Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Post Coming Soon

          Due to some unforeseen circumstances (including power outage in the hotel), there will be no blog post today. I hope to have one posted before you guys in the United States wake up in the morning.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Poland, Pushups, and Panoramas

In the interests of getting a somewhat decent amount of sleep tonight, today’s blog will air on the shorter side.
            First, check out the hotel which we are staying at:

Today was the second full day that we spent in the village of Szaflary. We played volleyball, soccer, and games with the kids. During our volleyball games, we instituted the 15 push up rule for the team who lost. The opposing team was one point away from losing when the ball popped, robbing me of the chance of seeing Donovan do push-ups.

No push ups for Donovan
For lunch, we fixed a meal with our customary Polish sausage, bacon, and cheese. Mark Andersen also led an adult Bible study, and Donovan Haynes helped the little kids make salvation bracelets, with different colored beads representing different parts of the salvation message.
One of our translators (Dagmara) with several of the village kids
This evening at dinner, we had a special time of celebration for Doug and Cathy’s 19th anniversary, and Cathy’s birthday. During the shopping trip yesterday, Donovan and the Andersens had picked up two cakes.
Tyler and I in the local "Wal-Mart" (small convenience store).
            This is a view of the hotel and our meeting building before our group share time began:

We also had a group share time tonight as usual with the Roma from Szaflary joining us. Katie and Melissa sang several songs, which was followed by the Roma singing several songs as well, one of which was “Open the Eyes of my Heart.” Pastor Holland also gave a short message.

This is a panorama of the inside of building in which we meet for our nightly share time:

Pastor Holland delivering his message with help from Tomic (one of our translators).
I’m excited to see what God is going to do the rest of the week, especially in Slovakia, which we will be driving into on Wednesday. Please keep us in your prayers, as we try to continue to minister to the best of our abilities.

Again, picture does not do it justice.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Church in Poland, Pizza, and Shooting Video

            So, today is Sunday, and we have had quite a busy day.
            We got up early this morning to leave for church to ensure that we were there on time. This was especially critical considering Pastor Holland would be preaching. We ate breakfast, and went outside to await our vans. Well, a van eventually showed up. Van. Singular. Yes there was supposed to be two vans. Apparently, the other driver had a problem, and couldn’t be here. So, we all packed into Jerry’s van, Patrick’s car, and the one rented van. (Hey, this is Tyler typing. Bye.)  Continuing after that untimely interruption… We rode into town packed into the various vehicles.

The Church in Nowy Targ
          Check out this panorama I took on location at the church:

Sleepy Doug and two of our translators.
            Once there, we sang several songs, two of which I recognized: How Great Thou Art and Revelation Song. I found it kind of difficult to sing along in English while listening to the song in a foreign language, but you could tell that these people were truly worshipping. Most of us gave a short introduction to the congregation. Jamie’s was my absolute favorite though: “My name is Jamie. I am currently 16 years old. I do not have much to share.”

            Pastor Holland then preached a sermon on Peter’s statement “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This was his first time ever preaching through an interpreter, but he did an exceptional job.

Pastor Holland, and the pastor of the church in Nowy Targ.
            After church, we were invited downstairs for coffee. As we waited for the bus to arrive we tried to decide where to eat lunch. 

Happy Ian
Tyler and Melissa waiting.
Good Pizza
One of our translators knew a good place to eat, so we followed her to a Polish restaurant that (luckily) served pizza. The pizza was delicious although several members of our group were surprised to find their drinks coming in a glass bottle – no refill.

Cheese and "Salami"
            After lunch, we headed back to the hotel. Donovan and several of the Andersens went on a shopping trip to the local Wal-Mart equivalent. I sent my camera with Donovan to take video. More on that below.
            Our dinner this evening included Schnitzel and American French Fries; the ultimate culture clash in terms of meals. After dinner, we rehearsed the Redeemer skit in preparation for tomorrow, and had our nightly share time with the Roma. Pastor Holland spoke on prayer, and the night was concluded with lively music from a couple of Roma musicians.
             Things are going well here, and we look forward to a full day of ministry in Szaflary tomorrow.

*Editor's Note: It is now time for Donovan's take on the events of today. As a slight disclaimer, the factual accuracy of the following is probably drifting closer to the 65% mark. You should be able to tell fact from fiction, with the exception of one thing. Donovan was indeed approached in a Polish supermarket while shooting some footage for me (thanks Donovan). The factual nature of the interrogation that followed, however, can not be confirmed.

