My mother and I began our journey to Iława Thursday, July 5, at 2 a.m. We had to reach the Pensacola airport by 4:00. Our connection in Memphis was without incident and arrived in Newark. Newark is an interesting and well-planned airport, in my opinion, though I can easily see how the three equal terminals could be confusing. There is no central terminal, but there is a cool monorail connecting the three terminals, and I think they are laid out fairly well, except that some eating places are only on one gate pier, so if you don't have a flight in that pier, you can't reach them. The prices were good, more comparable to mall prices than typical airport prices. I got a root beer float, since the Chinese restaurant was out of the soup I wanted, and the float was good.
The flight over the pond was pleasant. I have to say that Continental is better than AirFrance. They have game pads and seatback screens in economy, so I got to pick my movie and play a few games. I saw /Meet the Robinsons/, which was a cool movie. The screen for my seat had contrast and color problems, but the experience was nonetheless enjoyable, since I got to pick the movie and didn't have to sit through, for example, /Racing Stripes/.
In Amsterdam, one of my favorite airports, we found some cool areas with "comfort seats" that could be used to lay back and catch some sleep, which we did in shifts. Their luggage carts are free, which is another plus, but the food prices are rather severe. We paid about $15 for two little cups of miso soup made from a mix and water from a special hot tap. This trip through Schiphol was interesting because there was a large number of wheeled conveyances in use, from Segway people movers to little utility carts the workers use.
We almost didn't get on the flight. The airline had overbooked, and I hate when they do that. We were not assigned a seat number for the flight, so we went to check on it, but while we were in the long line, a woman came out and started doing triage on the line. She told us we were okay and just needed to talk to the gate agent. Well, we waited until the gate agents arrived, and the gate agent told us we should have checked in at the place where we were in line, and that we might not get onto the flight because it was overbooked (this is when we learned this) and our luggage might not get on the plane even if we did. But we did make it, and our luggage arrived.
But we were in for a surprise at Warsaw. When we went through the customs area, everything was different. It looked like they had torn down the whole lobby area of the airport and rebuilt a smaller one. On the way back, I learned that this was an auxiliary terminal, but it was quite confusing. I was worried about the instructions we had given to our other team members, since one of them, K, had never been overseas before. Anyway, we found a good taxi rate, 2 zloty / km, and went to the train station. In Warszawa Centralna, I looked at the schedule and got in line. I was in line at 6:40 buying a 6:50 train ticket. We had some difficulty with stowing and moving our luggage on the train, but we made it on and off at the right stops. In Iława, we got a nice taxi driver who had a van with plenty of space for our many bags (we took a lot of supplies in addition to our personal things), and he gave us a card with his phone number for our return trip.
I was all for going straight to bed, but Pastor Krzysztof invited us up to his flat to welcome us and talk with us. Zofia brought us plates of food, but I didn't feel like eating. I didn't share this but ate, and having eaten, I felt 100% better, so I was very glad she had brought the food for us. After a brief visit, we headed to our beds and slept.
We spent Saturday relaxing and shopping. We needed to find an adapter plug without the cowling that is nearly ubiquitous in Polish wall sockets and outlet strips so K could use his shaver. We also bought food, including four hot cups of flaki. I also found a couple of UV filters for my camera at the price I should have found in the States (at home, they're three times as much). We went to the bookstore and got a new Polish-English dictionary for Kris' birthday, since I noticed his was very well-used. And we stopped at the bankomat to get some Polish money to spend on team expenses.
Since it was K's first trip, we walked around the lake and showed him the sights. We also got some lody (ice cream) and took pictures. We looked for a mat I could use in the airports on the way back to sleep. No luck, though it turns out I wouldn't have had room for one.
On our return to the parsonage, we worked on preparing our curriculum. I had very scant idea of what I was going to do. Because of my schooling, I had been unable to devote much time to preparation for this trip. But God provided for most of the time. I worked on learning some games to use in teaching the students.
In the evening, we presented the laptop I had carried over. The laptop was paid for by one of our team members who was unable to go on the trip for health reasons. It replaced the laptop I had left for Kris in 2003, and he was pleased with it.
For dinner, we had the hot cups of flaki. All four team members enjoyed the dish, but K asked not to be told what it was. Flaki is one of my favorite Polish delicacies. After devotionals, we went to sleep.
