Friday, March 30, 2012

St. Dimitrie Program Activity Report (part two)

Opening of the St. Pantelimon Free Clinic in Cluj

Social counseling and reintegration

The heart of our program is our day-center “Casa Alba”. It is the place where something is happening at all times. Casa Alba works as a “contact point” where new comers and other people in recovery can find an AA meeting and safe place to meet their non-drinking friends. The people in this program face social problems which include the of lack of basic necessities such as housing and nutrition. At our day-program they receive help with personal hygiene, washing and drying their clothing, are given new clothing if needed, and at least one hot meal per day. Besides this, we offer social work services such as helping our clients get their personal ID papers, finding a job, referral for medical attention, or finding proper shelter.
Some of the stories of our patients in this program are quite dramatic. Many of them have lost everything, including hope and the feeling of human dignity. Part of our goal with these folks is to help them gain back the feeling that their story is not over, that life can be worth living, and that if they stop drinking their life can make sense and they will find a place in society.
Treatment Counseling
The core of our addictions counseling program is at the St. Pantelimon Free Clinic. For the first time, this year we have included in our counseling group people with food addiction, and pornography/sexual addiction. Our clients in the group where better able to understand the common spiritual roots of addictions, no matter what the specific behaviors are (abuse of alcohol, drugs (legal or other wise), internet porn, ect.). Through our approach, we treat the whole disease, and not only the symptom. Forty-five people used our outpatient programs in 2011, and they all have stories of renewed lives and of finding hope for a better future.
Unfortunately, addiction is a chronic disease that cannot be cured, and only goes into “remission” if the person addicted is living a “life in recovery”. Three of our group members died last year as a result of active alcoholism. The youngest being 36 years, another was 42 years. They were too young to die from addiction. I continue my work in Romania because I believe that the Church can play an important role in helping the still suffering alcoholic.
Working with the medical community
The staff and administration of the long term care psychiatric hospital in Borsa have been very supportive of our work there over the past few years, and requested us to work with more patients. They have also assigned a full time staff member for us to train as an addictions counselor. As a result, we now have in this hospital a group of 20 patients with dual diagnosis. That is, they have both mental illness and addictions problems. This is a huge step forward, as previously these patients were pretty much written off as hopeless. We believe that much of their “mental illness” will be more manageable with addictions treatment along side their treatment for mental illness. What they want most is to reintegrate back into the society . For most of them this is a difficult dream to have come true due to the complex social and economic problems they encounter in society. This, and the stigma of having a psychiatric diagnosis makes life quite difficult for them.
Our program in the tuberculosis sanatorium in Savadisla continues as it has over the past several years. A peer counselor and volunteer priest meet with our recovery group in Savadisla 3 times a week. This has been a very successful program, and we have helped several patients to leave the hospital and live in society. We also have daily meetings with the patients at the psychiatric hospital in Clujwho are admitted there for detox. In this hospital we provide information on the disease of alcoholism and recovery opportunities at Casa Alba.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

St. Dimitrie Program Activity Report 2011 (Part one)

This is the first installment of this rather long annual report from Floyd and Ancuta Frantz in Romania. We intend to post an installment every day until we have posted the whole thing (about 4 installments).

I must start my message by saying first of all how important and beneficial my staff have been throughout this past year. Their dedication and professionalism has meant that I could travel and work outside Romania with the peace of mind of knowing that the St. Dimitrie Pro-gram in Cluj was being well tended. You will see by reading this very nice report (written for the most part by one of my staff) that they have been quite busy during 2011.
Generally speaking, our programs in the Tb hospital in Savadisla remain the same. However, at the request of the administration of the long term care psychiatric hospital in Borsa, we are now more thoroughly developing the counseling program which we started there 5 years ago.
Our day-center in Cluj remains as it was, as does our outpatient counseling program. Our good friend and spiritual father Metropolitan Bartolomeu fell asleep in the Lord, but we have a new Metropolitan (Andrei). The economic situation in Romania is not improving very much, but we are now receiving better support from the public sector. For me person-ally I can hardly believe that we are already in 2012, and it is going quickly. As they say, time waits for no man, but sometimes I wish that it would slow down a little so I could catch up with the train! Thank you for reading this, and I hope that you find our report in-teresting and useful to your needs for information about our work here in Romania.

