Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Update #2

So here's another brief (read that 6 paragraphs long) update from Poland...
Let's see...it would appear that I need to amend a few things from my previous post...we left on tuesday and arrived on Wednesday morning (rather than monday...) we traveled all day from Frankfurt through Eisenach to Legnica.

Also, I would like to take some space to mention something that took place while we were in Jawor (the city with the wooden church.) After we had toured the church, Bubu took our group through the city. Although it was a Saturday and after 12, most people had closed shop for the day and gone home; and even though it WAS cloudy and wet, there was a certain gloom and despair that hung over this city. We could feel the oppression -- it was almost tangible. Part of the visit included a stop at a castle that, during WWII, had been converted into a women's prison camp. As I approached the iron gates that led to small courtyard before a concrete wall, I stopped; (At that moment,I wasn't aware this had been a concentration camp) and I could feel something was wrong. Mom called out to me as I stopped and asked me if I knew where I was going. I replied that I didn't. She explained. I don't really have words to explain the feeling that went through me at that moment, but suffice it to say, I knew I would be unable to enter those walls. Even though the majority of our group had gone inside, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I walked to the corner instead and looked down the hill over the city, overcome with an emotion I still can't describe. Horror? Grief? Thankfulness maybe??
Rebekah had gone in and as we walked back to the town square, she and many of the others in our group had tears streaming down their faces.
After we had spent some time wandering around a bit, I felt something inside me say "You need to be praying for this city right NOW!" I called the girls together and we walked into the completely empty square and started to sing. For about 15 minutes, there was nobody there. A few times, we were too overcome with emotion to sing and could only stand in the rain and pray with and for eachother and that city. Becka said "That concentration camp has permeated the whole city. I don't care if it's not a prison camp anymore...this city does not know Jesus and has no hope. These people's eyes are empty".
Pray for Jawor, that the bright and mighty Son of God would shine down and tear back the veil of darkness that holds sway over it.

Sunday evening was spent at Pastor Alec's house, where i wrote the first post. It was so nice to spend time with their family and the families that came from the church in Warsaw. It was very much like having our fellowship time back home. All of us felt the rest and refreshment of Sunday fellowship.
Monday saw us having our ESL classes in the morning, singing and street evangalism in the afternoon. Every day has brought more (and new) people to listen to us and to talk with us. So far, we have had great opportunity to invite several people from the street or the shops we've visited to come to meeting. It seems that God is working in this city. This morning Mom and some others shared with us that as we have been singing and witnessing, more and more Catholic priests and nuns have come out and been watching us. God's word is a powerful sword, and we are out to battle for this city. The enemy knows we are here; pray for us for strength, both physical and spiritual that we would withstand the darts of the wicked, and be strong against sickness. Some of our group have gotten very sick--Pastor Gary ended up going to the doctor today and I think they said he had pneumonia. Mom has been sick and Becka too. Also Josh Cannon and a couple of others; I've kind of begun to lose my voice...but most are on the mend but pray that no one else would get sick and that the remainder of our trip finds us all healthy.
I was also able to visit a Polish shop with authentic Polish wares --- got a few things for some friends and, well myself too. :-)

Tuesday (today) we had our last ESL class. It has gone very well. The same people have been coming back, which was very encouraging. I will miss everyone I've met on this trip.
There is one girl - Biata, that Becka and others invited to meeting after visiting her several times in her shop, that came to meeting and they (the girls and also Pastor Alec) were able to share the gospel with her and her boyfriend. One student from ESL class - Kasha, came to 3 of our meetings and listened to us sing on the street as well. Pray for both these girls, that when we leave, the excitment of meeting Americans (and Canadians) wouldn't go away, and that their eagerness for Truth would not waver.
There is also another young man here who has been friends with Bubu and Alec. His name is Mariusz (pronounced Mari-yush). He is a very kind person with a tender heart towards Jesus but is also filled with doubt. Like so many Christians, even myself at times, has a hard time believing that Jesus would die for HIM. Pray that he would continue going to church and that the words of encouragement he has heard will build him up and that those demons of doubt would be driven away!