Crocs with socks.
(From Donovan) Finishing up day 2 I feel the need to fill in all my fans back home with todays events……First off we attended church today and several of the Roma people came and joined us, Pastor Holland had a wonderful message that was introduced by 6-7 songs and followed by 4-5 more. Pastor Ken would be so proud, but please don’t get any ideas!!! Upon returning to the lodge, myself and a few others wanted to take a trip to the local super market. This is where I was introduced to “the law” “5-0” “smokey” “the man” or as I like to call them the man that screams in polish while I look utterly confused. Let me first say I was innocent and believe it or not IT WAS EZRA’S FAULT!!! See being the good friend that I am, when Ezra said “I don’t feel like going to the store but would you take my camera and film some so I can see what it looks like?” I was more than happy….that soon changed when we found out it is illegal to tape is a store!!!!!! After two very large polish men drug me to a dark room I explained that I was a tourist and helping a friend that could not make it….I pleaded not to take the camera because it meant so much to my dear brother so after several lashes they agreed. The camera was returned safe and sound but for some reason I keep walking into things and have started stuttering a lot a lot a lot……
            On the better side, I have been very impressed with how many of the Roma people remember the members of our team from last year. They have asked about several people that are not here this year. We visited a Holocaust survivor and she asked about Meg Carter. We had a letter from Meg and after the translator read it the lady replied “God Bless Meg”….it was so touching. Later that day as we walked along the road several of the local cattle asked about Ricky Wampler. We replied that he could not come and they carried on about something we could not translate. I think they miss you Ricky but I’m not quite sure…. Well better save some for tomorrow……Love you Chug Bug…Love you too Hot Rod….Keep taking care of mommy!!!!!

The End.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

First day in Szaflary, and A Report from Donovan

*Editor's Note: It has been a bit of a tradition on this blog to bring on another writer during the mission trips to add color to my allegedly dry and boring prose. Since Claire and Joseph are unable to be with us this year, the lot has fallen to Donovan. His report on the day is near the end of this blog. Not everything he says can be taken as unembellished fact, but it is about 95% true, as near as we can tell.

            So, our first official full day in Poland is over. Again, I’m going to try to keep this short for the sake of time, and rely on the idiom “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Casper, Joseph's piggy-back buddy.
            Our travel was, for the most part, uneventful. Except for Jamie, who was my seatmate on all three flights (why me!?!). Jamie decided it would be a good idea to wear a pillow on his head and a cape around his neck for part of the international flight, and call himself “Pillowman.” He also asked the flight attendant to be his best friend. He still informs me merrily that she agreed. The attendant came by while he had the pillow on his head (roughly 1:00 AM EST) and said in a dry, tired sounding voice, “Still awake I see.”
            Another interesting story from our trip over was the way in which our team managed to convince Melissa that her sister Katie was not coming on this trip. Melissa believed that because Katie had just gotten back from Uganda, she wouldn’t be going on this trip. All the while, Katie quietly packed and raised money. When we got to the airport, Doug skillfully avoided a direct count of suitcases. We proceeded to the check-in kiosk, where Mark and Beth (Katie and Melissa’s mom and dad) checked their whole family in, while Melissa waited in the back. Once we were all checked in, our group, excluding Katie, went through security together. Once through, we congregated behind a partition in the airport, in order to shield Katie from Melissa’s view. Katie then proceeded through security, and avoided us, keeping in contact by cell phone. As soon as the first call to board the plane was made, our group got in line. Once on the plane, Katie followed us in, and took her seat next to Melissa – who was in complete and utter shock. She had not suspected it at all, and had missed all of the red flags that should have been obvious. I’m currently sleeping with my door locked, as she has promised to kill all of us.
Greeting the village
            We had a layover in Washington-Dulles IAD, and had Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I was a bit suspicious at first, even though Tyler tried to convince me of the wonderful goodness these people make. I was however convinced after my bacon cheeseburger.
            We also had a layover in Frankfurt. Once we landed, we had to go through security again. In my humble opinion, those metal detectors were set to an excessively high level of sensitivity, as even the old woman in front of me in sweat pants set it off. The majority of our team received "enhanced" pat-downs. Security also didn’t appreciate my bag filled with cables and electronic devices. Even though Roanoke had no problem with it, the Germans made me dump it out, and send it through the X-ray machine again. They apparently consider shotgun microphones suspicious objects in that part of the world, and sent me into a little room with a metal table in it (not joking by the way). They then swabbed the microphone, and ran the swab through a machine, before releasing me (with my microphone).
Hardcore Ping-Pong
            We made it Krakow uneventfully, and met Jerry Goss (the missionary from the IMB who we coordinate with) and our translators. We then had a lovely bus ride to the hotel, during which the driver almost rear-ended one car, and came close to taking out another one while changing lanes; all of this in a van that had no seatbelts.
            Once we got to the hotel, we unpacked and unwound. After a team meeting, most of our group went immediately to bed. But, because Tyler and I are hardcore American sports fans, we stayed up, and watched some of the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games on Polish TV. We eventually got bored and went to bed because we couldn’t understand the commentary, and Google Translate was having a hard time keeping up.
Lunch, Kielbasa, cheese, and delicious bacon.
            This morning after breakfast, we made our first foray back into the village of Szaflary, where we ministered last year. Our purpose today was to rebuild relationships we had made last year while here.
            We did this through Ping-Pong, soccer, volleyball, a meal, and Bible Study. Donovan also passed out crayons to the kids, along with coloring sheets, and t-shirts with "Franklin Heights" on them.
            This evening, as is our tradition, we had a time of sharing with the believing Roma of Szaflary in an outlying building of our lodge. Pastor Holland preached a short message in which he relayed our team’s calling, which we see in scripture, the support of our church, and the calling of the Holy Spirit. Several people shared their testimonies, including an older Roma man, who was a pastor. He gave a brief history of the Roma people, and then shared the story of his salvation. It was a bit interesting relaying his story, because he spoke the Roma language and only spoke Polish haltingly. At one point, he was going to speak in Roma, a Roma woman was going to translate to Polish, and our Nigerian interpreter Patrick was going to translate from Polish to English. We ended up with the Roma man struggling through his Polish, with Patrick translating to English with occasional help from several of the Roma. This worked well, except for the fact that the Roma who did know Polish couldn’t help but laugh as this man apparently butchered the Polish language; a fact lost on us Americans until later.
The Roma man giving his testimony, with Patrick translating.
            Well, time to wrap things up! Tyler and I just finished watching some Olympic swimming, Ping-Pong, and archery, and I’m ready for bed. I’ll do my best to keep you updated as the days roll on.

