Monthly Archives: March, 2014

March 14, 2014: Poland – Day 8

Amber Road; Gdansk, PolandTeam Kenny; as told by Sarah Ward

First off, I would like to say thanks to those who prayed that I would make better connections because I was definitely connecting with lots of people! Our very successful Texas Night on Thursday was our last work day and also our last full day with Pawel. After waking up at 6:30 AM to finish up packing, chores, and getting ready, we had breakfast with Pawel at McDonalds (fun fact about Poland: McDonalds is WAY better in Poland than in America!). After breakfast, we said a sad goodbye to Pawel, and went our separate ways. Since Pawel couldn’t spend the day with us, our friend, Z, joined us and we went to a castle! The castle was beautiful, and full of gorgeous paintings, stained glass windows, and architecture. My favorite part of the castle was the private chapel! It had a very tall ceiling, old pews, a gorgeous stained glass window, and a breath-taking statue of Jesus on the cross. I think that was cool to me because God is so powerful and makes such a huge impact, and he brings unity to everyone, including people from completely different centuries! We were at the castle for a couple of hours, and then we made our way to Gdansk to meet up with Kenny for shopping!! We didn’t have much time to shop, so we were in a hurry. Even in the hustle and bustle of the city, I couldn’t help but look around and take in the magnificent city! The buildings were tall and beautiful, and a lot of them were untouched from WW2! My favorite part of the city was the Amber Road! It was one long strip of beautiful, and expensive, amber trinkets. We grabbed a coffee, and left the city to meet up with the rest of the group at a youth night! As I walked up to the building, I saw my brother hanging out with a bunch of young Polish teens, and getting to run up to him and give him a big hug was definitely the highlight of my day! At the youth night, Devin and Michaela lead worship. Getting to see how my brother impacted so many people’s lives made me very emotional, and when looking around, everyone was sobbing, and really just completely worshipping God with all of their hearts. It was absolutely incredible, and I cannot put into words just how proud I was of my friends! Josh Covey gave his great testimony, and a tear-jerking speech, and then we ate and danced! I had a total blast while dancing, and I got to know a few girls at the youth night. By the end of the night, everyone was crying and saying their last goodbyes until next time. I was very excited to see how God moved in these teens’ lives! Our last event of the night was pizza at a sports restaurant. We watched the game, caught up on our weeks, and just enjoyed each other! My biggest prayer request that I have is that these teens go through with their decision to accept Christ. When you are at big events like this, it’s easy to get caught in the moment, but the big prayer is that they stick with God, and hold themselves accountable when life becomes normal, and tempting once again.  I also pray that they would be fearless in their walk with Christ. Pray that they will talk to their friends about their faith, and not be afraid to share with others God’s grace that saves. Thanks so much to my sponsors and prayer warriors! I am so thankful for you, and thank you for being the helping hand that gave me the opportunity to come on this trip.

Team Josh; as told by Alyssa Melikian

Today was the last day in Poland and it was crazy! We got up in the morning and took a train from Olsztyn to Gdansk to go sight-seeing and meet up with the other groups. Gdansk is such a beautiful place filled amazing architecture and parks. After sight-seeing we went to the mall to meet up with the other groups and grab lunch before going to the church. At first it was very overwhelming to meet so many new faces that I would only see for that night, but I instantly grew close to every single one of them that I met. They just had so much room in there heart for us and it showed me the importance of loving everyone you meet even if you see them for one day. Getting to play games with them was so much fun! After games we went inside and worshipped with them. You could just feel God in that room with all of us. Through all the tears, smiles and mixed emotions I haven’t felt God’s arms wrapped around me so tight in a long time. That moment was when I truly understood God’s plan for me and I smiled because I knew it wouldn’t be the last time I went. God is definitely calling me to go back and continue the missions that us high school students started this week. I have never been so proud to call the youth group my family and to call God my father. Thank you everyone who has prayed, donated and kept up with our trip. You will never know how much all of it means to each one of us students.

Team Chuck; as told by Jamie Downs

Today was so much fun. We took a train to Gdansk and toured around and bought souvenirs. We met up with the other groups at the mall around 2:00 pm. I was so happy to see my friends. After we shopped for a bit and ate some lunch, we walked to the church a couple blocks away. Kids immediately started showing up and hanging out with us. Josh Covey shared his testimony and we sang some worship songs. Some girls next to me were crying at the end of the last song. I walked up to them and asked them why they were crying.  They told me they didn’t know. I think that the Holy Spirit was moving inside of them. After we ate dinner with them the best thing ever happened. We took the speakers outside and danced to the Cupid shuffle and some Skrillex songs.  It was so much fun dancing with these kids. Saying goodbye to these kids was the hardest thing I have ever done. I had only been with these kids for about two hours and I had already formed huge relationships with them.  They were crying and I was crying and I told them I would come back to see them again soon. I will never forget this trip and I will definitely never forget these kids. I love Poland so much and I cannot wait to come back!!

