Friday, September 28, 2012

Farewell to Poland

Leaving Poland was a big fat bag of mixed emotions. We put a year of our best foot forward, a lot of emotion and a tremendous amount of dedicated effort to loving our time there. It was difficult to live in a country where the language was absolutely crazy hard... which makes everything an effort! EVERYTHING!! LIKE... Buying food at the grocery store for example. We pretty much owned the produce section! That was all we could recognize without words... but even then, we had to weigh our own food and looking it up when you don't know what a banana is called in Polish took some getting used to! The other challenge was the amount of food you purchased. Like, for example, the milk came in a liter jug not a gallon. So we were not buying one but 2 to feed our family. More about food in a bit. Directions. Finding our way around was impossible and took hours out of day on the ridiculous roads that were appearantly an afterthought when the country was designed... until we uploaded the European maps on the awesome GPS that my sweet ACN compadres gifted me before I left. It ended up being the gift of the century!!! Asking directions still blew though. All conversations began, "Do you know English?" for about 6 months. Worshiping. We left Mesa, AZ (which is an extension of SLC Mormonville) where our friends and neighbors and the people we worshiped with each week were the same people... to an apartment room of 10 members. We were welcomed in Polish and then translated to English or English to Polish and then sang an opening hymn in Polish to the plunking of a keyboard or the hymn cd on a small boom box. Prayers were offered in English, Polish and Manderine Chinese depending on who was saying it. It was common practice that I would be the main speaker, prayer or lesson deliverer with as little as a 30 second warning. It made for some interesting Sundays. The spirit does speak in all languages... the trick is to pay attention to the spirit rather the foreign languages that are being spoken. currency. zloty is a different animal than dollars. One dollar is about equivalent to 3 zloty. So we made a little money on the dollar. Sounds great! Now try to make sence of that every time you spend it. Add in the amount it takes to transfer the funds from your American bank to the Polish currency and divide by whatever then multiply times whatever and add .30 cents for good measure. By the way... food is not cheaper in Poland. laws. don't get me started. But if you think America isn't a good idea. If you think that its cool to have more government rule. If you thought for one second that Europe "has got it right." It is only because you have vacationed and not lived, worked or dealt with the leagal works outside of the United States of America. We love Europe. Really we do. But America is the land of the free, the greatest nation on earth, and blessed by the Almighty for many reasons... and it takes about 2 1/2 months away from home to realize the debths of gratitude for the good old U.S. of A! School. we home schooled. Got a tutor to help. Nuff said. Euro sized. which is really quarter sized. quarter sized roads, quarter sized sidewalks, pants, meals, cars, families, fridges, beds, sheets, swim suits... Mega sized. amounts of tea and coffee, naked pictures, statues and people in the pool, grocery store trips since the fridge was euro sized and the amounts you could buy were quarter sized. cultural differances. Poland is moving forward in medicine even though its like 20 years ago in the U.S and socialized. (PLEASE PRAY we never go to Socialized medicine.) They dress beautifully. You can not tell the difference between social classes by the way one dresses. They men and women look sharp EVERY SINGLE DAY! I pretty much did not fit in here. Fresh out of pencil skirts and high heals. And my jeans never were fancy enough... But I sure enjoyed looking at how beautifully the Polish people dressed. smiles were pretty much non existant unless you knew the people, were spending a LOT of money in their shop or at church. Thinking outside the "Rules" wasnt allowed. Having a dream and shooting for the starts is uncommon and people there are generally non trusting. connections to people we know. this is a post in itself. I have this to comment. The world is one very small place. Each of us removed by a mere 3 degrees. Sun. it hybernated during the winter but blessed us with 18 hours a day in the summer. I need sunshine to live. I really do. But then there were our friends...
The missionaries... the best in the whole world. President and SIster Nielson. Absolutley inspiring, dedicated and happy people I've ever met. I aspire to be Sister nielson. I love them. The Armstrongs. Andy and Rebecca and their children lived in Warsaw. Andy works for the U.S. Embassy. They are more like family than friends. They seemed to instantly be a favorite and undoubtedly we knew them before this life. We pray daily that our paths cross again before this life is out. Becky
The johnsons. THe Potters. The Gladuns. pawel. marlena and Sab. Lukas. Basia Kopec. Cody, Jasmine and Grace. This was our branch. Words can not discribe how we beloved this tiney branch. Each of these people kept a piece of our heart in large and small ways. We absolutely love them. They made the differance. They made our time there exciting. Emilia. The doctor next door. She helped us when McKay was sick. She was so sweet. We won't soon forget her great sacrifice to spend the night in the urgent care at the hospital with us. Her dog was negra. Many days were spent with Negra as the children's only friend.
The Bogutas. Andraj, Ewa, Agata, Jacek, Kuba... This family is what we consider among the biggest and most profound tender mercies of our existance in Poland. When we couldn't stand it any more, they appeared. We prayed them into our life. And they were better than we could have ever imagined. We will live the rest of our lives trying to be more like them in our service and kindness to others. We still get emotional when we think of their goodness to our family. They are, undoubtedly, some of the most Christlike people we have ever known. Words can not adequately proclaim our love for this family.