 So to add a second aspect to Ezra’s trip I (Donovan) have decided, as I always do, to lend a helping hand. To start off, Sonja your son is not typing this so please don’t freak out over the typos and grammar……..I still love ya.
We started out the day heading to the village in Szarflary to minister to the Roma people. The children have officially been introduced to FHBC’s crazy AWANA commander. Seems that the famous chicken hat is a hit in any language!!!!!

We grilled an authentic Roma lunch for the village including kielbasa sausage, white sausages, cole slaw, and a smoked salty cheese that you lay on the grill to soften and warm. The cheese reminds me of a smoked salty mozzarella that is delicious. ( Sorry Chele) Speaking of the cheese……Doug has talked about it non-stop since last years trip, so after eating his body weight in it today, he may not make it to the village tomorrow. The lady at the lodge was talking about making him stay behind to meet the plumber!!!!!
Now to take a page from Jeff Foxworthy…..You know your from Tennessee when…….a translator that speaks 4 different languages is ask to help you share a testimony and she replies “I will try I have problems understanding your accent” We made it through and I apologized to her for my upbringing.
On a final note Pastor Holland is doing great and is singing Michele’s praises. See when I was leaving Michele put some items in my baggage that I told her I would not need, she replied “someone on your team might need them so take them anyway” so Michele he says “thank you for being a nurse and being ready for anything” and “ tums are just as good as rolaids “. Note: see sentence about what we cooked for lunch if you have any questions.
Well better get to bed, headed to church in the morning to hear Pastor Holland speak and for us to share with the church here. So goodnight and Love you Chug Bug…..Love you Hot Rod…..take care of mommy for me…..

End of a long day.

Friday, July 27, 2012

First day of Traveling: Poland Mission Trip 2012

Just wanted to give you guys a quick update to let you know that we made it safely to Poland. Right now, I’m getting ready to go to bed, as I have had only short naps for the past 28 odd hours. For now, I just want to give you a quick timeline of our travels, interspersed with pictures. So here we go!

Leaving Roanoke Airport

Boeing 747-8i (one of the newest in Lufthansa's fleet) our plane to Frankfurt.

Jamie's Pillowman hat for the plane ride.
Dinner, quite good!

Happy Camper Donovan (we do our best to keep him this way).

Knocked out at the hotel after 21 hours of traveling.

Storms clouds on the horizon.

During planning meeting.

Jerry Goss: The missionary we will be working with this week.

Beautiful end to a long day.

I hope to have some more thorough posts as time allows as we continue on throughout the week. In the meantime, please pray that our ministry in Szflary tomorrow would be effective, and the we would be able to quickly re-form friendships made last year.