Friday, October 7, 2011

Pictures of Summer

Here are a few pictures from my summer. Enjoy!

After school ended in June, three of us took a short trip to the north of Poland (Malbork and Gdańsk).

- Malbork Castle - 

Built by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th and 14th centuries, largest castle in Europe and largest brick castle in the world.

Gdańsk old town

The end of June, I flew home to Guys Mills for two months. Here's a blurb about my summer I wrote for the  AIM newsletter. (I'm really cheating on this blog post, aren't I - pictures and an excerpt. haha)
Refreshment definitely describes my summer. It’s difficult to put into words, but I think the thing that refreshed me the most about my time in the States was what I received from my family, my friends, and my church family. To be able to drink in a church service, all in English, without being responsible to make it happen; to spend time with my family, learning to know them again; to talk with friends about our dreams, desires, and passions – these were a real gift from the Father. I felt God's grace being poured out on me, really feeding my soul.

I spent as much time as possible with my family:)
Seriously, I can't say enough how nice it was to be with them again.

In August, we spent a couple of days at my grandparents' place. We were on our way to....
North Dakota! It's flat, flat, flat with a huge sky. The few people that live there are very friendly, like the 94-year old lady with whom we stayed. This road trip was kind of the last fling together for those of us at home over the summer;  the next week, I returned to Poland and Jewel went back to Mississippi.

Aaand, Poland again! One weekend in September, I went with some friends from church to the north of Poland again. If you want to read more about the amazing weekend, my buddy Gideon wrote a good piece about it here.
Grilling sandwiches on the beach.
The Baltic Sea

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

just funny....

sometimes when you search for stuff, you get interesting results. haha, never knew Ebay was this diversified.
(if you can't read it, just click the pic for a better view)

Monday, March 7, 2011

i've got something on my mind.....

Well, one of these days I'm going to get around to writing a full-blown update on what has been happening in my life recently. But, until then, here are a couple of things on my mind.

Recently, I decided to stay in Poland for another year; i.e. 3 years in all. When I originally contemplated the question last fall, I decided that I wouldn't stay longer than my originally agreed-upon 2 years. However, over the following months, the thought of staying in Poland with AIM just wouldn't leave. I guess it was really a God thing:) So, last month, I told the AIM board that I will stay in Poland for a third year; that's 1 ½ years yet.

I'm excited to think of staying on here longer. In some ways, my first 10 or 12 months here were spent just learning how to live in Poland. That was a good time, and an incredibly stretching time. I don't discount that experience by any means, but I think it would have seemed a bit abrupt to return to the States at the end of this summer, as I had originally planned. So I'm happy to think about living here even longer and deepening friendships, learning the language better, and discovering what kind of crazy things God wants to teach me in Poland.

Some upcoming things for the year:

Gideon is getting married in July. He and Esther will live here for at least one year after that. I think that is way cool, although unless something changes, it also means I will be the only single VS guy here.

John Smucker's family is planning to return to the States at the end of the year. John's have been here ten years, and as the mission has grown and changed, their roles have grown, too. They play a huge part in the work here, especially as one of the two American families in our small group. Seeing them go and welcoming another family in their place will be a significant change.

And, I AM planning to go back to the States for a two month furlough. I'll be home from June 24 to August 23, Lord willing. I am very happy about that:) I'm looking forward to learning to know my family and my friends again, including two nieces whom I've never met. I'm very grateful for skype, email, and cheap phone rates, but they don't totally cut it. Summer, here we come!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

rejoicing in the gray day

It's a gray day. Yesterday the chinook was blowing, and the sun was shining. Today it's cold and gray again. The snow is fading into mud. So I sit, listening to sad folk songs. And writing a bit. Because it is sometimes good to be quiet and introspective. And it is good to not ignore the twinges of creative quietness when they come, but to welcome them in and get to know them a bit. Then, on Monday (which we are definitely NOT dwelling on now) when the crazy, invigorating, tiring schedule returns, we will be ready and we can smile with calm quietness and take the day in hand.

I don't know if any of this makes sense, but that's ok. Making sense is for later, and i'm a horrible perfectionist. You know what that means, right? It means that if something gets done, it has to be perfect, or not done at all. Perfectionists only take on safe things, the things they know they can do perfectly, which means especially that they don't want to stick their necks out and look stupid by trying to learn new things in front of everybody else. Yeah, that's me. Somehow by posting this for the world to see seems to be a victory, although over what, i'm not sure; it's just fun to have victories. Today i'm sending my perfectionist conscience on vacation and trying to just enjoy the moment.

