Friday, September 30, 2011

days 43 and 44 The REAL DEAL... RUTS

Here is the real deal... We are stuck in a little rut. Sometimes it feels really BIG! We don't have anything we HAVE to do... We have many things we'd LIKE to do... and we don't know how to accomplish any of them. God gave us a brain to be usefully accessed... and I am certain that I used to know how to do that. For some reason when you get into a rut your brain doesn't fire on all cylendars. I feel like I have taken 37 years off my life of learning and wisdom, lit in on fire and watched it burn and then started completely over... It is frusterating...
Here is a list of new beginnings for us:
1) home school. Not in love with it yet... but I know I can be.
2) foreign language. I am ever so slowly learning it... Most days I feel like I am in a deep dark hole.
3) driving with a new set of rules... or perhaps the lack of any rules at all?... Please pray for our safety every day and night and 3 time at all your meals. This place makes 5:00 rush hour on the 101 look good.
4) grocery shopping with all new foods, some missing foods, completley different labels and the inablility to ask questions about any of it: an experience that goes hand in hand with #2, foreign language, and I have become one with my i phone translater... grocery shopping is NEVEr a 10 minute experience but rather a 2 hour ordeal.
5) Church in a little apartment room up stairs... off the main drag...
6)green foilage that doesn't require an added amount of irrigation or watering. Bless this country!
7) no ice in my drink. people who look at me strange when I ask for extra ice and become so dazed and confused by such a request that they think I said "NO ICE AT ALL PLEASE." And if I really want to trip them out then I ask for a cup with only ice in it. That is how you confuse the McDonalds man!
8) Old ladies with knock out legs and nice bodies! (thats what you get for walking everywhere your entire life.)
9) dressing up to go to the grocery store. (I love love that everyone here takes pride in how they look. It really is like taking a step back in time... before the time of my children... and perhaps more like when mum was a wee one.)
10)a baguette of bread is a meal. nothing more needed. It is also a snack for your young children in the grocery store rather than junk food. And no need to cut it, just bite it off and eat the entire thing.
11) The only time I ever felt like I didn't have a friend close by was when I lived in Florida... Then I found the ever fabulous and most beautiful Jackie Roettiger... Who in my humble opinion is an ANGEL... so my friendlessness lasted mere weeks. But BOY HOWDY... I am without socialization out here... My vocabulary is digressing. My ability to think is moving backwards... and to be real honest, It is a first for me to not have a friend and to be not know how to make one considering I can't speak the language. Weird!

The boss called. Like... the real live Boss for DOme. He wanted to chat with me about how its going and what he can do for me. My response: "is this a loaded question? are we taking the gloves off?" and he said "not loaded. Gloves off."
Then I told him how it was hard. And after I told him all that hard bidness I told him I love it here. Because even though it is hard, I know that I am supposed to be here. I know that it will get easier with sustained effort on my part. I am in a beautiful place and there are lots of reasons to be happy... even if its hard. And even if we've been in a rut. I'll be darned if that sweet Mr. Dan Dome finished up with a sincere question, "what can I do for you?" and I choked back a tear and said, "just send us our school books." and without hesitation he had already worked out the logistics for that to be done.
I think I will take one step out of my rut now.
This weekend I will watch conference with a few things in mind... I am sure that will pull me the rest of the way out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 42

Today we kicked it around the house trying to figure out homeschool. And I found myself daydreaming of years past...

As a young child I dreamed of being an anesthesiologist, never marrying and owning a pack of sled dogs that I could take out. My mother was very concerned that I loved my jeans and cleats. I loved school and babysitting but didn't so much want my own children.

As I got older I changed that silly old dream... I dreamed of being a doctor still... but ditching the dogs for a man a few children to mug on. However the two carreers didn't match up in my mind. I am sure that my mum spent much time on her knees trying to convince the Lord that I needed some direction!

