On Renewal Tuesday, we went with Fr. Panayiotis and his family to Alistrati Cave in between Serres and Drama, northeast of Thessaloniki.
On the way there, we stopped at a rest stop and playground so that the children could get out and play. Above, Fr. Panayiotis' presvytera spins Paul and two of her children.
The cave is situated in a scenic area with a valley. As we waited for the next tour of the cave to start, the kids played. Above is Phoebe looking out at the mountains.
And here are the babies playing at a waterfall, which they LOVE.
After the cave, we drove over to Serres for lunch at a lovely restaurant situated next to natural waterfalls. Above you can see Pres. Pelagia and Paul. Below Paul and Benjamin play with the channeled water coming down from the mountain.
We also walked around a small reservoir. Above, Pelagia and Paul.
And here the kids are watching the small fish swimming around.
We then headed up the hill to the nearby Monastery of St. John the Forerunner, which is one of three monasteries in mainland Greece for which Elder Ephraim (now of Arizona) serves as spiritual father. Back in December, they suffered a large fire, which destroyed the building which contained most of their day-to-day living and working space. Fortunately, however, none of the churches from this 13th century monastery were destroyed. Click on their website here to see more about the fire.
Sister Katherine, an American convert from Texas who has been there for several years now, talked with us for awhile and told us that life at the monastery had changed considerably due to the fire. They are eager to rebuild but, since the monastery is so old, the archaeological service has to be involved, and they insist on doing a detailed inspection of the burnt area before allowing anything to be rebuilt. Fortunately, although the part that burnt was frequently used (including not only workshops but also their kitchen and dining area), the majority of the large monastery was not touched at all, so it could have been worse.
For a few more photos from the day, click here.