Thursday, December 18, 2014

It has begun!

Wonderful time seeing quite a bit of family - Chicago area, Fort Bragg, NC and St. Louis...what a great start to the holiday season!  Michael had two concerts at Olivet University - amazing!  Beautiful music as stated in my last post:).

Michael and I flew out of Chicago on Saturday - and let me just say that flying from Chicago to Europe instead of the West Coast makes a big difference!  8 hours to Dusseldorf - that was pretty easy and besides I got to sit by the cutest little boys on the plane.  Trilingual (Korean - mom, German - dad, English - living in the US).  So, so cute...had a robot movie recommended to me and so I watched that for a bit - awesome.

Michael had mentioned that Cologne was not far from Dusseldorf (where we had a layover) and it has an amazing cathedral so we took the train there...took about one hour.  Walked out of the train station and there was the church...very gothic and amazing just like Michael said!  I was glad we went.  There was a Christmas market going on as well and it was very festive, crowded and smelled delicious!  I loved every moment of our 8 hour layover excursion:).

It was VERY good to get to Budapest, unpack a bit...catch up on some sleep and see not only family but friends met/made last year!  What fun.  Then Josh took me to the airport on Tuesday to head to Zurich for finance training.

Oh my....the past 2 days have been numbers, chart of accounts, numbers, bank statements, numbers, data entry and did I mention numbers?  Bean counter...that's what I'm doing:).  Great people to work with - American, German, Swiss, Hungarian and more to be added to the list in the near future and I'm enjoying it all.

I head back to Budapest tomorrow (Friday) to start my Christmas holiday - and Saturday there is a group serving lunch to the homeless shelter - woo hoo!  Of course Bob and Colleen have many events planned for us and I'm looking forward to all of it.  I'm sure there will be some number crunching amongst all the celebrations too and that is a good thing...there is work to be done and catching up to do!

It's amazing how quickly I have adopted to some things...like not hearing English in public places and not using the US dollar for payment or simply adjusting how the locks on doors work differently!  I do enjoy being here...and the next 12 months is awaited with great hope and anticipation.

I'm not saying that I have all my ducks in a row yet...like my SIM card for a phone, or bank account, or signed up for language classes, or my visa process started but those will definitely be coming over the next couple of weeks.  Life is good, God has been very faithful to me and proves to be waaaaayyy better so...much love to you all!

May you enjoy each moment of this beautiful Christmas season...and Happy 2015:)!!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Phew!...1 week, family travel and amazing music...

One week until Budapest!
Once again time is a mystery to me....6 months ago I was coming home and not really knowing my next step and once that was decided sometime in August...I still had 3 months...plenty of time right?  Not so much:).  Time goes quickly and here I am entering into the week I go to Budapest.  It is becoming more real - I left California last Thursday so that was a step.  Now I've been to the two concerts at Olivet where Michael attends (and sings!).  I flew to North Carolina to see my nephew David - that was great:).  Tomorrow I head to see my cousin and another cousin's daughter in St. Louis...and then fly to Budapest with Michael on Saturday....woo hoo!
Tonight my Uncle, Aunt and cousin from Libertyville came to see/hear Michael sing in 'The Messiah'.  Bourbonnais is about 1 1/2 hours from Libertyville so what precious  family we have to come all this way!  So great to see them...love, love love!
When was the last time you heard The Messiah?  It has been a while for me...and I enjoyed it VERY much.  Straight out of Scripture...amazing!  That Handel guy really had a talent putting the words to music.
Listening to The Messiah tonight; I was reminded about a year ago I had gone to Auschwitz and wrote my 'One Man' post (Dec. 15, 2013).  I am still in awe with many men that made an impact on this world (including Handel for sure!) but certainly Jesus made the biggest impact.  And that is who I want to work for in Budapest or anywhere in the world that I may land --- may I honor Him with all that I do and say.  As usual...life is good but God IS waaaay better.  Enjoy some words from The Messiah below:
"Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God'
"And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed..."
"O though that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lfit up thy voice with strength!"
"...and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."
"For unto us a child is born..."
"...and the glory of the Lord shone round about them..."
"Glory to God in the highest..."
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion..."
"...and He shall gather the lambs with His arm..."
"Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him..."
"He was despised and rejected of men..."
"Sure He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows;..."
"But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell:..."
"King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, Hallelujah!"
"I know that my Redeemer liveth,..."
"AMEN!"

Monday, November 17, 2014

Just over two weeks...and off to one year in Budapest!

So here I am...it's November 17th and I leave December 4th.  It seems a million days away and yet....it's only just over 2 weeks!  YIKES.  Let me just recap what I'm doing since my last blog post was several months ago:).
I'm heading back to Europe...for a one year volunteer commitment.  Budapest, Hungary is where I will be based and volunteering with the Nazarene Church.  I'm working with a gentleman that is the Field Director - so he is over several countries and the ministries that go on in each one.  Various ministries going on in the countries such as planting churches, coffee shops, trafficking shelters, the list goes on but bottom line it is about reaching out to people!  He has asked that I assist him working with finances, processes, documentation etc - so administrative kind of work.  That will be good - I'm fairly comfortable with that.  Also he and his wife have asked me to become involved with a children's homeless shelter work that is currently going on and a women's trafficking shelter that is currently growing.  Those things are new to me and quite exciting.
Am I nervous? - Yes and no...I'm more excited.  To learn, grow, live and love.  I have so much to learn and I'm trusting through that I will grow a lot as well!  Living and loving - thanks to many wonderful people in my life...that part is easy.  I'm excited to meet more amazing people but leaving family and friends for a year has been a bit difficult to get my brain around.  It's kind of a long time!  I'm very thankful for communication methods such as this blog, FaceBook, FaceTime, Skype, email and even postcards and phone calls!  Please keep in touch - it means a lot.
Have I packed? no - started but oh so far to go.  How to pack for a year?...and cold weather at that?  Just the coat, boots, gloves, scarf and hat take way too much room up in the suitcase.  Obviously whoever set the baggage limits on airlines has not moved over seas for any length of time at all.  I have to keep telling myself to keep it simple - I can do wash and don't need 'stuff'!
Am I fully funded? Another no...I posted the following (see below in italics) on FaceBook last week - but would like to ask for your help as well if you feel so led.  I would appreciate any gifts at all...it's a write off for you so hope that helps you as well!:).
So that is where I am...I look forward to getting back to blogging more regularly over the coming months.  Again...please keep in touch - I do love to hear from you all!
Take care and blessings to you as we head into this Thanksgiving time...I am very thankful for each of you...certainly still agree that life is good and God is wwaaaaaay better!

For my FB friends and family...you may know that a year ago I left my job of 27 years and left to volunteer in Poland.  I worked at a Coffee Shop called Sweet Surrender.  Connecting with people, employees and learning a bit of volunteer missions. I loved every minute of it...returned to Sacramento in June and wasn't sure what was next.  Over the next few months; I spent time with lots of family and was comtemplating/seeking my future.  
I was asked to return to the Central European Field associated with the Nazarene Church - and I accepted.  I've been asked to work with some administrative work such as finances, processes, and training.  Along with that I am privileged to be asked to work with a homeless children shelter and a women's trafficking shelter.  I'm a bit nervous but mostly excited!!!  I have agreed to volunteer for the next year...through mid-December 2015.
I'm asking for donations to support my work while I am based in Budapest, Hungary.  My living expenses are expected to be approximately $1,000 a month.  You will get a receipt - Are you willing to support me - one time donation or perhaps a monthly payment?  Online:  web.nazarene.org/goto/carolskinner or mail checks to Fremont Presbyterian Church - 5770 Drive/Sacramento, Ca 95819 - Hungary in the memo line.
Thanks for your consideration...I look forward to sharing with you on my blog - of my work, my challenges, and my adventures!  

Much love,
Carol

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer time and 'next'...