 

Team Adrian; as told by Josh Covey

Today was one of the greatest days of my life! At school we built upon our relationships even more and we hung out with Kuba, Michael, Kacper, Ania, and a few others at the mall. We went to church for the third and final youth night and we had another great group of over 100 Polish teenagers. After playing Ultimate Frisbee and hanging out the first hour, we went inside and sang three awesome worship songs led by Michaela and Devin. The first song was fun and the last one was a great song about God’s unconditional love (He Won’t Relent). The Holy Spirit was truly moving. After the third song I went up and shared my testimony. The Gospel was revealed and God really spoke to their hearts. The Polish teenagers then showed us a video of so many great pictures and memories of the week. Kids were extremely emotional as the Spirit moved and it took us an hour to say goodbye to everyone. Sebastian, one of my newest friends, was really touched and I told Him about what Jesus could do for him and that if he wants to follow Jesus, he shouldn’t hesitate to make that decision. With the help of a translator he said he wanted Jesus so I brought him over to Adrian and Adrian fully went over the Gospel and they agreed to keep in touch. Sebastian wanted to continue going to 2nd Baptist. I must also follow up on him and help him continuously grow in his new relationship with Christ. Praise God that I will see him in Heaven!!!!! After we left, we went to eat and Kacper met up with us. We spent one more moment with him and we told him again how much Jesus loves him and how we would be praying for him. He was so happy by our friendship. It meant so much to him and to me. Angela and James, Ken and Janet, and Adrian were so great to us and we will be praying so hard that their (along with the Polish teenagers that already go to 2nd Baptist) ministry is blessed and continues to grow; we will also be praying so hard that those kids that we met will continue worshiping there together and God would use Adrian and that church in awesome ways!!!!

March 13, 2014: Poland – Day 7

Team Kenny; as told by Hannah Gilliland

Hello everyone! Today was amazing! We started off by heading to a different school in Elblag and it was great! The students there were so involved and they loved us. Since there were only two separate classes, we all stayed together instead of splitting up. The students were great and they even prepared their own presentations about Elblag. I had a lot of fun and they also served us sweets and tea. (Tea is my new favorite drink!) After going to the school, we walked down the street to the pizza place so that we could order pizza for the Texas Night. We ended up staying and eating lunch there. We had Schabowy (Pork Chops). Which was delicious! Sarah and I shared a bowl of Zurek and a plate of Pierogi. We are all very sad that we won’t get to have these wonderful dishes when we get home. 😦

After a long nap, we all set up for the party. It was so much fun! There were about 70 people there. We got to play Texas Snowball Fight, then we had a lasso competition. After those we shared a lesson about how only God’s grace saves. They seemed very interested. We also shared the gospel and Grayson prayed for those who wanted to except Jesus into their hearts. There were about 10! After that we taught them how to two-step. They really enjoyed it! We continued to dance and eat pizza. They loved the queso I made! Saying goodbye was very hard because we have become so close to them these past few days. 😦 But all is good because we got all of their Facebooks and Instagrams so that we could stay in touch.

Today was our last day with Pawel 😦 We will miss him so much and plan on coming back to visit him! The church even bought us gifts. The girls got mugs from Elblag and Grayson got a t-shirt since he was already planning on buying one. Thank you for all of the prayers because they have for sure worked! Can’t wait to be home but none of us want to leave!

Team Adrian part 1; as told by Camryn Crawford

Today we woke up with 5 hours of sleep in us, so it was really hard getting up, but we walked to the coffee shop and drank some coffee and tried new Polish food for breakfast. It was pretty good! We then got on the train and walked to the school. Once we got to our classes, mainly all the kids had this huge smile on their faces and got up and started hugging us and saying our names; I just felt so welcomed walking into the classroom. It was a really great feeling. Today our ice breaker was Never Have I Ever, which I found really interesting what some of the kids have never done, which Devin, Michaela and I might have a done many times. At lunch we ate some yummy pasta and of course soup. Then we had one last class and walked to the mall. I started to get this excruciating feeling in the bottom of my foot where I couldn’t even walk or barely stand up. I told Brett, and being the awesome person that he is,  he told me he would carry me. After about 5 minutes of walking he basically got winded and had to take a break. I didn’t think I was that heavy or maybe he is just really out of shape(; we then got on a tram and went shopping, we also had some delicious gelato. We hung out there for 2 hours and afterwards we walked to the church. Once “Texas night” started, we two stepped, which was definitely my favorite part of the night.  Andrea shared her testimony, and a couple of people accepted Christ!! Overall I had such a great day with the Polish students, building my relationship with them…And praying to God that he is going to help lead these kids to Christ.

