Nativity Newsletter and Donation Appeal - 2014
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Nativity Newsletter and Donation Appeal - 2014


Nativity of the Lord with Border - F139

Nativity of the Lord with Border
- F139 -

The Path to Bethlehem in Our Lives

Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Bless!  The Lord!

Winter came early to Southwest Wisconsin this year, with snow storms and temperatures already down some nights to 10 degrees below zero.  Last year was especially cold here at the Skete with more than eight days 25 below zero or colder, which was quite unusual.   We normally have fewer than four of these in a whole Winter’s season.  The weather forecasters today are mixed in their forecasts for this year, but we cut and stacked as much wood as we used last year for our wood-fired boiler in the back valley to keep the Common Monastic Building warm enough to work in, and hopefully to live in soon.

It was cold in Bethlehem over two millennia ago in the cave where Christ was born in those Winter days, but He brought warmth to this world beyond all time and place, for Heaven is full of His warmth and brightness.  Where the Lord of Heaven is, all is full of His warming love.  It is in this season leading to His Nativity that we can easily approach Him with love, and feel that bright and warm gladness too.  May our hearts glow anew in this Holy Nativity Season.

If we look at the lives of those made holy by God in the past, we see that although they were very different in many ways–in personality, in culture, in upbringing, in the times they lived in and its challenges–yet they were very alike in one primary thing–they let God rework their multifaceted persona into the full personhood that they were created to be. 

That Image of God in which they were created only became full and complete in His Likeness in them because they consciously worked with God to let Him change them from the base metal of this world into the pure gold of sanctity.  These men and women were just like us in their basic humanity, not really any different at all.  What did make them different in time was their active cooperation to let God arise in their hearts, and thus to be really remade into Godly people.  We can follow their path, and though it will be unique for us in detail, yet it will be common for us all in substance.

Each time we turn from selfish thoughts and deeds, The Lord is remaking us.  Each time we keep our desires in check and tame our sharp tongues, He is remaking us.  Each time we turn towards the Eternal instead of the mundane, He is remaking us.  He is ready and waiting.  All we need to do is to actively, consciously, and consistently ask, and then let Him actively, consciously, and consistently act.  It is a cooperative effort, led by Christ and then allowed by us by our working with Him.  This time of His Nativity can be the time now of our spiritual nativity.  He has chosen already to do this, but all that is needed is our own will, so now it is up to us to choose wisely.  Let us begin this renewal and rejuvenation today.

A Year of Blessings and a Year of Change

At the end of a season or the end of a year we often  look at what has happened in that period and then have time to reflect on what it means in our lives.  This last year here at the Skete has been full of blessings, some seemingly easy and some seemingly hard.  It is not clear how to discern whether easy or hard blessings have more fruit, but if we are thankful, they all do bless us indeed.

Steam Rising Over Stream on Below Zero Morning

Photo of  Below Zero Morning last winter


This last year we have had challenges with less donations and yet more unusual expenses. The first is about transportation.  One of our full length mini-vans died of Wisconsin rust and old age, and then our smaller all wheel drive SUV was totaled after striking a deer just within the last month.  Since our older truck was totaled after being skidded into a tree while hauling wood last year (the employee helping out was not hurt as it was at a very low speed), we are now down to a single van, and that is not a four wheel drive vehicle, needed for travels into the back Skete valley on our wintery roads.  One kind donor is in the process of giving us his 1999 truck with four-wheel drive, so that will help much.  Another small four-wheel drive SUV as we had before (a 1999 Honda CR-V) is needed.  A little less older used vehicle like this will cost between $5,000 and $10,000.  We will probably go down to Texas to get one without rust to make it more likely to last longer.



One of the furnaces in a trailer used for monastic work has been down off and on for weeks, which makes functioning in there in this weather into the definite chill zone!  It has a few electric heaters going to avoid a full freeze.  A used furnace was installed, but is having issues staying lit.  Please pray that this can finally be fixed.  The bill for the used unit and labor will be between $600 to $1,000.




Back Valley 2011

St. Isaac's Back Valley - Wood stacks getting filled for winter


Some good things have been completed in the last year, including replacing the failed pressure tank mentioned in our Great Lent newsletter, and purchasing and installing a new generator and its controls to interface with the solar electrical system in the Common Monastic Building, which has already been in use when needed.  A new interior support for the new roof on our Bookstore was installed, the new shed to store our used skid steer (like a Bobcat) was completed, more crates to store the cut up wood for our wood-fired boiler were built, and a newer Guest trailer was purchased and moved to a temporary site on our property.  All these were accomplished by your generous prayerful and financial help.  Thank you.  The Guest trailer still needs to be set up, moved, and have the electric, plumbing, water, and propane trenched and connected, costing about $3,000 now.




In Closing

We have had delays in getting the workmen out to complete some of the needed finish work to be able to really use the Common Monastic Building this last year.  This has impacted the final electrical connections for basic use, the final wood-working pieces, and the completion of the tile work needed before the plumbing fixtures are installed.  These delays have tried our patience, but that particular virtue is only proven through active practice, and we have certainly had much to learn this year.  The wood frame for more solar panels is in process but not yet done.  All of our wood ready for use this year is not quite all cut up and split.  Pray for our patience with all these, and pray that the workmen can come to complete their work in time for this Winter’s use. 

We need your financial help now to pay for the furnace repairs, getting another older SUV, to help pay for some of the last stages of finishing the Common Monastic Building for actual living use, and to just keep the lights on, the food on the table, and the heat in the buildings.  It has been a particular financial stretch this year, and yet a blessed challenge.  Try to see if you can help at least a little at the end of this year.

St. Nicholas - S420

St. Nicholas - S420




Most of all, please keep us consciously in your prayers and we will keep you in ours.  May the Lord of Glory Who was born in a still, dark cave over 2,000 years ago give us the gift of His love in our hearts, so we may in turn give Him back the love that He so richly deserves.  May He fill us now all with gladness and thanksgiving so that we may sweetly sing during the Vigil of Nativity service: God is with us.

Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The monastics of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
            and the Convent of St. Silouan,
            and the community at St. Nicholas Church

Click for General Monastery Donations Page

  Click for Donations to Special Mission Needs


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