I love summer...absolutely love it.  July was family reunion time - and oh how much fun it was.  Great to see Aunts, Uncles, cousins, kids of cousins...and even adding another generation of grandkids of cousins!  Crazy but loved it all.  All this took place in the Chicago area and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan - I think I experienced the best weather ever...lots of bugs but weather was surprising...minimum humidity and/or heat.  Woo hoo!

The past two days in Sacramento haven't even made it into the 90's.  That's amazing.  Last week - on the day my poor parents, sisters and nephew moved my stuff from storage to a trailer to haul up to Oregon...106 degrees!  Scary hot.  I didn't know if I was going to make it to my 50th:).  After some 'time outs' from the heat, lots of cold water, ice, swimming and prayer - we all made it.  But it was a bit much.  The next day was my 50th and it was perfect.  Started out with sisters, niece, nephew and friend walking the 5K 'Color Run'.  What a hoot! - we were covered in color, that is for sure.  Two showers and some pool time later - I was fairly presentable to go to the River Cats (Triple A) baseball game.  More family, friends and fun!  Really - it was a perfect day.  Thanks to sooo many people for making the day special - being present, calls, texts, e-mails, cards, FB messages etc etc....it was great!

What is next?...glad you asked:).  My nephews Robby and Michael are headed to Mom/Dad's next week to help out and I will be there as well which I'm looking forward to very much!  Then I will be coming back to Sacramento and doing some consulting/contract work for Pacific Coast (previous employer).  That will be for a few weeks off and on and in between those times I will spend a week or so in John Day with Mom and Dad.  I havent yet seen the list of projects from my parents but I hope to be of some help anyway!  Lots to do I'm sure.

Come December..it looks like I will be heading to Budapest.  Bob's boss is the 'Field Strategy Coordinator' for Central Europe - which includes 10 different countries.  He has asked me to come be Field Support...working on processes, finances etc for those 10 countries!  Looks like for a while I will be based in Budapest which also has a place for homeless kids that the church partners with so I hope to be a part of that work as well.  Of course - as I found out last time - plans change so I'm open to whatever and pretty much anywhere - I was asked to committ to a year so we shall see what happens over the year of 2015:).  I know I will be returning to Idaho/California at some point to attend some high school graduations - that will be very good along with a graduation in Budapest!

Ethiopia/Africa is still in my heart but is not working out for now.  I did meet a couple at the church meetings I attended in Tennessee - they run Project Mercy in Ethiopia so that connection may work out - but nothing real quickly so that is okay.  I will continue to see what can open up...maybe after 2015, we shall see.

Either way...life is good, God is waaaay better and I felt like a blog was overdue.  I trust your summer is going well - I see some are already back at school!  Crazy but so it goes...love it!  Take care:).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Home, cherries and coffee shop presentations :)

Home...as in where I grew up.  John Day, Oregon...or more accurately Canyon City, Oregon.  Beautiful place - Mom and Dad got this house in 1969...I was 5 and they have done a lot of work to it :).  We slaved as kids - yes, I mean slaved.  I'm sure I did not like it growing up but today I'm okay with it.  I appreciate the work ethic.  The yard was a rock pit when we moved in, now it is lush, green and full of different kinds of flower gardens, a fish pond, a vegetable garden, trees and a hammock:).  Pure enjoyment.  My parents are doing pretty well - they are hard workers.  Perseverance must be in their genes, in their general outlook on life - just their overall attitude.   The house and the yard/property look good.  I'm impressed.  So that is good news to me...very good news.

Mom and a friend of hers wanted to go pie cherry picking today.  So we loaded up the buckets and drove about 45 minutes to Thompson's Orchards on the John Day River...beautiful place.  We picked for about an hour and had all 9 buckets full!  We got three different type of cherries and some apricots - yuuum!  Good times.  Came home and pitted the pie cherries because we are headed to Boise tomorrow to see my sisters and family.  Who can have a 4th of July without a cherry pie?...not our family :).  Mom made two cherry pies tonight.  It will be good to see everybody - it has been since November so a while!  

I did my presentation last Sunday - got some good questions and feedback...my favorite part was that my Aunt Sue came to see and hear me!  That was amazing...made me very happy.  I also got to see several people that I missed so it was fun all around.  I think it is going to work out that I do a presentation again here in John Day...looking like Sunday night at The Corner Cup - yep...you guessed it - a coffee shop!  So come on by:).

Have a great 4th of July...I am thankful for this country where my citizenship is.  It is a beautiful and inspiring world...I do love to travel,  serve and experience other countries as I have over the past year.  Last year at this time I was in Ethiopia...what a great path the past year!  Life is good, looking over the past year's experiences, people, and lessons I am still convinced that God is waaaaay better.  Take care and be safe to all of you:).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Heart and home...

It is a Saturday morning (usually way too early for me) but here I am listening to the birds sing and contemplating my new surroundings.  Life as I know it, in my little world, looks a bit different.  I see bus stops, I hear and understand conversations taking place around me, I remember to take my own bags when I go shopping, I say Polish words as I'm going about my day, I dink out of my Polish pottery mug, I miss different people here, I miss Poland.

So how or where do we call home?  The saying 'home is where the heart is' means something different now. IMy heart is kind of broken.  I loved, relished and treasured each moment since I left Sacramento on November 20th.  Now I am loving, relishing and treasuring each moment of being back here.  I'm sure I will relish and treasure my time in Tennesee, Oregon, Idaho, Illinois and Michigan over the summer..  So where is my home?  I know it is not lumber and wallboard structures; I had a house...but that is gone and I don't regret that.  But I am wandering a bit.

Saying 'see you later' in Poland and Hungary was difficult.  I'm not real comfortable or smooth at saying good-bye anyway but I would do okay and then something would trigger and I would burst into tears.  Like sitting on the train from Poznan to Krakow - looking out the window thinking of the amazing people and enjoying the country speeding by my eyes.  Like standing at a bus stop in Krakow after I did my 'last' errand of closing out my accounts at various places.  Like walking the hall in the Budapest airport towards my gate.  And actually - those were precious times because I would be thinking of a person or people...and I do enjoy memories.

I lived 18 of my yeats in Oregon, 4 years between Seattle, and Portland, 27 years in Sacramento, 6 1/2 months in Poland. so I have left part of my heart in other places throughout my life as well...but our heart does not regenerate.  So part of my heart will always be in Poland and Hungary.  I plan on going back, just not sure what that looks like or when that may be as of right now.  Hungary for family, Josh graduates next June....Poland for a new family that became very dear over the past months.  Amazing how quickly heart bonds can form!

I am thankful for the last 6 1/2 months - thank you for your prayers, support, encouragement and for reading this and even telling me that you read this!  That is always a pleasant surprise when somebody tells me they read my blog like the other night at dinner with friends - it is humbling.  In reality, the whole time was a very humbling experience.  I learned lots, I loved lots, I think I worked lots....all very good things.  Life is very, very, very good.  And I truly trust that I live and convey that God is waaaaaaay better...my heart may be broken a bit, but it does overflow - maybe being broken makes it overflow even quicker which is okay with me:).

Much love to all of you - whereever you may be.
Carol

ps...for those in the Sacramento area - I will be sharing/presenting my experiences on Sunday, June 29th at 10:00 - Fremont Presbyterian Church..  Feel free to come - I would love to see your wonderful faces!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Windows, music, flowers, and driving!

Face timing with book club friends, weeding planter boxes and garden areas, going to an AMAZING flower market with Sweet Surrender employees and thus planting the garden etc, washing windows (really high windows!) -  these are a few of my activities this week!  Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho is sending an 'ensemble' over so that starts Saturday for me.  We have been getting ready!  There is an apartment above the coffee shop that is recently empty (no renter) and part of the choir is staying there along with other teams coming over here this summer.  So working up there has been fun. Setting up all the details for transporting this group of 8 folks...worked out that Bob and I will be driving two cars to Germany to pick them up and then back to Poznan via a few sightseeing adventures in Berlin.  Then on Wednesday we will head to Krakow and they fly out of there next Saturday.  So we have visiting schools for music, speaking English and concerts all over town this week in Poznan - and even a radio interview set up for Sunday night!  That just came through today so that was great news:).
Well - that was written on May 22nd....and it is now May 28th - I'm slacking:).  Just a funny thought - I drove in Germany...you know- everybody dreams of driving with no speed limit on their autobahn right?!!!  Well - I'm in a station wagon Opel that starts to shake at about 120 kmh (75 mph)  Funny!  So I go 140-150 (86-93mph) to stay up with Bob anyway - love it!

