To “In Partnership With God” people and family – POLAND report
Sally Jo and I, plus 5 other church members, are back from our short term mission trip to Poland – leading/ teaching an English Bible Day Camp for children. We both knew the still small voice that said “go”. Several human factors played into this selection by God…and our decision to go. Probably the greatest was that we were being asked by the Lutheran Church in Mikolow, Poland to do what they could not do – teach the Bible and run a day camp in English. Children want to learn English – and to have fun at a day camp. Other factors: Sally Jo and I have experience teaching children, know a bit about camp activities, have traveled in foreign countries, and are in good health.
The final factor: Sally Jo was chosen to be chairman of the Mission Committee at our church – a church which does excellent work within the Albany area, but has little personal relationship with foreign missionaries and has never had a short term foreign mission trip.
We were originally told to expect 30 children – then came the word…we are up to 57. We upped the supplies we were taking and were ready when 72 arrived that first morning, including 20 teenagers which Sally Jo taught. This program was sponsored by a church with an average attendance of 125 in a country that is 98% Roman Catholic – and was under communism just 21 years ago.
We arrived in Poland with with detailed lesson plans – and over 200 lb of teaching, craft, and athletic supplies. With Sally Jo’s coaching and prodding we had prepared carefully, but perhaps even more important was the preparation of the local church! Incredible people! Their PR was obviously excellent! They had rented a 24X36’ tent complete with pine tables and benches primarily to “house” the craft program. There were eight good translators eager to work with us. We arrived at the church on Saturday, and church members had planned every minute through Sunday 9 days later.
On Monday morning at 9:00 the program was to begin in the beautiful, 200 year old sanctuary with singing and an introduction to the Bible lesson. We had been warned: the kids would be arriving about 8:30 to play with the Frisbees, various balls, and to talk, and they did. At 9:00 everyone was there, eager to learn, to participate. Our pastor, who was a team member, is a great guitar player – for kid’s choruses. Each morning, and again at 3:30 he, Sally Jo, and a translator led the singing…mostly in English. But how about Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah, Praise ye the Lord – in Polish!!!
A few highlights:
- After each group of 8 finished decorating cupcakes (almost un-known in Poland), placing and lighting their candles …the 8 sang the Polish equivalent of “Happy Birthday” to Jesus – totally the kid’s idea.
- When acting out the story of the Prodigal Son, one little boy, with a sign around his neck saying “pig”, after being fed by the prodigal son…jumped up and laid down on a bench and said “now I be roast pig for the party”
- The kid’s intensity as they worked on their craft projects: Christmas tree ornaments, place mats, book marks, banners – which they took home, plus 15 murals put up in the entrance to the church. Each reinforced the day’s Bible lesson.
- About ½ the kids coming on Sunday morning, wearing their matching t-shirts, to sing the choruses learned during the week. It was moving to look see smiles in the congregation – a few trying to do the motions for the songs with the children.
As we prepared to leave, one of the translators said “This week I have had a revival in my heart”. We left knowing we had planted and watered many seeds. We left a greatly encouraged church that will follow up on these children.
We left with tears – theirs and ours! It was a great week!!!
Thank you for going with us in spirit…and for many of you, in intercessory prayer.