Thursday, November 24, 2011

Today, I could not be more thankful

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I could not be more thankful. Really... because I have much to be thankful for. Here are 5 of them.
(5) A loving Father in Heaven who answers prayers:
During the summer of 2010 the Mecham's were the guests at the cabin retreat of the Lindley's. They were serving as mission presidents in Australia while we vacationed with their family at the lovely Bear Lake! We learned about the blessing that service was to the family. It made Mr. Mecham and I want to serve in far off lands. We came home with a new goal. We decided we would do whatever it took to put our finances and lives in order to serve missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and in small ways return a portion of the love that Heavenly Father has shown to us. We searched out and found a side business to build while Mr. Mecham continued with his career. We prayerfully explained our goal Heavenward and we feel like we worked hard. Great things happened for the rest of that year. Then January 12, 2011 came. I was driving home when I listened to a message from Mr. Mecham explaining that he needed me to come pick him up because he had just been laid off from his work and was walking home. My heart lept followed by a comfort which set in deep. We believed that Heavenly Father was in control. We had been well prepared for that to happen. However, our goal began to look far off. For the next 6 months miracles happened. The sweetest people touched our lives in the most profound ways. We saw the love of heaven pour out upon us. We look back on those 6 months with fondness. It was undoubtedly the best thing that ever happened to us. It lead us to Poland... and an opportunity to live in the mission field with our childrne, tremendous opportunity to serve Heavenly Father and to teach our children exactly as we dreamed of.
Prayers are answered. Always! Sometimes in time. Sometimes mysteriously. Prayers are answered and I am thankful for that.
(4) Missionaries:
Missionaries are amazing! Elders Plumb and Basha were the only reason I could have stayed here. Those first few months kicked our buns... and those kind elders helped out more than I could ever adequately verbalize. We love them like they were our very own. Then Elder Marsing came. We fell in love with him the very same way. We are certain that these little men are tender mercies from heaven. They have blessed our lives with their courage, their obedience, their humor, their love for these people whom they serve and with their inspiring example to us an our children. We will FOREVER love and appreciate missionaries and missionary work throughout the world. They are a huge blessing in our lives.
(3) The prophet Joseph Smith:
The prophet of the restored gospel in the last dispensation of the fullness of times. What more can be said? I am most thankful for the sacrifices he made to bring forth the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness... and for the Book of Mormon which blesses my life.
(2) Friends:
I've always known how much friends meant to me. I have the best friends out there. They are treasured in memory, in conversation and in my heart. Their kind acts, humorous memories, huge impact on the lives of me and my children and the efforts that so many still put in to keeping track touch and bless my life EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! And I am also thankful for technology which makes it so easy to keep tabs on each other! BLESS them both!
(1) Family:
Heaven knew how to make life bearable. It starts and ends with family. Our sweet parents who constantly call as if we were neighbors, often just to tell a joke or keep us in "the loop", and who are so willing to travel the world over to come see us. Our siblings who do the same and take a special interest and thought for us clear across the globe. Our dear children who have made monumental sacrifice, shown tremendous trust and believed in us with all their hearts. They deserve a life of happiness and children as wonderful as they are. And a special gratitude for the sweetest husband a woman could ask for. Mr. Mecham is a dream. I love him more than I ever imagined I could.

Happy Thanksgiving!
And To Mr. Loyd... Happy Birthday buddy! Hope it is the best one yet! Love and miss you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Finishing off Wroclaw

This trip really wasn't forever long... I just did a killer job taking pictures to document it! We arrived Friday, toured it on Saturday and went home Sunday.

Here is the little story of Bailey and me...

On Saturday night after we had walked all day and well into the evening we stopped by the shopping plaza on the way home for pizza. Bailey was still looking for gnome charms for her charm bracelet so she wanted to check out the stores in the plaza but Nate and the boys were SOOOOO DONE! They opted out of shopping and took off for the apartment which was across the street. Actually, there was an alley leading to the apartment but the complex was easily viewed from the street.