As I wrote these notes, I thought about things heavy on my mind during preparation for this trip. I've been thinking a lot about single-field missionaries, those lovely people who visit a place and fall in love with it and its people and go back year after year to the same place. I've never really been one of those. I've been a lot of places. This thinking seems to be leading somewhere for me.
I also reflected that I do have a fierce love of the people in Poland. One of the things I have often prayed in recent weeks is that our team do no harm to the people in Poland, to the reputation of our church or Pastor Kris' parish in Poland, to the relationships between Poland and its Methodist churches and the UMVIM churches in the States. I am at enmity with harm.
I woke up at around five and couldn't get back to sleep. I finally rose at 6:30 and had a glass of OJ. I waited until around 9:30, spending some time staring at a poster of a town and writing down words for buildings on the poster. Had a breakfast of sausage, bread, jam, and cheese. We had a team meeting to talk about our expectations. In the church service, I reflected on what I understand in Polish, which is more than I did in previous trips. I can now follow along with the scripture while reading the English, but only because of a few key words that tell me which verse we're in.
After service, we had group photos with the congregation, followed by a tea party in the newly-renovated basement. The basement renovation has provided the parish with a larger fellowship space, which is used for parties (much less cramped than the old classroom) and offers a space for social outreach programs like English classes and alcohol recovery programs that Kris talked about implementing. I didn't remember to ask him about this, but I know he has wanted to do it for a while, so I don't know if it has come about yet. At the tea, K was wild over the chocolate cake. When the tea was over, we helped clean up the basement fellowship hall and ended up with lots of goodies to munch.
Mom and K and I went for a long walk afterward, saw the hospital where Zofia works, and looked for the woodcarver's house. K was impressed by the town. The yards were lovely, we saw the carved tree stumps in various places, and though we looked, we did not find the carver's house on this outing. This was the longest walk I had ever taken in Poland, not counting Malbork, and the farthest I'd ever walked in Iława.
When we returned to the parsonage, we played a neat game called 5-states rummy. A fun game, though it could use some improvements in balance. I had a nap in the afternoon. For dinner, we ordered pizza for ourselves and Kris' family. After dinner, I took an exam and participated in a discussion for my online class.
I prepared for my devotions through the trip. While I was looking through my devotional book, I ran across a note I'd written on an entry. I had prayed that God would bring me to live out my love of the English language by teaching it OR guide me in a different direction. And I just laughed. How often do we ask God to do this or that, I reflected, and God answers with AND instead of OR? After all, here I am in Poland teaching English, AND God has led me in a different direction, Journalism or something else in Communications. I looked over my notes for the first class day's preparation and made a list of the jokes I could tell.
We went to the high school and saw our rooms. After a brief gathering, we went to our classes. I started with the highest age group, hoping that the skill level would be high and my start in the trip would be easy. I needn't have worried. All of the classes showed a high enough level of skill that I could communicate well in English most of the time. My first group ran dry on the topics, as we went through them more quickly than through time. My second class, the youngest group, only got through the interest activity and a big game (Around the World) my mom had taught me. There was a break, and then I had the two middle age groups. Time flew by, and then we were done for the day.
We decided to eat lunch at the frytki (french fries) stand in town. We ordered hamburgers and hot dogs, but these are quite different in Poland. After lunch, we went to the film shop and to the open-air market, where we bought eggs and green beans. While we were out, K bought a hot plate. This made a nice addition to the guest floor, as there was only a microwave for cooking there before.
In the evening, we found the adults as game for Around the World as the kids had been. I had no idea how popular this game would be.
We arrived at the high school to find our rooms locked, but they opened them quickly. K moved to the music room, and Mom moved to his room, which is bigger and had a sink. Our groups were divided by age and given folders on the first day of different colors. The oldest group got red folders, the youngest blue, the middle groups got green and yellow.
Today, with the red group, I did an exercise where I told them we were going on a trip. I asked them what they wanted to pack in their suitcase. After this, we did a worksheet with animals, little clip art images with lines under them, and we talked about what the animals were. I also brought some index cards I'd found in the parsonage classroom. They had a neat game with synonyms. A card would read something like, "I have start. Who has the synonym for create?" The game went well, and I wrote words on the board as they came up, trying to list a few synonyms before writing the one that was on the next card in the game. I tried doing some flash cards, but it only went over so-so.
With the blue group, I did the trip packing exercise, played the synonym game, and did the animals worksheet. Then we played Around the World, because they demanded it almost riotously. This would become a recurring theme throughout the trip. I would show them a game, and then I'd have to do it again and again.
