The Last Month

The Last Month

Tree with shadow, words on Polish flag: S-cray-oh-la in Poland

Welcome to my Poland section. I made this section to show my friends and my church the things I learned, observed, and thought during the preparation and process of my trip to Poland to teach English for a year.

2003/5/23

For some reason, I think of poppies when I see these flowers [the tulips below]. And thinking of poppies reminds me of the poem "In Flanders Field". The tulips in this picture are all but gone. They didn't last long, sadly. I'm not sure why they disappeared so quickly, but that heavy rainstorm may have done it. I noticed they looked rather beaten afterward. It's sad, because the city workers just planted a bunch of plants (these tulips, perhaps) in this bed a few weeks ago.

Time flies swiftly on. If you want to send anything to me before I go home, you'll need to send it the fastest possible way within the next week. Otherwise, send it to my home if you want to be sure I'll get it.

Noteworthy events are not happening here. Many things are happening, but what is happening doesn't seem to me to be things that would interest other people.

I should mention that I've scanned a bunch of pictures and updated my picture pages. You should note in the pictures of the statue and of Old Town that the stonework is all pavers and other stones. Concrete is not used much, from what I have seen. The only places, off hand, I can think of where I've seen poured concrete have been on the steps, where a ramp has been built to one side. Everything else is flat stones which must be levelled with sand. The plaza in Old Town is interesting because between the pavers, there are lines of smal stones of irregular shape which have been fitted together in a loose pattern.

I've almost finished grading the essays, and I'm giving unit tests, big ones, on Tuesday. I may give the students more time on Thursday, since the tests are so big, but I'll have to see how it goes on Tuesday before I decide that. That's all I have. My heartfelt thanks go out to all who have supported me in this ministry with prayers, cards, letter, and finances. Without you, I couldn't possibly have done this. The time is 20:41, and the temperature outside my window (where it is still bright) is 18°C/64.4°F. Have a great day in the Lord!

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In Z'eromski Square, the tulips grow, between the pavers, row on row.

2003/5/26

12:33 - I picked the wrong time to walk half a mile to the store. The thermometer outside my window reads 47°C (It's in the sun), and the thermometer near my door reads 23°C/about 74°F (I'm too hot to do math). That's all for now. I must go take a shower.

14:25 - Well, I've finished grading all the essays. I had two that I'll have to grade again, because I'm making them rewrite, but other than that, I'm done for this round. I haven't decided yet whether I'll assign a third essay this semester. I probably won't, because everyone is busy with end-of-year school stuff.

Time is swiftly flying. I don't know where the days go. The hours seem to have gotten shorter, too. Perhaps that is because it's daylight here until 21:00, which really throws off my body clock. I've been having a hard time sleeping.

I guess that's all the news from Lake Jeziorak. The temperature outside my window is 29°C/84.2°F. Have a great day.

2003/5/30

I've finished, with the exception of one class which will take the test on this coming Thursday, my second round of tests. I'll probably start grading them on Monday morning, or possibly tomorrow night.

Instead of grading tests, I've been spending inordinate amounts of time with a few visitors from the united States. One is Ken Sokol, who is with Kansas East VIM. He is travelling around Poland, and in the last 4.5 weeks, he has taken over 1900 photographs. He is working with a high resolution digital camera and a laptop. We sat and talked and looked at photographs, and he was kind enough to give me many of them.

Out of our discussion last night came a prototype (which I coded today) of a Web site which will be used for all the Poland missions coordinators to disseminate information. We talked late into the night last night, and we have also talked late into the night tonight. It is actually now 11:47, and the first time I've really thought seriously about updating my Web site. (I'm drooling over his memory stick reader. It's as fast as a floppy, less than a quarter the size, and stores up to 32MB (or 128MB, depending on the stick. They come in up to 1GB capacity (but a gig would cost $900))).

Then today, a pair of ladies came. One is a lady who worked a summer school here last summer, and the other is her daughter. We spent the evening with them, talking and laughing and eating ice cream. It was a lot of fun.

I went with Ken and Zofia and the girls to Julia's recital today. It was like most recitals: many students played, and some were good and some weren't. Julia is in the top 3, at least, of the best players at the recital. I videotaped her performance with Ken's video camera. He and I have also had a good time talking about technology.

2003/6/2

Ken left on Friday morning before I got up. It's been a fun weekend, though. The other two American visitors and I have been walking a lot and looking at different things.

On Saturday, we walked around town, and I showed them a few things they wanted to see. We got ice cream cones (mine was pistachio; yum). I graded some tests while they went to Siemiany with Kris. I had dinner in the pastor's flat, and we spent the evening talking.

On Sunday, we went to church. Afterward, I and Julia and a German couple who were visiting threw a ball around on the lawn. The visiting Americans are teaching Julia and Wiki "Peas porridge hot". In the afternoon, I took the Americans down to the beach (I hadn't actually been there before), and we saw a few things over in that part of the town. We came back and looked at the dormitory and the school. After that, we looked at some of my photos, and then it was time for Zofia to go to work. We went along to see the hospital. That was interesting. The hospital has just opened a new wing, and the new wing is very modern. Zofia works in the old part, which has corridors more narrow and other qualities of an older hospital. On returning home, we played a few games (Uno(TM), Trouble(TM)), and went to bed.

Yesterday, we went to Malbork castle.That was an experience. It was built during the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries (I think they said it took 130 years to build (Our guide did not speak English and spoke too quickly for my 'translator' to keep up)). The castle was 80% destroyed during WWII, but it has been restored, for the most part. It is still under massive restoration, but you might think from looking at it that it was almost complete.

