Culture & Travel

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Ahhhh…. WiFi at last!  After three planes, 5 cities, countless buses, a lot of walking and a long bus ride… we’re finally here at Ostróda Camp.  My cultural horizons have certainly exploded in the last 48 hours.  I have seen some interesting toilets, eaten things I couldn’t identify and come to appreciate more than ever the personal space I am so accustomed to having!  We spent the first day and a half in Warsaw, where we were able to gain some cultural insight and history in preparation for our time with the Holocaust survivors.  Ben’s great interest in WWII era history had given me a great deal of background well before the trip, but standing in the actual place where the ghetto wall stood and seeing photograph after photograph of what Warsaw looked like before the war and then after it was devastated during The Uprising… well, it’s just different when you’re actually standing there.  We went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, another museum called “History of the Place”, and saw memorials and artifacts of the horror that happened on those streets.  I teared up more

than once and I can’t imagine what it is going to be like to actually sit and talk with those who lived through it.

We also had a short class introducing the Polish alphabet, which was helpful.  I mean how do you even begin to try to pronounce Kościoła, even if you happen to recognize what it means (church)?  I am horrible with languages, so I’m no where close to speaking Polish, but it helped.  Fortunate for me, there are a fair amount of people who know some basic English and there are a couple of interpreters here.  Even if I had done a crash course in Polish, it wouldn’t have gotten me far.  The Holocaust survivors are coming here from Israel, where they speak Hebrew, and most actually have Russian as their native language.  Lots of language barriers, but the Love of God will cross them all!

After settling in at the camp, we met with our leaders (Dave & Sandy Hatfield), the summer interns who will be working at the camp (college students) and the interpreters for some focus, devotion and prayer time.  We’ll begin with this in the morning as well and be ready to start serving in this amazing place.

Here’s some pictures!

memories of a tragic history
sidewalk inlay that indicates where a portion of the wall that closed in the Jewish ghetto once stood
Yeah… that’s me walking down a street in Europe. Crazy.
Ostroda Camp… our home for the next two weeks

On Our Way

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Thank you, Rockville Christian Church, for the amazing ways you have supported our trip.  It is great to belong to a missions-minded church.  You have supplied our financial needs fully and quickly, prayed over us, offered to care for our kids and home, and given us numerous words and hugs of encouragement.  The send-off prayer offered Sunday morning was a great way to leave town.

We arrived safely in Ohio yesterday and settled the kids in at Grandma’s house.  Today was filled with last-minute runs (yes, that’s plural) to Wal-Mart, taking care of some things for work, and various final details before we fly out tomorrow.  I tucked the kids in a few minutes ago.  As excited as they are to spend this time with Grandma, they are definitely a little extra clingy to mom, which makes it impossible for me to not be emotional.  I read a little extra from the bedtime book, and snuggled a bit longer with each of them.  As I was saying my final goodnight, I sang the song I’ve sung to them since the womb – The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord shine his face down on you and give you peace.  I’ve sung it to them a hundred times, but it sure did make me tear up tonight.

There are some who would say that a good mom wouldn’t leave her children at this age for this long.  But Anna and Ethan know why we are going to Poland (read the earlier post People Need to Know), and the lesson that teaches them is incredibly valuable.  We believe that taking this mission trip is ministry to our own children as much as it is to the Holocaust survivors.  Going as a couple means that we will grow closer to each other as we grow closer to God through this mutual experience, and strengthening our marriage is a gift to our children as well.  So, we believe this is part of good parenting and spiritually guiding the young lives God has blessed us to raise.

… someone please text me a reminder of these words about 9 AM tomorrow when I’m saying goodbye to the two most precious little people in the world.  🙂