Team Adrian part 2; as told by Andrea Fraser

Today waking up at 7:30 was like a blessing because we had been waking up at 6:10-6:30ish every morning. When we got to the train station the assistant principle was there to take us to a coffee shop and let’s just say that it was like that coffee was from heaven – haha. But once we got to the school we went straight to classes. In between classes everyone would come up to us and give us hugs and talk to us until the very last second because they would be late for their next class if they didn’t leave.  It was a cool thing where we had known each other for 3 days yet we feel like we have known each other for years.  While in the classes, the topic of religion would come up and they would ask us all different types of questions about it. After school some 3rd year students took us around Gdansk and showed us some thrift shops and then took us to a new mall that was about 15-30 minutes away from the church. When 5:00 came around there were around 100 kids at this church and it was crazy to say the least. We had all different types of Texas food and Polish food that the teenagers had brought for us to try, and we played sports for a good hour and then we taught them some dances for another hour, and that was insane! Everyone loved them and it was so much fun to be able to laugh at each others’ dance moves and be able to dance without having to be worried that you are going to be judged. Around 7:00, everyone came back inside to cool down for a bit and I was told I was going to give my testimony. While preparing to say my testimony, Angela did a quick prayer with me and it really prepared me for what I was about to do. When I had stepped down from the chair that I was standing on, I was then overloaded with hugs and I was told that one person even came to Christ because of it. When I finished my testimony, everyone had gone back to dancing except for the people who were talking to everyone in our group or with me. Overall it has been the best day on this trip so far!

Team Josh; as told by Micah Downs

Thursday was one of the coolest days of the trip! We started out the day early and headed to a school in a small village. Once we arrived, everybody showed their presentations and had some talks with the students. We toured two of the schools in town and I was extremely impressed with the students’ English. We had a quick pizza lunch with the pastor of the church in Olstynek. He was a very kind, gentle man and I could see God’s love in his actions. After lunch, we headed out into the village and gave three kids some presents that the church had raised money for. The village we worked with was a particularly poor part of Poland and it was an awakening experience to see the children with so much joy. The group headed back to the church and we hung out with the youth group. I had a blast hanging out with the students and trying to make conversation with them. I realized quickly how amazing our group is with working with other students and making them feel loved and welcomed. It was a blessing to get to work with the Olstyn group and I know God planned it that way for a reason. Trusting God no matter what is definitely something I fully comprehended this week. In the little things and in the small things, he always has a plan. Even if we cannot see it at the moment. Growing in trust with God, with the leaders and fellow peers in my group was a huge part of my week. Poland will always have a special place in my heart!

Team Chuck; as told by Alison Plueckhahn

Today was the last day we would be spending in Nidzica at the different schools in the area. After eating breakfast, we left around 7:30 in the morning to go to Mark’s school in Lubawa. Mark is a friend of the missionaries we are working with, and he was so excited for us to finally come to his school to talk to the kids. We were so ecstatic to go there because we were going to be able to see our friends again that we met on Tuesday night at our pizza party, such as Martyna and Kamil.

We presented our PowerPoints to three different classes and were able to see all our other friends from earlier that week. In one of the classes, after I talked about our youth group and Collide, a girl asked me what kind of music we listened to at our church. I tried to explain it to her, but she still seemed a bit confused, so Angela, one of the missionaries, asked if she would like to just hear an example. She went on to YouTube and played Chris Tomlin’s “Whom Shall I Fear” with the words flashing on the screen so they could read it. We started softly singing along, and I saw everyone in the room focusing intently on the screen, reading the lyrics. It was so cool to be able to play that in the middle of the class, and to top it off, Chuck suggested I pass out the Polish translation of my testimony. The kids had been wanting our Facebook names so they could add us as friends, and my excuse for passing it out was because it had my very difficult name to spell typed at the top. I pray that someone in that room read my testimony and were maybe able to relate to it.

Mark showed us around the school for a while after that, including the ping pong tables in the middle of the school where you could always find someone playing a match, as well as the math competition they were holding at the school.

We said goodbye to him and then went to lunch where we ate crepes and waffles. Then the highlight of the day happened after that—we got to go back to the first school, which was our favorite! All week long, the kids we met there had been sending Facebook messages to Jamie and asking us to please come back to their school, so when Chuck told us that we would have time to return, we couldn’t stop talking about it!

