Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Events, Events and More Events

Today  is Sunday the 12th of February...

Tomorrow our things finally will be delivered from the USA!  It took three months from the time they were picked up in Albuquerque. They sat in Auckland for nearly a month before we could schedule a delivery! They were inspected by the department of agrigulture here, and finally okayed.  I can tell you all about moving in later.  But for now….

We went to Wellington… 

…on Tuesday honorable daughter #1 goes to Victoria University in Wellington. We took a trip just a week ago to help expedite the process as there were a few obstacles in the way of her completed application.  His Eminence has given his blessing too which helps her to feel good about her decision to study there.  It also helps us to feel like we are in the right place at the right time. Normally, we wouldn't go to our bishop to ask about something like college.  But this metropolis is so small, and our workers and resources are so few, asking is just part of the teamwork here. So we asked. 

He has also made arrangements for her to live with another family whose daughter is going to the same school.  Although they are friends of ours, this is not something we would have asked of them on our own. We are so happy that this family accepted her to live with them.  She will be studying ancient Greek and Classics. Orientation is Wednesday.  Classes begin on Feb 28th.  

with international admissions officer at VUW

Lunch at VUW
During our trip we encountered many beautiful experiences.  Father Christodoulos as many of you know is now stationed in Wellington as Chancellor of the Metropolis, so we got to see him after nearly 18 months. We have been here for more than two now.

 Although he was so busy, he took time to go with us to the university while Nicholia sorted out her admissions details. We also got to be a part of his radio ministry program the next day, and we took a trip to the Monastery dedicated to the Archangel Michael in a town called Levin on the day after that. 

Father Christodoulos preparing for the radio program 
Nicholia and I were privilidged to be there for the taping of one of Father's programs on Orthodoxy.  He usually broadcasts live. But he had plans to travel over the weekend and ergo the taping.  It was fun to be in the studio as you can imagine. That day we talked about Saint Photios the Great, Nicholia sang a few hymns, and Father interviewed us about being in New Zealand.

After all that, we walked through the downtown area where an annual event takes place that is centered around Rugby playoffs called The Sevens. Never really got the meaning of it all, although we talked to about 8 or 9 participants and Wellintonians. It is like a big tailgate costume party in the city.   People come from all over the south Pacific and from around the world to celebrate, and also to dress up in costume and to watch rugby.  Some say it is the only exciting thing that ever happens in Wellington, and we got to be there for it!  Yippee?

The trip to the monastery was very nice.  There are two Monks who live there now, and one of them is  a priest whom we had met in Rhodos from 2003.  
Chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael with side chapel dedicated to Saint Basill the Great

Inside the Monastery house having lunch

His Eminence visited with us once again at our home, and this time with lots of stories about the people who are becoming Orthodox in Fiji  At this time there are 56 newly baptized. They are both from the group that call themselves Fijian and also from those who hail from India albiet many generations back. 

Below I hoped to put a video of the Baptisms that took place on the Island of Vanua Levu of the Fijian Islands near the city of Labasa.  Uploading problems that I could not overcome. His Eminence brought video's for us to see that were inspirational to us even though we have seen many baptisms over the years.  The people who are poor both in the material and in the spirit, were very attentive and sober as they descended one by on into the water.  With the crown of their heads under the hand of the Fijian Greek Orthodox priest Father Bartholomeos, they emmersed themselves and were emmersed, emerging with the joy of the Spirit on their faces. 

Whenever he comes through Aucklalnd, His Eminence has stories of little miracles and of people who want to fill their lives with Christ. Those who have been steeped in Holy Scripture are deeply attracted to the Orthodox way of worship and of daily life.  Those who are completely new to Christianity are drawn to the Church by their hearts, and by the genuine invitation from our Archbishop.  His Eminence, who stays there for long periods of time, is acutely aware of the needs of many of them and finds ways to provide for them even if it includes their own work, like farming in Labasa to sell the crops in roadside stands.  

Mission work is not for the faint of heart. Essentials are prayer and charity, a genuine heart and knowlege of God and His ways.

That's not to say that Father Paul and I are really missionaries in the same sense that His Eminence is.  We are here only because His Eminence knows these ropes.    His experience is so vast compared to ours.  So is his simplicity and love.  We are very much still in training, and I do appreciate the time it takes for us to learn how we are to approach all of this. On the job training perhaps, but very exellent training.

Parish life here in Auckland is a lot like mission work. Father Paul has been visiting homes that have not been blessed in years!  The Lord has blessed us to visit homes with him.  We get to meet the people in the parish and their families.  They share a robust joy when Father Paul visits, and they are truly touched by the blessed water and prayers.