With the green group, I forgot to check roll, going right into the trip packing exercise. This group got a lot done, but I was ready, when we'd finished the synonyms game and the animals sheet, with some letter puzzles. These were things on the order of "24 H in a D," the answer being hours in a day. then we played Around the World.
The yellow group made it through the trip packing, the synonyms, and the letter puzzle, but we didn't quite finish the animals worksheet.
Lunch was delivered. The dishes were fish, chicken, and another of my favorite Polish dishes. I got this, the potato dumplings with meat inside. These little snowballs of tastiness are delightful, and I didn't know until this trip that the outside was potato. Asia, who would interpret for us beginning after her exams, brought us some goodies, which we enjoyed. K and Mom and I went shopping for rain gear. We ended up getting two umbrellas. I would never carry one in Florida, but Poland doesn't seem to have electrical storms. We also got copy paper, markers and meat. We mailed some postcards and got some ice cream for the walk back. We were a tiny bit late for class. The synonyms game was a big hit for the adults. After class, Julia sent down some pressed cheese sandwiches, which were very good, so K didn't get to cook.
We played a few rounds of Hearts, and I lost big.
The weather was wet Tuesday morning. I found that wet paper towels are very good for hands dusty with chalk. With my red group, I did more index cards, this time with antonyms, since the synonyms had gone over so well. Then I talked about days of the week with the poem, "Monday's Child." We also talked about English variants of Polish names, which went over fairly well. We did a worksheet on landmarks.
With my blue group, I did the antonyms game, talked about days of the week and name variants (which went over very well), and had trouble getting the students to listen while I explained a new game. They wanted Around the World again, but I wanted to teach them a game I would almost regret later, London Bridge. When the bridge came down, I would show the captive a flash card. If they couldn't name it, they sat down. After a few people had been eliminated, I changed this so that the first two to be captured became the bridge. This went very well, and we again ran over the beginning of the break.
With my green group, I did the antonyms game, got through the days of the week and name variants, did the landmarks worksheet, and got through the explanation of London Bridge but didn't have time to play it.
With my yellow group, I got through the antonyms game and the days of the week, but the name variants were so popular that I didn't get to anything else.
We were surprised at the parsonage by a special lunch. All of us got to eat potato dumplings this time. They were delicious.
K needed a birthday gift for Julia, so we went out to the bookstore. He'd discussed books with his classes and had heard mention of a series popular in the U.S., the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Well, he left the card with the title at the parsonage, so we had to try to explain the title and the series to the bookstore clerk, but my Polish isn't that great, and the words weren't all in my dictionary. We never did get the title across, but K found a copy of _Bridge to Tarabithia_ in Polish, which he got. On the way home, we stopped at the IT (information for toursits) shop and looked at shirts and postcards. In the afternoon, there was a party upstairs for Julia's birthday. I got some nice pictures, but I left my camera in the flat afterward.
In the adult class, after working all day with the other classes, my antonyms game got tangled. A couple of the words had sounded similar or something, and we skipped a number of cards. Eventually, though, we got it all straightened out.
After class, we had some soup for dinner from upstairs, made by Zofia or Julia. Mom and I got out our hot glue gun and glued sticks together for one of her crafts. After this, we all played a game of hearts, and I won. We had our devotional, prepared for the Thursday classes, and went to sleep.
In the red group, I covered shapes and prepositions. I talked about the names of the different shapes, and I did an activity where I described where things should go on the page. I'd say something like, "Above the circle, draw a large square," and they'd draw it. To go with this preposition activity, I borrowed two balls for the day and did over/under relays with the students. Then, I did an activity I called a trip to the zoo. Each student got a flash card with an animal. They then had to tell a little about the animal they'd gotten.
In the blue group, we did the landmarks sheet we hadn't gotten to on Wednesday. Then we did shapes and prepositions, the following instructions exercise, and over/under relays. We finished the class with London Bridge. At the break, I tried with Mom to get the kids to jump Double Dutch, but they were not quite getting the hang of the second rope. It took a few tries, to begin with, for Mom and I to remember how to start the turn. Then the kids didn't want to jump in while the turn was going.
In the green group, I did shapes and prepositions, the over/under relays, and the zoo trip. The yellow group got through the same things as the green.
Back at the parsonage, lunch was delivered, and we had chicken. I got my camera back, and K and Mom and I went out into town. We bought some trash cans for the guest rooms and got back my first roll of film from the developing place, and shared them at the adult class. R was in a private session.