A story from one of our members

“I was born in 1951 in Turda. My father was a train driver, while my mom was taking care of the house. After a happy childhood, I became a glass artist. During my summer holidays, I took a second job doing road repair. Our workday was started with 200 grams of tzuica, a locally produced 90 proof brandy. It gave me energy, more courage, and drinking was part of the job. Slowly, I was feeling the need to drink and my body was asking for it. I finished my studies, got a job. I began to drink more and more. I became addicted. I had no idea that I was an alcoholic, I thought that I was only a drunk who liked to drink. I drank all sorts of alcohol, even some that I was not sure whether it was safe or not.

Unfortunately, I had “business” with the police too be¬cause I was causing scandals when I was too drunk. When the police was arresting me, I was begging them not to beat me because I had a stomach surgery. Not long after the revolution in 1989, the factory where I was working got closed and I became unemployed. I found another job, but by law I had to have a blood test. The results gave me a big sur¬prise. I could not get the job because I had Tb! I was hospi¬talized in Cluj, and then they retired me on disability grounds. My pension was very small, and I ended up in the tuberculosis sanatorium in Săvădisla. My sisters family would not allow me to live with them because they were afraid that they would catch TB, and here in Romania tuber¬culosis is a very serious matter. I became discouraged and started drinking in the hospital. I almost died. Some how, by God’s grace and the doctor I lived, but I kept on drinking.

The St. Dimitrie Program offered me a real chance for recovery while I was in the Tb hospital. At first I did not want to go to the group, but after a while I made up my mind and went to the meetings. I am not sorry at all that I made that decision. In the St. Dimitrie Program I have learned that my spiritual life must be my priority in recovery from alco¬holism. I trust God and I pray a lot for His help.

Thanks to the St. Dimitrie Program, I am sober since No-vember 22nd 2005, and I am grateful from all my heart. Finding the St. Dimitrie Program has restored me to healthy thinking and wellness of soul. I now choose the good path and to be closer to God.” Alin, (61 years)

To Be Continued....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Every Life Is Beautiful

This is a beautiful trailer for an upcoming movie about abortion survivor Gianna Jensen.  Enjoy.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Marriage: Is it Still Necessary?

Here is a very interesting article from that a friend recently sent me.  What are your thoughts on it?

Editor's note: W. Bradford Wilcox is director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and author of "When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America."

(CNN) -- Is anyone surprised that more than half of births to American women under 30 now occur outside of marriage? Or that marriage is losing ground in Middle America?

What's the big deal? After all, some Americans believe that "marriage is just a piece of paper," while others think that fathers are no longer essential.

Despite these worrisome statistics and views, the institution of marriage is not disappearing in American life.

Marriage is certainly not in trouble for the privileged and powerful. Forget Kim Kardashian, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Tiger Woods. In spite of the high-profile marital misbehavior of a few politicians, professional athletes and Hollywood starlets, marriage is actually growing stronger, in many respects, among educated and affluent Americans.

For Americans with a college degree, divorce is down, marital quality is stable, and family stability is up since the divorce revolution of the 1970s and early 1980s, according to research I have conducted.

However, marriage is in trouble not only in poor communities but also increasingly in Middle America -- communities where most people have a high school degree but not a four-year college degree. For Americans without a college degree, divorce remains high, marital quality is falling, and nonmarital childbearing is surging.

The problem with the growing marriage divide in America is that children -- and men -- often pay a big price.

For instance, research indicates that boys who are reared outside of marriage are about twice as likely to end up in prison by the time they turn 30, compared with boys raised in an intact, married home. Similarly, studies show that girls raised in fatherless homes are at least twice as likely to end up pregnant, compared with girls raised in intact, married homes with their fathers.

In general, children born and raised in a married household are more likely to graduate from college, find employment and enjoy stable marriages as adults.

Likewise, married adults are happier and less depressed than their unmarried peers. And because they work harder, act more strategically and carefully after they tie the knot, men enjoy a wage premium that may exceed 10% compared with their single peers. Married men are also much less likely to abuse alcohol, drugs or run into trouble with the law, compared with their unmarried peers. In the words of Nobel Laureate George Akerlof, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, "Men settle down when they get married: If they fail to get married, they fail to settle down."

Thus, the problem with the retreat from marriage in poor and working-class communities is that fewer children, not to mention adults (especially men), benefit from the meaning, direction and stability afforded by an intact, family life. Conversely, American adults and children hailing from more educated communities and affluence are more likely to be doubly blessed with high levels of income and education as well as strong and stable families.

