Today was our free day. We were able to go through Oskar Schindler’s factory (depicted in the movie “Schindler’s List) on Monday morning, but outside of that we’ve been at ministry projects or traveling to ministry projects. This morning we got up and took a bus to Auschwitz. We were able to tour the original camp. It was a pretty sobering tour walking through the place where so much evil had taken place. After that, we drove over to Birkenau. Walking onto the grounds where the majority of the 1.1 million people murdered at Auschwitz stood is a powerful moment. One of our students reflected that their generation will be the last generation to know the survivors of this tragedy. This experience is one that is extremely hard to put into words for the reader of a blog.
We arrived back to our hostel and did some last minute shopping. A couple of people went to the Castle at Wawel and walked around it. We all gathered for dinner at a restauarnt near the castle. We had our final share time and started packing for the flight home.
I think we can honestly say that a part of us will always be in Poland!
It was the second morning we went to the Rynek and asked people questions about religion for a survey. The questions we asked were “do you attend church?” “do you believe that God exists?” “do you think good works can get you to heaven?” Then, depending on what they said, we would venture into deeper spiritual conversation. We talked to at least 20 people and was able to pray with about six. There was one girl who was saying that she thinks people in Poland should explore more options and they don’t because Catholicism is so much apart of the culture. I think because Catholicism is so dominate in Poland, a lot of people just practice the religion and are never challenged in it; us talking to them gives us an opportunity to challenge their faith, so they can think for themselves rather than just do whatever everyone else does. I saw the conversation spark a lot of thoughts and questions in their minds. We did that for about two hours, and then we ate lunch and went to the elementary school. At the elementary school we made American flag pins and played games with the kids. Later that night at dinner, Brett, Hailey, and I were talking about baptism and how Hailey and I had been “saved” when we were younger (we didn’t necessarily understand it at that point in our lives) and got baptized after. We both were genuinely saved in sixth grade and didn’t get baptized a second time after that because we didn’t find the necessity in it. Brett was saying that biblically people get baptized after they get saved (truly). Also I’ve read a lot of stories in the Bible about how people get baptised right after they get saved, so it got me to think about it, and I’m definitely considering it.
One of our ministries tonight was youth night with some of the Polish teenagers. About 20 teenagers showed up and it was a big hit! Tonight was “Texas Night” and we showed them how to two-step, introduced them to some Texan foods and played Kajabi Can Can. They seemed to really enjoy it so I hink we did a great job. After we danced and played a few games, Brett split us into small groups to ask them some discussion questions. I thought they were going to be a bit shy considering they were surrounded by a big group of foreign kids but they were surprisingly talkative during the discussion! It was so cool to hear what they had to say. They had great answers and they are basically on the same page as us and that makes the reality of God being universal so much more real instead of God just being American. It was an amazing experience to be able to hang out with the Polish teens, we are going to miss them!
Hey everyone. Ty here. Just a quick update that we experienced our first rainstorm in 6 years and 4 trips of working here yesterday. That it took this long is a minor miracle, because this area gets over 150 inches of rainfall each year! However, it did set us back a little, and the chance of rain is over 80% today as well. The good news is that we’ve been praying, and the chances have already come down from 95%! Please join us in praying for good weather for these last 2 days so that we can complete the work that has been provided to us.
Today was the second day of work for most groups, but for my group it was our first full day of work since we had to prayer walk asking for work on the morning of the first day. We arrived just as the morning sun was arising. We started painting the inside walls of the first house with a light, blue water- based paint. Whenever Katia came home on her break from work she was amazed by the progress we had made and how great her house was starting to look. In return she made us a very tasty lunch of chicken, noodles, rice and beans. After lunch we immediately got back to work and started painting the outside of the second house. Everybody worked extremely hard, and we sweated more than we usually do. We had finished painting the whole house with a light, green oil based paint, except for the back wall, whenever a rain storm came in. A few of us decided to play in the rain for a little while and get completely soaked while the others ran for cover. We had to stand under a nearby roof watching with disappointment as the paint dripped down the wall we hadn’t finished yet. It rained harder in 30 minutes than it ever has in Georgetown. Daniel had to take 4 of us at a time in his car to the bus station, so we wouldn’t get anymore wet than we were. Once we had gotten back to the hotel and everyone had showered up we walked across the street to eat dinner. Joseph and I shared a hamburger that could feed 4 men and was the size of a baby. After we went back to hotel lobby Ty led us in worship, everyone could feel the holy spirit among us as we worshiped the Lord as a church.
