Stereotypes are a big part of the hatred our new friends have seen in their lifetime, so I hate to generalize. But if I were permitted to draw one not-so-harmful stereotype it would be that elderly Jewish people from Israel like to shop. Today was another shopping outing, this time with in Olsztyn, where we attended church yesterday. It was a fun trip with some good laughs, including Kazik buying some small cymbals from a street vendor and making quite a fanfare with them. His wife shook her head and said to me “There is Nathan, Benjamin and Kazik!” Nathan and Benjamin are her two young grandchildren! I tried to talk with the sweet lady who has given so many gifts to us this week. She said something that sounded like “Christian”, but seemed to be asking a question and pointing to me. So I told her “Yes, I am a Christian.” I have no idea if that is really what she asked or not, or if she understood my response, but she showed me what she had bought which was a gold cross necklace with footprints on it. I really wish I could have whipped up a fluency in Russian and Polish before I left the states! It would have been a great opportunity to talk about what she believes, as she made it clear that the necklace was not for her.
Andrzej Korytkowski is the director of Ostroda Camp, and it has been great to get to know him and his family. Andrzej is a native of Polska and his wife April is from Connecticut. There children – Lydia, Ben and Clara have made me miss our kids even more all week. I hope that we will be able to keep in touch with them and possibly even help them with some tasks from back in the states. Maybe we can even return with our children and they can make some international friends!
Tomorrow we travel to Gdansk, located on the Baltic sea, which is a much further drive. It will be our last day with the people from Israel. We’ll be returning to Warsaw with George after dinner. The interns will not be going to Gdansk, which will leave us with a shortage of people who can help us communicate, but I hope that we will be able to have some conversation with them. There is a man who speaks some English (David) and seems interested in talking to us. Between the activities and the language barrier I feel like we haven’t had as much interaction with them as I had hoped, and I am sad that tomorrow is the last possibility for this. I pray that our smiles, service and hugs have spoken what we cannot put into words.