When we pulled up to the school, we saw that all our friends were waiting outside for us, which made us all so unbelievable happy. We said hello, and Jo’Vonta pulled out the football we brought and told them that they would teach them all how to play! Then Julia, the girl I talked with a lot on the first day, invited Jamie and I to go to her house with her other friend Martyna. She lived just down the road and introduced us to her family when we got there. She had snacks set out for us and asked if we wanted to listen to Justin Bieber music when we were there. We talked for a while, then walked back to the school so we could watch the boys teach them football. You could tell the Polish kids were all having a blast and it was so enjoyable to watch. When they were done playing, we interviewed them about what they thought about the game, which made for some pretty funny footage! Then they played basketball, and we ended by getting in a big circle and throwing the football back and forth.

As their school day ended, they started having to leave so they could catch the bus to go home. We became so sad and wanted to take as many pictures as we could with our friends from there. Thank goodness the bus driver was willing to wait on them for a little bit, because we spent probably 15 minutes saying goodbye and taking pictures, including one where all of us were holding up the Texas Longhorns’ sign 🙂 As we walked back to the van to leave, we saw all the kids on the bus waving goodbye to us, which made it really hit me that we were leaving.

After going back to the hotel for an hour or so, we all went to Chuck’s house where they were holding a beginner’s English class. We spoke with the people there a lot, and they were all so nice. They were also all very curious about our youth group at church and wanted to know more about how they could improve upon the one there.

We then had share time and it was so wonderful to hear how God had been moving in each of our lives this week. I am so excited about all the work He is doing here, and I hope I will get the chance to continue to be a part of it!

March 12, 2014: Poland – Day 6

Team Josh; as told by Lacie Jones

Yet another great day! Today we went to an elementary school in a village. The school was very tiny, only about 60 students total. We made Powerpoints about our lives in America and presented them to 5 different classes. The main goal for doing this was so the kids could get used to hearing and comprehending english while having fun and learning about America at the same time. In my Powerpoint I talked about how I LOVE to sing and one of the classes asked me to sing for them. I am definitely not the person to just jump up and starting singing. I am shy when it comes to my talents, but the kids were so cute I couldn’t say no, so Josh (the  missionary) played the piano and I sang Hosana. It was definitely a God moment where he just wanted me to obey him. I was just saying in the break room before that class how terrified I would be if I was asked to sing on the spot.. and then the second I say I sing they wanted me to start singing so I waited for everyone else in our group to present and I just sang to God the whole time so I wouldn’t be nervous. I also got to teach them a few signs, like Poland and the United States of America. It was such a fun day to just get to hang out with the kids and teach them some stuff about my culture. Caleb and I also two stepped for them and then taught them how to do the line dance Footloose. It was awesome to see them catch on so fast and they loved dancing with us. Over all today couldn’t have gone any better. Micah was sick for part of the day so we were missing half of our group but he is all better now and will be back with us tomorrow along with Kathleen! God blessed me with an awesome group and I’m happy that we will all be healthy and together for tomorrow!! Once again keep us in your prayers. We will be visiting two other schools tomorrow and we will also be going back to the youth group we helped out with a few days ago! I can’t wait to see what God has planned for tomorrow(:

Team Kenny; as told by Tori Haas

Greetings! We started the day off wonderfully. Brett and James joined us and Pawel took us to a Polish Bakery where we had Ponchki (a Polish donut). Then, we got the privilege to go to the same high school we went to yesterday. There we invested in the students lives and had them practice their English by answering questions that we asked. We learned a bunch about their daily lives. Did y’all know that they can not drive until they are 18? Or that the legal age to drink is 18? The students were really excited to talk to us again, and a lot have promised to be at Texas Night tomorrow. After we said our goodbyes at the school we went to a restaurant in New Town and ate lunch. There Jenna and I shared Pierogi (which is like potstickers) and Barszcz (a beet soup). I also tried some of James’ pig knuckles as well. After lunch we went home and prepared for the lesson that we are giving tomorrow night for Texas Night. We are talking about the gospel so please pray that the people that come to Texas Night come with open ears and open hearts and we have the right words to say! At around 5:30 we left and went to the orphanage! We had a wonderful time loving on the children. We played games, took pictures, read books, colored, and Grayson shared his lesson tonight. Saying goodbye to the wonderful children at the orphanage was extremely sad. One girl actually said she wanted to go back to America with me. Next, we went and watched Derek, who is another orphan, play soccer. He was so happy that we were their to cheer him on. We love and miss y’all. Thanks for all the prayers and support!

Team Adrian; as told by Liz Wytko

Today was an awesome day in Poland!  It was our third day in the schools, and although the language barriers are still challenging, the friendships we have created with Polish kids are growing stronger and stronger each day.

Like the first two days, we got to the school at a little before 9 AM and went to our first class of the day.  Most groups had different classes with different kids than they had the first couple of days because we switched classes in order to build relationships with more people.   Some of the groups said they had the best day yet, and some said they had the hardest day yet, but everyone agreed that the outcome at our church event in the evening was better than we could have hoped or expected.

