Barn Update

We are finally making some progress on the barn. Saturday, August 25, Tim Palmer, Jerry Burke and Damien Kovalenko, each helped for a few hours and we took out the floor boards, electrical wiring and joists for a third of the second floor. It was just the leg up I needed. Less than three weeks later the entire second floor is installed. That’s new girders, joists and deck, new lights for downstairs and a staircase that I built myself. I’ve always wanted to build a staircase. Now I have, and it works for going up or down!

The process has not been painless. First Tim fell onto the open beams right after we removed the floor boards. A few days later, I fell through the rotted old floor while stepping from the new floor to catch a piece of plywood. Both legs got gashed and my right leg pretty badly bruised.
This week, Vincent Kaufmann slipped off the new floor between the joists and landed with his shins on a joist of the old floor underneath. I’m glad we hadn’t removed that yet.

The barn will house “Come and See” Icons, Books & Art and provide improved storage for the freezer, supplies and donated goods for The King’s Jubilee.

There’s plenty more work to be done, so feel free to stop by and lend a hand. There is even some more fun demolition to be done, but to get in on that, you need to act quickly.

Hard Drive Crash Update

On the eve of the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos I needed some blank CDs. I knew I had a spool of them, but hadn’t seen them since we moved a year ago last May. I went up the attic steps and right in front of me was the box that had eluded me thus far. In it I not only found the blank CDs, but about 50 CDs with icons on them. Praise God!

I found many of the files I had lost on the hard drive. It was a wonderful gift from the Blessed Virgin Theotokos for her feast day.

The Mother of God, Homeless?

Yesterday was the feast of the Elevation of the Cross. In the homily, father called our attention to when Jesus was on the Cross, he entrusted the care of his Mother to John, his beloved disciple. That got me thinking.

Mary was a widow and her only child was dying. In that society, as it would in most even to this day, it left her with no means of support: destitute and homeless. Except Jesus Christ would not let that happen to his Mother. He placed her in John’s care and John in her care. He made them family even though no blood or marital connection obligated them.

Do you suppose that is why John lived to be 100 years old? “Honor thy father and thy mother” is the first commandment with a promise: ” that it may go well with you and you may live long upon the earth.”

I know we generally consider Pentecost as the birth of the Church, but I think the seed was planted here, when a family was created where there was no family. It would grow into “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people … .” (1 Peter 2:9)

What a strange concept in the modern West. Why did Mary need family? Why did John need family? They were both adults. All we need is the nuclear family to raise children, and according to the mass info-tainment industry, we can get along just fine with that in any of a number of fragmented states and strange configurations. It is in the air and in the water to such an extent that even many Christians believe that individual self-sufficiency and fulfillment are not only possible, but the noble goal and birthright of every person. No wonder homelessness is on the rise and is even a growing problem in socialist Europe.

Homelessness is not so much an economic problem as it is a relationship problem. We have always had the poor. They have not always been homeless. Homelessness rises with the divorce rate. It rises with the abortion rate. It rises with the amount of violence and fear that is portrayed on the evening news and nightly TV dramas. It has become easier and easier for us to throw people away. It is easier to break up than to reconcile. It is easier to abort than to raise a child. It is easier to fear and avoid strangers than it is to welcome them.

John Wayne is not the true picture of the fiercely independent American; the guy sleeping on the steam grate in center city is.

Jesus teaches us, even on the Cross that we all need family. We are never too old to need family. We are never too holy to need family. Our need for family does not die when our family dies.

So how do we end homelessness? We start by loving our families, even when they are irritating and disagreeable. Then we expand our idea of family to include those other people whom God places in our lives and accord them the same grace, leeway, honesty, care and accountability that we do to blood relations and in-laws. We need to stop fearing strangers and instead do as the Scriptures command: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2)

Sometimes we need to go out of our way to meet strangers.

Sandwiches Needed

We need more sandwiches Thursday nights. The population on the streets in center city Philadelphia has gone up. So far, we have been able to give everyone who shows up something to eat each night, but we haven’t been able to give everyone something to take away for later.

Here are the guidelines for making sandwiches:

  • Don’t use mayonnaise or any eggs or egg products as these can go bad quickly without refrigeration.
  • Make sandwiches that you would like to eat.
  • Place the sandwiches in individual sandwich bags.

You can then pack them back into the loaf bags and write on that bag what kind of sandwiches they are.
Arrange to drop them off to my house by 6pm on Thursday or at St. Philip’s by 7pm on Thursday. We leave the church parking lot as the bell is chiming 7pm.

You don’t need to worry that we will have too many sandwiches. That has only happened about four times in nearly twenty years.

Styrofoam is Forever.

It bothers us that we use styrofoam cups and plastic spoons to serve the soup and drinks on the street. Styrofoam is made from a non-renewable resource and is not biodegradable or recyclable. It is cheap, however, so that is what we use.

Now there are alternatives that are compostable; cups made from sugar cane fiber or potato starch and spoons made from potato starch. They cost more, but I think it is worth it, if we can continue to address oneproblem without exacerbating another one. Of course, this means I will be asking for more money as the non-offending spoons and cups will cost about $50 more per month.

I do have hope that the costs will come down as these products become more widely used and commonly available.

Vacation Church School

The first week in August, St. Philip Orthodox Church, Souderton, PA, VCS made power packs and fruit breads for us to distribute to the poor. They also gathered toiletries and some spare change. Power packs are paper lunch bags with goodies for later, like cracker packs, boxes of raisins, granola bars & box drinks.

The children personalized the bags by decorating them with crayons. One pack that caught all of our attention as we passed it out was decorated with very well drawn pictures of ants crawling all over it. After all, what picnic is complete without a few ants?

Thanks kids for your thoughtfulness and creativity.

Turkeys ‘R’ Us

St. Philip’s annual drive for donations of turkeys, etc., is coming round again. TKJ is just one recipient of this wonderful program. It is mid-September and we still have enough turkeys in our freezer to carry us until this year’s turkey drive starts.

The people on the street really appreciate this. We are able to serve a hearty soup each week, because of your sharing of this bounty.

I have gotten pretty creative in my use of the turkeys, and so far, no one has complained. Ya got your turkey with green beans & sliced potatoes soup. Ya got your turkey with green beans and noodles soup. Ya got your turkey with five beans soup. Ya got your turkey with mixed vegetables in chicken broth soup. Ya got your turkey with mixed vegetables with tomato juice soup. Ya got your turkey with cucuzu squash and kidney bean soup. Ya got your turkey sweet potato gumbo. Ya got your Ramzi Ghannam’s wonderful mashed potatoes with turkey, green beans and gravy on top. Ya got your turkey, garbanzo bean clean out the freezer stew. …

Bubba got shrimp. Cranford got turkey. Thanks!