After class, I reflected that K is good at starting conversations with the students, R is good at making friends, I am good at the rules and art of English, and Mom is good with teaching. So I began to think maybe this team was really on track.
Today went well.
During the first class, I slipped out and took pictures of all the classes, plus my own class with the interpreter. In the red group, we did more of those letter puzzles. We also reviewed months of the year. Then I took a little poll and slipped out to take the pictures while they made notes to themselves for their answers. When I returned, I taught them a song about numbers, "The Ants Go Marching," and went over a worksheet on clothes with them.
In the blue group, I took a survey, reviewed months, did a number song called "Roll Over," completed the clothing worksheet, and played London Bridge.
In the green group, we did the survey, used name days to review months, sang "Roll Over," did the clothing worksheet, and played Around the World.
In the yellow group, we did the survey, "The Ants Go Marching," finished the landmarks worksheet, and did the one on clothing.
After lunch, I got another roll of pictures from the developer and shared them in the evening class and Kris' family afterward. Tonight was Hannah's brithday, and she brought cake, raspberries, and drinks. We enjoyed the cake and raspberries.
We had spaghetti for dinner, and I ran across the way to buy a second light bulb for the kitchen, because the lighting was adequate, but better after a second bulb. Putting the bulb in was a challenge because of the style of the fixture.
K had the devotional tonight, and it was on psalms and God's mercy, and how we did not make ourselves, and how we should sing praises to God.
Afterward, we reviewed the informal surveys we'd taken. I asked what things in English were most difficult for them, what they felt most uncomfortable with. We discussed next week's lessons. Tomorrow, we plan to go to Gdansk and Malbork, I think.
At 22:00, there were fireworks for over five minutes. We haven't learned what they were for, but probably had something to do with the festival in town right now.
I'm very tired. We went today to Gdansk, Oliwa, and Sopot with friends of Kris' (who are also parents of one of the students). We saw many things and played the tourist. We only had time to stop and take one picture of the outside of Malbork castle on the way up to Gdansk. I was sorry we didn't have a chance to visit the castle.
On the way home, the father said some things that made me want to reexamine the way the classes are done. Often summer classes are too slow for skilled students. I can relate to that, because I was one of those students who understood things quickly and then drifted off because the teacher was still explaining it to my classmates. I want to do more to challenge the skilled students.
I've been thinking about something said by the father who took us to Gdansk yesterday. He was talking about American TV programs and police power. He was under the impression that our police could do anything they wanted and usually did things like beating a suspect and taking part in high-speed chases.
To be certain, some of that does exist, but the police forces in my country don't have the power to do all these things whenever they want without accountability. They need warrants or at least probable cause to believe a crime is being committed before they can barge into a house or apartment. This isn't often shown on shows like COPS, but the requirement is there. And many police departments (I would estimate most) have policies against high-speed pursuit. And the videos shown on these programs are culled from millions of hours of unremarkable traffic stops where the policeman goes up to the car, asks politely for the license and registration, is given them, writes a citation, returns the documents to the driver, and gets back in the car without any sort of exciting incident.
But people overseas don't usually see that sort of thing. They see what we show on COPS and shows about exciting police chase videos. And this leads to what social psychologists call /Mean World Syndrome/, the same phenomenon many elderly city-dwellers display. They watch their TVs, see the most extreme activities, i.e., the only ones that reach the news or the cop shows on a regular basis, and they think the world is a much more violent place than it is.
He also mentioned Jerry Springer. And I wonder, why are we exporting these shows that only show our country's darkest sides? And I think back to my media and society classes and the little sidebar on cultural empiricism. And I think the problem isn't that we export our culture in our shows and movies. The problem is that we tend to export the negative and scary sides of our culture without showing our beneficial and positive sides.
Certainly, we have these sides, and conflict is central to a good story, but do we have to show the rest of the world (who mostly have no exposure to our off-camera reality) only our dark sides? Do we have to make movies where everyone is crooked and there is no one fighting honestly for what is good and righteous? I think this one afternoon I spent with one man has taught me a great deal about why the rest of the world thinks of us the way they do. I think it has much less to do with where we've gone to fight and why than with what we've decided to sell as genuine American culture on the airwaves. I think many people overseas expect our movies and TV shows to be an accurate cross-section of our culture. And this is not a negative comparison of them, because many people in our own country, who have access to what doesn't make the TV screens, believe that our media outlets show an accurate picture of our life, too.
