Days 8-10

Although yesterday was emotional with saying goodbye to our host families and the beautiful, kind, loving people of Sosnowiec- this morning we awoke with anticipation and excitement as our days from here were to be filled with touring, learning, shopping and dare I say…more eating!
After breakfast in the hotel, we headed out on the streets of Krakow. We walked around a bit last night and saw the beauty from an evening perspective but now we were able to see things in the bright sunlight and the blessed 70 something degree weather. I must admit, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from Krakow, Poland when we first arrived but I know this was SO much more! The parks, the cafes, the trams, the castles and, and, and…. It was above and beyond what I had thought it to be. We started in city center and went by multiple monuments, churches and landmarks along mostly brick paved roads. The history was so thick in the air and it was hard to wrap the mind around the vastness of it all.
We made our way to Wawel Royal Castle for a tour. This was a very informative tour indeed. We learned hundreds of years of history and even went way up high into the bell tower. Afterwards, we came together in the inner courtyard. We sang the song “10,000 Reasons” with low but powerful voices. What a place to stop and praise God. We then listened to Sarah and Julia’s testimony. We walked the grounds a bit more just taking in the sunshine, the views and relaxing into the beauty of the day. With a slow but steady pace, we made our way through the streets to a cozy, quaint restaurant to take in the local cuisine. We are so blessed to have the knowledge of David and Sandy Hatfield to guide us through this huge city.
After our meal, we were off to see the sites and do a little shopping before heading back to the hotel to gather our belongings and head to the train station. We took the 3 hour journey to our next destination…Warsaw. This was indeed an amazing day for us all.

The 12 disciples under the 12 disciples
Wawel Castle
The view from the steeple of the cathedral at Wawel Castle
The flowers were in full bloom
The courtyard of Wawel Castle where we worshiped God with “10,000 reasons”

After breakfast in the hotel, we were off to see Warsaw. We started the day in one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen. We came into the park at an outdoor arena of sorts (which was not the only one in this park). There was a statue of Chopin and quite a few tourists. The trees were vibrant shades of orange, red, green and yellow. The flowers were in full bloom, the birds singing joyfully, there were little red squirrels that had feet like bunny rabbits and even random peacocks roaming about. Autumn is in full swing in Warsaw and this park majestically displayed what an amazing artist our God is! Before we left the park, we paused and listened to Jason’s testimony. Sharing with the group in these unique settings has been a lovely addition to say the least.

A beautiful walk through Chopin park
Jeff made a new friend
Jason sharing his testimony.  What a beautiful place to tell of God’s love

After a quick tram ride, we went to see the last remaining piece of the ghetto wall that the Nazi’s built to keep the Jews “in” the ghetto during WWII. This was powerful on every level. To see the contrast of this vibrant city, a high school and apartments just beside and then this wall- this piece of history that upon seeing instantly brings tears to your eyes. To think of the horror that was once behind this wall- the frustration, the starvation, the humiliation, the fear, the helplessness, the loss of humanity and for most, the last place they would ever live before being so cruelly taken to their death. We stayed here for a bit, listening to Sandy give us historical facts, some praying, some crying- but all of us remembering and honoring the victims in any way we could.

The only remaining portion of the Jewish Ghetto wall

After grabbing a quick bite to eat, we headed up to the top of the Palace of Culture.  Stalin built this tower using the manpower and money of the people of Warsaw. Instead of destroying it, they kept it and have used it for many years. There are theatres at the base and tourists are able to ride to the top for panoramic views of the city. We went up and were able to take pictures and see this amazing city that just a little over 70 years ago was leveled.  The only fighting back the Jews did during WWII was from Warsaw and unfortunately the Germans leveled their city because of it. After the war, they used blueprints and pictures to rebuild many areas to its former glory as best as they could. One of the places they did just that was “Old Town”. And that’s where we headed next.