Joanna. Last but not least, Sweet Joanna. She was a professor of Biology at the University. Mr. Mecham hired her to teach the children school in our home. She was incredible. She went above and beyond the call of duty and the children not only looked forward to her coming, but they really loved her. So did I. We were sad to say goodbye to Joanna. As we were gearing up for our departure from Poland we couldn't find the strength to say goodbye to these friends inspite of the great challenges we had experienced. Perhaps it was because we don't expect to see them again in this life? Maybe it was because goodbye was too final? Whatever it is... goodbye was too much. And then in typical fashion, when it was too hard to bear, the tender mercies came again. Home we went to Arizona for summer visits... and then to Utah. Even though we thought our hearts were 100% with our family and friends in our beloved America, we realized pieces were still in Poland with our new friends. The strangest thing happened. It just so happened that a very good friend, whom I never thought I'd see again, from Florida was driving through Gilbert Az on her way to Utah. Her travel plans matched mine for AZ and UT. Coincidence? I don't think so. And our reunion seemed as though there was not a day missed since our last visit July 3, 2000... a dozen years ago. And then in Utah when Marci and I celebrated her 40th birthday, her bestie from high school in Logan came down to meet us for lunch and brought with her a good friend of mine from Junior high. Lisa Skousen and I grew up together, playing all through elementry and junior high until she moved to England for her dad's work in the 6th grade and while she was gone we moved to Arizona. I hadn't seen her since 6th grade. And wouldn't you know it... She and I made up a lot of ground and had the funnest time! Elder Kennedy returned home from his mission and we got to hike with him. We also got to see the Johnsons while in Utah... and Mikoaj gladun. I know that Heavenly Father was sending me a message that I would see these people again. I know that he not only has a plan for us but also that he wants us to be happy and he is ALWAYS there to bless us. I will not soon forget this sweet lesson. I still frequently think of it in awe and smile at how awesome those events were. Dear Poland, I know you have it in you to keep moving forward to a happy place. You have all the beauty of Europe, all the history one could want and some of the greatest people in the world to take you forward. Open your minds. Drink less. Smile more. Buy a few uv lights. Take care of those heart pieces I left with you.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Elder Kennedy departed Lublin... Like I've said before, I love the missionaries in Poland. We get a little attached. They become our boys and its hard to send off your boys. Especially when they really aren't your boys and so you don't know you'll see them again. This is the case for Elder Kennedy. His family doesn't reside in the Western U.S. so meeting up with him again will not be just as easy as going home.
There are many favorites of Elder Kennedy. He is an amazing example of fearless missionary work accompanied by all the bold questions! It is impressive! His mother would be proud! He lived abroad for many years with his family until he was 15 and so he can relate to the situation my children are in. He has stories that bring them peace because he has been there done that and remained not only normal but better for it! Bless him! :) It makes me feel like my own children might not be mental cases for our decision to move from our Comfy Arizona home...
Elder Kennedy works his buns off! Nearly every single Wednesday we fed him while in Lublin... And the cool part of that was that nearly every single Wednesday he brought an investigator to teach with him. We loved it! Marlyna is in our branch and her son, Sabastian is 14. Sabastian hasn't been baptized but after months of studying the gospel with the Elders, he has finally decided to be baptized! We are so excited for Lublin! More priesthood to come!
Top 10 Favorite things about Elder Kennedy: It was hard to limit it to 10... 10) He blushes when you talk to him about Anna. We think Anna is lucky. We only wish we could meet her. His red face and beeming smile are a dead giveaway how he feels. :) 9) He claims his mother and his brother are his best friends. I believe this shows that he came from a loving and very stable home. 8) He has a firm understanding of self worth. Elder Kennedy undoubtedly knows who he is and it is evident by the way that he serves one master (whole heartedly). 7) He sticks up for me. One day the boys thought they would be funny and try to embarass Mr. Mecham and me. They started by sharing a story with the missionaries which ended up backfiring on them thanks to Kennedy. It went like this: "when my dad gets home from work my mom and dad sit and kiss like this... mmmmmmm. mmmmmm.mmmmmm." To which Elder Kennedy said, "its fun! You'll like someday." Since the boys think the world of him they started thinking that maybe mom and dad aren't disgusting beasts afterall. 6) He is passionate about teaching the gospel to the Polish people. NOT a single thing will get in his way... NOTHING! Watch out! 5) He is driven. He has a plan and a purpose... and you better believe that he knows where he will be in a week, a month, a year and a decade. 4) He is talented. He shares that talent unabashadly. Talents range from musically gifted with a beautiful voice to making people feel good. 3) He is grateful. We feed the missionaries every week. They all have been thankful young men. ALL of them! But wouldn't you know it... Elder Kennedy calls me after he gets home and thanks me one last time every.single. time. I love it! 2) The boy can talk. He can talk to anyone! He is never awkward with a single person. Even Bailey can hang with Kennedy because he makes an effort to talk to and make all of us feel like his friend. And he can speak languages beautifully... which probably makes it easier for him to talk. We will ever be thankful for his ability to translate... 1) Follows rules with precision. If Mr. Mecham isn't home then Kennedy will not come in. If it is raining outside and I am the only one to offer a ride, Elder Kennedy will get home drenched walking. If its 8:30 and we aren't finished with our lessons... then we get er done... because President Nielson said, "be home at 9". If he was given 40 minutes to talk he talks 40 not 41. If he is instructed to Not watch movies but there is one on in the family room... then you'll find Elder Kennedy in the kitchen. The list goes on and on. and on. and on. I know for a fact that we can never get ahead of the Lord. Never, not ever. And so it is that Elder Kennedy has a lot of blessings still awaiting him. I am excited for the bright future which awaits this fine young man. Now...excuse me whilest I go and wipe a tear since I am remembering all the reasons why I didn't want him to transfer. Well done Elder Kennedy... Well done.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Over a month ago Cole had a birthday. I kept thinking I would post something to honor my favorite red headed boy in the world. But then the month got away from me... Let me try again...
(picture taken on COle's 8th birthday while he played with his army fleet of legos... Fav past time.) A little heart warmer story about Coley Wooley: From October to December the children were in Polish school. There was no such thing as English speaking for Cole in school. The kids had not learned it yet. His teacher didn't speak a lick. Each morning when I would drop him off he would thank me for letting him go to school and learn. One day In December, just before we went back to the United States for Christmas holiday, I decided to ask Coley why he thanked me every day for school. What exactly was it that he loved so much about Polish school? Afterall every day when I picked him up he was sitting on the bench all alone while all the other children played. Could it really be that fun? His answer, to this day - and probably forever, makes me tear up: "Every day I am happy to go to school, because I know you will pick me and take me home with you when its over." That is when I decided POlish school wasn't for us. That coupled with the fact that the kids were only learning Polish and it cost an arm and leg while we were