, well the best that can be expected anyway. Nevertheless, it was a lovely evening.

The next day we took a two hour drive to Charlotte North Carolina so that we could attend the ordination of the now Father Philemon Patitsas at the Holy Trinity Church.  Father Paul couldn't sleep after 5am so we were all up before the dawn and by God's grace got to see the end of the Orthros service. Most of Father Paul's family were there, however his mother could not make it because she is still recovering from her broken hip and dislocated shoulder.  But his father was there and there wasn't a more joyful person in the church from my estimation.

The ordination was very meaningful for all of us. Father Philemon looked like a new man when it was over.  He spoke about how so many people over the course of his life have either suggested, or wondered about, or pleaded with him, that he should become a priest. His resolve had more to do with them it seemed than with his own personal plans for his life.  But now he's not looking back and he appears to be very blessed along with his family.His presvytera is someone I consider a sister and a friend. 

Nicholia had an interesting insight while at her uncle's ordination, which she was relating to me on our walk this morning.  She said that a lot of people don't realize how it can be that our whole family can be called to something like this.  She's correct. She herself could see that her cousins and Thea were also called to everything that Father Philemon is being called to experience, of course not in the same ways exactly.  The Lord seems to know how and when to make it all just right for everyone.

We don't expect everyone to understand something like what we have chosen. In so many ways we did not choose it but the Lord chose us.  It is a good thing that we all do feel a sense of calling. I remember talking with Father Martin Ritzi who heads up the mission center in Saint Augustine FL.  I remember this conversation like it was yesterday. We were talking about one of the mission families who are dear to us. He was telling me how important it is that the whole family should see themselves as essential to the mission. At the time I didn't think that it was possible, exactly.  I mean how does one communicate to their children that this is not just Daddy's hobby that we are al being dragged out to watch? There is no way for me to understand how other families do it.  I would be hard pressed to explain their decisions to anyone.  However, having gone to New Zealand and to Fiji, it is much easier for my children to see themselves there and to say that they feel welcomed by the call to go again. They have their own way of seeing themselves as being in the right place at the right time as we all follow the invitation that the Archbishop gave to their Dad.

Our trip both going and coming, thank God, was smooth and the weather was so good!   The leaves on the trees were changing colors, so you can imagine the views: yellows and oranges and reds and greens on every landscape.  It's the time of year when people say, "oh lets go on a road trip" to see the colors of the fall on a grand scale.  Of course, this gave us extra anticipation for our next trip which was to Saxonburg PA to the Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery. Another one of my sisters lives there and we had to see her once before we leave.  How I wish I could just pick up and go again.  The atmosphere there is so peaceful and loving.

Inside the chapel of the Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery
 The Icon of the Panaghia Portaitissa that is myrrh streaming was there and we went to see it. I wished that I could have been there for the Liturgy from the morning, but we were still too tired from the previous trip, so we took off at about 9am and arrived at about 2. I wish I had a photo showing the monastery grounds, but I do have one of the chapel. For those of you who have never seen it, this is the place where, in a sense, my children were raised.  It was the home of the first Greek Orthodox Abbess of our Archdiocese.  Her name is Taxiarhia.  She fell asleep in the Lord when Raphaela was just 6 months old. She was our friend and mother in the faith, and her spiritual daughter is now the abbess, Mother Theophano.

Miraculous icon of the Panaghia Portaitissa 
When we entered the chapel we could smell the holy oil that miraculously came from the icon.  We were annointed by Father Dimitri  with that very myrrh, and got to stay in the presence of that holiness for a while.  What is that holiness?  How do we even understand holiness is there with us?  But it was no problem for the pilgrims who came, all filled with something virtually unspeakable, and perceived and cherished by all.

Friends and parishioners from many places were there to greet us as well as our sisters in Christ the sisters of the monastery. So many people were there who had tremendous crosses to bear.  People who I know were there to experience the holiness and the presence of the Theotokos. It was a beautiful homecoming.

My goodness! How many places will we get to call home? The Monastery?  Wasn't Albuquerque and the parish of Saint George home?  Wasn't Bay Village and the Parish of Saint Demetrios just the same?  When I called NR in East Pittsburgh to let her know of our news, wasn't it as if no time had passed at all since we were together, and yet it was over 14 years ago!  I do believe that one day I will hear my children say that they would like for us to settle somewhere.  Who knows if that will be New Zealand?  May the Lord put us where He wants us always!  No matter where that may be. There, with Him, may that be our home.

So ...

We got the visas.

At this time we see ourselves staying until Thanksgiving (November 25th).

The Archdiocese has found a moving company for us and we will be talking with them very soon.

This week we will be looking at flights.

For those of you who would like to know what we are doing with our house in Albuquerque, we are hoping to sign with a rental company by the end of the week. 

Until then, please pray for us!

PS I found a photo of the Monastery Grounds.


1 comment:

Philip Balke said...

Greetings all from albuquerque & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ !!!!

marc philip balke

ps -- lydia is in florida where she wants to be