Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Service in Skopje

This year we held our Easter Service on Easter Eve, completing the Easter Vigil with the beautiful Service of Light. Following readings and contemplations, we shared the light of Christ symbolically as we lit candles and gradually filled the side chapel of the Roman Cathoplic church with light.

It was wonderful to have over 20 people in the congregation to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, particularly as many of them were with us for the first time, including a goodly number of children and babies.

Immediately after the service we shared a glass of wine and/or juice as well some cakes and dyed eggs. The eggs were red, following the local custom of symbolising the blood of Christ. This led to one very amusing moment, that raised memories of the fabled "curate's egg"!

We were "jarbing" eggs, hitting the ends together to see which egg broke first. Unfortunately (for me) it turned out that the one given to me was not even soft boiled never mind hard boiled-it was fresher than fresh even though it had a fine red hue!!! Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your viewpoint no photographs were taken but suffice to say that after much cleaning of the floor the side chapel was restored to its former glory in time for the Roman Catholic Service of Light that followed later in the evening.

A happy and blessed Easter to you all. Hristos a inviat! Adeverat a inviat!

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Spring in Skopje

Last weekend, expertly guided by our dear friend Joan Pearce, we had a lovely walk in the hills immediately on the edge of Skopje. Having grown accustomed (although never happy) to needing at least one and a half hours in the car to get out of Bucharest it is still a wonderful feeling to be able to walk out of our door of our house and head straight for unspoilt natural beauty on foot!

Our objective last weekend was to enjoy the wild primroses in the hills leading up to Mount Vodno, the spiritual retreat for the vast majority of Skopje citizens. We were not disappointed, the primroses were beautiful, the weather was warm anbd spring like, and the views over Skopje and the surrounding countryside indescribable. God's handiwork was evident everywhere we looked, and at its most beautiful!

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Western Macedonia

Last week we had the opportunity to spend some time in Western Macedonia in the area around the ski-ing resort of Mavrovo. Although sadly for him the blog was working rather than ski-ing, the visit did give the opportunity to see a little of the natural beauty of Macedonia!

Mavrovo is a small town that nestles in the mountains on the edge of Lake Mavrovo, and is located very close to some wonderful ski slopes that have been developed without being spoiled. While we were there, winter transformed into spring and hundreds of small waterfalls appeared bringing melt water rushing from the mountains into the lake. It was a truly spectacular sight.

A highlight of our visit was the opprotunity to see one of the many beautiful orthodox monasteries that are located all over Macedonia. This one is dedicated to St John the Baptist and exuded an atmosphere of peace and prayerfullness that could not be ignored.

Although Mavrovo is only one and a half hours drive from the capital city Skopje it is also located very close to the Albanian border-this gives an indication of how small and compact is Macedonia! However, Macedonia is living proof that small can indeed be beautiful. So, stand by and watch for more photos and commentary from this living jewel!

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Martin's final service in Sofia

First of all, sincere apologies for the long silence. Moving to Skopje has proved to be a time consuming adventure. Now, after eight months Skopje is starting to feel like home, and there are even green shoots showing of an emerging Anglican community in our new home city!

Of course, things have been happening also in Bucharest while we have been finding our feet in Skopje. Not least, has been the decision of Martin and Alex to return to England after almost three years of devoted service to the Church of the Resurrection in Bucharest. Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, was their last service in Sofia, and these photographs show what a wonderful send off the congregation there gave him.

Jonathan Dunne who sent the photos, gives the following description of them:

1- Martin's last service in the Catholic Chapel of the Annunciation

2 - Martin in good voice! (the hymn was "My song is love unknown")

3 - Gino presenting Martin with some farewell gifts (an icon of Christ and a smart fountain pen!) in the presence of Walter and Steve

4 - Elodie, Lauren, Els, Lisa and Mira look on

Martin still has two more weeks left in Romania, with his final service being on 26th April.

With God's help, the blog will now resume its meanderings around Central Europe and in particular the Balkans. So, watch this space and who knows what you might see!

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