Poland 2016: Day 6

10341817_1189223597757430_6951475205655697966_nAs told by Jamie Downs: Today was our “touring day” to the Malbork Castle. We met up with the other groups at 9:00 am and loaded onto a super nice tour bus and drove a little over an hour away to the castle. I was super happy we were with the other groups because I got to see my little sister and all my other friends and talk about the experiences we both had already had. When we got to Malbork we got these headsets with a tour guide talking on it about every important spot about the castle. I took many pictures with my friends and sister and it was a blast. After the tour we went to McDonald’s and got some lunch. Then we loaded back onto the bus and went back to Sopot. My group had not been shopping yet, so Brett took us to Old Town in Gdansk where we got to buy gifts and look around and tour the St. Mary’s Cathedral. I had already visited that church two years ago when we came so I stayed with Kathleen and Garrett who had also already visited the church last time as well. We walked around and talked. I don’t know how many times Garrett has made me laugh so hard I have cried but I know it’s well over 50. Once we all met up, we ate dinner at one of the restaurants at old town. I just got ham and cheese on toast but Claire got goose dumplings and she let me try them….it was SO good. After dinner we finished shopping and grabbed some hot chocolate at their local coffee shop before we headed back onto the train to Sopot. When we got off the train we stopped at the grocery store to grab a couple things and I grabbed 2 bags of ketchup Cheetos (the yummiest things I have ever had) and 12 candy bars called “Lion Bars” for my friends to try when I get back. When we were waiting for the others to finish grabbing some snacks I saw the little boy who had helped me garden at the Sopot House Monday night. He speaks no English so we just hugged and waved goodbye and I told him I would see him tomorrow. Even though the kids at the Sopot House speak very little or no English I still feel like we connected with them by being with them and smiling and interacting by coloring or just walking together and pointing at things.  Then we came back to our apartments and debriefed as a group and talked about what was going to happen tomorrow. My body is so tired and worn out but I keep telling myself to push through and keep going because what we are doing is so important and could have a big impact on the English club at Conrad’s church. I am so sad this week is going by so fast and knowing this is my last time to Poland makes me even sadder. Poland will always have special place in my heart. I can’t wait for the next two days and being able to make the Sopot House kids Tacos and Queso. I think they are going to love it. I am so thankful I was able to go on this trip!! God has shown me so much and I can’t wait to see what else He has in store for me and everyone else!

10484926_1052913104774516_261196244074955354_nAs told by Rylie York: Hi! My name is Rylie York, and I’m a sophomore! Today is Wednesday March 16th, Day 6 of our wonderful Poland trip! Let me tell you, this trip has been a special experience for me! Though today wasn’t a normal routine day, it was still just as amazing as the rest. As a whole group, we visited the Malbork Castle for the morning and afternoon. I think we all really enjoyed it, because we’ve been spread out across multiple cities for the last couple days. The castle was absolutely beautiful! We used little voice recorded devices that directed us around the massive masterpiece. Shortly after visiting the castle, we split back up into our groups to host our first “Collide” youth night, at each of our churches. Being apart of the Gdynia group, we have been working with the missionary Matek, & local schools in Gydnia. Tonight we had about 25 students from our school fellowship come to our youth night (11 more than they’ve ever had), & let me tell you…it was great! The few students that we have gotten close to, have made my heart smile. They have so much passion for life, & I can tell that they are starting to open up to us. Though the trip has had its emotional rises and falls, I have faith that God continues to guide us down these streets & into these people’s hearts. I ask that you pray for safety, health, and the ability to leave this place in a few days without wanting to drag all my Polish friends back to America with me! I love them all, & am so incredibly blessed that God even considered a bunch of crazy teens like us to embark on this journey.

gdansk_solidarity_and_the_balticAs told by Connor Lancaster
: Today in Poland, team Adrian and team Konrad met up together for one of the first times this week to get on a charter bus to travel to Malbork Castle, about an hour drive from the meeting place in Sopot. The castle is regarded as the biggest all-brick castle in the entire world. It was full of history, having an automated tour guide for each person through headphones. One take away that has been evident throughout this week was the influence of the war some 70 years prior. This was seen in the castle by the discolored bricks lining the top few feet of the surrounding castle wall. The bricks looked this way from the castle being bombed in World War II and being rebuilt with newer materials in its place. From the castle in Malbork, we went to Second Baptist Church where we had our “Collide” style youth group service for the Polish kids as well as us. We played two games called “baby, beanbag, backpack,” and “American True/False Trivia.” Following the games, we listened to testimonies from two students that carried lots of weight and hit the hearts of everyone in the room. At the end, Mark Bridges led the group in a short message out of the book of Mark that encouraged all of us to the faith in Jesus that we were made to have. In between all these events, however, students from Georgetown (I being one of them) led the worship music. I played guitar for the first time in front of a large group and it will undoubtedly be one of my biggest personal takeaways for this whole trip. Being a part of leading a group in worship is, in my opinion, incomparable to any other experience I’ve had. Being in the front, listening to all of the people praising God in one song and one voice and one body is an experience I will be unlikely to ever forget.

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