I am sitting in a little resteaurant in Oswiecimia...next to Auschwitz/Birkenau.  There is a group of 11 people (ensemble from NNU and 2 students from Trevecca along with Bob) going through with a guide.  I went through in December and am just not ready to go through again so I came to find wi-fi!  So I hope they have a good guide and learn lots.  It is definitely sobering.  We will be in Krakow over the next few days.  I will be moving out of my apartment and taking the car back to Poznan along with one of the students from Trevecca and then head to Budapest.  I fly out of there in 2 weeks...holy moly.

The choir has been a lot of fun - troopers for sure.  They sing so nicely - I have heard their songs several times and they are really good!  The day they sang at the church off the Old Town Square in Poznan was so fun - acoustics were hard to beat.  They just wanted to sing and sing...it was cute.  After the 'audience' left,  the ensemble did a couple songs that they had sung earlier in the year as part of the bigger choir - it was nice.  So we got to connect with a lot of people in Poznan - schools, church and the radio interview was great!  We got a tour of the station (very old and awesome) and then got some live radio too since we were in the studio the lady let us talk and she gave a 'pitch' for the upcoming concerts etc- good stuff!

Colleen will be in Krakow when we get there so that will be good - she is so good with meeting and connecting with people.  That will go well I'm sure.  I don't really know much more I guess - I know that I've had to say good-bye to several folks in Poznan already and it's not easy!  How do you tell people that you may never come back?---it is a complete mystery to me right now where I will be come September.  I'm quite thankful for social media in this instance...I think I've said that before.  So...life is good and God is waaaaayyy better....I'm not worried about September - that is not my own doing:).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

JIF and trams in a small world :)

Well - I don't know exactly where my brother got the peanut butter...who brought it over the ocean for he and his family but he shared!  I got a big 'ol jar of JIF Creamy to bring back to Poznan.  So - I'm happy:).  It is Tuesday and I'm actually drinking a warm vanilla latte!  I always drink iced drinks but I got chilled today so I'm warming up with a warm latte - yummm!

There is a lady here in Poznan that I just met, Kamila, and she does interviews for the 'International Poznan' show.  She does this on a volunteer basis -  she meets with people living in Poznan from all over the world (I would imagine) and listens to their stories.  Why they are here, what are their dreams etc etc.  So she is the 'pre-interviewer' and then she types up the notes and hands them into to the show to see how/what/when it may be used.  I met Kamila because she did a pre-interview on me which was interesting.  First of all - I enjoyed the chance to hear a little of her life - she spent 2 years in the States as an au pair so I think her English is amazing (she doesn't think so).  She has her Masters in Speech Pathology and is trying to get approved for a Fellowship in the States and get her PhD.  WOW - she is the one that should be interviewed!  I enjoyed talking with her very much.  We talked of my previous work..that I left, what I'm doing now, what and why of Sweet Surrender, some about the places I've traveled and life in general.  Besides, we met at this great little restaurant that serves chocolate everything...can you imagine raspberries and white chocolate warmed up?  Oh my...all around a great way to spend a few hours in Poland :)!!!

Oh - I have to write about my tram experience when I got back to Poznan.  I have a routine in the morning of taking tram #2 or #9...they both stop by Sweet Surrender.  So the first one to come by was #9 and we were two stops away from 'Most Teatralny' (stop closest to Sweet Surrender) and the tram turns a different way!  Well...that's a bit tough to take on a Monday morning.  I leave Poznan for a week and they change the route of tram #9...what is THAT about?!  So of course I hopped off at the next stop and walked my way to the shop but what?...really?!  Then - Marybeth and I were headed to the bicycle statue guy to take a picture with the home made biscotti I received (yummm...thank you Pamela! - see the side picture!) and so there is a stop right by there and we jumped on the tram and I expected it to turn to the statue and it went straight!  Marybeth said my face just showed shock...and when we got off the tram - crossing the street heading to the statue a tram was coming right at us and I didn't even see it.  So we called yesterday my tram travesty day....yikes...route changes and almost getting hit - nice day huh?  We laughed pretty hard actually....good times.

Last week - Josh's musical was very good.  He did great and it was good to see some other high school kids perform that I knew as well!  I'm getting to know some people here and it's fun to see their families involved in school activities etc.  Several people would greet me and say 'you are the one that would bring Dude to the basketball tournament right'?  Ha!...funny - yep...that's me...the Budapest dog sitter.

I told Kamila about my blog and that my dream was to turn the post/ideas etc into a book some day - I need to start working on that.  I'm not sure what it will be or look like but it has almost been a year now since I started the blog so I may have enough thoughts/stories etc for something right?  Anyway - great to write things down and share with others - helps keep me thinking:).  Life is good, God is waaayy better and I'm very thankful for friends and family in my life and new friends that I meet on different continents - what a great (small) world that God created!

PS...my Dad is home!  He was released early and doing his IV and physical therapy in John Day.  Bob and I talked to both Mom and Dad last Friday and it seemed they were doing well.  Dad definitely needs to build his strength up more but doing okay...so that was good news.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Flying by...

One month left in Poland! Crazy...six months goes by fast and especially when I'm down to the last month and it will be pretty packed!  I will basically be in Poznan for a couple weeks, Krakow for a couple weeks and then head back to Budapest to fly home.  There is a choir coming from Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho so we will be picking them up in Germany and heading to Poznan - they will sing and speak at various schools, churches, locations around Poznan and then we all head to Krakow.  They will be performing etc in Krakow as well so it will be a great 8 days with that team.

Then I will need to move out of my loft in Krakow...sad but true.  There will be a couple girls staying there from Trevecca Nazarene University doing a culturall immersion study so that is nice the loft is available and they can live there.  We all are preparing for a few teams coming to Poland this summer - they will work on projects at each Sweet Surrender shop and then do a kids day camp in the parks around town during the afternoon.  Plus all the activities at the shop in the evening...I think it will be a good experience.  Camps are a big deal here in the summer...and English is desired so I think it should go well - we shall see!

So - all that to say that momentum is building and word is getting out about the church and Sweet Surrender in Poland!  It was great this weekend as we had a Central European Field conference...so people from 8-10 different countries were represented.  Each team presented what is going on in their area and it was amazing to hear it all (and in all different languages...Romanian, Albanian, Bulgarian, Danish etc - awesome!).  Poland was kind of fun to do - we did a coffee cupping and correlated coffee shop ministry to that...aroma, taste, identification, and satisfaction!  For my California/wine friends and family...coffee cupping is really like a wine tasting...but you get to slurp:).

Once again it has been 90 days since I left the European Union so I found really cheap flights to London.  I went to London on Tuesday and met up with Joanna - that was fun!  We did quite a bit in the 13 hours I was there....she is great to come and meet me for the day.  Now I am back in Krakow to welcome/orient the students that came in from Nashville.  Bob is here in Krakow as well so I will go home with him and see Joshua in the school musical this year.  I'm excited for that....he does have a great voice so I hope he sings loudly :).  The school is performing 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' - Josh is Benjamin so brother #2.

I don't know much else - my summer is filling up quickly!...so come August we will see where I land.  I still am not sure and don't think I will make a decision until after I return home.  I will be traveling quite a bit until August and then we'll see where/what etc.  Exciting times!  I am certain that life is good and even more certain that God is waaaay better :).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WOW and bad public transportation day...