The Palace of Culture
A clash of cultures

With this beautiful Old Town backdrop, we were able to break off into groups and explore the city a bit more and shop for souvenirs, listen to street performers, etc. We met back up to head to dinner then grabbed dessert in the plaza after. No one was ready for the night to end there. So we went to see the Presidential Palace and the changing of the guard. We waltzed around this city simply taking it all in and listening to many historical stories and facts from our lovely tour guides.
After returning to the hotel, we came together to recap the trip a bit and shared “snapshots” of our time. We then heard Angie’s testimony and our last night was complete.

Old town, Warsaw
Old Town, Warsaw
Old Town, Warsaw

Our time in Poland has officially come to an end. Many emotions run through us all as we are both excited to return home to our loved ones and lives, but sad to see our time in this beautiful, historic, lovely land end. This has been a learning experience for us all. We have been able to be filled up with culture, history, beauty, the love of the Polish people, the ability to give back to our brothers and sisters and the opportunity to grow as a group. We thank God that the work we came to do was completed and we were able to meet amazing people that we now consider family.
We came together in the airport to pray- giving thanks for this smooth and blessed journey. We said our goodbyes to Sandy and David and prayed that God continues to bless their efforts as well. As the wheels came up and we were officially on our way back to the states, the reality of our adventure washed over me. This really happened. At times it felt like a dream. It was surreal. It was amazing. It was humbling. It was enriching. It was, in a word….blessed.

We have grown so close as a team.  So much love for one another
Ready to take on the world
David and Sandy from Polish Christian Ministry.  Without their love, and guidance none of this would have been possible.  Dziekuje David and Sandy!

We thank you for following this blog and our adventure. We ask only that you continue to pray for the people in Poland, in particular Sosnowiec. They still have more work to do to complete the church there. They are such a loving, happy people full of the love of Jesus Christ. We pray that God continues to hold them in the palm of His hand. We are grateful that OceanPointe Church has been a part of their journey and look forward to watching God continue to work with us and through us. God bless you all!

Posted by Sarah Mascarello

Day 7


​We finally got to sleep in this morning and enjoy a much needed break from the hard work of the week! Each of our mornings started a little differently today, I’m sure, but I have no doubt that they were all filled with love from our host families and a hearty breakfast to get the day started. My family cooked fried eggs with sausage and some freshly chopped tomato and cucumber. And it wouldn’t be complete without some specially brewed, potent coffee to top it all off.
Once I was highly caffeinated and ready for the day, I made my way to the church with my host family. What a warm welcome it was when I got there! Smiles were abound as our team walked through the hallways and among the congregation. Little English or Polish was spoken amongst us, but the universal gesture of a smile and a nod was all we needed to feel welcomed and appreciated and to let them know that we were honored to be united in worship today.
Once everyone was settled, many of us found ourselves standing outside peering in through the main doors, the chapel being “standing room only.” It showed that this growing church really needs the building we had worked on all week. The band started playing and the most beautiful mix of English and Polish singing filled the air. It was a true testament that the Holy Spirit is universal. It breaks down barriers of language and culture and unifies us in God’s loving and spiritual embrace. I remember standing there listening to the music, closing my eyes and taking in the moment. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. Tears flowed as I thanked God for the privilege of serving with these amazing people.


A full house on Sunday morning



Standing room only

After the lead pastor, Daniel, led the church through their main worship service, he introduced Jeff to the crowd. With the assistance of a translator, Jeff delivered a moving message. He even incorporated the help of his host family who filled out nametags that were then taped to the bottom of everyone’s chair, a variation to a message he once gave at Oceanpointe properly coined “My Name Is.” At the end of the message, everyone removed their nametag to reveal God’s name for them, which Jeff prayed over for God to put them where they belonged amongst the crowd. Many were touched by God’s revelation to them in that moment. I sat next to Mark and shared in his vindication of God’s mysterious way of reaching us in unsuspecting ways, even in Poland. I’ll never forget the moment when one of our Polish brothers translated his nametag as “healed,” the same name he and his family received at Oceanpointe 4,000 miles away. Coincidences are God’s way of having fun with us sometimes, I think. Mark and I got both a chuckle and a good cry from it.
The service was completed by sharing communion with our new family and Daniel delivering announcements to his church. I think we were all left with the same feeling that what we did here was worth it in so many ways. This church, in this mostly unknown town on the outskirts of a city in Poland, is where God is doing a great work. Before this trip, one question in the back of my mind that lingered was, “Why Poland?” I’m leaving here knowing the answer to that question in my heart and soul.