After the school day we went and shopped at the mall to relieve stress and burn free time, and at 5 we went to the 2nd Baptist Church in Gdansk where we invited our new Polish friends to come hang out with us.  Most students said that they would come to the church on Thursday for Texas nights, so we were a little nervous about how many people would actually show up today.  We were ecstatic to actually find several familiar faces when we got to the church!  We started a fun game with the fairly large group of kids that were already there and throughout the first few minutes many more kids came in and we had to continuously add chairs.  The church was basically at maximum capacity.  All of the students greeted us with smiles and hugs, and it was an amazing feeling to know that all of these kids chose to hang out with us just to watch a children’s movie (Frozen) because they were that interested in us.

Today got us incredibly excited for the last two days and to see the turnout at the church for Texas night.  Our work is starting to pay off, and it’s amazing to watch God’s plan unfold and to see him using us for that plan. We completed the first few steps- building relationships and physically getting the kids to the church.  Now it’s time to “let it go” (Frozen reference) and let God work through us to help our new Polish friends build a relationship with Him!

 

Team Chuck; as told by Jo’Vonta Grimble

Today was such a blast.  I meet so many new people, played games, and taught English. When we finished working at the school we cooked sausage over a fire and sang Christian music.  The pastor said only about 10 people would come but we ended up having about 40 people. We threw the football and played lots and lots of volleyball.  It was so fun.  I had a great time hanging out with my Polish friends. After we finished playing volleyball and cooking sausage on a fire we went upstairs and sang.  Then all the Americans shared their testimonies. This whole trip God has been moving through me in so many ways it’s just incredible.

March 11, 2014: Poland – Day 5

Team Kenny; as told by Grayson Richey

What’s up y’all it’s Grayson in Elblag, Poland. Today Tori, Hannah, Sarah, Jenna, Kenny, Pavel and I went to a high school here in Elblag and talked about Texas, the USA, and what it’s like to be here in Poland. We met a lot of people and made many new friends. One girl was telling us how she was so surprised that we were so chill and that so many people believed that Americans were stuck up and think that they are better than everyone else, but she was glad that we were just like them. It was great to get to know them and find out that they had the same interests and like the same shows as us. We invited them to go ice skating with us later that night. After the school we wanted to get some pierogi as that is what all the kids at the school were telling us that we had to try. Pavel took us to a place and all of us got pierogi and we all enjoyed it. We went back to Pavel’s apartment to rest and get ready for skating at 7. On our way to the ice rink we had one of Pavel’s friends leading us and I got to talk to him about our church, how we like the orphans and about politics in the USA. At the ice rink we met up with some of our friends from school and from of the orphans. Not knowing how to skate it was a little embarrassing but I got through it. We went home and met up with Brett and shared stories of other groups and of what we have done. And thus concludes the third magnificent day in Poland.

Team Josh; as told by Lacie Jones

Today was a GREAT day!! I loved every minute of it! To start our day off we went to a college campus hang out area and started playing American football to get people to join along and it sure did work!! We got a group of 2 or 3 guys to play with us and they had a lot of fun and were very, very good at it football. Micah,Brett, and Caleb taught them how to catch and throw the ball and by the end they were catching and throwing touchdown plays. It was a great way to get to know them and also form relationships with them so the missionaries that come later will already have connections on campus. After football was over the two guys we met took our group to their favorite pizza place and insisted on us trying it! I’m sure glad we did try it because the pizza was SO good and SO big (each pizza was 2 feet in diameter). After lunch Me,Alyssa, Kathleen, and Mrs. Richey all went to a youth group and had a cook out, played some volleyball and soccer. Then we went upstairs into their building and shared our testimonies and then just hung out with the kids there and played games. There was a language barrier that was difficult to deal with but our lead missionary translated for us as well as one of the students. A lot of the kids at this event were not Christians, but they were very polite and willing to listen to what we had to say. I am very excited and hopeful  for a boy in this ministry. He isn’t a Christian yet, but Josh said he has come a long way. I’m praying he will make the decision to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is already such a wonderful leader with in the group (he is the student that translated). The kids just naturally follow him without a second guess. I’m hoping that if he is saved he will do the same with his faith in the future. Overall today was SUCH a wonderful day and God was definitely there with us!

Please keep us all in your prayers through out the rest of the week as we continue sharing God’s WONDERFUL message (:

Note: While Lacie, Alyssa, Kathleen, and Denise were at the youth group night, Micah and Caleb were asked to join one of the missionaries in her outreach to an Ultimate Frisbee team.