We shopped for another 45 min. and then headed for home. We walked down the patio, crossed the street and as we passed the alley I had this great idea to tell Bailey to look up. She is never to look down while walking because she must be alert to what is going on around her. I was telling her to take note of everything going on around her. We noticed the curious group of young adult men gathered mysteriously next to the side walk, and another across the street in the alley entrance talking on his cell phone. I instructed Miss Bailey that alley's were not a good idea and so we opted for the sidewalk next to it which was lit much brighter. Unfortunately, it led us into a parking lot that was gated and our apartment was on the other side of the fence. So we turned to walk back out. We were briskly walking with intentions of getting home quickly. As we exited the parking lot and took a step into the alley I was a car coming up the street which a slowed down as if to turn. The driver looked at the man crossing the street who motioned towards Bailey and me. Then the man turned into the alley. We stopped. He looked directly into my face. We took one more step and then that ever so familiar voice of caution seemed to screem at Bailey and myself, "TURN BACK". The car pulled ahead of us into the alley and I before I could even direct Bay back to the shopping center she knew where to go. I said, "Bailey, I think we need to go back and call dad for a ride." Briskly we walked back to the shopping plaza. But before we could get inside we noticed one of the mysterious men who were gathered across from the alley was following us. We I called nate who picked up on the first ring. I told him to come get us and explained that I thought we were being followed. He assured me that I was and told me to sit tight inside the mall. Only minutes earlier Nate and the boys were laying on the couch telling stories when in the very middle of the story Nate had an impression to call me. He explained it to have been one that he rarely has but definately notices. He went out to the deck (which was facing the alley and could easily see everything that was going on in it) to make the phone call. While we waited for him to come, mysterious man walked around close to us. He walked in and out of the mall several times. His buddy in the car drove past and looked at us from the street while still sitting in his car. But we were safe inside.
While Bailey was having a panick attack, I felt completely safe. I was most thankful for the prompting voice which told me to "go back"... and for life lessons which had taught me to never question that ever so still small voice.
Even though I felt completely safe during that entire experience, when I think back upon it I get the chills. The thoughts that flood my head (after the fact) give me nightmares. Afterall, I was with my 12 year old daughter in an Easternblock European country... and I've heard that body organs are sold on the black market here! YIPES!

Anyway... One to remember... but the trip was not ruined... And the scare of that alley, the mysterious group of young adult men, and one very black staionwagon car whose driver I met eyes with were overpowered the very next day when our travels home took us through some fairytale lands:

Could this be any more picturesque? Driving out in the country in Poland is pretty cool. But driving out in the country on a freeway beats it! A real freeway, with farms and country homes lining its shoulder... Ahhhhhh.....

We still find the churches everywhere. Love them.

And who wouldn't hang this ditty right in their house? I loved this scene. I took it while traveling 150 kph down the road. That is skill!

And to top it off, McDonalds on both sides of the freeway. What could be better than that?!

And since our memories of Wroclaw are now two weeks old...

Today the children were home sick again. Bailey and Cole are better tonight while McKay has coughing, soar throat, sniffling, sneezing, aching and fevers. We are loving new bugs...

And tomorrow while America celebrates a day of Thanksgiving, we will not be preparing turkey and pies here. I do love my family but I don't have (1) enough pans to cook such a feast (2) enough room in my pants to accept the additional 5 lbs (3) the fridge space, though I could just put it out on the deck to keep cold (4) the desire to locate all the fixins in another language.
Call it what you want... the Mecham's are going out to dinner with the missionaries. I think I will make louisa's pumpkin bars though.

I am thankful... for my sweet family. All of them! In Poland, in Arizona, in Utah and in Washington state. I love them so much.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wroclaw continuted

Just beyond "Hansel and Grettel" was a church. An old church! There were a bunch of churches in this rynek. And since we are religious people, we went inside them!

This church is trying to gather donations to build a new oregon. Theirs was destroyed by fire. It had an oregon tower to house such an instrument which stood lonely and bare... I thought for 2 secondes about making a donation and then walked away... Does the thought count?

and another church... this time it was a Gothic cathedral... from the Baroque period. What a treat!

outside of the Goth church...

Inside that same Goth church...

One of my very favorite things about Poland is the ornate architecture. It is often breath taking! Really... set against the landscape makes for moments of wonder and awe...
Even the doors have particular attention given to them. Their colors and decor, fine materials and aged spots speak volumes of their lives on hinges.

Bailey by a cool old metal door near the University.

Who knew that blue doors could be so wonderful?

McKay and Cole by another cool old door.

The University in the Rynek was unreal! The artifacts inside made me want to go back to school... there! AMAZING!

Just inside was a stair case with painted ceilings... leading up to the 17th maridian.

One of the Professors here made a cyclindar shaped tool which allowed light to come in through the window and marked the 17th meridian right through the center of the university. McKay is sitting by it's masterful display!

The room used for orientation of students, etc was an old Gothic, Baroque style master piece! It was one the very first room we went into. It was so palacial in art with antique furniture. Even the way the wood floors creeked made it seem ancient!

mcKay at the front of the Gothic style room.