getting further and further behind. So Cole's kindness made him the family allstar... Allstar for me because of his optimism. Allstar for Bailey and McKay because no amount of hate, anger or fear for Polish school could get them out of it, but Coley's kind words did the trick for all of them! There are a million little heart warmer stories of Cole... Here is another from the past year: Grampsydoodle and Grandma Chrissy along with Grandpa and Grandma Mecham had planned to come out and visit in the spring and join us for Cole's baptism. As April approached, so did aunt Merilee's due date and Grandma and Grandpa understandably wanted to be home for the big arrival and to help Mers. As they should be! And so we pushed Cole's baptism date back to May. Then Kyle decided he wanted to come to Poland but couldn't come until June. So we started to push back the baptism date again... because Kyle was coming with Grampsydoodle and Grandma Chrissy. We thought this is what Cole wanted! And we were all so excited for the Grands to come out. One afternoon while I was getting dinner ready Cole came in with a very serious face. "mom," he began, "I don't want to wait until June to get baptised. I want the Holy Ghost as soon as I am 8. I want to get baptised on my birthday or atleast a week later." He was ever so worried about the feelings of others, but understood the importance of his decision so much that he wasn't willing to let anyone push it back any longer. I was proud of that kid! So were his grandparents.
8 things I love love love about Coley Wooley boy: 8) He is truely the kindest person I have ever met in my life. 7) Cole has your back. One day when Nate wasn't around the kids and I were joking about something funny he does. Appearantly Cole thought we were making fun of him. And like a defender in shiny armor, Cole got right in our faces and said, "That's not funny or true!" and he stuck up for his dad until we let it die. He has done that for many people. 6) Mr. COley tries hard at everything he does. In 1st grade he was sloppily jotting down his spelling words when I inquired, "COle, don't you want to practice wrighting your words in your best penmanship? Why would you use your practice time to do sloppy work?" To that Cole erased his work and started over. He has never again penned a letter sloppily. Infact, his penmanship is better than many adults and several of his teachers have been BLOWN Away at how beautiful it is. 5) Cole has the best and biggest smile of anyone I know. My stomach still gets butterflies when I see his dimples. Cutey Coley... 4) Prayer time has always been exciting! When Cole was just learning to talk every time we prayed for our beloved prophet Cole would repeat, "Our big Big prophet!" He also said super funny things in prayers. A few months ago he told me that he had memorized a prayer so that he could get er done quickly. Insert talk about memorized prayers... And since that day Cole prays like he is at the pulpit of general conferance. He thinks about every word. 3) I love that Coley boy is so easy to teach. That he never forgets a single thing and that he learns quickly. 2) When Cole was a baby I asked Mr. Mecham to bless him with a sence of humor. BoY HoWdY!!! Did he ever!!! That Cole has the greatest sence of humor around... He always has us laughing. What a treat to have in our home. 1)Loving. Cole is so gentle and loving. He gives the world's best hugs... it's been his trademark for years! All the missionaries put out their hand to shake and COle just wizzes past and goes straight for the hug from day one. It usually takes them a time or two to remember how to hug but they figure it out quickly. Everyone knows Cole hugs not hand shakes. He is loving to his family and friends. He can show and tell you love like I've never seen another. It is a quality that I only wish I could polish like he has... He loves so easily and is so easy to love. Happy Birthday on April 3 Mr. Coley boy! I love you so much.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The past year has been unique for me. Mostly because the previous 10 were spent with Sunday dinners at mom and dad's, I was within minutes of their house, I called mum any time I wanted to go to lunch, She was endlessly supportive in helping me with my children. She is a listening ear, a good laugh, a great friend and a killer mom! When I was home during the holidays I was having an exceptionally difficult time. Mom and Dad were well versed in all of it. They mostly listened, gave council when they felt most inspired and supported me, prayed for me and loved me through all of it. I will never forget. One day mom went visit teaching, as she so faithfully does each month, and later that day she shared with me the message... which I know she knew was for me. I will forever be greatful for her wisdom and council and for endlessly inspired words and teaching moments. This past year she taught me that I will never be too old to want to crawl into her arms for council. I will still cry on her shoulder and she will still calm me down. I learned that a mother's work is truely never done. As I look back on the blessed year I have had I recall the difficulty of moving; both physically and mentally and Mom was tirelessly by my side. I recall the painful goodbye as she and dad quietly wept at the air port... And my gut which told me I was doing the right thing but my heart begging me to stay in my comfort zone. I recall many phone calls, e-mails, packages and support beyond words that came from not only my mum and dad, but my mother and father-in-law. I recall many prayers of gratitude to a kind and loving Father in Heaven for such people in my life. I am thankful to be eternally tied to these people. I think of difficult moments in mothering homesick children and what would my own mother do. I remember happy weekend trips. I see Heavenly Father's vision and love for people globally... even when they don't choose to do the right thing. I have seen many things in travel; The rolling hills of Poland seem to never end. The historical museums, castels and monuments are breathtaking. The cathedrals are posh. The food is tastey. There is no word to describe the majesty of the great deep or the enormous seas... the softness of the powder white sand on the Baltic, or the relief of an airplane landing safely at destination after 24+ hours of travel. The birds all over the world are a constant reminder of God's creativity. I have loved slowing down my car for the occasional hedgehog to cross, the red fox to quickly pass by and even to call my boys from poking the dead badger on the river banks. Words can not portray the beauty of the vintage city, Prague nor the green colors in Germany. The golden flowered hills of spring make me think I have arrived on the other side... The money in London, England seems to have an endless account with its royal castel standing at the heart... and yet through all of the beauty that mine eyes have beheld, not a single thing stands to more deeply touch my heart than the very love I have for my sweet mother. Happy Mother's day to the best mum in the world... and to the mother of my sweet husband, who has touched my life in countless ways. Together these women have changed my life. I sure love you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Easter