Team Adrian; as told by someone who didn’t write their name on the blog

So today was our second day in the schools and it was incredible!  I got to play rugby and American football with Josh Covey and all of the rugby team from the Gdańsk school we are serving at. I’m sure this will always be an awesome memory!  I also got to go into classrooms today and talk one-on-one with a lot of the students from the school. It’s crazy how different Poland is from America and how the students think is really interesting. They have a lot of negative stereotypes about Americans, like thinking we are all overweight and get divorced, but yet they ALL want to come to America because they don’t like Poland.  I also got to talk a little bit about religion in America with a group of kids, and I’m hoping this will be a gateway to something deeper. We talked about how Poland is predominantly Catholic and about how being an atheist in highschool is fashionable since it is rebellious to them. Although they said this, most of them told me they believe in God but don’t like the Catholic Church. I hope that I will be able to ask them more questions this week and impact their lives. Tomorrow we will be at the local Baptist church and that will be a great opportunity to reach out and teach them about Christ’s love for us.

Team Chuck; as told by Jamie Downs

Today was a blast! We started the day off with driving to Lubawa and prayer walking around the town. Vikki, one of our missionaries in Poland, told us stories about the people in this town and how we can pray for them. We ate lunch at around 12:00 and I must say that Polish food is phenomenal. After lunch we prayer walked some more and then met up with some English speaking kids at “Las Vegas” which was a pizza parlor in the town. I thought it was really cool to make conversation with these kids because I can feel a relationship forming in just a matter of minutes with these kids. About 4 kids showed up and we talked about some of our favorite things and what kind of music we listen to, etc. After we ate pizza with the students we asked them to show us around the town. The historic backgrounds of the buildings and land were really fascinating. After the students were pretty comfortable talking to us we started asking them questions about their relationship with God. It was a cool experience getting to listen to what the students think about their relationship with God. After the students went home we drove back to our hotel and had share time. These kids were so excited when they found out that we have a Facebook. I have gotten so many friend requests and it makes me feel really good. I love Poland so much and part of me really wants to stay. I cannot wait to see what God has planned for me over the next few days and I do not think there would have been a better place to spend my spring break

March 10, 2014: Poland – Day 4

Team Josh; as told by Alyssa Melkian

Hey Guys! Today was amazing to say the least. This morning we went on a three hour prayer walk around Otszlyn and bordering towns. Im going to be honest, after two hours I thought I was going to pass out and at the moment, that sounded like a better idea than walking for another hour. In the end the three hours was worth it, because we went through a forest and came across the most breathtaking lake that was half frozen which only added to its beauty. While standing on the bridge over the lake I had a total God moment. I was looking at the lake and I had a moment where I just felt God standing by me reassuring me that he will always be there for me through everything and it was exactly what  I needed. This evening we went to a park to play football with some Polish football players and it was a blast!! For those of y’all who know me, you know my athletic ability is non-existent so really I just ran around the field like an idiot.  I had a blast doing it so I still count it as a successful game. Today was a day that made me very grateful for the opportunity to be in Poland to tell people of the love of Jesus Christ!

Team Kenny; as told by Sarah Ward

Hey guys! Today, we got up and ate breakfast at 9 and left to see the first concentration camp in Poland. For me, it was a really emotional experience. Standing in the place where many people have died was heart breaking and surreal. After leaving the concentration camp, we drove to a parking lot, and hiked to the Baltic Sea where we walked around, and looked at some boats! By then, it was lunch time. For lunch, we went to this restaurant called Strzecha. They served pasta, pizza, and different polish dishes! I had Gyro, lamb meat, with dill boiled potatoes, and a traditional soup called Zurich. After a little down time at the church, we came to a beautiful orphanage out in the country, and played with the children. We played soccer, danced, had a Bible lesson, and just played around. Now we are back at the church for dinner, showers, and bed time. Please keep me in your prayers because I am having a really tough time connecting with people, and I find myself being really shy. Tomorrow we will be going to school and teaching them about America and our culture! We will also be going ice skating with some of the children at the orphanage and possibly taking them to a movie! Wish us luck!
Team Adrian; as told by Michaela Newman
Czezcz!
Today was a day of firsts.  We spent the day at a secondary school in the heart of Gdańsk. Although it is considered a “middle school,” the students’ ages range from 13-17 – and WOW are they cool. It is a testimony to the age in which we live to have the same music taste as your peers – halfway across the world. (Coldplay was mentioned, and much fan-girling ensued.)
We ate lunch with the students, which was DELICIOUS. Soup with a sort of apple dumpling as the main dish. It was the best food we’ve had so far, and I will never view cafeteria food the same. The students speak English impressively well, which makes for some cultural enlightenment and lots of laughs (when they speak English, they speak in beautiful British accents. VERY cool). They are elated to see us and I love every one of them.After school, we took a train to old town Gdańsk and did some sightseeing. We visited a renovated cathedral, which has alternated between Lutheran and Catholic, depending on who was occupying Poland at the time. Poland’s culture is as rich as its history and their language. Also, I sent my first postcard ever today.I forgot how much I missed this continent.