Finally, when it was time to go to college I didn't want to be a doctor any more since I couldn't see how being a good doctor and being a devoted mother would go hand in hand... atleast for me... perhaps the medical field... nursing. And that is where it went... I found a man. I worked in the orthopedic surgery center. I had some kids.

The theme to this story is that I never wanted to be a school teacher. So how I found myself here is beyond me... I guess it goes along with the part about having a few kids and finding a man who knew exactly what his dreams were... and he found himself SMACk Dab on his dream.

Don't worry about us... we are liven' the dream.

Day 41 warszawa

Today Mr. Mecham had some business in Warszawa (Warsaw... pronounced Varshava)... and so we decided to tag along and see some signts!
1) Traffic in Warsaw... HEAVEN HELP ME! Once we got into Warsaw it took us nearly an hour just to get onto the street where he would be going to a meeting. On our way to that building Mr. Mecham almost pulled in front of a train and got us killed. It was very exciting! Once we finally dropped him off I took the wheel. We were headed for the King's Royal Palace! And I drove right there... but there wasn't one parking space in the entire place and then I took a turn and couldn't figure out how to get back to the King's palace or town center and I got us so lost that we decided to go to IKEA instead and wait for Mr. Mecham to get out of his meetings. But I got lost on the way to IKEA and so stuck in traffic that there was only 1/2 hour until Mr. Mecham was scheduled to be done. And so I thought we better try to find his office... with my track record of the day it was a sure thing that I would get lost. But I didn't... however, I almost got in a head on collision with a bus. That was exciting... and the bus driver yelled at me in Polish and shooed me out of his way with his hand.

(I thought this little lady was a kick! She must have had a death wish riding her bicycle in that traffic... chewing her hubba bubba and listening to her head set... CRAXY!)
I was even early to pick up Mr. Mecham... and I parked in a great place which I later found out wasn't a parking spot at all but rather a place for the people to wait for the bus. No freaken' wonder they all stared at me and no less than 15 buses pulled up behind me. Basically, we drove around for 2 hours.

2)King's palace and old town Warsaw... Once we had Mr. Mecham with us we found it... and it was, as expected, marvelous! Warsaw was completely obliterated during WWII by the Germans. And then it was rebuilt to look identical from looking at old pictures.

Front view of Palace from the road.

Cole at the backside of the castle. This is where the tourists go in.

Nate in palace courtyard looking towards Prince's apartment in the palace.

Kids in the courtyard of the Palace looking towards the entrance to the King's chambers.

Once inside you head up the stairs... They were marbel and very big!

And at the top of the stairs we were dumped into this lovely Blue room full of gold and paintings. Even the ceiling had art on it.. of a naked lady and her cherub children.

The room next to that was the grande Ball room. It was pretty much golden. McKay wanted to know why every room has to have either naked lady paintings or nakey man statues. I didn't know the answer.

Next we came upon the throne room. It was red.

This was the King's bed chamber... I was disappointed with the size of the bed... I think it should've been bigger!

Down.down.down.down. in the bassement was the cloak room... and in it was a bathtub... The cloak room was a HUGEMUNGO closet... like bigger than my entire house closet! which is currently being used as an office for the palace! Out side that was a gift shop.

There were quite a few other rooms... obviously... and all the rooms were fit for a KING!

3)Old Town Warsaw... BEAUTIFUL!

I love that all the buildings have rooms underneith them. And they have mini doors going down into them. This one was really pretty... it lead into the watercloset... which is indefinately a trick since this door is so pretty and the waterclosets here stink to high heavens!

this little church was sitting on the side of the road...

