Friday, September 26, 2008

Egeria News

Have you ever sat at a table full of new acquaintances in a parish coffee hour as a visitor and been told "Oh-- if only we'd known you were going to visit -- you wouldn't have needed a hotel!". Well, I have -- several times. I've also had wonderful people from all over the world scrawl out their contact information on a scrap of paper and plead with me -- seriously! -- to stay with them if I ever come to their village/city/country, so that they could show me all the beautiful and holy sites near their home, and introduce me to their friends and family, and feed me until I explode.

This is not because I am so terrific -- people just really, truly love to meet and host their Orthodox brothers and sisters, even if they don't know them very well, because on a deeper level we are all one body. Egeria is a great way to facilitate people being able to meet and exchange fellowship this way. If you don't believe me, just for a lark I am going to list the actual places I have stayed and been hosted purely on Orthodox connections -- not including monasteries. Here goes!

Eugene, Oregon (1993)
Glastonbury, England (1994)
Aberdeen, Scotland (1998)
Birmingham, England (1998)
Athens, Greece (1999)
Thessaloniki, Greece (1999)
Chania, Crete (1999)
New York, NY (1999)
Montreal, Quebec (1999-2000 New Years!)
Stromness, Orkney, Scotland (2000)
Edinburgh , Scotland (2000)
Edmonton, Canada (2001)
Wappingers Falls, NY (2001)
Everson, WA (2004)
Friday Harbour , WA (2004)
Calgary, Alberta (2005)
Chicago, IL (2006)
Big Island, Hawaii (2008)

That last one is happening this October! :-) Anyway, I have probably missed some, and of course I have been many more places -- these are just the times and places that we didn't pay for accommodation! There are many more places too -- even other countries -- where we have standing invitations to visit. Most Orthodox people do seem to have such standing invitations, and one thing Egeria can help do is to -- in a sense -- pool all of these possibilities into one place! Imagine a one stop shop for Orthodox hospitality or home exchange around the world, so that no matter how far we go in our travels and adventures, there is a friendly light in a window when we get there.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Another Kind of Membership

In addition to regular home swap or hospitality exchange, Egeria will provide a third option for members who do not expect to need travel acommodation , but have extra room and a willingness to provide hospitality.

The Philoxenia Membership (or so we're calling it at present) will be offered at a reduced rate, and will allow hospitable people throughout the Orthodox world to offer bed-and-breakfast accomodation in exchange for a donation to be made to their parish or to another charity.

This is a great twist to the Egeria concept, because it will add value for the regular members -- a lot more potential places to stay! For the Philoxenia members, it's a great way to meet Orthodox from far away places even if it's hard for the hosting member to travel, and it enables members to use their extra space as a fundraiser for a cause their home parish. Of course, the exact terms of the arrangement, as with all Egeria member swaps, will be up to the guest/host pair to decide.

I would like to write more tonight, but my family have had a rough week, with four out of five of us ill from some kind of stomach bug. Also, Egeria is a little behind schedule due to the design awesomeness we are attempting -- we really want the site to be something special, so it will not be ready to launch in September 2008 as originally predicted. Hang in there! It will come to fruition in the near future, and it will really be a great resource for all of us! Thanks for reading. . .
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