The problem isn't that we export our shows; it's which shows we export. COPS and amazing police video chase programs and Jerry Springer show only a tiny section of our actual life, and they only show the most harrowing and negative parts. We need to be more careful of what we say about ourselves.
This week in the service, I was asked by Pastor Kris to read the scripture text in English after he read it in Polish. I reflect that even if the congregation understood nothing of what I said, the exposure of their ears to English speech will probably help them if they are trying to learn English. After all, I've picked up a fair amount of the nuance of Polish by listening to things I don't understand.
For lunch, we and the pastor's family walked down to Les'na restaurant for lunch. This took a long time for the pastor because he broke his knee in the spring. But he is making great progress in moving about. When we arrived at the beginning of July, he could barely get off the couch. Today, he walked (sort of) several blocks to the restaurant with us.
After lunch, Mom and K and I went to find the wood carver's house. I got caught taking a picture of his sign, when we did find it. We walked past the old jail of Iława which seems, from the position of the guards, to have been built in a time when there were many more prisoners than there are now. Even though it is, from Mom's recollection, a jail for the entire northern district, prisoners are only housed in part of it.
We ordered pizza for supper. I discovered that I'd gotten sunburned in Gdansk.
I thought I would try to make all the classes harder this week, since we had decided there was no way to redistribute the classes half-way through the camp. It would have been too disruptive. But we want next year's classes to be divided differently.
With the red group, I started out with how many and how much. I began with a phrase of statement, "many of X are Y," then said that we often want to test the accuracy of such a statement, as in "how true is it that many of X are Y?" but that the construction we use for this is "how many of X are Y?" or how much of liquid-type measures. I then used this in a survey, asking a few random questions ("How many of you like blue better than green?") before asking my real question, "How many of you think this class is too easy/too hard/just right?" The red group said just right. We also did a little module on talking about movies. This included things like, "I'm planning to see ___ because..." with qualities like who was in it, what the characters were, whether we'd seen previous movies in a series, the genre of the movie, or the director, to name a few. I tried to talk about activities, too, but that didn't get much of a response. I also launched into a module on prefixes and suffixes and root words. They seemed to like that a little better, and I hope they got a lot out of it.
The blue group responded to my how many survey that the class was too easy, but that doesn't limit their enthusiasm for playing games instead of doing worksheets. Nonetheless, we talked about discussing movies and did the module on prefixes and suffixes.
The green group, in their how many/how much module, said the class was too hard. We did movies for most of the class and then broke out for a game of Around the World.
The yellow group gave me the most complex response. They said that parts of the class were too easy, and parts of it were good. I told them I liked that they were thinking complexly about the question. We did the movies module and talked about -fixes. Then they wanted to go outside and sit on the steps and talk. This group is my last class of the day, so by the time they get to me, they're fairly ready to go home. They're a lot like me personally in that they would prefer to sit and talk conversationally but don't know quite what to talk about. One student asked about cultural differences between the U.S. and Poland, and I talked about my observations for a short time. Then I asked them what they wanted to do, and a lot of them wanted to go home. Finally, I woke up to the teaching moment here and asked about their plans when they got home. Many of them wanted to take a nap, so I guess there is something of a siesta idea there, but the discussion yielded a lot of other interesting plans, even from those whose first priority at home was a nap. I think the students did well with this discussion.
After lunch, I went into town to find a poster with simple machines on it (lever, pulley, inclined plane, screw, wedge, and wheel and axle). This was an interesting quest, but came to no avail. I couldn't even manage to translate to the shopkeepers the idea that I wanted. They thought I was looking for a machine shop, I think.
I put in most of the film I'd shot in Gdansk (some was still in my camera), and we picked up food for dinner. The shopkeepers seem to be amused that K picked out the meats, but I paid for them. By the time we returned, I was wilting. The weather had been cool and often wet, which I had enjoyed, but I was glad for the sake of the people of Iława that it was now hot, because the tourists had been staying away when the weather was what I would call nice. Better that I should wilt than that the tourists should stay home and not spend their money.
Pastor Kris spent the afternoon sitting outside.
In class this evening, we talked about movies, root words and big words (I explained for this class what I had not even mentioned in my other classes, antidisestablishmentarianism), and homophones, which Mom had done in her morning classes. After class, we sat with Kris, talking with him and one of his friends until his family returned from visiting the circus.
