Today we had to make a tough decision – go with the people from Israel and the interns to the local Baptist church, where a couple of them would speak, or accept an invitation to travel with George to a church in a nearby town where Ben was asked to share a bit of his testimony. We asked Andrzej and April (the camp directors) what they thought we should do and they thought that the church in Olsztyn might benefit from some visitors. So this was our choice and we are glad that we went. Ben was able to share a few words (audio file below), we enjoyed wonderful fellowship and were invited to the pastor’s house for lunch afterwards.
We greatly enjoyed the amazing food his wife prepared and our conversation with them. We also discovered some of the dreams he has for the church to become more involved in the community that we think we might be able to help them turn into reality.
Before we left the camp this morning, we were able to read Erika’s story. She is the woman who had told me that her eyes caused her great pain and she has no peace in her heart. We found out that she desires for others to hear her story – to let the world know and not forget what happened. So, I will close by passing it on to you. Keep in mind as you read it that the “Christian” orphanage would have been Catholic, so although Erika believes in God she has a great many questions and confusions about faith.
Erika was born in Bratislava. When the war broke out, her father placed both her and her mother in a Christian orphanage to try to keep them safe. Among the orphans there were 13 Jewish children in hiding. Erika’s father was caught by the Nazi soldiers and was tortured to make him reveal the hiding place of his family. He didn’t tell them where they were, and had to pay a high price for this, as he was sent to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen. After a while the hiding place of the Jewish children became known to the Nazis anyway. They came and took all of the children to a checkpoint for Jews being held to be transferred to concentration camps. This happened when Erika’s mother was out for evening prayer. When she came back and was told what had happened, she went to the checkpoint herself. She did not want to be separated from her daughter even if it meant she would also be sent to a concentration camp. Together they were sent to Therensienstadt. They survived the war, and were reunited with Erika’s father in Bratislava, but lost all other family. Erika tells that the memories of these years, the beatings, degrading words and treatment of the Nazi soldiers, have never left her. For her entire life she has been living in the shadow of these memories.