Jeff preaching the word


Mark’s name tag “Hello, my name is healed”.

A late lunch/early dinner was served up by our master class of chefs and gracious hosts, Gosha and Asha. We broke bread with each other, enjoyed an amazing dessert, and then got our bags loaded up into the vehicles to head out to Krakow. One phrase that was consistently repeated during our departure was “See you later.” And it wasn’t a misunderstanding of English or just a casual pleasantry. We all felt, our Polish families included, that we would see each other again in the future. We hugged, cried a bit if we had any tears left, and saddled up for our ride to Krakow.
The ride to Krakow was mostly uneventful, except for the amazing duet of singing in the front seat from me and Jeff. It started with The Beatles and ended with some 90s ballads. Everyone in the van was no doubt grateful for the serenade. We reached our hotel in good time and said our final goodbyes to Daniel. A brief stint in our hotel rooms to drop our bags and then we were all off to tour the city and have dinner. Krakow at night is absolutely beautiful, well worth the trip to appreciate the beauty of this country amidst all the turmoil in its history. We walked the streets and joined the hustle and bustle of the city square and souvenir market. Early in the evening we had to say goodbye to our friend Jolie, who had to get on a train headed back to Prague, but we all enjoyed her short yet delightful stay with us. Afterward, we savored some of the local cuisine from outdoor vendors. But for dinner, we all ended up at the great American restaurant, McDonald’s. But not just any McDonald’s. A McDonald’s that had an underground lair that looked like ancient catacombs! Very cool. As a group, we recapped the trip up to that point and then headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest.

Breaking bread one last time with our new Polish family before we leave.
Walking the cobblestoned streets of Krakow
The team in OLd town Krakow

Today was quite eventful to say the least. It was the transition from the heartbeat of our trip, serving the Lord, to the opportunity for us to embed ourselves in the culture of this wonderful place. And Krakow was an amazing place to start. Tomorrow we get to spend the day in Krakow before boarding a train to visit Warsaw, which I’m sure will bring more unforgettable experiences.
Posted by Andrew Gallaher