I think it's working:)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Music, Friends, and Food

I think one of the most pleasant ways to spend time with friends is to make music together. Whether it's singing or playing instruments, a jam session or focused practice, music brings people together and creates meaningful connections. Second to making music together is experiencing it with friends. The other evening was one of those times. I went with a group of my friends to a concert at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw. It had been so long since I had been at a concert like that. Definitely soul food:) The programme consisted of works by Tansman, Tchaikovsky, Bacewicz, and Stravinsky. It was glorious. I especially liked the Tchaikovsky; Violin concerto in D-minor, op. 35. Music is meant to be listened to live; besides the sound quality, there's something powerful about watching people create music. I think there's a deep truth about music and community in there somewhere; if only I was smart enough to dig it out.......

Afterwards we went to a Turkish restaurant. Our fearless leader (and pastor), Lavern, had coupons for 50% off. Being good Mennonites, (Mennonite Vsers, to boot. Double whammy) we rejoiced and proceeded to eat awesome Turkish food at half price.

My friends LeRoy and Ania were with us, as well. They got married two weeks ago in Poland, and they're still in the country, so they were able to join us for the concert and for supper. It was so good to chat with them over food again. Something powerful happens in situations like that. When friends come together and share words honestly and with love (especially when food is involved:), our souls are fed. The God who lives in us also works through us to touch each other in seemingly small, but significant ways.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hey Folks, I don't have much time today, cause Monday's my busy day, but i just wanted to let you know that i posted some pictures from our recent trip to Ireland on my Photobucket. That's right, I went to Ireland. Last week; from Thursday to Monday. I hope to have some more details about that soon, but for now, you can enjoy the pics:)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

a few more-or-less recent photos with helpful explanatory notes (fall 2010 edition)

- Hope Singers. The choir members arrived here August 3-5 (due to many flight complications, they didn’t all arrive in PL at the same time). After several days of rehearsal, we took two 5-6 day tours, and spent several days recording. Here are just a few of the things that I especially enjoyed:

o Having Jewel here! I didn’t realize how much I had missed her until she got here. We had talked a lot during the past year, but there is nothing like being together. Thank you so much for coming over, Jewel! My cousin Raphael also came with the choir. It was a last-minute decision on his part, and I’m so happy that it worked out. It was very cool to spend time with him again.

o Singing with a choir again. It had been over a year since I had sung with a choir, and I was more than ready to do it again. Having Lloyd Kauffman as conductor was extra special. He and Mary are very special people.

o Meeting Christians from other parts of Poland. Going on tour and meeting other believers helped give me a broader picture of the Church in Poland. I also was able to meet up with some previous acquaintances. Sometimes I get so entrenched in my own little world here in Minsk Mazowiecki that I forget what is happening in other parts of the country.

- Personnel changes (wow, that sounds so cold and impersonal). The beginning of September, we said goodbye to Maria Zimmerman and LeRoy Schwartz. Gideon Yutzy and Anita Yoder came in their places as the new VSers, and Maria Wadel and I are now the second year VS people (whatever that means). Also, Lois Whitt, from Georgia, is here to teach school for Lavern and Lolita’s children. The number of young people here has grown ever so slightly; there are usually six of us when we get together: the aforementioned vsers, Lois, and Conrad Smucker.

Of course, it takes some time for group dynamics to gel. But, we’ve had over 2 months together already, and it feels like we’re getting to know each other well. When you work this closely with people, you have to get along, and you end up getting to know each other quite well. I’m grateful for the people we have here; it really is a good group.

- English teaching (since I don’t have a picture of this, you’ll just have to imagine it, or you could come visit me and see it in real lifeJ). This is my second year of English teaching. I still don’t have very much experience, but this is certainly much easier than last year. This year, I’m teaching at another school besides our own (GTE). It’s called Royal School, and I’m teaching a different method there. It’s called the Direct Method (wonder how they came up with that name?) and consists largely of question and answer dialogues between the teacher and students. It’s rather scripted, so I’m glad I’m not teaching only this method, but I’m enjoying getting out and having new students and working with other teachers. The great thing is that it involves virtually no preparation. I love thatJ I teach at Royal about 5 ½ hours a week and I have 3 bi-weekly lessons at GTE as well as 5 private students. It’s a nice mix.

Gideon and I took a bike trip the 3rd week in September. We went to a town not too far from Minsk; it’s one of my favorite places to spend a weekend away. We rode to a nearby town, took the train to the next region of PL, then biked the rest of the way to Kazimierz Dolny. We biked a total of 100 kilometers round trip; a nice weekend jaunt. Kazimierz is located in the hills; there’re castle ruins, lots of old stone architecture, and lots of Jewish history. I also have a couple of friends at university there, so we got to hang out with them.