There are at least two ways to bridge the growing marriage divide. First, liberals correctly note that one reason marriage is disappearing is that men in poor and working-class communities are having greater difficulty finding stable, decent-paying jobs -- particularly as manufacturing jobs head overseas. Our government should aim to strengthen vocational education and job programs in these communities.

Conservatives are also correct to point out that the cultural foundations of marriage have weakened in poor and working-class communities. For instance, since the 1970s, less-educated Americans have become more accommodating of divorce, whereas college-educated Americans have become more intolerant of divorce and are in fact, more likely to embrace what I call a marriage mind-set.

Accordingly, policymakers should consider a public health campaign to educate people, especially those in poor and working-class communities, about the value of marriage and fatherhood, much like they have educated the public about the dangers of smoking and drunken driving. Such a campaign may seem quixotic, but the evidence suggests such campaigns can drive behavioral changes.

Given the importance of a strong and stable family life in children's lives, our leaders should take actions that will strengthen the institution of marriage. The alternative is a future where children from some communities are consigned to increasingly unstable and unhappy homes. That is simply not acceptable.

Friday, March 23, 2012

From the Abbot - Fr. Meletios Webber

Fasting is one of the most powerful spiritual experiences we have at our disposal, and is, in almost all cases, directly linked with developing the art of saying either “no”, “not now” or “not yet” to our impulses.

Our impulses do not start fully-grown; nobody says “I need to have a cup of tea right now” out of the blue. The action, in this case of making tea, is preceded by a number of steps involving what feels like thought, long before we head for the teapot.

Almost all our impulses start with a slight feeling of discomfort… a sensation of something very lightly coated with the lack of pleasure, often verging on boredom. After that comes a period of negotiating which goes on in the mind… ‘what can I do?’, ‘how can I feel better?’ and so on. Only then is it likely that one remembers where the teapot is, and puts water on to boil.

The Fathers suggest, in a rather straightforward way, that we can actually divert, derail or ignore these thoughts quite easily when they first arise, and we can get on with our lives quite happily without giving in to them all. If we negotiate with them, they grow in strength, until (in the end) the cup of tea looks compulsory. And who in the world wants to drink a compulsory cup of tea?

Drinking tea is (usually) a harmless thing to do. But everything we do (including a lot of things which are much, much less harmless) start in the same way.

If we give in to all these thoughts, we end up doing all sorts of things way too much… eating, drinking, watching television, surfing the Net…whatever we happen to choose at the time to move us away from that feeling of slight discomfort.

Lent is a great opportunity to back away from these thoughts and their accompanying notions that we will be in a great deal of discomfort (or even more serious trouble) if we do not give into them every time. Most of those thoughts turn out to be completely untrue… we do not, in fact, come to a terrifying end if we turn down a second cookie.

In fact, saying “no” to every impulse that comes along, at least the ones that are outside or beyond our biological needs, is a very good way of starting a more spiritual, more satisfying life. For this reason we can talk of fasting with joy, since it is a joy to tread this sanctified path, trodden by the saints and friends of God throughout the ages. Leave fasting as a punishment to others… for us, Lent is a beautiful and worthwhile challenge to fast with joy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

James Hargrave Podcast

James Hargrave Interview

From the Ancient Faith Radio blurb:

On Forgiveness Sunday, Holy Ascension Orthodox Church was visited by missionary James Hargrave. James serves with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center in Tanzania. Fr. John Parker interviews James about his work there.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Awesome Photo of the Altar

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1)

This is a spectacular photo. Is it the flash? Is it God? One thing we know for sure, God was present when His Church gathered around the altar!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Update from James Hargrave (as he travels stateside)

Dear friends,

Furaha na amani! Joy and peace!

Greetings from Oak Ridge, in the Tennessee River Valley. I am visiting St Anne Orthodox Church this weekend, and this morning had the joy of participating in the Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

It's my fifth Sunday on the road. Every week finds me in a different place, participating in the glory of God with a different congregation. I'm getting to see many dear friends, and to witness the work of the Church across North America. It's a good time. I plan to continue for four more Sundays until reaching the Lower Mainland of British Columbia for Holy Week and the Resurrection of our Lord. It has been very good to see many of you in the past weeks, and I look forward to spending time with many more of you in the coming weeks.

Even as I travel, visit, and speak, plans continue to evolve. I intend to return to resume my work with the Holy Archdiocese of Mwanza and Western Tanzania this year, but the dates and logistics of this may change as certain plans are in the works. Once these plans are confirmed, I look forward to telling you more.