We watched the movie Luther tonight. It was very powerful. We had a couple new people come to watch it with us as we had advertised while out on the street today.
Tomorrow morning we leave Legnica for Warsaw. I'm not sure what the plan is for there, but like much of this trip, God has showed our way one step at a time.

Thank you for your continued prayers and may our Savior Jesus bless you.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Poland Update

It's Sunday afternoon, June 28th. I'm in Poland. This is my first chance to sit at a computer in 6 days. Wow! Has it really been 6 days? Time has gone by so fast!
I'm going to try and give a brief update...the internet connection may go...

Where do I start? This trip has been, well, surreal from the moment we got on the plane. I think the weight of what we were about to do hit me about 4 hours into our flight when I looked out the window and saw nothing but water and some icebergs and icecaps. There was no going back! The moment we landed it has been nonstop. We left on a Tuesday and arrived first thing Monday morning. The time difference is 9 hours ahead of the US. We hopped onto our bus and drove from the Frankfurt airport to Eisenach, Germany. It was so incredible. For being in a foreign county many things looked extremely familiar, like the midwest countryside, except that every village we passed had a church in it's center.
In Eisenach, we visited Wartburg castle (pronounced "vartburg") where Martin Luther was spirited away to by his friends to help him escape the Catholic church. There he translated the Bible from Latin to common German for his people. The tour of the castle was again, surreal. To see the place where such an important event took place in the life of the Protestant Reformation was soul-stirring. We also saw the Bach house- another fascinating sight. From Eisenach we traveled 5 hours to Legnica. We arrived late in the evening - in the rain. *note: it's been raining pretty much the whole time we've been here.*

Thursday morning we dove right in and started our English classes, only 2 people were there but it was a successful time. After lunch at a castle (we get to have lunch at the castle everyday!) we to the town square for singing and evangalism. So far my favorite part of this trip has been the singing. Rosie Faris (one of our group) put it aptly: "I get really happy when we're singing and people stop to watch and listen. I love that." We've draw quite a crowd a few times. There is one song people like to here more than others, Psalm 134 which we sing in a round. It's kind of become the signature song for our trip. Friday we did the same as Thursday (and some shopping as well) except our singing got rained out. We had a steady downpour for about 1/2 hour. The funny thing about the rain here is that it's not cold and it doesn't bother us that much. The only bad thing is that it's very humid and our clothes never feel completely dry. :-)
I forgot to mention; we have a worship meeting everynight. Friday night brought a young couple who live in Legnica and saw the advertisement and decided to come and see what we were about. It would appear that God is really working in these two people's hearts; she has a real thirst for truth. They both said they really enjoyed their time with us in meeting and came the next day to English class and then spent another 3 or 4 hours with us.

Saturday after morning English classes we took the train to Jawor, Poland (pronounced "Yavor") to see an all-wood Protestant church. That was another fascinating sight. I've never been in a building such as that before. I've only seen them in pictures. The church was competely built of wood and built and funded by Protestants. It was very moving to see a building erected so long ago by people who loved the Lord Jesus and who sought to honor him with their architecture. Most of the writing on the art that surrounded the gallery was in German. I could go on and on about this building but for brevity's sake, I won't. (Not that I've been really all that brief) I will say this, there was something about this building that made me want to weep for joy. Much of the building had taken place during a time when Mom and Dad both had ancestors in the German area where the church was built. I think my Great Grandmother would have been very happy to see this place.

Today we went to church in Legnica, Poland the city where we have been staying. It was held in a Lutheran church that was originally a Catholic cathedral. The rest of the group had already had a tour of the church earlier in the week but I had been teaching so hadn't seen the interior yet. This was another piece of living art. Our group did some singing before the worship service began. The accoustics were extrodinary. I can only imagine what it would have sounded like to have a real choir singing in there.
Right now, we're at Pastor Alec's house and I have 4 people waiting to use the computer behind me. I think I'd better wrap up.