4)Ikea: We expected lots of goodness in IKEA... We couldn't find a cookie sheet there or a crock pot. NO WHERE in Po land can we find these items... SUCH A BUMMER!
Great day! So fun to see the sights. There is still so much to see.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 40 Rotton Eggs

So Poland joined the European Union. I don't know what exactly that means in its greatness... but I do know that it means there are laws that must be complied with... things like, food handling and sales... to keep the people healthy you know. And I have to put a plug in here... Europe is a great place to live! Really... it is!
But since I got here I have wondered about a thing or two:
1) the meat. I was dang near gagging down meat before I got here. My McKay thinks meat belongs on his plate at every meal. His father is the same way. But the smell of meats is more than I could handle and the sight has nearly done me in for years. And then we have to talk about Pork... not the biggest fan... haven't been since I barfed up a hot dog the day we said farewell to my cousin Chad who was leaving to Spain on his mission. I think I was 10 ish? You can eat your meat. I cook it for my family. And I even have eaten my share... a lot of it! It just grosses me out. No offense. I have to have a motherload coke to push it down most of the time. Coke dissolves it like battery acid before it ever hits your guts. Don't judge.
2) eggs. I have been an egg consumer for years. I even owned and opperated a successful egg producing project in my back yard with 15 beautiful hens. We gathered and ate farm fresh eggs daily for 3 years. Mum makes the best scrambled eggs you ever put on your fork and Papa Nate can make a fried egg that would make egg haters into egg lovers after just one bite. No kidding! Before coming here we went through dozens of eggs in a week: Hard boiled, scrambled, fried, sandwiches and burritos. We put extra egg in baked goods to make them fluffier! We like eggs. But since moving here... oh wow... can't touch them! I know that eggs don't have to be refigerated... but I think they should be in the store! In Poland they are on the store shelf... and it grosses me out! It didn't help that I watched a lady shake her eggs one day. You know how you open the carton to see if any cracked? She shook hers. WHAT THE??? What does that mean? Then one day I cracked an egg and the yolk looked hard boiled even though the whites were still normal. That was the day I stopped eating eggs.


But then tonight I was making Martta's banana waffles for dinner. (bless you dear Martta for that recipe!) And I got out the eggs... and I cracked that first one and then the second... and I'll be darned if the very moment I touched that 2nd egg shell to the counter it popped and the most foul looking green watery liquid shot from it... and a putrid smell instantly permiated the room... and right off I gagged up my uvula! HOLY Gag of all GAGNESS! And I set that egg down in a bowl and handed the bowl to Mi Amore with specific instructions, "GET THIS OUT OF HERE, I AM GOING TO BARF!" And he knew I was as serious as I had ever been about vomit. And then through my tears (gagging makes me teary) I wiped down the green juices off of my counter top, quickly disposed of the paper towell on my way to the bathroom and then you can imagine what happened. As I burried my head in the sink I began singing primary songs to try to get that aweful sight out of mind... and it didnt work! I was humming Follow the prophet as loud as I could through the gags... but No dice!
And the second I heard Mr. Mecham walk back into the house I dumped half a bottle of Melaluca Eucaliptus oil under each of my shnoz holes (burned the sences out of my smeller), grabbed a towel and wrapped my face tight and then announced that we would be going out to dinner if we were going to eat at all! It was the fastest I've ever seen my family get out of the house to go anywhere. Pizza HUT.
I am still gagging just thinking about it. I will never, not ever, eat another help me.

Dear European Union,
Poland needs you to send a health inspector to their grocery stores in Lublin to check out the smell in the meat section and ESPECIALLY the egg situation. You will be ashamed. I have a stink bomb proof in the field out back that compliances are not being met.
Still gagging.
p.s. Please call the FDA for some guidlines.

Day 39 The Tale of two Catholics

Lukus hasn't been back to church since the week after his baptism. The missionaries have tried and tried to call. President Mecham even gave it a shot. Then a friend of Lukus' called the missionaries wondering where he is? So President and the Missionaries went looking. They drove 45 minutes to his house and his mother answered the door mad! Like SUPER MAD! She did not want Lukus to get baptized. She told them that he won't be calling them and they can just leave Lukus alone. Did I say Mad? I meant SHE. WAS. MAD!!

