Poland Ministry Trip 1986
Camp Life and Locals Begins
Still about miracles occurring on a regular basis for those of us traveling in our group. The pastor of the churches was supposed to have met us came to Luben and personally drove us to our camp. Guess where our camp is. This is precisely the spot where we stopped the very first day after we crossed the border and while Mike and Margie went into town for hours, right outside our camp. God is so good. The camp facility is made up of three large tents that the Polish people came and put up yesterday. They are constructed with metal bars. It is a dome-like tent and the tent hangs from the inside. Following that is a covering for rain, very heavy, heavy plastic. There is no mosquito netting and the windows were at one-time plastic and are now cracked and air comes through. The floors are wooden planks. They hauled in wooden planks and made a complete floor. They brought in tufted mattresses and blew up some large heavy-duty air mattresses. They also brought us wool blankets. We stayed with the unattached men. That is they didn’t have their wives with them or they were single in one tent. Women in the same status in the middle tent, and married couples in the right-hand tent. Everyone slept very well. The Lord has blessed us with the ability to sleep soundly so that we are refreshed in the morning.
This campground has a bathroom with two showers, only cold water, but nonetheless showers. Four sinks with mirrors, and electricity for hair dryers, etc. We are rapidly running out of water and so far, have seen no signs of being able to boil water. They may bring facilities today, I don’t know. At this point, some people are getting the water from the sink and putting purification tablets in. I still have four bottles of water from Germany. They are about 8 ounces each. I also have the juice that I brought, and of course, there is Pepsi available at the restaurant. Speaking of the restaurant, rather than cooking out or living on bread and cheese as we had planned, we eat all our meals in this restaurant, the same one by the way that we ate breakfast at when we waited so long for Mike and Margie to return. However, we eat on the far end which is a more exclusive dining area. It is very nicely decorated and the food was outstanding and presented in a beautiful manner. Each meal that we have eaten in the restaurant, they have provided meat, which tells us that they are giving us their rations for several months. It really tends to bring out deep emotion. Praise God and please bless these people. We also ate before we left Luben. The pastor treated us to dinner. Most of us were not hungry. We had just eaten cheese and bread, as we were told we were on our own for lunch. Many people had those cheese and mushroom sandwiches. I had walked into town. I had gone alone. I couldn’t find anyone to walk with me. Everyone was tied up doing other things. I found a store and went in and bought two rolls and a hunk of cheese. Excellent, excellent cheese, but I had just eaten that and then we were called to come in for lunch. I wasn’t going to eat, but we were told that if we didn’t eat, it would be rude because the pastor had done this for us. So we ate. We had a kind of borscht. Different from Russian, but still with the same ingredients. Very, very tasty. We had the traditional tomatoes with onions. They are good. The tomatoes are vine-ripened, they are not picked green. In addition, we had boiled potatoes with parsley, a veal cutlet breaded, it was outstanding, really special. Certainly more food than most of us wanted, but nonetheless, tasty. Last night for dinner, they provided us with a hamburger-like patty, however, none of us believe it was beef. It was very dark and coarse. We had cabbage cooked in some kind of sauce and cucumbers; and finally the tomatoes with onions and boiled potatoes with parsley.
Dan and I were blowing up an air mattress for Lois Carterrel to use as she was going to sleep outside. She is suffering from allergy attacks and swelling of her tissue. She wasn’t going to sleep inside the tent. This is a huge air mattress and we are taking turns blowing it up. The young Polish girl, who is 22, and has been walking with the Lord for two years, came over and noticed that we were doing this and instantly went and got some of the young men and they brought over a pump pak. It is a little pump that blows air mattresses up. We got it full and first of all it wasn’t filling up at all and Dan discovered that there was an opening on the other side that wasn’t plugged, so they plugged that one up, and then we got it full and the man that was pumping it discovered that there was a leak in the air mattress. But it was so cute. They care for us at every turn. They are constantly on guard of ways they can be of help and always watching. Beautiful, beautiful people. We came here to give and they are giving us so much. We are receiving blessings every day. The camp is expected to have 100 people show up to camp with us; we will worship together and God will continue to perform miracles.
Group 2, which is my group, is expected to move on today to our camp. This will be determined later once Mike has come back from figuring out the visa for Ogla. One possibility is that Olga and the bus will leave and we will all stay in this camp or perhaps use the van into the next camp; then we will gather at some point and ride a train from here to Berlin. This would mean that we would not be able to go to Kraku. It would mean that shopping would not happen; however, we are open to what the Holy Spirit has for us. The Zloties that we are exchanging, if we are unable to spend them by shopping, they will be given to the church. Either way, it will be a blessing.
On Thursday, we spent the day around camp. It was very warm, probably near 90. We went for several walks. I found a road at the back of the camp that led down to the river. Crossing the river was a suspension bridge. It was meant for walking, however, the kids use it for biking, diving board and running.