Well this week has flown by!  Sitting here on the train from Krakow to Poznan and realized it has been a week since I've done a post on my blog.  I love that!  The busy part that is....

Easter was amazing - Budapest with Bob, Colleen and Josh.  Good Friday - nice tenebrae service and then Saturday Bob and Colleen hosted a big 'ol bar-b-que which was fun to be a part of...good food for sure!  Sunday started out right with an absolutely beautiful sunrise service on a hill overlooking Budapest.  Later in the morning was a service and brunch - nice.  That late afternoon several (including all four of us) were invited over to a Hungarian family's home. They are actually Bob and Colleen's landlords and the reason they rent out their house was due to a bad anurysm and accident that the Dad had.  It has debilitated him for life but all the doctors and rehabilitation people are amazed that he can even walk and function on his own.  Isn't that cool?!  Bob and Colleen have just loved, shared and prayed with them since day one and they are just drinking it all in.  Good stuff.

So then on Monday we drove to Krakow.  There are a group of 'big wigs' meeting here this week so I hitched a ride.  The fun part is that they requested to come to Poland so Bob set it all up since it is his area.  And guess who he worked with to arrange the details?...Joanna!  I have met many Joanna's since I came here but this one is the very first one from my very first day.  She helped me get a SIM card for my phone...remember?!  Isn't that awesome!?  She and her fiance are actually both working in England right now trying to make some money for their wedding in May but she came home for this week to make sure all the details ran smoothly.  She originally went to England to establish a company - a tour guide service!  So Bob and this group are her first 'real' clients... good stuff.  It was great to see her and catch up a bit.  I did work while in Krakow too...met with the accountant and worked on items for the meetings happening this week (in Krakow) and next week (in Budapest).  Oh - and I went to go see the other Joannas I met here...at the Polish Language School I attended!  I was signing some people up that are coming here in May - so that was fun to catch up with more Joanna's as well...they remembered me - how cool is that?!

I must admit it was nice to be back on Facebook Sunday.  Actually that was pretty funny.  Bob's wireless was whacked out all weekend so between the two services on Sunday we were at a coffee shop that had wireless!  Perfect.  I'm still catching up but it is good to be back in the loop a little bit anyway.  I find it simply amazing the tool that Facebook has become - so many people just go there to find events, places, people, communicate and publish information etc - I think that is kinda cool.  Yes, with the good comes the bad...but that is to be expected in this world and it seems to me that we can make those choices in our Facebook world so that is helpful.

Speaking of catching up and loops...my Dad - WOW.  It has now been decided that he will stay in Boise for 4 weeks!  He is in a rehab center - he is on IV for his infection plus will be starting physical therapy so apparently 24/7 care was decided upon.  That whole deal sounds pretty serious to me...I'm not sure if I would feel better about it if I was in California but I do think I would be in closer communication with Mom, Phyllis and Sue about it all.  So - that is one thing about being many miles and time zones apart - communicatin is a challenge and I can't just hop in my car and run up to Boise to check it all out for myself!  Mom has been great at sending daily emails so that certainly is appreciated.

Guess that's it - I'd appreciate your prayers for my Dad...he's a strong man but I think all these issues have taken their toll!  Pain is a weird phenomena...does crazy things to us physically, mentally and spirtually.  Life is good, I do believe and trust God is waaayy better.

Check that...not quite done.  I arrived back in Poznan...thunder and lightening storm going on!  It was great...from the train.  But I got off the train and the Giles family (who I rent my room from) was there to greet me - that was great.  They were headed to Krakow and their train left 10 minutes after I arrived :).  Anywho - went to the tram stop - any tram but #10 could get me home.  #8 pulls in - I get on - nope...didn't go to my stop.  Turned right the city block before my stop and went down that street for a bit.  I got off - but it was after 10:45 at night and...no more buses or trams in that neighborhood.  I hoofed it home - in the rain - in my sweatshirt - with my suitcase.  And let me just say - there were some flash flood little rivers going on.  So I'm home safe and sound (and wet) now - having ended my day about the same way I started my day. This morning I was supposed to meet Joanna to taste cakes with her...but alas I could NOT find the bus I was to transfer to get out to the area she was in.  Stink - not a good public transportation day!  Oh well - so it goes.  G'night:).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dad and JIF!

It's a sad day here in Poznan, Poland.  Well - let me clarify - in my world here in Poznan, Poland:).  My Jif creamy peanut butter is goooooonnnne!  Yes - there is such a thing as peanut butter here but let me just tell you - it is NOT Jif!  Now we can get into the 'creamy' vs 'crunchy' argument or even the 'Jif' vs. 'Skippy' argument but I'm devastated.  JIF CREAMY wins hands down and I am totally out.  So - I did a mini-funeral prayer for the very cleaned out jar and laid it to rest in the recycle bin.  Sad, sad day.

I did get a worrisome email from my sister this morning (very late for them on Wednesday night) - Dad was going back into the hospital.  He had a fever during the day and they decided it was due to infection from the knee surgery.  He had an incision that was seeping and they were watching it etc but apparently it got infected. He may be having surgery again today - so please pray for my Daddy:).  On the other hand - it is Maunday Thursday and I'm headed to my brother's for Easter!  So that is good news.

Other than that - not much - just wanted to let you know my life today I guess!  It is good...and God is way better (yes...even more than Jif Creamy!).  Much love.



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Easter Week

Palm Sunday...I love today and the whole coming week.  It started off last night as I went to a play at the Citadel Park here in Poznan of the 'Passion of Christ'.  It was amazing - the actors performed in a HUGE area of the park so I enjoyed it - to see a pretty long procession of people with palms all the way to the road to Golgotha and the cross.  The sounds were very loud (good sound system) so each crack of the whip and hammering of the nail really made me flinch.  I thought it was done pretty well and made me stop and think for sure. Today I saw a parade of people on the street in Poznan - it seemed to be a Palm Sunday procession - and it sounded like people were reciting various Catholoc prayers.  I didn't understand what they were saying but it was interesting to watch and listen for a while.

I must admit; my church in Sacramento (Fremont Presbyterian) does Easter very well.  I will miss that this year but I have loved taking part in the past.  Today starts it all with Palm Sunday - then Tuesday they will have a demonstration of the Jewish Passover meal and traditions.  Thursday is the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday) which is amazing to take part in and Friday's Tenebrae service is very moving...leaving in mourning for Christ's death.  But the entire church is transformed for Sunday and Easter is absolutely beautiful and very 'victorious'!  Awesome to say the least.

Yesterday we had kids come to the craft and food event...that was pretty fun!  Not a lot of kids but we made our paper beads and empty tombs and the kids were amazing.  Everything turned out looking good so that was great fun.

Enjoy your Easter week...I certainly will!  I will miss going to my sister's and/or parent's house (or some coming to Sacramento) but instead I get to spend it at my brother's house!  I will definitely enjoy that :).

Life is good...God is waaaay better - much love to you all!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Polish Tuesday :)

Well what a great day!  It started out with a nice bowl of oatmeal...followed by a great vanilla latte:).  That was just the beginning but what an amazing start!

Moved on to interviewing two students to work at Sweet Surrender...both at the University of Art here in Poznan...one in photography and one in art.  Such talent these students have - love it.  Sweet Surrender hires all students so we have some that will be done with college this year so we are hiring in order to train and be ready for people leaving upon graduation.  One girl already got a job this week; very happy for her but sad for us, she was a great worker so I'm sure she will do well at the hospital that hired her.  The summer months are really a slow time for the coffee shop - we update our menu to more 'summer' food and drink items but the fact is that people like to be outside when nice weather comes!  So that is good news really but Sweet Surrender is closed for the entire month of August.  So things need to get done by July...some work to be done!