I gave this little situation some thought. I have a sickness where I analize these kinds of ordeals... Afterall, WHY? Why would a mother be so angry at her adult son? How could she think so little of his decision to worship without even checking out what or who he is worshiping? Especially if it meant so much to him. Then I thought of all the members of the church where I worship. I know that my own mother feels sad over her own children when they choose something that she doesn't see in accordance with gospel teachings. I thought of my children... I feel sad when they make sad choices. And so I began to have a little sympathy for this little lady... but it still made me sad. Perhaps she feels like her son has made a choice which will end in hell, fire and brimstone.

Here is the deal in Poland. Poland was one of the first countries to have a constitution with religious freedom... Thus the Jews moved here and we know the rest of that story. Today there are many religions here again, but the predominant faith is Catholisism. Roman Catholic. I preface this next part with a statement: While I have beliefs that make me a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and I believe it so much that I want to shout it out to the world, I do not dislike people of other faiths. Infact, I marvel in those that make religion a priority in their life. I am in awe at the majestic buildings that these people have errected for worship. I have people very close to me that have beliefs within the Jewish faith, the catholic faith, Lutherans, and even Jehovas Witness. I have found religion a topic of huge interest my entire life. I have studied and prayed to find my own. I have long had a desire to share the happy message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. And I have often wondered why so many reject this glad message. Here in Poland it was explained plain and clear:

(this is my fav picture of the late Pope)

Pope John Paul II was Polish. He was an amazing leader, inspired many and especially the Polish people during communism. He gave hope to their circumstance and fought for their freedom! He did so much for his beloved country, while in a position of leadership, and he is not only respected by the world, but most beloved by the Polish people. He is a savior type for them. I can see why. I can see how. And I, a little Mormon girl, have a new love and respect for such a great man. I will not be changing my religion though. The Polish people are dedicated to Pope John Paul II. They feel that if they change their religion then they are betraying the very man who gave them their freedom. Many of them are Catholic because of him rather than their belief of the religion which he lead. And so it is, that even if Catholisim doesn't answer their religious questions (where did they come from? where are we going? why are we here? Am I happy with this faith?) they won't betray the late Pope. I wonder if Pope John Paul ever thought that his message of Jesus Christ would cause such heart ache? In Lukus's situation, he was nearly disowned by his own mother and is now in hiding from the missionaries. It made us sad. All I can think about is his words the day he was baptized, "I am so full of happy!"

Before I came here I was told of another story about a man who's son I know well. This man was also raised Catholic in his very wonderful and religious family. But he decided to investigate the LDS faith and ended up being baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. His father, still a devout Catholic, told him that if he was going to be a Mormon then he should be the best Mormon there was. EVEN today, his father goes to Catholic church nearly every morning and his fine son magnifies his callings in the Mormon church, raised his family there and sent his son to Poland on a mission. And grandpa just supports and loves his son who has lived a life of successes. I can't help but think of how happy it must make our Heavenly Father.

In this Tale of two Catholics, how do you have both worshiping in a faith that teaches the same lessons and come out with such different results? Christ is the center of Christianity, I would expect that if one is following their religion then they would strive to behave like the very Son of God whose name they claim.

This caused great thought... I have seen my own Mother and Father stand beside their children, whether they chose to be LDS or not... and love them without bounds even when it was painful and against their wishes. And I know they have done that because each week they go to church and they not only believe what they hear but they know who the Savior of the world is. They know that his life and mission was full of love.

Day 38 Bailey's guest post

I didn't feel so good. So Papa dear took the kids back to Kaszmierz Dolny to see the autumn colors and one of our favorite towns... And so Bailey will document the details:

The drive there was really pretty. We even saw purple leaves! When we got there cole and mckay saw a little gun that they thought lookeed super cool!!! So we decided to go check it out. When cole pulled the trigger he said he got a little shock. He started to laugh and told mckay to try it! So mckay thinking "oh cool a gun", took it and tried too! he got shocked as well and we all laghed! When we all got done looking and laughing at the shock supplies, we went and looked at all the other stands people put out.