The main prerogative of this week is to draw students to 2nd Baptist Gdańsk. Although Poland is mostly Catholic, many don’t attend church and even resent it. We hope to create relationships that will ultimately lead to their hearing of the Gospel in a nurturing atmosphere. We are planting seeds this week.

Prayers welcome 🙂

 

Team Chuck; as told by Alison Plueckhahn

Today was SO MUCH FUN! We woke up, and went downstairs to eat a traditional Polish breakfast, which was surprisingly very tasty. After getting dressed and ready for the day, we met Chuck outside of the hotel and he took us to go pick up Mark, a principal at one of the schools we will be working at later on this week. Mark is friends with the English teacher at the school we were working at today, and he wanted to come along and see how the day went.

The school was about an hour away from our hotel in a very rural, low-income part of the area. As soon as we pulled up to the school, Mr. Lukasz Ruminski was outside ready to greet us and take us inside. We dropped our bags off in one of the rooms, then Mr. Ruminski and another teacher served us and the other missionaries with us some delicious cakes, coffee, and tea.

After our short break, we went into the English classroom where the students were all waiting for us. We gave them a quick explanation of American football and how each of us played some sort of role in Friday night football. Jo’Vonta talked about being a varsity player; Jamie about being an athletic trainer; Garrett about being in the marching band; and I told about being a former cheerleader and sports photographer. They had been shy at first, but as soon as we started telling them about our football, they opened up very quickly and began asking us questions. One of their favorite things was looking at Jo’Vonta’s letterman jacket, and one boy was so excited to get to try it on. After talking for a while, we helped them complete some English worksheets about our holidays and states. They asked us many questions and seemed to genuinely enjoy speaking with us. Jamie and I passed out small University of Texas pendant flags and some fruit snacks (which they don’t have in Poland) which they LOVED! Many of them asked us to sign our names on the back of their flags so they could find us on Facebook and become our friends. We then took a quick tour around the school, and some of the younger, elementary-age students sang Happy Birthday to us because they knew all the words in English. Mr. Ruminski said we did a wonderful job with the kids, and he asked if we could find some way to return this week so we could spend more time with them and perhaps play some basketball with them.

After taking a group picture and a few other pictures with the kids who really connected with us, we hopped back in the car and went to a local restaurant that served Polish food. For most of us, today was the first time we ate a full Polish meal besides the basic breakfast we had eaten earlier today. We began with a beet soup with noodles, which everyone thought was delicious, followed by some pork with gravy, dumplings, and beets. We then drove to the English school where Chuck teaches at.

The first classroom we visited were mainly 7 year olds, and they were precious! Many of them just wanted to talk about soccer and video games like Call of Duty and Minecraft, but they asked us several personal questions as well about what our life was like in America, as well as our hobbies and interests.

After that, we all met with 2 more classes; the first was a group of 11 and 12 year olds; the second were older students, most of who were around 16 and 17 years old. Jamie and I were asked by one of the English instructors to return to another one of her classes with students of around 15 and 16 years old to speak with them as well.

Once all the lessons were over for the day, we went to eat some delicious pizza and came back to our hotel to have share time and reflect over the events of the day. We all recognize the importance of building relationships with the people we meet here, not only with the kids, but also the teachers and principals. These relationships will make the people there more comfortable with communicating with people who are not Catholic about their religion and beliefs, and will set the stage for the missionaries who live here to be able to continue to witness to these people about Jesus!

March 9, 2014: Poland – Day 3

Team Chuck; as told by Garrett Alton

Today we started out eating breakfast in the Hampton Inn in Gdansk. After we ate breakfast, we went on a bus and got dropped off at the train station. When we got to the train station we met a strange polish man who knew that we were American and asked for money for a meal. After we rode the  2 1/2 hour train ride we went to eat lunch. Next we got lunch and I was switched to another group. After we traveled to our hotel and we gave our presentations to the missionaries, we went out to eat dinner at an Egyptian restaurant. We met a man named Mike and we invited him to our dinner table.  After Marshall was done eating he went to talk to him. He found out about his life and I hope we see him again. God has been showing me that not everything goes to plan.


Team Adrian; as told by Ana Moorhead

Today, we all got up and walked to the train that took us to church. The buildings are so neat and pretty to walk by. The church was very small, about the size of maybe two youth classrooms put together. The service was awesome because the songs and message were done in both Polish an English so it was an incredible experience and after the service we got to meet all the members of the church. The youth were really nice and we had a lot of information to swap and we even learned how to say some Polish words like “hello” and “thank you”!!  Tomorrow we are going to the school for the first time!  Note: The team also explored the city, went to the sea, and did some shopping today.