Catching up seems to be my middle name for the past few weeks... April is December all over again for me! EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR!
I shall start with this weekend past and move backwards until my documentation is complete!

Friday I remembered Elder Basha mentioning that stores are closed for 3 days and the country shuts down at Christmas and Easter and the missionaries eat at McDonald's for 3 days because nothing else is open. I was thankful he mentioned that one day! I am more thankful that I was listening. I am most thankful that I remembered that at the most opportune time... Friday afternoon. So I loaded my grocery bags and headed out for Tesco.
I had Easter baskets to make, fill and food to prepare for our invitations to Easter Sunday brunch and Easter Monday dinner.

But when I got to Tesco, this is what the produce section looked like. The dairy coolers were nearly in the same condition... NAKED! Bare naked like a hurricane warning siren had just alerted me that I wouldn't be eating for another month and so I should stock up! But everyone else beat me to the produce isle. So I had to settel for frozen produce... First time for everything. I am certain I will not forget this lesson next time I hear the words, "everything shuts down for 3 days..."!

I went to Real, another grocer in town, and found much more food stocking the shelves... and we partook. I also found basket goodies... Not cute baskets, just baskets, rubber flowers, bunnies galore, eggs o plenty, chocolate everywhere, and real feather covered styrophome chicks that were to die for! I invisioned a date with these Easter essentials and my glue gun. What else would you do with rubber flowers? I had been feeling badly that I didn't bring plastic eggs for my children and that they were not going to get their cute little baskets from home. Huge Easter egg hunt is my middle name... and it wasn't going to happen this year.
#1) No plastic eggs in Poland. Well, that isn't true... There are some in the store but they already have toys in them and they are American toys which means that each egg is 3zt.
#2) All the eggs here are Kinder eggs which are chocolate with toys in the middle but you wouldn't hide 500 Kinder eggs unless you had more money than sence, though I did pick up 32 of those Kinder eggs for our egg hunt at the Gladun's on Sunday.

Grandpa and Grandma Mecham sent a plastic egg full of jelly beans and dried fruit. We nearly wept at the sight of such a gift... the plastic eggs and jelly beans. We were beyond grateful for their kindness.

Saturday we colored eggs from an egg coloring kit that the South's gifted us last week while Mr. Mecham was in England. It was nice to have since I'm not quite certain what it was that I purchased in way of Easter egg dye at the store. The kids had a blast.

We opted to forego new Easter Sunday clothing this year, since we knew that the members in our branch would not be able to purchase new clothing. Sometimes it is so uncool to have new things when others around you are just trying to survive.

However, we pulled out some colorful clothes and ties and we fit in fine with the other springy Easter church going folks around here. I loved that Nate and the missionaries looked like Easter eggs with their ties! It was awesome!

After church we were invited to the Gladun's for Easter brunch. The Easter tradition in Poland is that the women go to 6:00 a.m. mass and they take with them their food in a basket. The priest blesses their food and then they go home to prepare the food. The men wake up and go to 8:00 church and then come home for an Easter brunch feast! The food is traditional; soups, meats and salads and cakes galore... It is a day reserved for family gathering and celebration (so you can imagine the honor of an invite to celebrate with another family)... then in the evening the family goes back to church together.