At the top of the university was a platform to look out over Wroclaw.

family shot taken from University platform... overlooking Wroclaw away from the rynek.

We were ready for lunch by this point... But rather than stop to eat, we tied ourselves over with a cupcake from the muffin store. I wished I had a business card in my purse to "Sugar Mama Sweets". They could use the phone number and call Michell for some advise on how to make a real cupcake! But I didn't... and so we just enjoyed the cake and then continued with our tour.

Right into the garden at the library...

Since when is their this kind of detail for the library garden? park benches! fountains! pebble stone walk ways! Designer manicured vegitation... so dreamy!

And our next stop was "slaughter alley". haha... from fantasy to nightmare!

This little alley isn't really a nightmare... it has been transformed from a slaughter alley where a bunch of stores once stood as a processing center to butcher livestock to a tourist's shopping dream. And on the patio out front is a memorial to all the animals who's lives were taken to feed the hungry mouths of men. Bless them. Bless them for carrying out the measure of their creation!

From there we took a walk toward the Catholic center. This is where the Catholic church owns all the buildings with an enormous cathedreal in it's center. The surrounding structures are used to house nuns and priests, school them, and I understand some buildings are rented out for other uses... other than church work. It probably compares a little bit to temple square.

The walk over was obviously exquisit. The river gave a nice touch... hence the nik-name "the Venice of Poland".

Could these boys be any cuter? yummy! And they had a blast sight seeing all of it!

We had to cross the water to get to the Catholic center: But it isn't just any bridge... it was the "lock bridge".

People hand a lock on the bridge representing their union... some in matramony and others not... and then they toss the keys in the river. I wished I had a lock to secure representing Mr. Mecham and Myself... and to leave our mark on beautiful Wroclaw. You can guarentee that I will before I leave this country! :)

there were literally thousands upon thousands of locks. Quite a sight!

So appearantly before Russia took over Wroclaw it belonged to Germany. But when the Russians were battling for Wroclaw they didn't quite obliterate it like they did in Warszawa, but they bombed the holy moly out of it... and so much of this little center was partially destroyed... and then rebuilt.

Right outside the cathedral is this little statue... I'm sure it has significance. I couldn't find it... and I forgot to ask Agnieska what is was. AWESOME!

This Cathedral was among the partially destructed buildings! The towers going up were blown off. It has since been rebuilt.

Bailey entering its jaws.

the stained glass is fabulous!

the oregon looked powerful!

Coley looked AMAZING! :) haha.. Many of these old churches remind me of the movies... Like robin Hood... with the concrete floors, old wooden benches, musty smells and long winding brick stair cases and secret rooms.

We went to the top of the church. First we walked the stairs... but only a fraction of the way to the top... Then we waited for the elevator to take us the rest of the way.

The man who ran the elevator was one to remember. He had one googly eye, probably fake, that looked like it might pop out if he held his breath too long. He had a cureous laugh and created a creepy feeling when we spoke directly at us. But once in the elevator that was not big enough to pull a bike into (we fit 12 people in it), he pulled the door closed, it dropped maybe 3 feet before it started going up and I was worried... That old scary elevator man cracked a few jokes and somewhat redeemed himself.

Once on top there was another platform divulging the beauty of what seemed beyond the horizon... I am drawn to platform look outs. They show another side of wherever we seem to find ourselves.

Nate heading down that mystical stairwell... on our way out.

Then we went to lunch at a Polish Milk bar. The fresh apple juice here is every bit as wonderful as the fresh orange juice back home. It quenches thirst and has amazing flavor. The dill potatoes, perfectly shaped into balls, the breaded chicken stuffed with ham and cheese and the cream spinach made us full, fat and happy! WoWzers... these Polish folk know how to use their dill... and it is ohhhh sooo yummy! Agata and Agnieska joined us for late lunch before they headed out. What fun to share an entire day with such kind strangers who quickly became friends.

They told us they are moving to the Lakes region up north in a few years. I didn't know there was a lakes region... and so it is that we uncovered yet another part of Poland to still explore! I think spring or summer might be a better time though... The lake's region is COLD... toward the Russian boarder... close to the enormous Baltic. I can't wait!

We finished off the day by hunting gnomes and purchasing souveneirs. I even found a Polish pottery shop... which I have been looking for since Sister Nielson clued me in on its power to bake impossibly wonderful foods in them. I was simply delighted.

nate and kids with Mr. Fat and Nakey gnome... on the top to of the bridge that heads under ground back to our hotel...