Team Kenny; as told by Hannah Gilliland

We woke up around 8 this morning and got ready for church. Around 9 we had breakfast with Pavo (the pastor of the local church here in Elblag), which was delicious! Church started at 10 and is literally down the stairs so it was not a long trip. Church was not that bad considering everything was in Polish. But Joanna was there to translate everything for us! We ate Bigos and drank hot tea which was very good!

We went back up to Pavo’s apartment and played some “Left, Right, Center” with Pavo. He made a deal with us that whoever won 3 times would buy everyone ice cream. He actually ended up winning 3 times! He took us to Old Town ( just the older part of Elbag) and got us ice cream. It was very good!

Around 5 we went to Joanna’s for the youth night. It was a lot of fun meeting them and we even made a few friends! It was kind of hard because they knew little english and we are still having a hard time reading the basic phrases that James and Angela (our hosting missionaries, gave us the night we arrived). Afterward we went to an orphanage to visit and get to know a few of them so that we could invite them to our Texas Night on thursday. We were all very hungry so all of us and some of the kids from the orphanage went to McDonald’s. It is a lot better in Poland! Overall today was a very fun day! I am very excited to see what God has in store for the rest of the week!

Team Josh; as told by Caleb Madole

So day 1 was already crazy! I was switched into a new group, on a spur of the moment decision by our fearless leader, Brett. That group needed another person for the team helping to coach football and I got to be the guy.  I was super excited!! Just touring around the city was fantastic, we got to see so many amazing places and things. I was really excited for the football ministry and the great opportunity it presented; however, I’m pretty sure that the assistant coach told the guys we were missionaries, so we didn’t really get to have a conversation with them about Jesus. Although, that isn’t exactly a topic that just comes up in conversation while you’re coaching football. It was really exciting to get to coach 30 year old men; I guess you never realize how much you know about football until you teach an adult how to pass protect! After the amazing experience that was American football practice in Poland, our group stopped at a kebab joint to get some grub. Apparently, I had not drank near enough water throughout the day, so I had to be escorted back to the hotel by one of our missionaries named Josh (what a nice guy…). Looks like just severe dehydration so far, but I guess we’ll find out for sure in the morning. Still feeling a little weird, but oh well…what are you gonna do? All-in-all a fantastic first day!

March 8, 2014: Poland – Day 2

As told by Tori Haas:

Greetings! Today we arrived in a different country (first Germany and then Poland). I was very nervous about the plane ride because I have not ridden in a plane since I was little. The plane ride was 8.5 hours, but did not feel too long because we got to watch movies and visit with our friends. I watched Frozen. We made a friend on the plane named Patrick, he was our flight attendant. Before leaving the plane he gave us a free liter of water in a bottle and over 50 chocolate bar snacks. Once we got into the Frankfurt Airport where we had the wonderful 7 hour layover we fought not to go to sleep so we would not get jet lagged. After a long day of traveling, once we arrived in Poland, the missionaries were there to greet us. We had pizza at the hotel across the street from the airport. After eating the pizza, we departed and arrived at the church we will be staying at. Tomorrow morning we are going to a church in Poland and I’m really excited! They want us to sing for them and introduce ourselves! Please pray that everything goes smoothly tomorrow, we stay safe, and we glorify God in everything we do! Miss and love y’all!

Note: Team Kenny left the hotel and went to the church where they are staying while Team Chuck and Team Josh stayed the night at the Hampton Inn

March 7, 2014: Poland – Day 1

Poland_Team_We’re basically spending our first two days travelling so there is not much to update that is exciting at this point, but here is the travel update.  Our journey began at 8:00am at the church.  29 of us loaded up in the vans to head to Austin Bergstrom airport  with some of the best volunteers around (thanks Gretchen Minchey, Shannon Crawford, and Benny Melikian).  We had a brief delay at the ticket counter due to some boarding passes that wouldn’t print, but after jumping that hurdle we were on our way to Houston.

In Houston, we had a few hours of a layover, but that gave us enough time to grab lunch, hangout and talk, and play some trivia.  At 4:30pm we bunkered down on a plane to prepare for a ten hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany.  This leg of the trip is always pretty brutal when you are trying to sleep on a plane.  Some students slept and some didn’t.  There were movies to watch which helped pass the time, though.  We landed at 9am (2am in Texas).  We had explored the possibility of getting a bus to take us to a castle in Germany since our next plane doesn’t leave until 4:30pm.  Our travel agent said that was a bad idea because it takes a long time to get through the Frankfurt airport.  She said that once we got through all of the security we’d only have about two to three hours before our flight left.  Unfortunately she was wrong 🙂

We are currently waiting at a gate for the last flight.  Only six hours left to wait 🙂