Beata cooked for days preparing for Easter brunch, which is traditionally eaten aroudn 11:00 a.m. But our church starts at 11. So we didn't eat until 3.

We were joined by Beata's nephew, Macek,

and the missionaries in Lublin, Elders Kennedy and Mikolyski.

Then we hunted the Kinder eggs in the frozen yard.
Nate had noticed that the tire was getting low when we pulled into the driveway of our dinner appointment. He checked it during the hunt to find it deflating quickly. Insert reminder... EVERYTHING IS CLOSED!

But Czarek had a friend whom he pulled a favor from. We pulled in to the tire change driveway and out came the old style jack, pumped up the car, changed the tire which had a nail in it, paid the 50zt... all the while Bailey is announcing that we shouldn't be doing this on Sunday. Which she is right, but we had a flat tire. And wouldn't you know it, when we started that car up to leave the gas line had been broken from that old style jack. We were leaking gasoline all over the driveway. It was happy. We hurried home anyway in hopes that miraculously the fuel line would scab over like road rash does. But it didn't.

Monday, today, I went outside and smelled a whiff of gasoline. It was as if I had it on my own clothing and I called for Mr. Mecham who confirmed that not only was that gasoline but that our fuel line did not scab over and that it had drained our full tank of fuel all over the ground. And so our Easter weekend almost comes to an end... Do not take your tire to be fixed by favors on Easter Sunday. The rav went to the repair yard via tow truck.

Meanwhile, Easter Monday is "wet day"! A national holiday dedicated to throwing water on single women. Leading up to the holiday there were more squirt guns in the stores than there were easter baskets. So you can imagine that water fight that took place in the yard. The kids were freezing... but it didn't stop them!

Jacek and Kuba Boguta

Bailey and Agata
We called a cab after that. The Boguta's invited us over for Monday Easter dinner. It is tradition to share a meal with friends on Monday. We ate much the same food. Then we ate pizza. Then we drank home made juice. Then we ate cake. Then we ate. Then we ate. Then we ate. Then Bailey made beads with Bailey. Then Kuba showed us the cosmos with his scope. Then we watched movies of Agata's trip to Russia. Then we stacked the dishes to the ceiling. Then we looked at Ewa's pictures to Kroasia (now on my bucket list). Then Andrzaj took us home because you remember that our car is in the fix shop with a gas leak.
Good weekend. Mr. Mecham got off work! The first Holiday he has been gifted to celebrate in Poland. Because nothing was open, he couldn't go to work. It has it's perks!

It is a month of birthdays for the Mechams...
Happy Birthday on the 8th to Mattie and Bracken.
Happy Birthday to Braige on the 9th.
These are a few of our favorites around here! We wished ourselves in Utah today... but it didn't happen!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Warsaw and Willinow Palace

On March 16 Bailey was invited to a slumber birthday party at the Armstrongs. Grace is the only person Bailey claims as a friend in Poland. The Armstrongs are more like friends we've known since pre-existance times... they felt like family from the second we met them. This being the case, we didn't feel like we could keep Bailey from such a celebration so we drove her to Warsaw.
Although Warsaw is one of the closer major cities to us in Poland, it isn't around the corner... So we planned a weekend out of it! While Bailey was slumbering at the birthday bash, we were at Europe's biggest mall. President Nielson calls it, "The great and Spacious". Indeed it is.

This mall is enormous! Every store you can think of...

But we weren't really there to shop. Mr. Mecham promised good food and a movie. We ate at the food court and watched "Mirror Mirror" which was the only movie not dubbed into Polish. We were loving it!

Movie got out late... And as we were leaving the parking garage we ran into Stalin's tower... all lit up and looking powerful... Just as Stalin wanted.

We really Hate driving in Warsaw. It is estimated to have the worst traffic in ALL of Europe! One day I drove around for 2 hours just trying to get 2 miles. It is so frusterating! But on that enchanted night... we found the roads pleasant! If you drive around Poland after 9:00 p.m. there aren't many cars on the road and it is not only easy to get around, but also you see things that typically you miss in the confustion of traffica. It WAS AWESOME!

The next Morning we picked up Bailey from the Armstrong's at 10:00 a.m. sharp. Andy Armstrong works for the United States embassey. He has a really cool job! Embassey housing is AWESOME! But most of all, it was really fun to see them again. Bailey had a blast, which we knew she would! With only 3 hours drive to home, we had the day to blow...
so we went to Willinow Palace in down town Warsaw. It was breath taking! Willinow wasn't bombed at the end of WWII... so it is in prestine condition!

The outside grounds had the royal stalls for the animals and a nice treasure wagon which they pulled...

The detail on the Palace was impeccable and most ornate. I have to admit, I was wooed, not only by the color choice (yellow is my favorite color) but also by the detail work in every nook and craney. No expenses spared.

When we started the tour we entered from the side and immediately went down lots of stairs... There we began with the Royal carriage of King John... and his wife had a separate carriage. Being Royal didn't always have it's perks or else the carriage would have been big enough for the kind and queen to shnuggle as they rode through the town!

While the boys found the gun room pretty fascinating,

I thought the dish hutch, which was really a room, was pretty darn fancey!

and we all loved the family photo gallary. The are is stunning!

