Last week, Presvytera Sophia, Anastasia, and I went to one of our local monasteries for the Paraklesis service, and there we met some very nice Greeks from Harilaou (see photo above). They were fascinated by the story of Americans becoming Orthodox, and wanted to take us to visit their spiritual father, Elder Ioannikios (click there for his account of his relationship with Elder Porphyrios, and click here to read one of his articles that has been translated), who has established a small monastery (9 monks) near the village of Sohos, about an hour northeast of Thessaloniki.
Yesterday, the three of us were able to get away for a few hours to accompany our new friends to the monastery, which was celebrating the Apodosis of the Transfiguration, it's feast.
The monastery was beautiful, and reminded me a lot of a cell on Mt. Athos. The elder and his brotherhood were in a cell on the Holy Mountain which belonged to the Great Lavra before they were given a generous donation to start this monastery in Sohos.
The elder was very generous with his time with us, and I was very impressed by his joy and sense of humor. He joked with Pres. Sophia and Anastasia and gave them a "kanona" (spiritual rule) to learn 5 Greek words a day and write them down in a little notebook. He said he would test them when they came back to see who had learned more.
In the two photographs above, we are exploring the back of the arhontariki, which has a garden and view out over a valley. Our friends included two women and four of their kids, some of whom you can see here.
Here one of the kids was playing with my camera and caught this good photo of Ana and me.
Here one of our friends kids is getting a hug from the elder.
Here two of the kids are hugging another one of their favorite monks.
Anastasia posing for a picture at the entrance to the monastery.
A small chapel.
Posing with our two friends and the elder. For a few more photos, click here.