Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Last Day in Szaflary, Poland; first day in Podhorany, Slovakia

Our team with the translators and Jerry Goss
First of all, I apologize for the fact that there was no blog post yesterday. The reason for this is explained in detail in Donovan’s blog below. Suffice it say that I was preoccupied. Hopefully this extra long blog (including a video) will help to make up for my shortcomings yesterday.

Doug's Jeans
            Yesterday was our last day in the village of Szaflary. As usual, we arrived and began playing volleyball with some of the older kids, and passed the ball around with the smaller ones. Doug decided the jeans he was wearing were too hot, and promptly turned them into shorts with his knife. This was a win-win situation. The kids in the village had 15 minutes of free entertainment, and Doug had new shorts.
            As usual, we fixed lunch for the Roma village: kielbasa, bacon, and cheese. The bacon is especially delicious. This is real bacon. Not the stuff that you find in the grocery store shrink-wrapped in a package, but real thick fresh slices of bacon.

Donovan floating concrete
            Also yesterday, we got to do a bit of construction work in Szaflary. Several of the men in the village had put up a form that needed to be filled with concrete. Patrick (one of our translators) alerted us to this, and we walked in that direction to see if we could offer our help. When we got there, they were just beginning to mix the concrete, so were able to help them mix, pour, and float the new concrete. We also had a little bit of concrete left over, with which we made a small step for one of the homes.
            After we had played, eaten, and worked with the believers in Szaflary, Mark led his daily Bible study. We also performed the Redeemer skit for the village. We used a 9-volt battery-powered amp, that Alex built me before we left, to play the music for the skit. The amp worked surprisingly well, despite how sketchy it looks (which made me wonder whether or not it would make it through security, even in my checked bag). The actors from our team who performed the skit did a good job, and afterwards, Mark prayed with one young man who was ready to commit his life to Christ.
Improvised speaker stands
A hardcore amp
Katie and Melissa leading worship
            Last night, we again had our end-of-day share time, with worship led by Katie and Melissa, and songs by the Roma, as well as testimonies from Americans, Poles, and Roma. This was an amazing time, as it always is.
A Roma man playing the guitar
            So, now for today. As a bit of a warning, today was radically different from what we have been doing for the rest of the week, so buckle down, hang tight, and see if you can follow me.
            Today was our first day in a Roma village called Podhorany, which is located in Slovakia. Podhorany is home to about 1700 Roma, and our church is the first mission team to ever go into this village. The people in this village speak mainly Roma, and some Slovakian, making our Polish translators almost as helpless as we are in terms of language. To combat this, several Roma believers from Szaflary traveled with us to Podhorany. In order to speak, one of us Americans would speak in English to a Polish interpreter, who would then speak in Polish to a Roma interpreter, who would then relay the message to the village in the native Roma language. Jerry, and his helper Rafel, have been able to find a lady who they refer to as a “person of peace.” A “person of peace” is a believer in a yet unreached town or village who would be willing to have Bible studies or prayer meetings held in their home. They’re also act as a point of contact for Jerry in regards to bringing teams in, and allows him to keep a finger on the general pulse of the village. Jerry endeavored to make contact with his person of peace before we left the hotel where we were staying, but was unable to. Due to this, he told us very firmly not to get out of the vans once we arrived. He also asked us not to take pictures until we had been given permission by the village. With only one contact in a village of 1700, we did not want to accidentally step into a bad situation that could quickly become an ugly one. So, as a group, we prayed for protection, and then left for the village.
            Two hours later, we had passed into Slovakia, and arrived in Podhorany. As we drove through the village, kids and adults waved and smiled at our vans, filled with Americans, Poles, and Roma. We approached the person of peace’s house, and Jerry stepped out of his van. After a few intense moments of conversation, Jerry came over to our van and gave us the all clear, and we piled out of the van. All the people in the village were excited to see us. There was almost two hundred people there in the beginning, and we had at least that many throughout the day, along with several hundred more at various times throughout the day. Jerry had warned us beforehand to be very careful. Being so outnumbered, there were many things that could go wrong. The first thing we did was set up and perform the Redeemer skit for the crowd that had gathered around our vans. The actors in the skit (Cathy, Dillon, Jamie, Melissa, and Ian) really did an amazing job. We ended up doing the skit twice, once with Katie explaining the gospel afterwards, and once with Donovan doing the presentation.
New Friends
A Roma man, and his son
            During the rest of the time we were in the village, we did the best we could to communicate, and to build relationships with the people in the village. We played soccer (the universal sport), threw around a Frisbee, and played games with the children. Over the course of the day, we believe we saw about a dozen people give their hearts to the Lord. Of course, only God knows if they are genuine decisions, but it was encouraging to see this.
Karen's group
Nice hat, Pastor Holland!
            We ask for your continued fervent prayer as we go back to the same village tomorrow as well. Pray that the Lord would protect our team, and that we would be living examples of God’s love, both in our words, and in our actions. Pray that the Lord would give us words to say to the people we encounter in this village. And above all, pray that the Lord would save many souls on our last day in the village tomorrow.
Andersen Family

 *The below text has received an accuracy rating somewhere in-between 90% and 95%.

First off….So sorry to my fans but even I, the great D, Big D, Uncle D, Donovan the man, needed some sleep last night so I did not post anything. I will try to do better and make up for it tonight since the beauty sleep does not seem to be helping anyway. We started off today with a trip to Slovakia. I took it upon my self to make sure MrZchuck (Ezra) sat up front with the driver so he could see out the windshield. I made this decision after his name was changed last night to Mr Z Wymiotowac. Do not worry original Chuck fans, Wymiotowac means throw up in polish. That’s right bloggers Ezra has once again lived up to his name and made the polish sausage do a return trip through his system. No worries he is fine, and we had an uneventful trip through the mountains. Thank God because we had no ventilation in the van so if he would of blew, I would of too.
Dillon and Ian with some soccer friends.
            We arrived in the village and were greeted by a mob of kids and people. They were so happy to see us and LOVED to have their picture taken. Mark Anderson had a huge crowd following him, until I had a translator tell him that his name was Mark. They keep saying “Johnny Depp no?” and we said “NO Mark” so about half of them left but the rest stayed to play Frisbee with him anyway. I even had my own following of children wanting to play soccer with me. Unlike grade school, they all wanted me to be on their team!!! If you have ever seen me play soccer, this should key you in on how confused these children are. I played as hard as I could and had several laughs, so the way I see it, we all won.
There were crowds like this around every American
            We preformed the Redeemer skit twice for the village and saw several decisions. PRAISE GOD!!!! One of the times I explained it to the crowd, which was very interesting. It had to be translated from English (with heavy Tennessee), to Polish, and then to Roma. The main thing is that, through all the translating the people heard the message and responded!!!!!!!! PRAISE GOD!!!!! I can not say that enough. After hearing me speak several times this week and witnessing to the people today, Pastor Holland pulled me to the side and said “Brother Donovan, I think you would make a fine preacher”. I always knew that man was filled with knowledge. But then again maybe the heat was getting to him, either way I’ll take it!
Well, hate to run but need a little rest before Slovakia tomorrow. Love you Chug Bug…..Love you Hot Rod……and yes, keep taking care of mommy for me. D

End of a very long day.

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