Next on the Tuesday agenda was working in the kitchen for a few hours...that always starts with vacuuming and mopping the 'back half' of the coffee shop.  Made some soup (not sure what it was...I'm not a huge fan of soup so...yeah...I think it was some carrot/ginger thing...whatever).  Ran to the little corner store; Netto. This is my favorite store in all of Poznan I'm quite sure of it.  If you know me at all...I'm not a shopper but I'll tell you what - I can spend some time rustling through the bargain bins at Netto.  Too funny...I have to force myself not to go down those aisles so I won't look!  Craziness.

Later in the afternoon today a lady came to the shop who is doing a kids workshop on Saturday.  Oh I can't wait!  From 11:00 - 1:00 on Saturday for kids from 7 -11 in age we will be doing a craft and cooking workshop at Sweet Surrender.  We are preparing some paper beads for the kids to use.  I actually rolled some beads myself today...soo exciting since I brought some necklaces back from Ethiopia made of paper beads - now I know how to make them myself!  The kids will make paper bead bracelets and then they will bake an 'empty tomb' (cresent roll dough and you wrap it around a marshmallow--marshmallow melts while cooking but the bread stays raised up and is 'empty'...clever huh?).  We will tell the Easter story (thank you Fremont Presbyterian for sending eggs over!) and then finish up the bracelets...all in 2 hours!  I'm so excited...Krakow had kids cooking classes once a month on Saturdays and it was just amazing to see pure glee on the kids' faces.  Saturday will be fun.

After that I had a meeting with Mis'ka...the gal that took me to the Fara Church that Saturday and we went on the tour of the crypts etc.  Amazing lady.  She does all the flyers, Facebook posts, emails, newsletters etc for Sweet Surrender Poznan...so we meet weekly to go over status and all that normal stuff.  I enjoy her very much...but she may be gone in July as well--going for her masters.  So that is tough but...what to do?

The final 'work' thing for the day was...a meeting with a gal from a gospel choir here in Poznan. Gospel choirs are really popular in Poland...it is quite amazing but true.  Well - Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho is sending a choir to Poland this May to sing, perform etc etc. So I'm working on the logistics for them - where to perform, when to perform, where to stay, how to get from point A to point B and onto point C - I thnk you get the idea.  I enjoy it all very much - but I don't have a lot of contacts so I get to work with Kasia who is Polish and knows more than I do about booking places/people and her choir has good contacts with local radio, TV etc!  So that meeting was awesome - it should be good....and I think the choir will have a lot of fun doing performances in some amazing venues as well as 'flash mob' type of things at malls, on the tram and in parks around town.  A little time on the radio or TV never hurt a choir either:)!

To top the whole day off - I got to Face Time with my Mom and Dad.  Dad is doing well with his new knee...had the surgery last Tuesday in Boise, went home on Thursday and has a follow up appointment this Thursday back in Boise.  Mom is working hard keeping him on the straight and narrow so she says she sleeps well at night but doing good.

Now I'm home and ready for bed...just thought I would share a bit of a Tuesday in Poznan, Poland.  Loving life, and loving God even more...He is very good to me.  Thank you to all of you for sharing this journey with me and being so encouraging/supportive.  Happy Tuesday to you wherever you may be!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Love the traveling:)

Happy birthday to sister Phyllis!  On a whim last night I face timed to Mom/Dad and they answered (a miracle) and then I saw Phyllis as well; she had been in John Day for a couple days.  So that was great to see her face, hear her voice and be able to wish her happy birthday!  Late last week I think it was, I was able to Skype with my sister Susan so now I've seen and talked to my immediate family all within the same week - woo hoo:).  My Dad has knee replacement surgery on Tuesday (April 1st) so that was good to chat with him about all that going on etc.  He is ready for much less pain in the near future!  Mom is doing very well - she got a great report on her follow up appointment a couple weeks ago so now she plans on helping Dad with his re-hab on his knee.  My parents are awesome.

I'm sitting here at the river today; beautiful spring day here in Poznan!  People are out boating, running, walking, biking, bar-b-queing...all good.

So since my last blog - I have been gone mostly...Berlin, Prague and Warsaw.  Berlin was amazing - we made reservations (apparently required so they can check your background) to the Reichstag - German goverment building.  That was awesome - really old building of course but they have built a glass dome and you wind your way up the 360 degree dome with headsets explaining the city of Berlin that you can see out of the dome.  Very interesting.  Then we walked over to the Brandenburg Gate - which was part of the Berlin Wall so we walked to and from what was East/West Berlin...amazing.  The next day we went to Check Point Charlie and that was quite surreal.  Unbelievable really to me...what it must have been like.  The last time Colleen had been in Berlin was while the Berlin Wall was still up so it was very interesting to her - she had been through CheckPoint Charlie and now just to walk on the street where it had all been was overwhelming.

Prague was amazingly beautiful (see side picture).  The last time I had been there was in January 15 years ago and the St. Charlies Bridge was so packed with snow - there was nobody on it.  I think Bob, Michael and I had the bridge and streets to ourselves!  This time; great weather and pretty packed with people...good stuff.  We found a free walking tour the first day and the guide was awesome.  So full of stories and history and information - it was great.  In fact, we signed up for another tour the next day with the same guide as she took us through the castle at Prague...great!  70% atheism in Czech Republic.  They have had so many wars due to religion; people are just fed up.  That was quite the fact to learn...sad to me.  Josh's concerts were amazing - the high school choir and string orchestra sang in a church that was fairly new (built in 1910) with amazing acoustics so no microphones, no electronic anything.  They did a great job - Josh got to do a reading before one of the songs and he did excellent (says the oh-so-proud-Aunt)!

Then this past week several from Sweet Surrender Krakow and Poznan headed up to Warsaw for the Polish 'Coffee Olympics'.  Again, folks take their coffee pretty seriously.  A bit much for me but it was all interesting to see and experience.  There is an actual competition - all timed at 6 minutes long;  best latte art, making Irish Creme, number of 'good' espresso shots, and identifying the strongest coffee in six different groups brewed.  Sweet Surrender Poznan had a guy competing for the first time; he did alright!  Not stellar but it was good and fun to support him.  We all took the train and stayed at a hostel so it was good to have some 'team' time. The coffee roasting company that supplies coffee to Sweet Surrender are based in Warsaw so we did get to go to their location and see the roastery and their training room etc - that was quite interesting.  Serious about coffee!
So now comes April which means Easter...I'm very excited to experience Easter here.  Everybody tells me the city really shuts down...so we shall see.  The Monday after Easter is called 'Dyngus Day' here in Poland.  The youth throw water on each other out in the streets!  It's funny to hear Polish people tell stories of when they were in high school etc...it's basically a time for romance - ha!  The history apparently dates back to 966 AD when a Polish princess was baptised...indicating cleansing, fertility and purification.  How things change :).

I must admit I have missed being on FaceBook for Lent...but I have been doing much more reading so that is a good thing.  I kind of 'keep up' with people on FaceBook though so I feel very out of the loop.  Ahhh well - so goes the short term sacrifice.  Hopefully it will make me appreciate the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus and once I return to FB to enjoy catching up with friends and family:).  And...I have a LOT less hits on my blog without FaceBook...odd?...

Have a great week - I certainly intend to since life is good and God is waaaaaay better!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Old Town Squares and elderly people

Old Town Squares - I just love them!  There is a very pink church off the old town square of Poznan (Fara Church).  It was started by the Jesuits in the 1600's...was demolished in the 1700's and rebuilt again.  It is now considered a 'city' church and it has a huge pipe organ.  So every Saturday at noon there is a concert there and I have gone a couple times now.  The church is absolutely beautiful!  HUGE marble columns on each side leading up to the alter area so it is very awe inspiring.  The perfect thing about this church?  I went today with a girl from the shop and her boyfriend!  After the concert each week is an opportunity to take a tour - of the crypts, the upper level of the church and of the sacristy...where the priests get ready etc.  It was excellent!  I enjoyed that very much....it was a cold, windy and rainy day so what a perfect day to be inside.  We have had spring like weather this week so to have a rainy day again is kind of a bummer.  But so is spring I guess!

