Movin’ On Up

22 March 14

Well, I decided to do it. As of yesterday (officially) I began my Upper Elementary (4th-6th grade) training in Montessori Teacher Education. This is something I have wanted to do ever since I completed my Lower Elementary (1st-3rd grade) 2 years ago. Now with the opportunities available to me in Oregon I felt there was no reason to wait.

The duration of the program is 9 months, (as was the last program, and I completed it in 6 months). If you are intrigued by any of this and would like more information you can visit the North American Montessori Center and take a look for yourself. I really recommend this program because of the distance learning aspect. Otherwise I would have had to spend a lot of time away from home and across the country to complete these trainings. My first set of assignments are due on 18 June, but hopefully they will be completed before then since (hopefully) we will be out of AZ by then, we shall see.

We had an open house last night and there seemed to be some interest according to our realtor, so we will see what the next few days. I’ll keep updating.

Blessed Mother Olga (Michael) of Kwethluk

16 March 14

Blessed Mother Olga (Michael) of Kwethluk
Her Life and an Akathist


Note: From the time I saw the icon (above) of Blessed Matushka Olga something resonated with me. I can not describe it, but as others who have experienced this have said, “There was just something about [her]. The holiness just exudes from the presence of the saints of God.  This is the same with Matushka Olga. 

Her Life

Olga (Arrsamquq) or Olinka was not a physically impressive or imposing figure. She bore eight children who lived to maturity, delivering several herself, without the assistance of a midwife. Her sons and daughters cannot recall that she ever raised her voice to them. Real People do not shout. With a large family and a husband often traveling to one of the dozen villages entrusted to his pastoral care, Matushka was always busy, but not only with her own household chores.

In addition to sewing Father Nicolai’s vestments in the early years, and crafting beautiful parkas boots and mittens for her children, she was constantly knitting socks or fur outerwear for others. Hardly a friend or neighbor was without something Matushka had made for them. Parishes hundreds of miles away received unsolicited gifts, (traditional Eskimo winter boots, “mukluks”) to sell or raffle for their building fund. All the clergy of the deanery wore gloves or woolen socks Arrsamquq had made for them.

As her children grew up and married, Matushka Olga had more than two dozen grandchildren upon which to lavish her hand crafted treasures, but she never restricted her generosity to her own relatives. Week after week she prepared the eucharistic bread (phosphora), serving as the principle agent by which the created universe was transformed into an offering to God at the village Liturgy. Her knowledge of services was exceptional. Not many Orthodox today have committed to memory the entire service for a major Feast, but Matushka Olga knew the hymns of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Pascha by heart in Yup’ik. Whenever a visiting priest entered her house, she hurried to don her scarf and approach with her right hand on top of her left, palms upward, requesting a blessing.

Increasingly freed from domestic chores as her remaining daughters assumed more of the load, she traveled with her husband to regional conferences, sharing her experience and wisdom with another generation of matushki. She enjoyed visiting other parishes during selaaviq, but was always glad to return home to Kwethluk. Through her lifetime, the village underwent radical changes. From a circle of small, semi-subterranean sod dwellings, it became a typical Eskimo town with a diesel generator, a grade school and later a high school, a community center, a Head Start program and clinic and several stores. Public radio and television from Bethel, seventeen miles down river, brought news and images of the world into every Yup’ik home. Wood stoves gave way to oil, dog sleds to snowmobiles.

Some years before her death, Matushka began to feel weak and ill but refused to concern any family members about her condition. She did not improve and her daughters noticed her loss of weight. Finally persuaded to visit the Bethel hospital, she was sent on to Anchorage. The specialists diagnosed terminal cancer. It was too late, they said. There was nothing they could do.

Part Two:

Matushka Olga received the news without bitterness or emotion, and returned home to prepare for the inevitable. Her family resolved that medical science would not have the final word, and two daughters left their bedridden mother for Kodiak, where they offered prayers both at Monk’s Lagoon and at the reliquary of St. Herman. Upon their return to Kwethluk they found their mother’s bed empty. She was outside hauling buckets of water from the village well, no doubt to do a load of laundry, or perhaps to scrub the kitchen floor.

For nearly a year her condition returned to normal, but by conference time the following August, Matushka was too weak to walk or to stand in church unassisted. Archbishop Gregory awarded her the highest distinction bestowed on laity in the diocese, the Cross of St. Herman, draping the red, white and blue ribbon and the enameled cross, bearing in the center the icon of Alaska’s first saint, around her neck at the end of the Feast day Liturgy.

