MONDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2017
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.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2017
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 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