It was a pasture for cattle and sheep. The path was made and people walked frequently across the path. I could get a picture using my telephoto lens of an older couple coming across the suspension bridge. We walked along and enjoyed the architecture and the woods.
We found a gaggle of geese on the way back with the man that tends the geese. Most everyone in the country spoke with us. I frequently was mistaken for being German. When we expressed that we were Americans, they became very excited with big smiles. One lady was out on the street and we were talking with her and she called the man of the house out; he noticed the Bible that Shawn was carrying and invited us in. We went into his shop where he made ceramics. He gave us each a persaonally made cross; we, of course, bought several things. Side Note: I still have my ceramics from this little cottage industry businessman.
We came back to camp and people were excited and so we went back later that afternoon and purchased some more things with other people. Very primitive ceramics, but he was pleased to share with us and we were proud to buy them. We continued walking and found many homes. It has been determined now that these houses, while they are huge, house many, many families. The walk continued for a while down a hand-made stone inlaid road and then on to a dirt road. A lot of farming. We found very nice gardens and a variety of homes. There is quite a bit of new construction going on.
They are using a plaster-like material for their houses. We walked until we came to the main road that led into the town and turned around. At that point, we found a huge cross with a painting of Jesus on the cross and streamers coming down to a flower garden. Very beautiful even in its incorrect representation of Jesus. We think the message was showing how He suffered for us not saying he is not risen and still on the cross. The people are all Catholic and, in most cases, do not have a personal relationship with God. They do not understand the love of Jesus.
I ate breakfast with a little girl this morning who has been a Christian for seven years. She is 22. She met the Lord at a youth camp where somebody told her Jesus loved her and she was pleased. She believed that and by faith, God entered her and she was born again. She radiates. It is beautiful to watch because when you look at them, you can see the love of God coming through their eyes, through their expression and yet you can see the oppression. You can see the quiet statue of the people, the fear and yet you see God’s love and power and strength coming through too. It is a remarkable sight.
She told me it is a problem being a Christian in Poland. She said that everyone is Catholic and they all put Mary first; people don’t understand that there is only one God and that you can have a personal relationship with God and that God will talk to you, that God hears you and that God watches over every incident, and that it is not religion, but that it is a personal, individual walk with our Holy Savior. She is not persecuted by her family, but it is still difficult for her living at home because her family nods and says yes we understand, but they don’t. Her friends, however, are persecuted by their families. They are treated very badly because they are now walking with the Lord. In a sense, it seems like they must abandon Catholicism to become a Christian. It reminds me of the old methods of the Jews, where they had to give up Judaism to become a Christian. It is too bad. It is the first step and it is the method the Lord is able to use, because the government feels like letting Christians into the country will help dump the Catholic church and they will lose power and therefore the government can gain power. Of course, the Catholic church has been the savior of the people all these years. God has been able to use that to keep the people from becoming completely covered by communism.
On Friday, we went to town to shop. We had Merek with us so it made shopping a little bit easier. I didn’t buy anything except a basket, some stamps for some cards, and a children’s book. There are some things that I want in town, but I was unable to find them. Several of the gals found things they were searching for; I will return to the village later.
It has been raining here now since Friday afternoon. Raining hard; it is very cold. This is unusual weather for Poland. I am sure that Satan does not appreciate us being here. He is attacking several people and we are coming against Satan in the Name of Jesus. There is beautiful work going on. The interaction between the Polish people and the Americans is tremendous. Many Polish people speak a few words of English, but we are able to communicate by dictionaries. Loving them and letting them love us is healing and uplifting for us all. They want to serve us and of course, we came here to serve them. Merek goes out of his way to try to make all of us happy. He kept asking me, “shopping good?” They are very proud, not pride, but they want us to be happy. I had to go to the bathroom really bad when I was downtown and I am not comfortable going into restaurants and using the bathroom without eating something. So I had delayed doing it.
Well then I found Merek and asked him and he said, “no, sorry,” and I said, “oh,” and he said “oh, come with me,” and he took me to a private home of a lady that attends his church. We went up the stairs, up to the fourth floor, and there are no elevators. This is an old lady, and her house, it reminded me of the movies I’ve seen of the immigrants who lived in the tenement housing in New York. It was very, very crowded in there. It smelled slightly, but it was clean, but not clean like the German houses or many American houses. In the bathroom, there was a flushing toilet, a sink and a tub. There was just room for one person to walk in between those things. The toilet was straight ahead and you could just barely fit between the sink and the tub. Also in there were clothes hanging and storage upon the window sills and things of soaps, etc. The room was probably 3 foot by 4 foot. The living room had an overstuffed couch and a dining room table and a covered closet. The room was probably 5 by 7. There were a minimum of three people living there. There was the older lady, a younger woman, and a young boy. I doubt that was the end of it, but I did see that many. Merek told me that most of the homes have three, four or more families living in them. I think it is the tradition for the children to stay in the parent’s home. Housing must be applied for by the government; you are not allowed to have housing until you are married – then you are put on a waiting list.
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