Her condition continued to deteriorate over the next several months. She began to prepare for death, instructing her family how to do the things that she had always done for them, and how to distribute her few material possessions among themselves and her neighbors and friends. She had her wedding gown cleaned and asked to be buried in it. She told her sons and daughters not to grieve for her and expressed regret that she had taken a granddaughter into her home, not because she loved her less, but because she feared that the granddaughter might mourn her too deeply. As the end drew near, the grandchildren from distant Mount Edgecombe boarding school were summoned home. An early winter storm delayed them. By the time they arrived she was gone.

The day of her death, the village priest brought her Holy Communion. She sat up in bed, crossed her arms across her breast and received the Holy Mysteries, made the sign of the cross, folded her arms again, lay down and fell asleep in the Lord. It was the kind of death we all request, “A Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless and peaceful…”. News of her passing spread rapidly across western Alaska. Planeloads of mourners began to arrive as the evening Panakhida was sung at the house. That night a strong southerly wind blew forcefully and continuously, melting the November snow and river ice. Yup’ik neighbors from nearby villages came to Kwethluk by boat, an impossibility at that time of year under ordinary circumstances.

Hundreds of friends who came from as far away as Lake Iliamna and the Nushagak as well as from the Yukon and upper Kuskokwim villages filled the newly constructed church on the extraordinary spring-like day of the funeral. Upon exiting the church, the procession was joined by flock of birds, although by that time of year, all birds have long since flown south. The birds circled overhead and accompanied the coffin to the gravesite. The usually frozen soil had been easy to dig because of the unprecedented thaw. That night, after the memorial meal, the wind began to blow again, the ground re-froze, ice covered the river, winter returned. It was as if the earth itself had opened to receive this woman. The cosmos still cooperates and participates in the worship that the Real People offer to God.


A Remembrance
(This account really hit home with me…)

School and School Redux

15 March 14

Well, things have been a bit weird recently. I spent a little less than a week in TX to visit a friend I’ve known since 2002, and while there received an email with the official job offer from Oregon. Sadly, it was an email and not a phone call. The owner requested I write him an email back if I was interested, (Umm.. YES PLEASE!), and so I responded within 20 minutes and have been waiting for a response back, or a phone call. I plan on calling Monday though, as I called Thursday and Friday of this past week and he was not at the school, I am nothing if not persistent… (ask my wife how long I chased her before she would date me!) More on that when’re there is more to talk about. 

On a separate, yet related note, I am finishing my B.A. and I also began my 9-12 Montessori training. There are more reasons for this than I am willing to disclose at the moment, but when the time is right… This is going to be an interesting match up. I am so close to the B.A., and although it is frustrating as hell at times, I think it will be good for me to finish it if I am able. We will see.


More on Phone Calls and Waiting

5 March 14

I checked in with my new boss Monday and told her that I had not yet heard from the owner of MM. She had said when I spoke to her a week ago that if I had not heard from him he might need a bit of a push. Hence my call. Well, he called yesterday as I was loading boxed into the jeep at the current job that www donated by one of my awesome parents and I missed it. He left me a voicemail and asked me to call him today and touch base which I did at lunch today.

We had a short, but good conversation. He asked about my timetable and I told him my plans. He had said that he would like to see a resume even though I had told the new boss my qualifications and she was very excited to have another teacher on staff that was certified. I emailed him my resume after the phone call and he said he would share the info with his wife and would get back to me. I called the new boss and kept her apprised of the conversation and a few of my observations from that conversation.

Now comes my least favorite part. I wait. Either my boss will call or the owner will call. I did tell him in my email with resume that if there was a desire on his part or on the part of my new boss to meet me before the official move I would be willing to make a trip so we can all sit down and be on the same page.

On a house related note we had a prospective buyer come by yesterday and he liked the house but Kon was sleeping and Rach did not want to wake him. The buyer knew this beforehand and liked the house enough that he said he would come back during a time that was not nap time to see the bedroom. Here again, we wait.

We know how much I love this part…

Orthodox Doctrine: First Section: Chapter 11

5 March 14

Part the First



Divine Worship is Internal or External.

Divine worship is rendered by internal and external act. The internal worship consists <sup2 in out love and fear of God, in our praise of his Holy Name, in our thanks for benefits received, in the confession of our weakness and misery, and in our imploring of His divine assistance. The external worship requires3 a visible adoration, accompanied by prayer, sighing, and tears, as often as we confess our sins, or by joy and cheerfulness as often as we render thanks unto Him, visiting the holy places of worship, and the like.