There was this little statue that I thought was adorable. The other vendors had lots of sourveneirs out. We found swords, knives, hand carved faces, and an interesting chicken carzed out of glass. We then went and had our favorite pizza! Which kinds? Hummm! Well, we got Americanski and pepporoni! YUMMY YUMMY! We also went and walked around by the river and saw some big fish jumping.

When we were on our way out we saw the bike rally that was in process and all the riders were there, with there ladies, partying!

We then took the hour drive home, So we had a super day!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 37 A day in the park... tender mercies still coming our way.

The trees... they did it! They are changing colors! Glorious golds, reds and even browns... It is Autumn! And so we strolled through our favorite park checking out the leaves and watching the red squirrels chase each other around while getting ready for a loooooong winters nap! And it reminded us that we are blessed to be here and that though we have had a very difficult week full of wishes to be with friends and family, we are where we need to be and Heavenly Father is watching over us.

Merilee sent me a surprise for my birthday: Jelly Bellies... Bean Boozled! The kind where they look a like but really it is a surprise if you are eating barf or banana, canned dog food or chocoate pudding, moldy cheese or peach, rotton egg or popcorn, green goober or pear, stinky skunk or licorice, centipede or berry. So at the park I played a little trick on the children... it went down like this: Bailey took a berry jelly bean and popped it in while McKay went for the pear. Bailey quickly gagged and spit... stating with surety that she just ate a dirty leaf while McKay started hacking up goober. I just started gaggin. The thought had done me in. Cole didn't quite catch on yet and so he popped in barf... and that is when the children figured out that something was definately wrong with the jelly beans!

We decided to play the trick on old Papa Nate who was meeting us at home. He left work early to hang with us. It was planned out perfectly!
Me: "oh look! Merilee sent a pkg! She sent jelly bellies! I love these!"
Nate: "Those are good! I'm fired up! Lets party!"
Kids: "what are jelly bellies?"
Nate: "You've never tried jelly bellies?"
Me: "do you guys want some?"
everyone did... imagine that!
I let them each choose... nate took his favorite... yellow popocorn...
or was is rotton egg?
so we felt bad and gave him a strong black licorice bean to get rid of that aweful taste and so he didn't vomit! or was it stinky skunk? And then we all layed around laughing while he ran to the kitchen sink, burried his toungue under the faucet and begged for coke...
And so, feeling horrible, I gave him chocolate pudding... and he liked it and took a second choc pudding... or was it canned dog food? THREE STRIKES, Mr. Mecham... YOU ARE OUT!
Now we are going to play the trick on the missionaries. I can't wait to see their faces!

Today I closed my eyes and wished... but it didn't happen...
for double date night with the Dillards at our favorite eating establishments and then laughing off every calorie we ate by Andrew's sarcasim and JoDee's awesome combacks! Man... I wished hard! And it didn't come true... so I know I must be here for a reason. But if wishes were true I would've had a belly full of Thai and gelato that ached from laughing. I miss you!

Dad sold the van today. He, for many reasons, is still my hero! Thanks for all your efforts on our behalf and for always taking such good care of us no matter where we are. I love you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 36 Chelm re-visit

we were needing a shot of Papa Nate today... and so we went to Chelm for lunch with him. Then we walked around the town square without him. We went into one of the churches and the sweetest lady gave us a big old smile! Those aren't passed out very often in these parts of the world... Everyone puts their head down and walks quickly... so a smile and a friend is beyond welcomed. Bless that lady! She was manning the souvenier shop in the church and she stepped out just to say hi. I think that lady is going to heaven! I am putting in a good word for her tonight in my prayers.

day 35 hard day... looking for the silver lining...

Today was a hard day. Super homesick... feeling a little bi-polar.

this picture makes me laugh is outside the King's court at Neptune's Fountain in Gdansk... McKay is disgusted by it.

Good conversation that brought smiles:
Me: "Coley, will you please take out the kitchen garbage?"
Cole: "yes, but first I need some hairspray and a lighter to kill the bugs."

.... right... sure...