Day 6

SATURDAY, October 14, 2017

Today started with breakfast at our host family’s home. (The emphasis is intentional, these amazing, loving, hospitable and gracious people have cared for us and loved us in ways we couldn’t have imagined.) It is with a little trepidation that we look to Sunday bearing down on us when we have to say goodbye to these amazing people who have forever touched our hearts and truly become lifetime family, but we will deal with that tomorrow. As always, the food was plentiful and amazing and gave us energy for what we all knew would be an incredibly difficult day. Today we were to visit Auschwitz .
Auschwitz concentration camp is the largest concentration and accounts for the death of over 1.5 million people. That’s 1.5 million fathers, sons, daughters, mothers, grandparents, and friends. Each and every one of them a human, created by God in His image, for His purpose who were murdered for not being the right ”kind” of person. We drove the hour trip and shared some feelings about walking this hallowed ground. The general sentiment was a need to see this incredible memorial to those who died but a reserved willingness to subject ourselves to such sadness and horror. The last half mile of the car ride ran parallel to the train tracks that lead these people to their death.
As we passed under the the arch leading to the entrance to the camp that reads “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work will set you free) the oppression and heaviness was palpable. I felt a thickness and heaviness that made me physically nauseous. What we saw inside the walls of Auschewitz 1 was a testament to the depravity and evil that man is capable of. I won’t try to explain the emotion that surrounds viewing things like actual ashes pulled from the crematorium, 2 tons of human hair collected by the nazi’s before killing these people, Forty thousand pairs of shoes, and hundred and hundreds of suitcases with peoples name written on them because they were told that it would make it easier to find when they got back from “the showers”, a place they would never come back from. Among this sorrow and oppression was a sad reminder that we are called to protect and love the oppressed. It was the cell of a Catholic priest named Maximilian Kolbe, who intervened as the Nazi’s dragged away a Jewish father that he knew. He begged them to take him instead since he had no family. He was thrown in a cell and left to starve to death. We finished the tour in Auschwitz 2 where the bigger crematoriums and gas chambers once stood. A train track running through the middle of the camp divided barracks for woman and children on one side and a barracks for men on the other. In the middle of the camp, the area around the train tracks widened to form the “area of selection” where trains would stop, the people would be separated into two groups. Men on one side, women and children on the other. As each person stepped forward, a SS Officer would decide with his pointer finger the fate of the person standing in front of him based on whether or not they could bring value to the nazi cause. You were pointed towards the left walkway which lead to the woman’s barracks, the right towards the men’s barracks or straight forward towards the gas chambers.
The tour ended in front of a memorial for the victims with the same words on 24 plaques in 24 different languages.

For ever let this place be a cry of despair, and a warning to humanity where the Nazis murdered about one and a half million men, women, and children mainly Jews from various countries of Europe.
Auschwitz- Birkenau 1940-1945

Gate to Auschwitz 1
Ashes collected from the crematorium
Area of Selection



After leaving Auschwitz, an emotional and mentally drained group sat down for a delicious Polish meal of Tomato Basil Soup, Chicken, Cole slaw and an that Polish staple French Fries.
We hurried back to the church where over 20 youth were waiting for us to lead their youth service. We started with games and found that laughter is a universal language. Some of our team members joined in with games which were lead by Jeff. It was the perfect way to get everyone moving and on their feet. Following games we went into a time of worship where Amber and Mark were joined by the Pastor’s son Timic to lead worship. We sang “Great are you Lord” and “Good Good Father”. The Polish teens sang the English lyrics loud and with passion and there was a spirit of worship in the room. Mark delivered a short sermon on Nehemiah and how although we are different from a cultural standpoint we share a calling from God. While Nehemiah could have asked for many different things, his prayer was simply “Strengthen my hands so I can do the work”. Mark closed by telling the teens that they had a call on their life, a great work from God and that as we leave to go back to America they can be assured that we would be praying for them and he asked them to pray for our great work because together we can do a great work for the world. This was followed by Bella and Elijah telling the Polish teens what it is like to be a teenager in America. They shared a little about themselves and then opened it up to questions. The question started slow but eventually picked up and a great discussion about topics such as prayer in schools developed. After the Q&A, we shared a meal together. Pizza, soda and lots of desserts were consumed and it gave us an opportunity to mingle and speak one on one with the teens.
After putting the church back together and cleaning up we waited for our host families to come and pick us so we could go and get a good nights sleep.