Meanwhile, life goes on in Tanzania. We are preparing for another series of rural clinics in October, and two youth seminars- the first in July/ August, the second in December. We need volunteers from North America to participate on OCMC Teams to assist in these events. Pharmacists, physicians' assistants, nurses, physicians, Sunday school teachers, seminarians, clergy, and others who have knowledge of their faith are invited to come help out for two weeks. You can learn more at .

Fellow OCMC Missionaries Felice Stewart, Maria Roeber and Michael Pagedas continue in language study as they work with local leadership and government to open a health care facility in Bukoba. I enjoy hearing from them about this work. They are making progress, but there is still much to be done. God willing, this year we may be joined by two more long-term missionaries who are both interested in spending their lives working with the Church in East Africa. I look forward to telling you more about them as things are confirmed.

My health continues to improve. Later this month I'm scheduled for a final round of blood tests to confirm that I have recovered fully. I feel more or less fully recovered, and continue to thank God for restoring my body, my breath, and my very life.

As I meet new people and add them to this mailing list, I'd like to say a bit about who I am and what we do as the Orthodox Church in Western Tanzania. You can read this in a PS to this email.

I am always grateful for your prayers, friendship, encouragement and gifts which make it possible for me to spend my life in service to our Orthodox Church in Mwanza and Western Tanzania. It is a good life, I am being given good work, and I am learning! My financial needs continue to be met by your gifts. Many of you have made a commitment to regular giving as you are able, some as little as $5/ month, and some over $100/ month. God is using all of these gifts together to provide for my needs. If you would like to join in this support team, you can go to and click "Support Missionary," call 1-877-GO-FORTH and ask for the Finance Department, or mail a check to the mission center. Checks should be made out to OCMC with "Hargrave" in the memo line, and mailed to Orthodox Christian Mission Center, 220 Mason Manatee Way, St Augustine, FL 32086 .

By your prayers in Christ,

James Hargrave

PS If you're new to this email list, welcome! It's been great to meet you in the past weeks, and I look forward to keeping you updated on my work as a long-term missionary with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center in the Holy Archdiocese of Mwanza in Western Tanzania.

The Episcopal Assembly of all canonical Orthodox Churches in North America has given OCMC the task of carrying out on their behalf the overseas missionary work of the Church. This means that I am sent by all Orthodox Christians in North America, no matter their archdiocese or jurisdiction. I live and work in the city of Mwanza on the southern edge of Lake Victoria in East Africa, where I assist His Eminence Archbishop JERONYMOS of Mwanza and Western Tanzania. I am an apprentice, learning the Swahili language and being mentored and trained by local Church leadership.

We are a young and rapidly-growing Church, striving to make disciples of newly baptized Christians in rural and remote parts of East Africa. To this end I have been helping to plan, host and manage youth camps and seminars in various parts of the Archdiocese and to host foreign visitors who assist in teaching at these events. I have also been asked to work to improve communication within the Archdiocese, and to develop a cohesive plan for youth ministry.

As we are called to be the Church in Western Tanzania, our Archdiocese is also striving to live out Christ's commands to care for the hungry, the sick, the poor and the needy. Last year we began receiving medical volunteers from North America who come for two weeks to conduct rural clinics. I was heavily involved in planning and hosting this event, and expect to continue with this role this year and in coming years. We are also working to open a health care facility in the town of Bukoba. My fellow missionaries Felice Stewart, Maria Roeber and Michael Pagedas are directly involved in this effort.

Beyond these efforts to strengthen the existing Church and to serve those around us, we as a Church are called to go to all nations to baptize and make disciples. There are many parts of Western Tanzania where people have not yet responded to the good news of the Resurrection and the life of the age to come. Our growth as a Church compels us to use our resources not merely to maintain our own structures, but to reach out to those who are hungry and thirsty for the truth. There is much work ahead, and as I grow up in my role with the Archdiocese, I look forward to participating in these evangelistic efforts.

This is the work of the Church- the same work that God has given you in your own place and your own community. Because of your prayers, encouragement, friendship and generosity, I get to join in the work of the Church in another part of the world. It's a privilege, and I'm grateful. By your efforts on my behalf, this work becomes your work as well. Thank you.

James Hargrave
Orthodox Church in Tanzania
Holy Archdiocese of Mwanza
PO Box 1113
Mwanza, Tanzania

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How Baseballs Are Manufactured

I pray that you are having a blessed Lent so far.  This video has nothing to do about Lent, Orthdoxy, or Christianity at all.  It's just really fascinating!