One point of interest was the main tower, which the young and adventurous among the castle's visitors climb. From this watchtower, it is possible to see Gdansk, which is quite a ways away, though I haven't calculated how far, exactly.

The tower has 217 steps (about 14 stories), and I climbed every one of them. It actually wasn't as difficult as I would have imagined 14 stories to be.

When we returned to Iława, we relaxed for a while, and then I went for a walk with one of the American visitors. We passed the Center of Sport and Culture, and there was noise coming from it, so we went inside to see what was happening. It was a volleyball match. Returning to the parsonage, I had dinner and graded a test (Only one student took the test in my class for today). I also wrote a post card I need to mail today. The time is now 9:05, and the temperature outside my window is 19°C/66.2°F, according to my thermometer. Have a great day in the Lord.

I got a package from my mother today. It says "Open [such-and-such date]". The visiting Americans heard I got a package, and they're curious what I got, but they leave on Thursday, so they won't get to see what is in the package, unless I open it early.

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Malbork Castle Museum/Muzeum Zamkowe w Malborku

2003/6/16

It is finished. I have completed scoring the last test, calculated the grades for all students, and entered those grades into a spreadsheet. All we have left to do is print the certificates. Tomorrow will be a discussion of the tests and the presentation of certificates. Wednesday will be my last class. I'm sad that the classes are over, but I am greatly looking forward to coming home. I've been away a long time, and I know that there is much remaining for me to do back home. I must continue work on my garden, and I must continue work on help for the people of Poland.

This past weekend, I went on a trip to Kraków. The train ride was uneventful. When I arrived in Kraków, I headed for the church where I would stay. On the way, I crossed under a street. I thought the tunnel went under one street, but it went under the intersection, and so I came out with an inaccurate idea of where I was. I walked for a long way before deciding that the street names were not right. But by that time, I had walked all the way from one end of Kraków's Old Town to the other, a distance between 500m-1km. I walked through Old Town and found the church. I got settled into the guest room and then headed into Old Town for lunch. After that, I walked around Old Town, looking at the many shops, the many talented street musicians, and several street mimes. The Market Square is huge and has hundreds of pigeons, many horse-drawn carriages a la New York's Central Park, and hundreds of beach umbrellas on the tables of the cafes that line the square. I alo wandered down to the lower end of Old Town, where there is a large castle called Wawel. I didn't see much of Wawel this trip, but I did look at it as I walked around. In my wandering, I had seen a restaurant called Cyrano de Bergerac, and I decided I had to eat there. It was a surreal experience. This is possibly the only place in the world where I could do what I did: eat in a fine French restaurant while dressed in khakis and a T-shirt. The food was excellent, and though I thought the prices high while I looked at the menu, I reversed that judgement when the main dish arrived. It was worth every grosz, both in portion size and in quality. The service was wonderful. The waiter didn't bat an eye at my attire, and he did everything but rub my back, which is good, because I would have fallen asleep on the table if he had.

I don't recommend five hours on a train followed by eight hours walking. I was very tired at the end of the day. I returned to the church and went to bed. I ate breakfast at McDonald's in Old Town, and found a bus stop for a tour bus going to Oświęcim, or Auschwitz as it is more commonly known. Auschwitz was a complex of three camps, and the tour visited Auschwitz I & II (Birkenau). This was one of the things I didn't want to leave Poland without seeing. When we arrived there, we saw a documentary movie. After that, we walked around the camp. As it happened, my visit was on the anniversary of the arrival of the first prisoners to Auschwitz, so there were many survivors visiting, and a couple of film crews were on hand (I may have been/be on Polish television or on a video. I have no idea what they were doing with the footage). We then went to Auschwitz II (Birkenau). The guide had said we couldn't walk around much of the camp, because it is like a huge graveyard; when I saw how big it is, I thought that it was good we wouldn't walk it, because I wouldn't have made it.

When we returned to Kraków, I went by the church and spoke to the pastor there. Then, I went down to the Market Square to get a few pictures. I was surprised to find that the square was packed not only with people but with booths, a stage, and a course around the outside. Seems there was a foot race of some sort that ended in the Market Square. I got a few pictures and continued down to Wawel. I had just walked in the entrance gate when I heard a wedding recessional begin. There seemed to be another set of wedding people waiting outside. Someone I talked to about it told me that Wawel weddings happen three or four an afternoon. After walking about for four or five hours, I returned to the church and went to bed.

I got up early on Sunday morning and took the first train to Warsaw. I and the bishop's niece and some visitors from Kansas went to the International church. After church, we went to lunch and walked around Old Town a little. Then, we went to the office, and I taught Joanna a little bit about Web pages so that she can maintain the new Poland Web site. In the evening, we went to TGI Friday's in Warsaw. The food was very good. I had chicken and steak fajitas. This morning, I got up early and knocked on doors to see if anyone else I knew was awake. As they weren't, I went out in search of some orange juice. I found some and returned to the office. The others were awake, and we all headed for the train station. I rode with the American visitors because they were going to Gdansk, and Iława is on the way. So, we talked on the way. When I got back here, I finished up my grading and got all of that in order. This week, there is a conference, and I will go, but probably only for the first day, as I need to pack. It is unlikely I will have an opportunity to update my Web site again before I go home, so this will be my last entry over here. Please pray for me. My thanks go out to everyone who has helped me in this mission trip. I certainly could not have done it without all of the help I've received, both big and small, in many different ways. And now, as the sun sinks slowly in the west, we bid a fond farewell to Poland.

 

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