Happy Birthday Brogie Boy! We love you!
Happy Birthday Preston! We love you!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 34 A Happy Happy Birthday

Today my dear mother graced me with life just 37 years ago... I think... I always get my age wrong and have to count it out on my fingers! It gets hard after 10.
Before I left to come to this far off place my mother threw me a family birthday party complete with cake and ice cream of my choice... just like she and dad have done for all the other 37 birthdays... So I consider today an extension! I have officially been celebrating this event for well over 4 weeks! haha...

Today I, mother of the year, bagged Polish and we went to party at the lake obsitcal course in the trees! Of course I tried to make a cake for myself with my new bottle of Vanilla that MR. Mecham had brought over from the states! But that little cake didn't work so well... It turns out that sometimes you have to have a jelly roll pan to make it work right... Oh well!

Aunt Marsha, Aunt Sherry and Mum/Dad sent cards. Bailey (and the boys under her direction) made a lovely card complete with "hug" coupons for all the days that I need a hug! Elders Basha and Marsing gave me a puzzle of Gdansk. And I got like a gajillion messages on facebook that were a complete delight to read! They made me smile all day! Of course, Mr. Mecham took us to the Baltic sea last weekend and then to dinner with the missionaries tonight at Dulce Vita. The missionaries are our little family here. We love them! That sums up a pretty grand birthday! I never dreamed the part about the Baltic sea would come to pass... And I guarentee it wouldn't have it I didn't live so close. But I will take it however I can get it!
hint: somebody who wants to make a lot of money should make these obstical courses in the states! THey are incredible! :)

and Merilee... I received a delightful pkg from you today... complete with jelly bellies (I will blog about this later... funny!) toilet seat covers ( angel! My hind parts thank you! So do Bailey's!) rehydrating drinks, vanilla(you just cant store enough around here!) and a fabulous card! My gratitude. You are awesome.

Thanks for all the wishes! They made the difference... you have no idea.

Monday, September 19, 2011

day 30- 33 My Beloved Gdansk -

Here is my confession: Before I came to Poland I thought that Poland was a place in Europe that was home of one of the most horrifying masacres in history: the holocaust. Thus, I thought of Poland as concentration camps and war torn, beaten down, supressed people who were in recovery mode from years of communism. Boy did I have that wrong! While the Holocaust did take place here (and there are camps still here to remind us of the autocity and to honor those whos lives were lost) and communism ended just 22 years ago, the Polish people are so amazing and hard working and this country is BEAUTIFUL! I am telling you... I am totally impressed! I thought I would be buying up passes to travel Europe every month... but I have no desire to leave Poland until I have discovered every nook and crany of this beloved and blessed country! I can't imagine that any other European country has anything over Poland. And so it is that our travels in Poland did continue this past weekend. We really wanted to visit the Baltic Sea before the weather grew cold! We had plans to maybe even tour a corner of Russia or Finland... then we got to Gdansk and we never wanted to leave! OF all the ocean fronts I've seen (only three... if the Gulf of Mexico counts, Atlantic and Pacific) I have to say that I loved the Baltic Sea the most! IT IS AMAZING!
The drive to Gdansk from Lublin is the least of my favorite drives though: Good Grief! The traffic is terrible! Gdansk 271 miles (which should take you approx 4.5 hours...) but due to traffic it takes 8 hours! 8 hours of traffic and road repairs. Poland joined the European union and they are preparing for the Euro cup next summer. The European union gave them money for road repairs in preparation for that blessed event! Everyone knows road repairs don't happen after the snow flies... and so every road from tip to toe is torn up and being loved on... It is beyond frusterating! I better be here to see the end of that! :) It is said that Warsaw has the worst traffic in Europe... and we had to go through Warsaw to get to Gdansk... and then from there the country is wide open. mostly farm fields. Though it isn't horrible, it was my least favorite drive of all the places we've visited in Poland thus far. I was completely entertained when Mr. Mecham pointed out a new bridge structure which was being made and my eyes went directly to the construction worker who was picking a snuggie right there for everyone on the busy road to view. But I was most entertained only 30 yrds later when a full grown man stood on the side of the road and relieved himself... not trying to shelter himself at all and was close enough to high five! I am talking so close and so obvious that we could tell he had taken his B vitamins that day. I was laughing my head off! So hard that I didn't have time to snap a photo which I would have done if I had my camera out!
Of course all the great little churches are awesome though!