The orphanage didn't happen for me this week; I was out of commission for a few days due to being sick.  I feel better now, still some to go.  But I must get better for this week is Joshua's spring break!  He is going to Prague to sing...selected kids from schools several countries gather and practice together for 3 days and then on Sunday they perform two concerts.  Sounds awesome to me and Josh invited me to go!...he knows that all he has to do is ask...I'll be there :).  Really...all my niece and nephews have me wrapped around their little fingers...just ask and I will be go, do, give, whatever!  Being an Aunt is the best thing ever!!!!  Anyway - bonus that Bob and Colleen are going as well so that will be fun.  Actually - Bob needs to come to Poznan for some business so he did the route from Poznan to Prague on Google Maps and the fastest route is through Berlin.  What a shame right?!!!  So - Bob and Colleen will come to Poznan on Tuesday...Bob will do his business meeting etc Wednesday morning and then we are off to Berlin!  We will hit Prague on Thursday when the other volunteers from Poznan will join us and we will all enjoy Prague for a couple days ending with amazing concerts!  I'm looking forward to it all.  And then I will take the midnight bus (hmmmm...should be midnight train - isn't that a song?) home to Poznan.  FYI - Poznan to Berlin - approx 2 1/2 hours, Berlin to Prague - approx. 3 1/2 hours.  Not bad!

There was one observation that was funny to me this week.  When I arrived in Poland and was part of the 'public transportation' crowd - I noticed so many people running to make the light at an intersection - to get across to the tram stop.  Or...even better...running to make the light becasue the tram was already at the stop and they wanted that tram!  Well...I was feeling all 'mature' or some crazy thing because I was thinking that I wasn't in that big of a hurry - I could wait until the next light, the next tram or whatever.  Well I found myself over the past few weeks running to make those lights and those trams!  It was classic - not that I was late getting anywhere or in that big of a hurry but I just didn't want to stand and wait for the next light or the next tram!  So I am sure there is some kind of life lesson in that isn't there?  Or is it just that I'm basically an impatient person and I've adjusted enough to feel 'at home' and to my normal self here to not want to wait?  Not sure if that is good but it is happening, I can see that.  One thing about the trams etc that kind of breaks my heart is the elderly people.  Of course it is proper to give up your seat for an older person (there is a definite tram riding etiquette that exists but that's another story!) - but when they have a hard time getting up and down those steps to get on and off the older style trams...that hurts me.  I feel their pain.  They certainly aren't running to catch the light or tram but they are part of the public transportation crowd and I give them cudos for that!  The older couples are the best - helping each other, sitting with each other, many holding hands.  Awesome.

I trust you are all enjoying this spring, Lent and life in general.  I'm sitting here in a food court area of  a mall called Stary Browar (old brewery) by the street that I live. It is a great atmosphere and nice old brick building that really was a brewery.  So...as you can read...life is good and God has certainly proven to be waaaay better yet again this week!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ashes, flowers and backpacks...

Here I am at Poznan Glowny (means 'main' and say it with the 'w' as a 'v' of course!).  It is right by the main bus/train, thus the reason for 'glowny'.  There is a mall right here and it has everything...really.  My backpack fell apart this past week and that was noooo good - so I headed to TK Max (nope...not a typo...not TJ Max here).  Sitting outside Toys R Us sipping on a fruit smoothy from a little kiosk thing since my cold seems to keep coming back!  Yuck.  My next stop is the Piotr and Pawel (Peter and Paul) grocery store.  Cooking up a bit of chicken for dinner tonight...yummm!

This past week has been great - and I did get to go to an Ash Wednesday service at a church here in town.  Ada from the shop took me with her so that was awesome.  The priest put ashes in my hair...not with oil and not on my forehead or hand.  Ada said he spoke of the oil in his homily or sermon but they do not use it.  Ash Wednesday - the ashes used this year are to be from the palm branches from last years Palm Sunday.  Not sure if that really happens but I like the concept anyway.  So the Lenten season has begun and I love that....mostly because I love spring and Easter is the most amazing holiday!  Such a 'renewing' day - literally, what could be better than knowing the reason for this holy holiday?

The Nazarene Church (who I am volunteering for here in Poland) have an opportunity for people from all over the world to sign up for 'Work and Witness Teams'.  Groups of people that spend approximately 2 weeks going to the different countries doing work for the ministry going on there.  Well, this week we learned that 3 groups are coming to Poznan this summer/fall!  Pretty awesome actually - they will be working at odd jobs around the shop and we have a big project of putting in new windows at the coffee shop.  The cool part of this is that I get to work on arranging things for these groups as they come to Poznan.  And the even more cool part about is that the first group in June is from my home town in Oregon - John Day!  The not so cool part is that I will be gone already but its fun to prepare things for them knowing that they will be right here where I am now:).  So fun with that finding places to stay, places to eat, some 'touristy' things etc.  Good times.  The other 2 teams are from Texas and Michigan.

Oh...I finally opened up a bank account here in Poland.  I had to pay some bills for items in Krakow and it just became quite the hassle so...I bit the bullet.  I had heard it was very complicated when I first got here but I walked in and about 15 minutes later walked out with an account.  Easy peasy....so that was nice.  Anybody want to make an international transfer of money?...hit me up - my account is open!

Yesterday was International Women's Day...and our Saturday morning group walked around the block handing out flowers (tulips and daffodils) to young, old and in between ladies.  It was fun.  There were 4 of us handing them out and some people actually refused them.  That surprised me but there were some ladies that were just soooo grateful and seemed really touched that somebody gave them something.  It was awesome, I loved it.

Before the breakfast and flowers; Marybeth and I got up early and headed out to the antique market.  It is held outside by the old slaughter house here in Poznan every second Saturday and every Sunday.  Oh man - I loved it all.  You could tell some of the stuff was really old and antique - not fake.  I could have spent all day there and furnished a house - but, alas...we bought an old suitcase that we will use to display magazines in the coffee shop.  We got a deal too...that is part of the fun!  10 zloty...so about $3.30.

I must say that I like this Saturday night church thing.  Makes Sunday a true day of rest...I woke up at about 6:40 this morning like normal and then went back to bed and sleep and the next thing I knew it was 11:40.  Now that is awesome.  I do like sleeping:).

So - I guess that is all I know for now.  This next week brings a trip to an orphanage in the Poznan area.  That should be interesting.  We are going with a lady that has been going there each week for a while so it should be good, I am looking forward to it.  Work at the shop as usual and getting to know more folks.  Life is good, God is still proving himself waaaaay better:).  Take care to you all.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Baltic Sea, pancakes and donut day:)

It is March 2014!  How awesome is that?!  Time marches on and spring is in the air!  Even here in Poland people have spring fever.  There was a guy in the coffee shop the other day wearing shorts!  Now - I'm not a big fan of jeans and jackets etc but it was even a bit cold for me to be wearing shorts.  But I say bring on spring!  I saw some pictures from Sacramento and trees are in full bud etc etc - oooooh....it looked so pretty!  Not quite yet in Poland but I'm looking forward to experiencing spring in this beautiful, historical country.

Life is going along; work at the shop is busy and learning life in Poland is going pretty well.  Last Thursday was 'donut day' here in Poland...aka 'fat Thursday'.  Thursday instead of Tuesday...ok!  Ash Wednesday is coming up this week and I would like to go to a service here so I've asked if anybody working at the shop is going.  We shall see!  It would be interesting to me.

Bob was up in Poznan this past week for work and of course that was great to see him.  It is crazy to me how close Bob/Co/Josh are now and how often I get to see them!  I think I am a bit spoiled...going for so many years 6,000 or more miles apart.   Josh has a choir festival/performance deal over his spring break and he invited me to go as well!  It is in Prague...only 5-6 hours drive from Poznan.  Do you think I'm going?...yes!  Really cheap to get there on a bus and then staying in a hostel - can't beat the price for a couple days.  So that is coming up in mid-March.  Should be a good, new experience.  Bob, Michael and I were there 15 years ago for about 24 hours but this time hopefully we can explore a bit more.  Woo hoo!  I'm excited.