Mingling at youth group
Mark preaching and Timic translating

Posted by Mark Carpender

Day 5

FRIDAY, October 13, 2017

We arrived at the church motivated and dedicated to get the job done. This was our last day of work and we were not going to miss one minute of time that could be spent wrapping up the tasks that we had to complete. Over breakfast, Brook and Amber shared their powerful testimonies. They reminded us of God’s love and just how powerful and good He is. This has been a theme through all of the testimonies this week. God loves in a way that we can’t comprehend, He has a plan for our life, and He works for good everyday.
We headed out to our work areas, motivated to finish strong. We had a lot of work to do to finish insulating the new chapel, and the painting team had a lot of work left to do to make sure that the murals were ready for presentation at church on Sunday morning. We worked hard all day and when we stepped back and looked at what we had accomplished at the end of the day we were proud of our accomplishments. It was such a rewarding feeling to know that we truly did help our Christian brothers and sister in Sosnoweic and because of our hard work, they will be able to move into their new chapel much faster then they would have without us, and their children’s ministry rooms have fresh coats of paints and beautiful murals. The time we spent working side by side with our Polish brothers and sisters blessed everyone involved.  Before we wrapped up our final work day at the church, we left a reminder for us and the people of the church that this was not just a work trip, this was a trip that stretched all of us spiritually and formed bonds with the people here that will remain. We created a heart using our handprints, with our names under them, and the Oceanpointe logo in the middle.  We are leaving a piece of our heart here. The relationships that we made, the ways that God moved, the way we bonded as a team will leave us changed forever. The church in Sosnoweic and Oceanpointe Christian church is bonded in a very special way and we wrapped up our work knowing this in a very real way.

Posted by Mark Carpender



More to come soon!

So sorry we didn’t post during the second half of the trip!  After the 4 full work days (Tuesday through Friday, posts for Days 1-4) we started traveling and sightseeing so it was more difficult to get a post posted!  We will soon have posts for the remainder of our trip…Saturday’s time at Auschwitz & evening youth service, Sunday’s incredible church service and travels to Krakow, Monday’s tour of Krakow and train ride to Warsaw, Tuesday’s tour of Warsaw, and Wednesday’s flight home!  Thanks so very much for following along and for all your prayers and support.  The prayers and love were felt all the way over in Poland!  ❤

–Kourtney K.

Day 4

THURSDAY, October 12, 2017

Day four brought tears of happiness and healing, an over abundance of God’s love.  The day started with stories of triumph over tribulations from Andrew and Mark.  Both shared their journey to Christ through life’s many obstacles, often different for all of us but similar in that Jesus is the conduit for redemption.

A healthy breakfast segued into another day of selfless service with the ladies putting the finishing touches of painting one room and meticulously filling in the murals designed by Angie in two others.  They listened to Christian music, hummed and sang along and were just there united in Christ, literally being used as God’s hands with each stroke of their brushes.  The men continued their physically dirty but spiritually cleansing work outside by installing insulation on the exterior of the building.  Andrew and his new friend Peter stood on scaffolding much higher than the day before and balanced on questionable foundation.  But they were able to enjoy the sun at their backs and a cool breeze on their faces.  They even spent a few minutes sharing pictures of their kids and just sitting and enjoying the Lord’s blessing of beautiful weather for a hard day’s work.

Brooke, Sarah, Bella, and Sandy visited a local school where they shared stories of American culture and answered questions about the recent solar eclipse.  The anticipation of some nervousness gave way to open minds and hearts as they represented the best of our American values and their amazing Christian spirit.  They spoke to three different groups; and as word spread throughout the school, kids poured into the rooms to join in the conversation.  They returned to us midday with excitement and fulfillment in their voices from the experience.

Today was a big day for many reasons, both in cultural experience and spirituality.  But I cannot leave out a moment of absolute bliss for our physical strength.  Our gracious hosts started preparing pierogies in the morning and finished them by about 2 p.m.  And they were exactly what we needed after a long morning. Elijah beat us all by eating ten in a single sitting.  And that meal was followed by a dessert of light meringue with whipped topping and blueberries, the icing on the cake, so to speak, to a great meal.

Pleasant weather in the morning was contrasted by a chilly breeze and light rain in the afternoon, so the men donned their sweaters and kept working, each styrofoam block adding another small victory in our little corner of the world.  The ladies painstakingly continued painting, their wrists and feet tired but not their spirits.  We gathered at the end of the day and shared our snapshots of the day.  And we all had a powerful, spiritual moment together, which can only be described as God’s overwhelming presence in the room and within this group. Not a single eye was dry in the room.  We closed in prayer and dispersed for our evening apart.