Some highlights so far:
I-sharing with Rebekah on the bus on the way to Legnica - listening to Coldplay
Singing on the street
Shopping in the market and meeting people to invite them to classes
Riding a train for the first time.

More later.... Love to you all!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

All it takes...

I have discovered that it’s really hard to thank someone for something, and go on complaining and grouching and, well, being unthankful for it. (And I’m not talking about that 70’s print Rudolph sweater that’s two sizes too small that your Great Aunt gave you for Christmas.) I mean, really, if you’re truly thankful for something, you find the good in it right? Especially if I’m saying thanks to Jesus…I feel like some kind of hypocrite.

Today, in between trying not to pull my hair out, maintain sanity, and find my way upward towards the light at the end of this tunnel of paper, I found myself feeling extremely grumpy. Oh, yes, I had a smile (sort of) on my face and a fake cheerful voice, but inwardly, I was scowling, thinking how nice it would be to just ignore that voicemail, and let people know what I really thought of what they were doing to me.

Then the Voice: “You have a really bad attitude.”

Me: “Yeah. So?”
Voice: “You need to be thankful.”
Me: “For what?”
Voice: “You are blessed with work.”

It was true; I did have a really bad attitude. I wasn’t thankful. I was complaining about my work when I AM blessed with much work, and so many others are not. God is providing for me. He is teaching me. He is sharpening me. This is a training exercise in patience, thankfulness, and trust.

I had to stop this. I took a deep breath. “Thank you Jesus for this day and all You have given me in it.”

And that’s all it took. I left my desk a few minutes later to go talk with somebody about a project and then I heated up my lunch (to eat at my desk). As I got back to my desk, I paused for just a moment to survey the scene before me.
My desk isn’t small. It’s a fairly good size; I have a computer -with two monitors- and a desk that affords me about 10 feet in length of counter space altogether. Both sides of the counters had papers, file folders, and notebooks strewn about (in a semi-organized manner). My phone blinked at me, telling me there was another voicemail. My notepad-covered in various memos- sat directly under my right side monitor and somewhere underneath it, was my pencil.

“Thank you Jesus for this day.”

And I smiled. Really, truly, smiled.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Poland Planning & Prayer Requests

Yesterday we (our team from the U.S.) had our second-to-last meeting before our trip to Poland in 1 1/2 weeks. It was a good meeting; we covered the remainder of details of our iternary including when we're driving up to Vancouver BC and when we're arriving in Germany, busing to Poland, etc. I think this trip is going to feel very long.
I also found out that while we might occasionally have access to an internet cafe, I'm not sure how much contact I'll have with this blog. Basically- don't expect daily updates. :-) It might just be once or twice- but I'll try to fill in as much as I can.
Next week is our church camp and we'll have one final meeting just to touch base on a few things, make sure everyone has what they need, and just spend some time praying (some more). You can pray with and for us too. I know as a team we are excited about going, but I think the closer we get to leaving, the more the nerves start acting up. If you are thinking of us please keep these prayer requests in mind:

1) That no matter what happens, or where we go, the name of Jesus Christ would be glorified.
2) Prayer for patience, kindness, loving hearts, generosity of spirit, and peace amongst our team members traveling together. Being with people (other than your family) for 2 weeks, 24/7 I'm sure can start to wear on even the most forebearing of natures.
3) That God would prepare our way and the hearts of those we will be talking to.
4) That our travel would go safely and smoothly. (Border crossings, security, customs, 10hr flight, etc.)
5) Protection for us
6) Protection for our belongings: no lost luggage or stolen items.
7) Protection for our families while we are away from them.
8) That our ministry would be effective and a blessing to our Polish brothers and sisters.
9) That we would have good rest!
10) That we might even have fun!

Thank you for your love, support, and your prayers!!