Oh yeah...Bob and work - we drove to G'Dansk for the day (4 hours from Poznan).  There is a Sweet Surrender shop up there but it is currently closed so we went up to check out the property etc.  It is a small shop - but set up nicely and right down the street from an apartment that is owned by the Nazarene organization as well.  So that was interesting.  And...G'Dansk is on the Baltic Sea so we got to go there...and I HAD to put my toes in...brrrrrr it was cold!  Awesome experience.  Had lunch on the water front in the old town area...it is a major port city of Poland and so they had this old ship loading area that was built in 1455!  Amazing.  (See side picture).

Saturday there is an American pancake breakfast/Bible Study at the coffee shop so I was there.  Actually I went in a bit earlier to do some month end stuff (can't get away from it apprently!) so I stopped by Starbucks on my way.  Well, others came in and saw my Starbucks cup and one lady said 'you brought wood to the forest'!  I love that idiom...that's a good one!  It made me laugh.  So where am I sitting on this sunny Sunday writing my blog?....yep - Starbucks :)!!!

Speaking of idioms; I led English conversation this past week on Wednesday night!  The shop was really busy and Marybeth (other volunteer) helped on the bar (waaaay faster than me) so I got to talk with some Polish folks.  Great time - there were 7 people there so it was a good size and it went fairly well I thought.  We end with idioms so that is why it reminded me (in case your are wondering).

This may sound like a silly thing but I'm getting used to the money here...the bills are easy...they have big numbers on them with 10, 20, 50 etc but the coins are my challenge.    Polish money is called zloty and groshen instead of dollars and cents.  So when you pay for something and it is 5,15 (commas are used instead of decimal points) and digging for those 15 groshen takes me a while.  And yes...if I pay with 20 zloty I am always asked for the 15 groshen.  So it goes.

I got my tram pass for Poznan!  Also may sound silly but it is sooooo much more convenient to just jump on a tram and go instead of having to make sure I have tickets and punch them once on the tram etc etc.  It's awesome:).  Sure came in handy last weekend when the church had a progressive dinner and we rode the tram to our last stop which was at Sweet Surrender for dessert, coffee, tea etc.  Good times!

The situation in Ukraine is still very tenuous...the Russians are stepping up their game for sure - even bringing in troops 'to keep peace' and busloads of Russian people to present to the media that people in Ukraine are pro-Russian.  Craziness.  The East is more pro-Russian than the West but still it is skewed.  It seems that BBC News has updates that are staying fairly consistent with what I hear from friends in Ukraine.  Please continue to pray - for peace, consensus and integrity.  It is a tough road when going against such corruption.  The President that was impeached is in Russia and collaborating with Putin is what I understand.  Not good.

Well...I think that is about it.  I suppose March being here means that June is going to come sooner than I think and I have no plans as of yet.  Ethiopia does not seem to be coming to fruition so we will see what happens.  I will be in America from June 10th for a couple months for sure since I have a family reunion at the end of July but not so sure after that.  Poland is certainly an option to return but I'm just enjoying actually being here for now.  I am trusting the future to open up like it did for me last October!  Appreciate your prayers...that I can 'not worry about tomorrow'.  Life is good and yep - you know it - God is waaaaay better and I trust he knows my 'tomorrow'.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kyiv...history and pray!

Weekend in Budapest was great...Josh's team won it all - go Bulldogs!  The tournament I've been hearing about since Robby was in high school fulfilled all expectations.  I hung out with the Bulldog mascot all weekend (Skinner dog...Dude) and we bonded.  He was a good dog - a big chicken really but good.  It was a good time had by all.
Monday I headed to Kyiv.  I stayed with some Ukrainian friends and got to see some friends from John Day, OR (where I grew up).  What a great, small world right?  Anyway...Viollleta and Andrey (family I stayed with) took me to the Maidan.  WOW.  Oh my gosh...there were a couple times that I was in tears.  As Viollleta says; 'Kyiv (Ukraine) is in a revolution'.  There were several areas set up with flowers and candles for those that have lost their lives.  Viollleta got candles for us to put on one of the places.  I just cried.  Amazing to see how people have set up places to sleep and stay, places for people to come for drinks, food and their own medical stations/workers.   Andrey was telling me how he was down at Maidan a while ago and wanted to donate to the food/drink etc and there was a line to donate!  Meaning - people were standing in line to give funds so people would be supplied with what they needed!  Isn't that amazing?  Anyway; a very moving and historical moment for me.  We were there just as it was getting dark so people were splitting their wood to start fires in the makeshift sleeping areas etc.  It was like a refugee camp; oh how I pray for Ukraine!  Such a tough road ahead.  The people do not want to go backwards; they definitely want to have forward movement.  That much is clear.
On Tuesday I went to lunch with my friends from Oregon...great to see them and 'use' them for transport of items to and from the States.  Thank you Armstrongs!  That was the day that the latest violence broke out in Kyiv - and is still going on.  I took the metro to meet Andrey so we could head back to the apartment.  They closed the metro about 30 minutes after I made it to my destination.  I was in the square and a LOT of people were pouring out of the metro...that was the last stop that was open so everybody had to get off.  Later they closed the metro for all trains coming into the city and later that night they closed the metro down completely.  As of today (Thursday) the metro is still closed.  According to my friends; the violence is still pretty much in the center of the city but more deaths and risk is rising.  Again...WOW.
I landed back in Poland and I kid you not; it did feel good to come 'home'.  I sat in line for passport control with a very odd feeling...coming home at this point really is Poland and it was a relief to be there.
Now I'm back in Poznan and working today doing office stuff.  Good times, these employees are just the best.  Oh so kind and helpful...and patient!
Tonight (10:00 a.m. PST time) I will be Facetiming with some folks at Fremont Church - in the sanctuary :).  That cracks me up - but it is during the mission week at the church and so there is a panel of mission folks being interviewed and I get to join in!  I'm kinda of excited...hope the connection is good and not distracting.  Once again - life is good and God is waayyy better.  Lots of prayers for Ukraine so they can see how great God is!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Trains, planes and high school basketball!