Tonight, my devotional came from an entry in MUFHH about meddling.
Looking at my schedule, I realized that my last quiz in my online course will be during the time I am travelling and without access.
One of the things we brought to Poland from home was a stack of menus from Sonny's, a barbecue restaurant.
In today's classes, I had each class wait outside and come into the room together. I had turned the center tables to face each other like tables at a restaurant, and each place had a worksheet about table settings. They didn't exactly match a barbecue joint, but that didn't bother me much. We went over the words for place settings, and I handed out menus.
After a few minutes, I asked if there were any words they didn't know, and I wrote them on the board and explained them or drew pictures. Then, I asked each student what he or she wanted to order. I wrote their orders on the board, and in some classes, I totaled some of the meals to show how much a meal costs in a restaurant like this one.
I also talked a little bit about ways to discuss meals and restaurants, as well as the practice of tipping in the U.S.A.
After school, I got my pictures back from the developer and shared them at the evening class, where we did menus and place settings in addition to some other things.
For dinner, we had hoagie roll hot dogs, sort of. The meat was not quite frankfurters, and most of them exploded while they were being boiled because K left them on just a tiny bit too long. But the meal was wonderful; the meat was still mostly in its proper shape, other than having come a little unwound in one spot.
We watched /Ella Enchanted/ on K's laptop (he brought some DVDs with him). It's a delightful story about the power of choices over circumstances. The devotional was about being the salt of the earth.
I'm having stronger wonderings about where God is calling me.
I think that I'm being called to a ministry of drawing people out into the mission field. Obviously, my going many places is not going to make a huge difference, but if I can get many people to go many places for God's mission in the world, that will make a huge difference.
In all of my classes today, I did the story of "the Ugly Duckling." Some classes took turns reading, and some classes listened to me read it. All of my classes got through an exercise on articles (a, an, the) and words for baby animals.
The red group also got a module on prepositions with verbs and a discussion of roads and buildings. We talked about different types of roads and about parts of a building.
The green and yellow groups played Around the World after finishing the story, articles module, and baby animals. I'd show an animal flash card and they had to name the baby of that animal. I think this was quite successful. During the breaks between classes, I took pictures of K's classes and autoshots of myself with mine.
The evening class also got the story and the names of baby animals. Hannah brought us a jar of cherry jam.
After the evening class, Julia brought down some heart-shaped waffles. We ate many of these with the delicious cherry jam and ruined our supper. We tried to eat anyway, having spaghetti over patties of meat. And we watched /High School Musical/, which was a neat story and went well with Anderson's swan story, because both of them were about being yourself.
Late in the evening, I found myself rattling around and thinking about a calling to draw others into missions. Missions is important, and more important is doing missions the right way.
I'm thinking that Double Dutch is going to catch on in Iława, and when the kids realize how more than one can jump in the middle, I think it will really take off. Two of the children show great promise.
The devotional tonight was about how we have a very short memory for wonders and signs. God shows us things, and then we act as though we hadn't seen them.
I'm doing okay but having difficulty staying ahead for my students to have enough to occupy them.
In the red group today, I had the poster with town buildings on it, and we talked about the buildings on it and common parts of cities. I had the students sign one of the New Testaments R had brought. The blue group did the town poster and prepositions in town (X is across from Y.), and the students signed my book. The green group brought me a scarf they'd all signed, and they signed my book, too. Then we did the town poster, prepositions in town, and a shortened version of my module on common city parts. At the end of class, we played Around the World. The yellow group was ready with their books for me to sign, and I felt like a celebrity surrounded by autograph hounds. After I signed theirs and they signed mine, we did my module on city parts, a shortened run through the town poster, and went outside.
My mother and I were invited to have lunch with the mayor, so I didn't have time to go into town before the adult class. The others started class while I took a brisk walk into town to drop my film, since I didn't want to carry any more exposed film through the x-ray machines than I absolutely had to. I did the cities and towns words for the adult class.
Dinner was sausage and brocolli after we thinned out the leftovers from previous meals.
We did team evaluations this evening. Then, we talked about the surveys the students had filled out in Mom's classes and the adult class. At some point, I prepared a certificate for Stanley, the high school's vice-principal, to thank him for helping us so much on the English camp.
K said the comments fell mostly along age groups. The advanced students, though, all wanted more challenge. But the rest were along age groups. The younger students wanted more games and less of a school. The other groups liked being grouped by age. The older group wanted more vocabulary and tenses.