Sunday when we went to the Square to go shopping, Zane and Ty decided they wanted to go up the mountain to go say hi to a family that they helped last time they were here. Zane asked me if I wanted to go with them since Laine helped them with that family, he thought it would be cool to see what my brother did when he came. I told him I would but ended up being the only student going, so I was little nervous. First we went with Daniel to the store to buy some stuff for the family. Zane told me that the little we did buy would last the family two or three months and this blew my mind, Especially living in the house hold I live in. Once we arrived my breath was taken away by the scenery of the mountains and their beauty. The house was very small but well put together, thanks to our team from two years ago. There was five or six kids from what I could tell and the mom was seven months pregnant. Hearing her story was absolutely heartbreaking. A lot had happen to her since the last time our team was here. A week after our team had left in 2010 she lost her baby. Daniel said that some people believe it was because she let us in to her home. Bad things happen to bad people and other people believed it was wrong of her to let us in. She had also recently lost her mom and money was tight. You could tell her faith was weakening but she hasn’t given up yet and I personally believe it’s because she is stronger than giving up completely. There we verses on the walls and the oldest son plays the drums regularly for the church. It was amazing how happy the kids were even though times were hard. The whole time we were there they were laughing, smiling and running around. I definitely got a lot out of meeting them and know I made the right choice by going.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth?
This morning a group of students went to the Rynek (like the “square” of Krakow) and got split into groups of two to go and ask some of the local Polish people questions about what they thought they needed to do to be saved. I talked to a lot of people and learned many things from them. Such as, I did not know how much people disliked the Catholic church and how badly the church treated people here. I didn’t realize that if you are a member of the Catholic church and want to change to a different religion that they have to fill out a lot of paper work and it’s a hassle that no one really wants to deal with so they just decide to not attend any kind of church service at all. Also, most of the people here have been baptized, but most of them said,”we had no choice but to be baptized.” because their parents baptized them as babies. Another thing that was surprising was that about 90% of all of the people that my group surveyed said that doing good works alone was enough to get you to heaven. We met many people that were interested in becoming Christians and said they might come to the church where we are serving and we even invited a group of teenage boys to come to our youth event tomorrow night. We did this for about two hours and hopefully aided in these peoples’ walk with the Lord. Then we went to the church where the missionaries had prepared an incredible meal for us, and we relaxed, ate, and waited for our next assignment.
Today we went to the Rynek which is sort of like a shopping center/market. While in the Rynek we split up into groups and talked to the Polish people about their religion and faith. It was a very fun and informative 2 hours. After lunch we went to an elementary school to play with the kids. When I play, I mean pay attention to them. Alot of them don’t get attention so when we come they are so happy to see us! We started off by coloring Noah’s Ark. They told us to go find a kid and just talk to them and color with them. Of course everyone went to the outgoing kids because they are easiest to get along with even if we don’t understand their language. I saw a boy that was sitting alone with his helper so I went over and started coloring with him. He was very shy and quiet, but he tried to ask me my name in English. I encouraged him to keep trying and after a few trys he finally got it out. His helper had to assist him a lot to speak to me in the little English they both knew. They told me he was 12 and had Aspergers. I have a soft spot for kids with Aspergers and once I knew that I made even more of and attempt to help him out. By the end of the day he was playing basketball with us and really came out of his shell. His helper told me that she was so thankful for us coming and even more for me taking time to bond with him. After he left I was so excited to come back tomorrow and talk to him some more. After that we went souvenir shopping and then to dinner at this really cool small Polish place with the most interesting food I have ever had. The day was great and I cant wait for tomorrow and the rest of the week. God is doing GREAT thing (: