Before and after our delicious dinner on Friday night, our parishioners learned of the amazing progress of our Diakonia Retreat Center in the past year. Fr. George led an evening walking tour of our DRC, and our parishioners were impressed and inspired with the new building projects, future plans, and the many new animals and birds acquired.
As we ended our day with the Office of Midnight Prayer (offered at 9:00 p.m. - early), Fr. George commended those present for realizing that our journey in life is led by our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. While all of us are busy and confront many obstacles, Fr. George thanked those present for succeeding in carving out time to "leave the busyness of the world" and offer back to our Lord the fruits of our many gifts and blessings and journey with Him and uplift His Holy Church.
Throughout all of the doubts and storms that we encounter, like that pictured in the icon, our Risen Lord Jesus Christ is the calming Guide that protects us, strengthens us, and enables us to serve and overcome all difficulties we confront. We prayed for those whose nights are restless and without peace, and we reflected on how we might adjust our own lives so that Jesus Christ guides our life's journeys. He challenged us to consider welcoming those our Lord places in our paths to assist and sustain us and Fr. George reinforced that by sacrificing our time and talents this weekend, we acknowledge our need and dependence on one another to grow and sustain God's Holy Vineyard.
Fr. George thanked His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios for His leadership and support of our DRC, as well as its Executive Director, Fr. Vasile Bitere, and his staff, Dn. Fr. Polykarpos, Felix and Rodica, and guest-in-residence from Greece and future seminarian, Elias. Again, Fr. George thanks all those who sacrificed their weekend to assist in this, our fifth year of volunteer service.
On Saturday, during morning prayer service lakeside, Fr. George led a discussion with those present on the spiritual means we can choose each day to stay in communion with God and bring His will into our lives to guide our "life's journeys." Following a delicious breakfast, we were busy helping plant the garden, weeding in front of the lodges, planting flowers around the Dining Hall, cutting down excess Poplar trees, and pruning the grapevines in the vineyard. After lunch, we planted 100 olive trees next to the 150 already planted behind the barn and pasture. Other volunteers cut up and removed fallen trees and debris from the obstacle course and repaired steps with new railroad ties near the Welcome Center. After dinner on Saturday night, we shared our experiences and fellowship at our campfire.
On Sunday morning, we praised and worshipped God for His blessings upon us! After a delicious brunch, our parishioners went on their final walks and canoe trips before departing. Our Parish Council used the afternoon to plan for the future of our parish. What a productive, inspiring, and unforgettable weekend.
Glory to God always!