And we found a cool little town to tour that was only 20 minutes outside Gdansk.

Once in Gdansk we unloaded the car and went straight to the town center. It was getting late and we were hungry. We didn't have time to figure out where good Polish food was so we ate Subway. And then we headed back to the apartment so that we would be fresh for the next day. Town center at night was like candles on a birthday cake... It was so fun to see.

My camera didn't take good night time pictures though.

Saturday morning we ate breakfast and then went back to town center. We were specifically told to do 4 things:
1) climb the St. Mary's Cathedral

We were promised that the view was worth the burn... And it was!

(2) go to Westerplatt (where WWII started)

(3) walk down Amber Alley to shop

(4) Check out the ship yards where communism fell.

(This is a little memorial to them, though it isn't in the ship channel, obviously, but rather on the side of the road.)

However, on our map we could see that we wanted to do more than 70 things! NOT ENOUGH TIME! We will be back in Gdansk though. I started a wicked trend by requesting a vacation of that kind for my birthday... and so the boys both requested that same trip for their April Birthdays! :) Surely when Grandparents get here we will go back.

1) St. Mary's Cathedral: This place is amazing!

Home of the oldest Brick church in the world... built in the 1300's.

We climbed 416 stairs to the top of this building... thighs burned... and we could see clear over Gdansk and the Baltic Sea! OH WOW! We were high!

Second to that view were the artifacts inside. The paintings were breathtaking!

This clock is a dream come true!

2) Westerplatt. The Polish army held off the Germans for 7 days here... this is where WWII began! It is an incredible story of their bravery and hard fight! I can see why everyone wanted to own Poland. The German's wanted their sea port.

This little skipper sang to us while we took the 40 minute boat ride out to Westerplatt. Bless his heart. The sign advertising the boat ride said, "only tour in English, German and Polish" and we thought that sounded great! However, the entire tour was in Polish and the skipper sang in Polish. But I understand if you drink polish Vodka then you could order it in the bar in any of the 3 languages. AWESOME!

old fortifications on the side of the port going into old town Gdansk. Clearly these people were battling for their rights to this ship channel for a loooong time!

Bailey by a blood stained fort at Westerplatt.

Nate and Coley in his new WWII soldier hat at a Westerplatt fort.

The boys were in HEAVEN at this spot! McKay could hardly take it all in... the very grounds where WWII started! He found a helmet of a soldier that was being sold for pennies. Crazy that we were there.

3) Walk down Amber alley: This was for Bailey. Shopping! Amber is prevalent in these parts... and so it is quite inexpensive also. Bailey found some cute Amber charms and we adored all the amber jewelry and souveneirs. What a place! I was shopping not taking pictures... bummer.

4) The ship yards where communism fell:

There is a story! The Russian's were going to raise the price of meat. The Polish workers said they would strike if they did! Then they did it! It was unheard of for people to strike in communism but they had had enough! Then the Polish people started calling the shots! And that is where it all happened... And I think it is so cool that they had the guts to stand up for their freedom!

Looking back at Gdansk from the shipyards

ship repairs are quite amazing to see. They cranes that lift them out of the water are monsterous and the ships are enormous!

We spent a lot of time down by the King's court shopping and eating... and we even ran in to some American's who were passing through that port on their cruise! It was so nice to talk to friendly American's in our native tongue. Then we met up with the missionaries and took them to dinner at the only Mexican restaraunt in Poland! We are always impressed with the missionaries here. We could have spent a month just down town. We barely skimmed the surface!

Took this picture for the Dillards! We thought of you a hundred times this trip! Wished you were here to go out with us at night! The town looked like Downtown Disney to us. I think Mr. Walt might have come here before Disneyland was built. You guys would LOVE IT!