The Painting continues. 

 Our faithful have become energized to do more work. Out of their love for church and community, several people have come forward to paint and do minor restoration to the church exterior. While the men, some hired and some vounteer climb ladders and paint, the women have been doing some serious yard work, cleaning out beds and planting new ones.  
taken from our balcony
scaling heights these guys make it look easy
getting dust in his eyes Stelios just won't give up
There are times when life here at the parish looks more like a village than a church property.  It is so encouraging to see their heartfelt efforts because we know that they are motivated by love for God.

Giving a little for those who need a lot…

Many people have asked about donating to the work of this Metropolis. I  know that we have been slow in providing a way for those who want to give.  While we do have some support for our needs from friends and family, who truly believe in encouraging a mission priest, the Metropolis has a responsibility to more than just us, and those who want to help deserve a chance to give.   

Like I mentioned, the resources here are few, and there are reasons for that.  A giving heart can be difficult to cultivate, but we hope that one day we will be able to say that this Metropolis is self-sustaining. Until then, those who are truly interested in participating in this area of mission are encouraged to use the box on the side of this blog to share what God has given them for their hard work with those who are also hard working and in need. 

Those of you who would enjoy seeing the events that have taken place here, you can read about it on http://www.ecp-metnz.org.nz/ the web page.

visiting the home of some parishioners....

...and the restaurant of others

chanting for the feast day or Saint Haralambos
His Eminence spent only one day with us, but it was a very full day we had with him, visiting people, and he celebrated Liturgy with us, but not in his normal way, because he was traveling without vestments, but chanted and served as altar server for Father Paul.  He makes humility look easy and joyful.

Below I have pasted Father Paul's latest message to this comunity of Holy Trinity.  I am very sure that many of our readers would like to hear a little from him. 

Until the next time


Beloved Parishioners,

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is Good; His mercy endures for ever!" Psalm 136:1 As I am learning about Auckland and its people I am learning that this weekend is a holiday weekend, one that will be celebrated in various ways but which includes a day off for most on Monday, January 31st.  The holiday marks the arrival at the Bay of Islands of William Hobson and the inauguration of the British Colony which became New Zealand.  The Regatta will be held this weekend and sailing ships with their sails filled with the strong Auckland winds will decorate the harbor. What a wonderful tradition and how wise to mark those days of substance and significance in which history was altered.  The church rejoices with the city and with the former Province of Auckland because we understand the value of remembrance, the value of memory. This vigilance to keeping memory alive is one very important aspect of civilization; it is the motivation for libraries and monuments, parks and placards, for mega bytes and giga bytes. Yet the content of the things we choose to remember is so important.  Do we choose to remember glories of our past, heroes of history, battlefields, and military bases?  Do we remember friendships, or enemies, kind words or grudges, hurts and humiliations, or joys and victories? All of these and more make up the collective human memory.   The church also remembers.  It remembers and records as history God's interaction with man.  The Holy Bible is a record of that history.  In it we learn how God created all things, how man was part of his plan from the beginning.  In it we see how easily man fell from "grace," how he chose selfishness and self preservation over humility and truth.  In it we see openly displayed the weakness and failings of human beings, people whom God calls His own,  We also see how God rewards humility and virtue. The church also asks us to remember the life of our Savior.  To remember His life in a way that is present tense and not past tense.  To see in each remembrance that the very one that we remember "lives and reigns."   The highest expression of the church's collective memory, however, is not the Bible (as one might expect).  It is rather the Divine Liturgy and, in general, the worship of the church.  In the daily, monthly, annual cycle of the church calendar we remember all that has gone before us, but especially we remember Him "Pantocrator, who was, and is and is to come" Revelations 4:8. The Divine Liturgy invites us to become 'mystically' eye witnesses of the salvific life of our Savior.  In worship we can enter the Temple with Him, greet the Pharisees, hear him question then teach them.  In Divine Liturgy we can walk with him, and like the disciples gleen some heads of grain as we walk, to nourish ourselves.  In the deep symbolism of our Eucharistic assembly we can be present at the very Passion of our Christ, His trial, His scourging, His crucifixion and yes, even His death. But in our remembrance we can also behold the very Resurrection of our Lord, in the context of our Divine Liturgy, we eat with the Risen Lord, we drink the cup with Him in Paradise. How important it is to remember.  What a blessing to us that we can remember.   May your holiday weekend be a joyous one and may the All-Holy Trinity bless you to bring to remembrance "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable." "If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8

With love and respect for you, my beloved parishioners, I remain, Yours in Him, Fr. Paul A. Patitsas, Economos

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