Next year's classes ought to have one advanced session, which will get harder work and a deeper level of conversational practice. Most of the students like being grouped with their friends, so most of the other groups should be done by age. The youngest group wanted more games, so that group should be focused on learning games rather than teaching classes.
7-20 through 7-23
On Friday, I decided to do something fun in all my classes, but I had to slip some English in, so we did word puzzles. One of them was all words ending in -ical.
At the end of the school day, we all gathered at the front entrance and had graduation. The students stood on the steps and sang a song K had taught them. We called the students down to get their certificates. We were given some gifts and thanks and loaves of bread.
Because Mom and I were getting on a train to go to the airport, we had to open our bread immediately, and we shared it with our adult class and with the pastor's family.
After dinner and devotional, Mom and I got a taxi to the train station. It took a little while to get someone to come sell us tickets, but we made it to the platform in plenty of time and got on the train without incident. In Warsaw, a man who had been in the car with us, who works in England somewhere, offered to split a taxi with us because he was going to the airport also. We arrived at the airport, and I saw the terminal I was used to. I figured out here that we had come in at a different terminal. We had a long wait before the check-in desks opened, and then we were past security, and then we were getting on a plane.
We flew to Amsterdam and then to Glasgow. When we landed, the pilot announced that some of our bags hadn't been loaded on the airplane, but that they had decided to take off on time. We thought this was no problem, since we had a 20 hour layover in Glasgow because of the schedule of the only transatlantic flight from that airport. Glasgow turned out to be a nightmare. We filled out a lost luggage report, because ours was among the baggage left in Amsterdam, and headed for the gates to wait. After checking the location of where we were supposed to ask later about our luggage, we went to the security checkpoint. The attendant there looked at our tickets and told us that since our flight wasn't until the next morning, we couldn't go in. So, we had to wait out in the main lobby area. Glasgow airport is not very pleasant. The attendant also told us we could only take one bag on the airplane and had the nerve to tell us it was because none of the airlines would allow more. We found some comfortable seating, what little there was, and settled in for the night, taking turns napping and watching the luggage. In the morning, we went to check in, and the girl at the desk told us we couldn't check in until our luggage arrived. We went to find the baggage service, but they were closed, so we went to a ticket counter and asked the people there to look it up for us, since someone in the baggage area had said this was where to go. Actually, he sent us somewhere else and that place told us the ticket counter. The people at this ticket counter also told us the one bag thing was a UK thing, not an airline thing. Anyway, the guy there pulled it up and wrote down some information about its being sent on to Memphis. We took this to the check-in desk, and the girl said she had to delete our bags. Those are not words you want to hear, but we were more interested at that point in getting on the plane than with whether our luggage got home. We checked one of my carry-ons, having repacked it the night before to get rid of Mom's 'personal item,' and went to the gate with boarding passes.
My advice to all travelers is that you never fly through the UK unless it's your destination or origin.
So, we got on a plane and flew across the ocean. It wasn't as nice as the one going over, but the movie was good. We saw /My Dog Skip/. In Newark, we had another long layover, so we started off by riding the monorail around a bit. Then, when we'd eaten (I wanted an American hot dog, even if I couldn't get into the gate area where Nathan's was), we went through the security checkpoint, thanking God Newark isn't like Glasgow. We read and did other things until night fell. Then, we took turns sleeping. At 3:30, a TSA agent told us we had to leave. I don't know if they were doing their nightly security sweep or if it was because all the other workers had left the gate area, but we only had about an hour we had to be outside in the main terminal area. Then, we went back through security and waited the last bit of time before our flight. As we pulled away from the gate, water was streaming down the windows of the plane. By the time we got to Memphis, the New York area was pretty well socked in. We had time in Memphis to grab a sub sandwich and ice cream (I got the Lenny's sub; Mom opted for Edy's and was surprised by the size of it.) before we had to get on another plane for Pensacola.
When we reached Pensacola, I was going to call my brother, but before we went to baggage claim, I saw him waiting outside the secure area. So, we went to lost baggage to get our bags, and they told us our airline had them at the desk. We went around there and got our bags, which had been waiting since the day before. Then, we came home.
Home is the most beautiful word in any language. I enjoyed the trip, but I'm exceedingly glad to be home. My own bed is nothing exceptional, but it's mine, and that makes it precious to me. I'm glad to be home. I love to wander, but it's good to be home.