Neptune's fountain outside the King's court.

arch way going out of town.

The shopping was awesome! The mid-evil swords were pretty shweet. souveneirs in these parts were spectacular!

I had a cartoon of the kids drawn up. It took this artist 20 min. Then I thought about how Dan the man Speakman needs to move to Gdansk and draw pictures of all the tourists! :)

we stayed true to Kabob Saturday tradition... these ones were really good.

we love tipping the statues in the town square. They always do a funny pose with you after you tip them. Nate kissed her hand and then she suductively waved goodbye to him! Sooo funny!

Coley took his turn with a statue... not as gutsy as his father.

King's court. I loved this spot in town center.

clock tower

Gdansk post office.

Sunday morning we got up really earlly and went to Sopot to walk along the beach and rub our feet in that soft lucious Baltic sand. It was down right COLD sand! We saw tons of Jelly fish and tried not to step on them and wowed over the majesty of the swans flying in to the beach.

Nate and kids on the pier overlooking the Baltic. As a child I dreamed to visit this place.

while walking out on Europe's longest peir, two of these beauties flew right over our heads and landed on the water.

The lighthouse made me think of mum. I miss her.

Nate didnt have the time to take off his shoes and rub his feet in the sand like the rest of us... He is was way ahead of us with our shoes when we hit the jelly fish swarm on the beach and had to tip toe through all of them so that we didnt get stung. I guess we will learn to stay with old papa some day.

weird looking jelly fish...

the sand was so cold it made our legs ache at first! But that wasn't going to stop us! We can't wait to see what its like in the mid summer!
On the ride from Sopot (where the beach was) back to our apartment to get ready for church, Mr. Mecham was pulled over by the policja and given a breathelizer test. Thank heaven that at 8:30 in the morning he was sobered up for church! He claims it was his first breathalizer ever and we swear it is just because we have no clue how to get around this crazy town!

We hit sacrament mtg where Elder Garrett translated beautifully just for us... and then headed out for our 8 hour drive home.

Favorite comment of Sunday award goes to Bailey:
"It felt like real church except the part where I couldn't understand anything and I was really bored."

Then we took a little jog to Malbork to see the mid-evil Teutonic Knight castle. It was... pretty much... crazY HUGE! We laughed at the thought that our children were romping on the castle grounds on Sunday afternoon.

We didn't see that one coming!
Then Nate paid off a bum (they are begging all over) to leave us alone only after he told him that "as you can see I have 5 of my own mouths to feed." Then he gave him 2zt which is equivalent to less than $1 and we left. Bless his generosity!

Remind me, if I ever try to do it again, that I HATE driving at night in Poland. 2 lane, narrow roads isn't fun! The people have a little shoulder on their road, like back home, but they use it for walking on, and pulling over and also if somebody wants to pass then they flash you and you drive along the side while they pass going up the middle of the two lanes of traffice. Which means that you not only have to be looking for the guy behind you who is passing you, but also if there is somebody driving head on into you and if you need to drive down the side then you better be sure you don't hit the pedestrian all in the dark while driving 100 kmph. It is death grip on the steering wheel... and you better take your anxiety medications atleast 1 hour prior to departure. HOLY MOLY!
We ate McDonalds on the way home. Public notice: McDonald's here is better than in America. Sorry. But it is still McDonalds and I think all McDonald's food makes you feel bloated and gassy and should be served with a double dose of Pepto. I don't want to eat that again...

Dear Gdansk,
I am in love with you. You are beautiful, full of history and romance that would touch any heart. I have dreamed about your architeture, fountains and churches, that Baltic sand and the diving swans, those beautiful colors and cobble stone paths every day since I left your side. Your wisdom from the history you lived is breath taking! I love that you named a park after President Ronald Reagan! You are daring with the bravery displayed in the shipyards and vicious with the stand off at Westerplatt. It is an understatement to say I am impressed. Italy has nothing over your majesty. I will be back.
Ever in Love,