To finish off the night Bailey and I had a little bit of a sureal experience. I will share tomorrow.

On another note:
The kids have been sick. Sniffling. Sneezing. Coughing. Aching. feverish...
Dear Nyquil... where art thou?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Touring Wroclaw with a tour guide!

Touring Poland is pretty cool... I have to admit. But visiting its breath taking beauty, drooling over its lush landscape and flirting with its tasty foods don't make you a pro on Poland. There is a history seeded deep here... it is a treat to learn of its richness. We read things here and there... and typically try to get some info before we skip off to a new place, but we've never known how to get a tour guide. Well, Andrzej knows people... he has friends with friends that have friends... and so it is that he made a few phone calls and next thing you know we had an English speaking tour guide who wore us out in Wroclaw! It was AWESOME!!! to have little trivial facts as well as those with historical significance. Agnieska is her name. She brought her daughter Agata. They were delightful to be with... We are loving our new friends!

They took us on a walking tour of the rynek and then to a great Polish restaraunt for lunch!

This is an old opera house!
It is still is use today. Wroclaw is the cultural head quarters for Poland! I think we've run in to several Opera houses... but we typically don't know what they are and we certainly didn't understand their significance until we did a little research... The Mecham's aren't huge fans of Opera... even though we love musicals... we don't care so much for the drama in the opera... or the high voices.

This hotel is right across from the opera house. During the time when Adolf Hitler would come to Poland he had two favorite places to stay: (1) Krakow (2) Wroclaw. Now I am Hitler's least favorite fan... I assure you... but I love trivia... so here it is: This hotel was where Hitler stayed while in Wroclaw. And it stands pretty today! I understand it is ridiculously expensive to stay in... even in U.S. dollars.

We started noticing little gnomes all over. Agnieska made up a game. She explained that there were dozens of these gnomes all over the rynek. They are symbolic of an anti-communist movement from years past. The Polish citizens were not allowed to assault the Russian Police, obviously, or even be rude to them. However, they could give them flowers or something like that and they did it in a mocking way. This kept them from trouble. The gnomes are representative of this movement. The game was to see who could find the most gnomes in the rynek. We hunted nomes until long past sun set... what fun!

Nate with the professor gnome outside the University

McKay with the worker gnome

Cole with the sleepy gnome... he was very sleepy from walking all day and found it most appropriate to be photographed with this one! Cole also bought a gnome hunting map... we found almost 70 gnomes! There were still more to be hunted!

Bailey with the Piarogi gnome outside a restaraunt. This was her favorite... a gnome to represent Wroclaw and a piarodgi (polish dumplings) to represent Poland.

It sure made souveneir shopping a breeze... anything gnome. :)

The rynek is the town center. Each town has a center where you can find not only housing, but also a church, stores of every kind, a pharmacy and entertainment. In my humble opinion, Wroclaw has the best rynek so far... and I thought nothing could beat G'dansk! The German influence here is quite obvious.

Most of the pics I have in the rynek were of Bailey for two reasons: (1) she looks good. (2) The rest of the fam was far ahead while she and I were relishing every step of the way!

The rynek in Wroclaw is HUGE and the buildings are painted so beatifully! Appearantly, when the country was divided up Wroclaw became a part of Poland while the Ukraine was it's own country... and so all the Poll's who lived in the Ukraine were transported to Wroclaw and given an ugly old flat in the rynek. Today those same flats sell for top dollar and are definately not ugly. I guess there is silver lining in everything after all!

The rynek in Wroclaw is quite big compared to many of the other town centers that we have seen. This part is the "little rynek" which is a side of the rynek. And the colors and attention to detail is exquisit!

Bailey in artistic alley.

Bailey and McKay in the main part of the rynek.

Cole in rynek (old town)

This old cellar is in operation today and has been open since the 15th century! It was once a place mostly for people to come and drink Polish Vodka (the strong stuff!) but has been turned in to a restaraunt today.

The ornimentation on the side of the building was fabulous!

I don't know if I can ever love the southwest adobe homes again! This architecture has truely spoiled us!

This was my favorite building in the whole town square! It is nik-named "Hansel and Grettel." What could be cuter than that? The arch way leads to the cathedral.

Isn't that just story bookish?
Wroclaw will be continued...

On a seperate note:
It is getting dark early.

The moon out my kitchen window at 4:15 p.m. on 11 11 11...

Happy Veteran's Day to America!
Happy Independance day to Poland!