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.