I must begin this post with some sad news because my heart is heavy today. We learned this morning that Beata Kołak lost her battle with cancer and went to be with Jesus. Beata was about my age, and although I didn’t know her very well I just thought she was an amazing lady. I first met her in 2013 when she was one of the primary organizers of my talk in the city of Ostróda on infant loss. Two years ago she and her husband Zbigniew were the deans of the Ukrainian Children’s Camp. They came each evening and helped with the final session of the day as well as our big “Olympic” event. She was just overflowing with a joyful spirit that I admired, and it breaks my heart to hear of her passing. The funeral is Thursday. We just changed our train tickets to go to Ostróda a day early to be able to attend. Will you please pray for her family? She leaves behind a husband and son, who I think is in his early twenties.
The second stop on our church tour is the one I have been particularly looking forward to visiting – Kołobrzeg. Ben has been here twice and Rockville Christian has had a long relationship with this church, supporting them in prayer and financially. I’ve been told that Pastor Piotr Karel used to write letters to RCC which were read before the congregation, a tradition I encouraged him to bring back! Piotr sat down next to me the first night we were here and said, “Rac-hel-a, (the Polish pronunciation of my name – I love it), tell me how Rockville Christian Church is doing.” So I filled him in on some recent changes and asked him to be praying for us in our transitions. Yesterday, we were privileged to worship with the congregation. Ben stood at the start of the service and gave greetings on behalf of the brothers and sisters at Rockville Christian. There were several baptisms and the church is facing the good problem of finding themselves in need of more space. There was standing room only this week and they had to set up an overflow room with the service broadcasted to a large TV. We are actually living at the church for several days, as they have quite a few rooms with beds and baths for housing guests.
Ben and the other PCM board members met with the leaders at Kołobrzeg, and then did the same yesterday evening at church #3 – the Christian Church in Koszalin (a different church than the Messianic Jewish congregation mentioned before). This morning, Piotr Karel took us on a tour of his city, then the kids and I got to spend a little time on the Baltic Sea with the Korytkowski family while the men visited church #4 in Białogard.
The first stop on our tour of Northwestern Poland churches was Koszalin Messianic. This is a small congregation of Jewish Christians who welcomed us to their Sabbath Day Worship service this morning. Most of the churches supported by Polish Christian Ministries have a US church as their “Living Link”, financially and prayerfully supporting them. Southport Heights Christian Church in Indianapolis is the Living Link for Koszalin. Three men from that congregation are traveling with us, so this was an opportunity for them to really connect and get to know them.
Our visit began Friday evening with our pick up from the train station and escort to a very nice hotel. (They think Americans need luxury. By comparison to all other places we’ve stayed in our years in Poland, this place was extravagant.). We were excited by a surprise visit from our dear friends, the Korytkowskis. Then we ate dinner and went for a walk through the city. Stanislaw, the church’s pastor, showed us the Jewish cemetery and where the synagogue stood before it was destroyed.
We enjoyed the usual cakes and coffee after the service and had some time to fellowship. I love this about Polish Churches. They do it every week and really spend time talking with one another. I got to know Ola and Lucia, two older ladies, along with ten-year-old Angelina, whose Dad thought she could interpret for us because of her English classes at school. When I saw the look of panic on the poor child’s face, I pulled out my translator app and we had a great time “talking” to one another while the PCM guys met with Stanislaw to discuss important things and pray.
We have now arrived in Kołobrzeg. Rockville Christian is the living link for this congregation so we will bring our greetings from Indiana tomorrow as we worship with them!
Internet is very limited right now. I will post again when I am able!