Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Bless! The Lord!
Each season has its own texture and blessing that is found when we are actively looking for it, and this summer’s end is the beginning of this transition from one blessing to another. Not that blessings just come when we get what we want, but most of all when we are willing to see such blessings each day in God’s Providence which blesses us in easy and hard times, and this last six months have been an ample time to experience both here at St. Isaac’s Skete, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The one most important thing in all of this here has been the many prayers that we have both offered and received, and your prayers for us have been an active part of these blessings and the ability to stand back and thank God and others for all good things, for as St. James wrote in his Epistle “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) The challenge comes when we are offered to see with a spiritual sight that whatever happens to us can become the good and a blessing if we will actively seek to ask God to let us see it as it truly is–such a blessing!
The Covid crisis affected us all, and its fallout is still affecting us here. We are so thankful that it did not strike the monks or any of our hired staff while working here. There has been no contagion here because of our precautions in opening up again. Between that shut down of two months last spring in 2020 and also our computer hacking last September that shut us down again for two month, we had severely fallen far behind in production and shipping.
Then more recently in this last May we unexpectedly lost two key employees who both managed the shop and the office, and they left on short notice without adequately training their replacements. This put us even further behind. We have had a serious challenge to get this training to bring all of this up to speed and working fully again, especially now in our office work which shapes production and shipping so thoroughly. We have been able to bring back our production to about 70% efficiency, but just lost in the last few weeks another shop worker who did not stay after some months of training, and who will have to be replaced. The new office employees are enthusiastic and coming up to speed. All these good things are quite a blessing.
The back valley’s Common Monastic building is still not up and functioning fully, and some of the contract work to redo our well and boiler and whatever heating or electrical damage that is still out there is not yet even identified. We have our 16 new deep cell solar batteries here now, and were able to purchase an additional eight more to complete that best use solar electrical storage but only eight are connected just now and we need to get the large wire connectors to make that work and finish rebuilding the solar battery box in its place. Thank you for your generous help in buying these new solar batteries. We will be contacting the electric, water, and heating contractors to come now so that they can find whatever is left to complete in the restoration of full use of this wonderful stand-along monastic building. Pray that this can happen soon before the weather season changes to the colder fall months.
We are still in the fallout from last year’s perfect storm, which has continued now into this year and even to this summer. Our wood needed for the heating of the Common Monastic Building for this coming winter is not here, and the road to the back valley is still dicey. Computer workstations still fail at times, and one important one failed in just the last few weeks. Our backlog of icon orders are daunting. The financial stress of all this is especially hard in the summer months from this all right now.
We have been able to get more helpful tools, especially for the outside grounds maintenance that was sorely neglected without them, and have a new large walk-behind mower, our older zero-turn mower is working again after two years, and we have a new weed-whipper, all to manage this efficiently and give the monks some practical means of good exercise in the process. The most important tool which we have lost in the last few years was our used skid steer which we used to move our wood boxes full of chopped wood to our wood-fired boiler to feed it during winter months, and to be able to ferry the large wood logs purchased to the back valley to be able to cut it up and stack it in those wood boxes before the snow falls. This wonderful tool would be an enormous help in our time and energy management as we are doing the moving of the wood now by hand into the back of our SUV and then unloading it by hand next to the boiler. If anyone was inspired to really help us manage our back valley, this tool (about $10,000 used) would be the first and best choice.
Critical Help is Needed Just Now
We are very greatly stretched (yet thankful still), so we are turning to our donors and dear friends for practical help as well as their earnest prayers for the monks here to help get us up back on our feet and be able to meet our financial obligations that are so stretched in this perfect storm.
We are just a few monks. We really still need now most of all over $6,000 in donations for our general funds to manage to move more forward before the cooler weather comes again to Southwestern Wisconsin, and our winters here are seriously cold. You have always responded to our past donation appeals and we thank you so much for that. We want to continue to serve you and each part of our larger spiritual community, so please see in prayer whatever you can do to help. Every dollar will count and is a blessing, even the widow’s two mites! Thank you for your help, and may mercy come to you and to all we love from Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Keep us in your prayers and in your love, We are praying for you. May the Lord bless each and every one of your good hearts.
Your Brothers in Christ,
The Monks of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
and the Community of St. Nicholas Church
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