Like I said earlier... While being born as a mortal royal definately had its perks, it wasn't always the most awesome: All the royals had their own bed chamber. Who would keep them warm at night? Who would they talk to while trying to sleep? Very sad indeed... I wonder if they thought so too?

In the princesses parlor hung the only picture I have seen with somebody smiling in it. I mean one. and. only! in all the art, in all the palaces, museums, etc... NOBODY smiles for pictures in these days, you know! And so I was drawn to that photograph. It made me believe that the Willinow princess was my favorite royal! Afterall, she liked smiling people!

Here is the baby sized room (Princess bed chamber). It was my favorite of all the bed chambers I have seen.

Here is the mommy sized room (queen bed chamber).

And this is the papa sized king bed chamber. The Royal bedding made with oriental silks and over priced fabrics. It was magnificant! The ceiling skipped right over crown molding and went to sculptures of unicorns, cherubs and 3D gardens where that ceiling and wall met. These royals knew how to build a royal bed chamber... I'll tell you what!

For whatever reason, I am always fascinated to see the royal bathing quarters. What isn't fun about that?! I don't know what they did in there other than bath, but there were lavish benches to lay on, velvet carpet rugs and chandeleirs.

I must admit though, my very favorite part was the outer gardens and the stair case leading down to the river front. I love gardens... and this one took it to a new level for me. Definately a Royal breath taker... I am taking notes for the eternitites...just in case!

It was a fun weekend. We came home tired which is always a good sign.

Happy Birthday today to my seester-in-law, Chrysteil, who happens to be my fav s-i-l on my side of the fam!

Tomorrow is Coley's birthday. In celebration of his 8 years in mortality we took another little trip... this time to Krakow. Oh wow! I will say this, FUNNEST 8th birthday I've ever been to. More on that later.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Familiy night in Lublin

When we came back to Poland after Christmas we decided there was NEVER going to be a dull moment. We vowed to stay busy... There is much to see and do here on this side of the planet...

The members in Lublin hadn't caught on to Family Home Evening. They didn't really understand it's point. So President Mecham introduced this concept last Monday and instituted monthly branch FHE here in Lublin. It was a HIT!

This FHE was focusing on goals. After understanding the importance of goals, we set our own branch goals for this year.
1) Progress personally in the gospel. Thank Heaven the church already instituted programs for this purpose: Personal Progress for all the sisters ages 12- death. Duty to God for all the priesthood ages 12- death. Faith in God for all the primary children. The members are soooo excited!
2) Read the Book of Mormon! Daily study of this book will change lives! The members in Lublin are reading it!
3) Go to the temple. Our temple is in Frieberg, Germany. Our branch will be attending that together in November. That is going to be lots of personal and branch work... There will be many attending for the first time. We are really excited!

With the introduction of each of these goals there was an action item activity which took place... after all, a goal with no action is just vanishing thought.
somehow I missed the photos of the "night crawler" portion of this activity. It was awesome though.
1)night crawler activity was a huge pan of gummy bears and worms in chocolate pudding. Each team nominated a representative who was instructed to find as many worms as they could only using their mouth. Elder Kennedy killed Mariusz at this! I think mariusz like the American pudding more than he cared about the gummy worms.
The point was that as we set goals there will be many deterants and most of them will be good. But if we want to achieve that goal we must only go for the best things that will help us do that. The bears didn't count for points... only the worms.
2) finding hidden mini safety pins in a pile of rice is harder than it looks...

Beata and Marlena battled for the treasure's in the rice. Marlena won by a landslide!
The point was that searching the scriptures for its treasures will bless our lives.

3) Lemons are sour! If you squeeze 1/4 of a lemon you won't have enough lemon juice to make a picher of lemonade. But if you squeeze and sqeeze, little by little you will have enough!

Marlena begged for another turn at this one... She loves lemons! So McKay gave up his spot as the lemon juice sucker to her while Fidel was her fierce aponent. The rules were to suck juice out of the each lemon wedge and spit it in the cup. 3 MINUTES!!! Whomever had the most juice at the end won!
The point was that little by little, if we keep working on the goal we will achieve that goal... Our goal, of course, is going to that temple in Germany!

On another note:
Last night we hosted a missionary discussion at our house! Pawo was introduces to the church while living in England a few months ago. He moved back to Poland to be closer to home in January and looked up the missionaries to continue his investigations of the church. He is getting baptized in April. Sabastian is Marlena's 13 year old son. He is investigating the church also. His introduction came through his faithful mother. Last night Sabastian accepted the invitation to be baptized in April. Cole will be 8 next week. He will also be baptized when grandparents arrive to this part of the world... That will be 3 baptisms in Lublin this year. In the past 2 1/2 years there has only been 1 baptism here. We are soooooo EXCITED!

In the NEWS:
We are moving to England in July! The dome here is finising up early and Mr. Mecham will just have to travel a bit to finish up closing negotiations. Mr. Potter, whom he works with, is BEYOND capable to do the rest. I think even the Potters will get to go early on a new assignment! We are going to miss Poland and our friends. It is a bitter sweet feeling to think about moving to England. We just fell in love with POland... and so we know that in time we will feel the same about England...
When we told Marlena (last night) that we were moving she said, "President, at family night you told us we would ALL be in the temple together this year". Then she stared at Mr. Mecham like her statement was a question... until he answered, "then I guess Becky and I will meet you in Germany this November". Knowing that I get to see our Polish friends again in November will make moving a little easier! If you were hoping to come put your feet under our Polish table you better make plans sooner than later...

