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.

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