1. The true worship of God has its foundation in the heart; since the external worship without the internal, not only is hardly any worship, but is, on the contrary, considered as an abominable hypocrisy before God. The internal worship, when manifested by external signs, is called external worship. The internal can stand without the external, but by no means the later without the former. We must not, however, be satisfied by internal piety alone, neglecting the external, not only because it is impossible for the piety of our heart to remain invisible (in the same manner as a great affliction finds its utterance, sighs and sheds tears), but because these outward signs become defying , and an example of imitation to others, particularly when such worship is performed in congregations. Of this inward worship our Saviour said – “God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit sand truth.” (John iv. 24.)

2. Divine worship, in all its parts, is founded on the contemplation of the divine attributes. God being the Supreme and All-pefect Being, with whom nothing can be compared, our heart must burn with the purest fire of love towards Him, and strive to be united to Him. He being the same impartial Judge, we must take care not to incur upon us His just wrath, by transgressing his external commandments. He being the most holy, we most worship His holy Name with all due reverence, without causing it to be abused by others on account of our doings and sayings. If we believe Him to be the kindest Benefactor and the best of Fathers, we must ever bear in mind His benefits, and thank Him most heartily. Admitting that He is an almighty God, and we, on our part, weak and ever-sinning creatures, we must own in His sight our great misery, with a most sincere repentance and sorrow for our sins. Admitting moreover that He is the beneficent and omnipresent God, we must in whatever station He has placed us, implore His mighty protection, and look for His opportune assistance.* The Scripture contains many testimonies of this truth. It seems, however, as if divine worship could be contaminated by our wicked actions, and consequently whoever wishes to worship God in truth, must be virtuous. God, in the language of the Psalmist, says to the ungodly – “What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?” (Ps. 1. 16.)

3. Our inward veneration of God has its outward signs: first, Our submission to god, shown by bowing our bodies or kneeling† down to the earth; secondly, By our praying to Him fervently, either from a book or by heart. If the Gospel condemns the long prayers, we must not suppose that in themselves they are unacceptable, when offered in the proper spirit. Long prayers, then, only are abhorred by God when they are hypocritical, and when the partying person thinks that by such prayers he has performed a great service to God, whilst all the time his heart remained untouched. (Matt. vi. 7.)* Thirdly, Our veneration is likewise shown by our sighs and tears occasioned mostly from compunction, when we thoroughly examine ourselves and come to the knowledge that we are sick and polluted by sin, and consequently deserving of God’s just wrath. Fourthly, By the joy of our countenance, originating from the gladness of our heart, when it feels inwardly God’s benefits as was the case with David, when he brought into the tabernacle the Ark of God, as a visible sign His invisible presence. He danced, and played on musical organs without being ashamed for so doing, in the belief that in so acting in the presence of the Lord He was doing Him honour, and for His sake. (2 Sam. vi. 21.) Fifthly, By our attending public worship in church; for although we can pray to God at home and everywhere, church prayer, where the Christian community assembles, the different religious rites are performed, and the Supreme Ruler is unanimously glorified, has a greater efficacy. Hence David says – “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” (Ps. cxxii. 1.)

* A reference may here be made to Hebrews iv 16.

† It was an ancient custom in the primitive church to pray kneeling, a custom approved by Christ Himself and His Apostles. Luke xxii. 21; Acts vii. 60; Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. book v., chap. ii., where it says that the Christian soldiers of Marcus Aurelius used to pray kneeling down, as it was the prevalent custom of the praying Christians in those days. Saint Paul and those with him were in the same habit of kneeling in the days between Easter and Pentecost. (Acts ii. 5.)

* “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

Housecleaning For Lent

3 March 14

Lent 2014 officially started today.

In honour of this I figured it might be a good idea to focus on more spiritually profitable things.

Therefore, I edited a few things around here, added a few pages, and over the next 8 weeks I will be clearing out and cleaning up. I’d also like to finish up work on the two books I have been working on adding to this blog. They are both accessible, although not complete, under the Books on Blog section at the top of the page.

What’s Next?

1 March 14

The most difficult decision to make when one is packing up a house that they are living in is the question.. “What next?” We got rid of a few things today, thus clearing out a bit of the kitchen and the family room. I’ve got some boxes ready for the shed.. But the constant feeling in all of this is that we have not done enough.

We are making a transition from washable plates and bowls to paper products for a while to see if this helps worth keeping the kitchen cleaner for showings. The kids have done a GREAT job with their areas of the house. The toy areas of the house are clearer than normal, and I know that this helps as well.

I just wish we had someone come to the house that stays for longer than 5 minutes. I know it will happen, and I know that things are falling into place as they should, but it is so difficult to wait for that perfect person, couple, family to show up and us actually get a call saying that we have an offer. I have the thought at times regarding this: “So we get the call.. WHAT THEN? What do we pack that we haven’t? What changes? What do we not really need that we are holding on to.. I guess these questions will answer themselves in one way or another when the time comes and this is just me being impatient. Again.