Our obsession to create life:
The children have found out just how inviting it is to create new life... on dragonvale. Their breeding caves are always occupied. It's a good time.

I can not describe the excitement around here when a new dragon is hatched! Never a dull moment!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Not going to lie... when the sun doesn't come up, I am not a happy camper! So you can imagine that there were some depressing days around the winter solstice in Poland when the sun didn't really ever come up but rather it got light ish around 7:30 a.m. and then was mid night black by 3:00 p.m. Infact, when Elder Plumb tried to prepare me (months before) for the lack of sun during the winter It didn't even process in my brain. But it was processing during winter... It was dark!
You can also imagine our delight when on December 17 our family was driving to Warsaw to go to Arizona for Christmas and the sky got light... and then we hopped a plane to the United States and that plane followed the sun across the globe with our air plane. It gave us a day without night... 24 hours of sun. I was healed!
Upon our return from the United States, the days in Poland are getting longer which means more sun... And wouldn't you know it, this very morning the sun came up while I was taking Mr. Mecham to the train station... and It was beautiful!
The sun light stays around much longer these days. I didn't realize how much I loved that ball of fire until it was gone.
I love sun! I love it's warmth. I love that it makes things bright which is simultanious with happy in my mind. Happy can exist without sun... but sun can not exist without happy! I will never take Sunshine for granted again. I can't tell you the joy I feel with a simple sunrise!

On another note, Today is Marja's birthday.
One of the great things about marrying Mr. Mecham was the inheritance of his awesome family! Marja is one of my very favorite people on this earth... she is one of Nate's younger seester. I first met Marja after I had been dating Mr. Mecham for a few months. We were in American Fork visiting his family. I was sitting on the Mecham's front porch with Merillee and Nate when Marja came home from a date to the gym... she was dropped off down the street by her long haired muffin who had a BIG black truck. Marja was full of allergies that day and pinched her nose the entire visit. Marja and Merille made me laugh as hard as Shellie and Tamara Hawkins used to. If there was any question that MR. Mecham was cool, it had been answered. With sisters like this he was cool! haha... I had to stay.
After legally making Marja my sister, I found that she just got better! I will forever and ever be thankful to know her, to call her a friend and to be legally tied to her family now and through the eternitites.
A few years ago she made the long journey from Utah to Arizona for spring break. It will go down in my book as the best spring break I ever had. Her boys and my boys are like peanut butter and jelly. They just go together.
When we are in Utah, Marja and Co. love to entertain and create memories with us. My children still and forever will talk about the good times they have with Uncle Curt, Aunt Marja and the boys. We are thankful.
So today, in celebration of her mortality, I post 10 of the reasons I am certain that this world is a better place just because of her existance. Only 10? There are a million...

10) Marja has endurance. She pushes through. A few summers ago we ran Ragnar de sol together... it was so fun... Her endurance for running those hills without a hint of weakness is just like she is with trial in her life. She endurs well.

9) She is responsible. I've tried to talk her out of doing her scout calling, taking jello salad to her ward cook outs and watching over the neighborhood... but when she said she would she vowed to keep her word on every. little. detail. I want her on my side.

8) Marja is Loyal. She is loyal to her family. She would die for her awesome husband and sweet boys. She will defend her family to the enth degree.

7) She is fun! Oh BOY HOWDY... Marja is fun! I LOVE that she can think of something fun to do, or nothing at all and still have a good time. Some of the funnest times we've had during out summer breaks in Utah are with Marja. Oh... and funny! Funny is fun. She has an amazing sence of humor. (refer back to first time I met her.)

6) Marja is level headed. While some people are either fun or responsible, or level headed, she seems to do it all. Marja can take a situation and make heads or tails out of it and make the best and right decision EVERy. Single. Time. She doesn't make emotional decisions. I like that. It is quite the remarkable quality. I am envious.

5) She is so stinken cute! Though some would not say it matters, I think it does. People judge on what they see... and we all know that what we see is often the face of what is going on inside. Marja takes care of herself. She keeps a relationship with her Heavenly Father. She brings honor to her parents and family. She takes time for her health. She makes and leaves a good impression on others. She is radient!

4) Marja is clean. Everything has its place in her home. Everything! Her carpet does not know dirt. I do not understand this. While most peoplel eat dinner and then clean up, she cleans behind herself... Honestly! One night while we were at her house Cole decided to puke all over the hall. Marja woke me up to help him in the bathroom while she cleaned up the puke. It was disgustingly everywhere! By the time pulled his head out of the toilet, the mess was clean. I setteled Cole back into his bed with a bowl close by and found Marja sitting on the couch staring at the wall. It was still middle of the night... but she had cleaned up the floor and walls and already started the laundry... and now she was trying not to puke herself. She is a Mary Poppins type.