In the evening, a group of six of us attended a professional volleyball game at a local stadium.  The fatigue in our eyes and bodies was evident, but we enjoyed the experience nonetheless and felt privileged to share in the cheers of the local Polish team who won after a grueling five sets played.  Elijah joined a teen youth group at one of the host homes and really enjoyed his time with them, sharing stories of Christ and of being teenagers in different parts of the world.

All in all, today was a truly amazing day.  It was another part of this beautiful experience we’re all sharing together and which we all hope is inspiring those who will come in the future.  One thing that is clear every day is that God’s love and Christ’s place in all of our lives knows no bounds.  As our time here continues, our hearts grow more and more fonder of the people and of this wonderful place.

Posted by Andrew Gallaher

Brooke, Sarah, Bella, and Sandy with local school administrators

Day 3

WEDNESDAY, October 11, 2017

Day three dawned brisk and cloudy, but that couldn’t dampen our spirits as we arrived at the church at 8am eager to start another day’s work. We gathered around the breakfast table where we ate a hearty meal that was a conglomeration of different meats, cheeses, jams, Nutella, bread, cereal, vegetables, and yogurt. We enjoyed about 17 cups of coffee each while listening to Jeff and Kourtney share their testimonies. Filled to the brim with so much food (which seems to be a constant theme) we set off on another productive day of work.

The guys made their way outside where they did…well…manly things. Elijah drilled concrete for days (we’ve only been here for three days, but he has been drilling for seven), and the rest continued to put up the siding of the wall with styrofoam and spray styrofoam. Our guys are beasts.

The ladies continued with painting the walls. Angie went downstairs to finish sketching out the mural in the nursery. At around 10 minutes into our work, Martin one of the church members, came to us asking for immediate prayer. Asia, (pronounced Asha) who is one of our hosts and English teacher/translator, had gotten into a car accident and was taken to the hospital. We immediately formed a prayer circle and prayed for her well-being in both Polish and English. I am happy to say that she is doing well and was here this morning. She has a bit of stiffness in her neck and shoulders, but otherwise doing great. Afterward, Angie finished her mural and a few of the ladies started to paint it. As we were painting downstairs, Angie started on another mural in one of the rooms upstairs.IMG_0022

We have got some serious talent on this team and God is using all of it for His glory!

At lunch time, we all came together and ate another wonderful feast and drank even more coffee. Seriously, they love to feed us, constantly asking if we have had enough to eat! We used this time to gain back some energy before we set off again; the men went back outside and the women continued to paint away.

The end of the day came quick, and we all gathered around the table upstairs once more for a debriefing time and a sharing of our snapshots. Here are just a few snapshots that I loved hearing and wanted to share:

“This is my first mission trip, and people ask ‘why don’t you just send cash?’ But it’s not about the cash.”

“I loved getting to know some of the girls on a deeper level.”

“The spontaneous prayer circle we did for Asia.”

“Being content with what we have. Seeing how content my host family is even with a  love to smaller living space.”

“Seeing how far we have come since day one.”

“Asia (another host home wife) works so hard. She cooks breakfast and lunch for us here, and then when she takes us home she cooks dinner for her family and us. Last night I asked her if she needed help and she said, ‘no, I cook because it comes from the heart.’ And I saw the spirit of God wink at me. We’re supposed to be in such a way that people can see God through us, and I absolutely saw God through her.”

With paint covered hands and dust covered faces, we dispersed joyfully to spend another night at our host homes, culturally immersed. If there is one thing I keep being constantly reminded of, it’s that God is not English. The unity I have seen, of our team, of the fellow Polish disciples even with the language barrier, has been astounding. It doesn’t matter where you go, whether it be in our own backyard or 3,000 miles away, the Spirit of God is alive and it is an unquenching force that is constantly moving. Hallelujah.


Post written by Amber Heuisler