3)In true Mecham fashion, Marja is hard working! There are those that run cirlces around their peers... they seem to get everything done with time to spare... this is Marja. She is the first one up and the last one to bed. Her peaches are all canned, her jam is made, her laundry is washed, dried, folded and put away, the nutritious meals are created, served and cleaned up before digestion even sets in. The sheets are clean, the towls are fresh, the tile shines; even the grout, the carpet looks new, the walls and baseboards are dust free, the yard is impeccable, the car is clean inside and out, the kids are taxied to and fro, she watched their games, the church assignments fulfilled, the pictures taken, the vacations planned, the parties thrown, moving her brother and sister-in-law in and out of grandma's basement and on and on and on... I am exhausted... but she is still working.

2) There is something to be said for a good wife and an incredible mother. While everyone on the planet aspires to be a good wife, some arent! But Marja is. In great part all the above mentions make her a great wife. But I think that because she has the ability to always focus on good, stay optimistic through life's trials, and that she puts forth 100% into her relationship, always loving Mr. Damon makes her a good wife. When mom duties call, Marja does not shy. She is available for teaching opportunities, a great cheerleader, a busy taxi driver, a kind nurse, she sponsors the "friends come to our house" idea and above all else, her boys know they are safe and loved. I believe that when Braige and Brogan talk about their mother, their hearts are full and thankful to have the one they have. One day they will find themselves all grown up and probably moved on... NEVER will one replace the love they have for their fearless and devoted mother.

1) Marja is humble. In fact, if she were to read this, I think she would be embarassed. She likes to quietly go through life, serving, doing good, having fun, struggling, loving, whatever it is... without drawing attention to herself. She must have a clear understanding of who she is. Whatever it is, She is humble.

There are a million other sweet things about Marja Liisa that could be mentioned. The list is really quite lengthy. This is a small start on her character. She blesses life in general. I am ever thankful for her presence in my life. I hope and wish for Marja the best birthday yet, full of wonderful people, great memories and a year full of pleasant surprises!
Happy Birthday Marja Lissa... Hope it is great!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A leave of absence

I took a leave of absense. I went home where it was Oh soooo sweet! Here is the run down in a nut shell... I will try to get the necessary info included without boring detail.

Christmas in Arizon, with Sunshine was the goal! We hit the goal. It was amazing!
But what started as a 3 week vacation for Christmas break, ended up being 2 1/2 months of doctor visits bliss and we in a sick way, we loved every minute of it! A lot can happen in that time:

McKay visited LOTS of doctors, had bone scans, x-rays and lots of lab work.
McKay found out he needed nothing more than physical therapy.
Mckay found that he has an arch in his foot with in-sol orthotics. Bless them!
McKay and Kate became seriously good friends! She rubbed his fasia, taught him stretchy "go fish" and helped McKay find his mobility again!

We love Kate!

I Had a biopsy for cancer. It was negative. Thank you!
I awarded myself the bronzed uterus award for having to go through that. Don't ask.
Totally un-related but still equally fun... visited the cardiologist who reminded me the the mitral valve isn't closing properly, causing minor enlargement in the upper heart chamber and assured me that as scary as that sounded that I was fine. ALL RIGHTY THEN... sounds normal.

Bailey is a bonafid teenager!

soaked in a LOT of Arizona sun. It put the biggest smile EVER on my face!

I rammed into a suicidal garbage can that jumped infront of my moving vehicle which happened to be my parent's car... and barely cracked the passenger side light costing me only $250.00. WHAT THE HECK?!!! Stupid garbage can! (FYI: That was 1/2 the price is should have cost me... thanks to dear friends whom we soooo love for his kindness!)

cleaned Grampsydoodle's garage.

Went on date night every Friday night with my seester... Dinner and a movie. It was like clock work... I loved it!

Marci introduced me to juicing. I have never felt so good in my life!

Taught mum about pinterest... and she is going for a world record... but I have to say, while I only pin and dream of doing the things I see, she actually gets off pinterest long enough to cook or create that which she pins.

(grampsydoodle and the wee ones in their bird shirts at the air port)

Then we hopped a plane one day, (Which we almost missed and then almost missed our connecter flight too... good times) and came back to Poland to live happily with our dear old papa Nate... and we...

Went to Polish Conferance. It was so cool!

Elder Christopherson came. I found out that Nate is related to that apostle and it was fun to talk to him about it. His wife is awesome!

While there we were able to see all our friends from all over Poland, and the sweet missionaries whom we sooooooo love! It was WAAAAAy fun!

Jake Armstrong, mcKay and Cole

Bailey and Grace Armstrong
The kids stayed at the Armstrongs over night and had a BLAST!

I met my cousin, Siostra Ence, who is serving here in Warsaw... Then I came home and called her parents. Siostra Ence's great-grandfather and my grandmother are siblings.

Mr. Mecham hired a tutor who is a professor at the Medical University in Lublin to tutor our children in home school. Bless his heart... Joanna got the kids all caught up in school and is looking forward to field trips all over the area with them.

Today is "Woman's day" in Poland. So whatever that is... Happy day. Maczek brought me tulips. What a guy!

Life is good. We are happy and healthy now and couldn't be more thankful to be here with good old papa Nate! I sure do miss that old grampsydoodle dandy and mummy... and my sweet seesters and cutest nephews and little Ellie buns... and my fun friends. But life is good. We are enjoying the journey!