Clickety clack, clickety clack...with some ka-thunk, ka-thunks added in...that is what I've been listening to for the last several hours.  Music to my ears really - I'm on a train!  On my way to Budapest via Krakow so I'll be on a train for quite a while and I love it.  Time to work on this blog for one thing!  I haven't talked to too many people during this ride...my Polish stinks :).  I can't seem to form a sentence....I just know words...but not how to put things together.  Frustrating and I'm not quite sure how to work on that.  I think when I get back to Poznan I will ask somebody to give me lessons.  There is a gal in the church that has been in the states and she is starting a 'Polish for foreigners' every Monday night at the coffee shop.  I will be going to that but think I need more one on one training too!  And guess what?...her name is NOT Joanna:).
So Poznan is going well...the shop is set up differently - with 3 rooms instead of 1 big room so it gives a whole different feel.  I like both of them - really they are set up quite nicely with great decor.  Very welcoming etc.  The workers at the shop are great (of course) and I"m enjoying the other volunteers as well.  Good times all around.  The city is quite nice - the colors (see side picture) in the Old Town Square are just amazing - I love going there to see that.  I'm learning the public transport system a bit; not too tough but it is a new city to learn so there you have it.  I have worked training on the bar and kitchen but then I got a cold and so I got kicked out:).  I have been doing paperwork stuff - month end and gathering some info for some projects going on so it's been good.  OH - I did stand out on the street one morning this week to give away chocolate chip cookies with a coupon of 3 zloty ($1) off a coffee....it went okay.  Not great but okay...some folks were very nice.  But I smiled, said good morning and offered the cookie...so I enjoyed it - watching the sunrise and being out in the cold...good way to wake up!  I need to do it again and then we are planning on taking little greeting packets to the businesses around the shop too.  All good stuff!  Poznan is very active...Monday night is free (until this Polish for foreigners starts soon), Tuesday night is a Bible Study, Wednesday night is English Conversation, Thursday is Game Night, Friday is generally music and Saturday is our Bible Study/Church.  Shop is closed on Sunday.  This Friday is Valentine's Day so the music night is going to be good...should be busy at the shop - fun!  But I won't be there :).
Speaking of which; I'm heading to Budapest because Josh is playing in a basketball tournament.  I have heard of this tournament for years becuase the high school from Kiev comes to it each year and of course Robby and Michael played in Kiev so they made this trip during high school.  It became a rivalry kind of deal so now Josh is playing for the rival team!  Crazy...but I'm here to experience it for myself this year...so I'm excited.  Bob is an assistant coach as well so we are all definitely rooting for the Budapest Bulldogs to win it all!  On Monday - I will be going to Kiev to see and stay with friends.  Actually - some friends from John Day, Oregon (where I grew up) will be there!  A family friend - his daughter and son-in-law serve in Kiev...and they happen to have an adorable daughter so I think that is the real motivation for the visit:).  Since I don't have any kind of visa to stay in Poland, I have to leave the European Union every 90 days...so going to Kiev will keep me legal to stay here.  Should be good.
Mom is done with radiation!  She is home and resting, she actually got a cold as well so she has been resting quite a bit.  That is good but too bad she has the cold...yuck.  Very thankful for her treatment; seems to have gone well.  Mom told me that Dad is going to have knee replacement surgery but waiting until April so Mom will be stronger to be able to help him out in recovery.  So it goes in the lives of my parents :).  My sisters and families are doing well - we are learning how to 'keep up' without just picking up the phone:)...a little difficult but doing okay with it all.  With all the communication tools we have you would think it would be easy peasy.  It is more difficult than I imagined anyway...in Ethiopia it was due to lack of technology I thought.  But here...technology is not a problem but timing is huge...9 hours ahead makes a difference!  Anyway; it works out - Messaging on FaceBook is great as well as FaceTime....good inventions!
I think that is it for now...have a great Valentine's day.  To have so many people in my life to love...for that I am very grateful.  Life is good, God and His love is waaaay better:) 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

News and counting...

Well...first of all...counting in Polish...since I counted in Amharic while I was in Ethiopia on this blog - I thought I might as well count in Polish!  I actually used it today while I was shopping etc...counting does come in handy - good to learn early!
1.  = Jeden - the j is like h in English...or similar to Spanish where it is 'silent'
2.  = Dwa - the w is like v in English and the a always has the 'aahhh' sound
3.  = trzy - good luck is all I can say...my notes say 'th + shea'
4.  = cztery - cz is like 'chah' and roll your r!
5.  = piec' - pee + ench
6.  = szes'c' - shay + st (this one got me in trouble..saying this in German is a different meaning and we had a good laugh at that in class).  Sorry Joanna!
7.  = siedem - shed + em
8.  = osiem - I like this one...sounds like ocean :)
9.  = dziewiec - again...good luck...je + viench
10. = dziesiec' - best of luck...je + shench

My next subject is just funny, kinda personal but oh well...last blog said vulnerable right?  Just wondering - do you 'swish' your feet when you are in bed?  You know what I'm talking about...don't you (I'm hoping I'm not just cra cra!)?  Is it just in my family?    I'm so convinced that is an inborn thing.  Trust me - I have had this converstaion with family and I totally 'swish' my feet in bed (Mom says since I was born)...I guess it lulls me to sleep.  So...like I said I've had conversation about this with family and I'm not naming any names but a family member of mine is here in Krakow for a couple days and I heard some swishing!  Not just swishing...but fast swishing!  Mine is much slower...FUNNY.  That's what I say.

So I have some news...I'm moving to Poznan, Poland for a few (3?) months.  This conversation started a while back....some great folks (hello Tracy's!) that were volunteering in Poznan went back to the states in early January.  Plus a gal that was in Krakow last year came back yesterday here to Krakow for a few months so...I thought the numbers of volunteers were kind of out of balance and I offered to Bob to go wherever.  And...that is how it came about that I'm headed to Poznan.  There is a great family that has been there for a year (or more) already and there is a Sweet Surrender coffee shop as well so I can volunteer and it will be good!  The gal that is here in Krakow for a few months will use my apartment and I will find one in Poznan (fairly easy from what I hear).  My language class was a month intensive class so our last class is Friday.  It all works out and I'm headed to Poznan probably next week!  Phew...good huh?  Looking on the map (see side picture) - Poznan is in the western part of Poland...near Berlin, Germany and Prague,Czech  Republic.  I have never been to Berlin and was in Prague but for a very short time...sounds good to me to adventure out to some new places right?

And speaking of working...the past week or so I've been having some normal 'missionary issues' from what I understand.  The whole volunteering thing...which comes with it, in my case, some very generous folks supporting me.  It is humbling no doubt but it was bothering me...maybe I should be more independent etc etc?  And then the whole accountability thing with that money...ie - what exactly am I doing and how is this missions work etc etc???  In my mind I keep comparing Poland to Ethiopia...really two different worlds but I've got to tell you - Ethiopia is fascinating to people (including me)!!  Because of that, I can talk to folks about Ethiopia and it seems to be more 'apparent' mission work.  Does that make sense?  It is not necessarily...but in this case it seems that perception is very often reality (and please note - I'm speaking of myself here!).  Anyway...all this has been weighing heavy on my mind and heart.  Yesterday was our Tuesday prayer day and I was just in tears...I realized that it wasn't about me and my concerns.  I HEARD a call, I AM here...so do my work, meet and love people, share my love of Jesus and that is what it's all about.  That's all I've got to say about that:).

I think that is it....the snow is here...more falls each day and it's not my favorite thing but with it brings water (need some CA?) and renewal and I can't wait to see the beauty in the spring!  That is true...I'm very excited to see Krakow, Budapest, now Poznan :) in the spring!  So I trust you are having a good week - January is almost over!  Thank you for being part of my adventures...life is good, God is positively way better.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Loving Life!

To love life is a gift.  I have been given that gift.  I seem to be reminded through various people that this is the year that I will turn 50 years old.  I love that.  I am tearing up writing this as I think over those 50 years and the love that I have for each year.  True, I dont remember each one but those that I do...I do love.  My childhood was amazing growing up in a tiny little town in Eastern Oregon.  I had pretty strict parents that expected much but oh what joy we had in living life!  My parents are still enjoying and loving life.  Even through Mom's cancer and her month of radiation that started Jan. 13th...they love life!  My siblings?  Well - I'm the youngest and that is the best place to be.  My oldest sister (Phyllis) I dont really remember much until she left for college and then it was like we were instant soul sisters and really has been that way since then.  I love that.  My brother (Bob) - beyond words really.  He let me hang out with he and his friends, took me everywhere, used me as a sled (literally) on our 'snow' hill, taught me how to drive and took me on adventures untold.  A true model for me.  My sister Susan is only a year older than me and we shared a bedroom for many years of our childhood.  As I stated in other posts - we shared hospital experiences, we shared many experiences...there is a bond there that is beyond description really.  We never fought, that is until my Junior year in high school and then I'm not sure what happened but now that I look back it was probably me deciding selfishly that it was time for her to go; this was my high school and my time :).  Oh so many great memories...love each one!
Then we all grew up, my siblings got married and had kids.  That was more than I could take really.  The love they must have with and for their children is beyond me...because I am the Aunt to those kids and the love is so strong I'm sitting here in tears just thinking about each one.  I have several Aunts and Uncles...and really a different kind of bond with each one - each one precious.  My Aunt Sue is the closest to me - geographically because of California and the bond that I feel with her has a very tight weave.  I truly believe she would do anything with me and for me; and absolutely vice versa.  She is amazing.  But my other Aunts and Uncles are just as precious; we have a reunion coming up this summer and I am truly just longing to see each one again and literally 'feel' the love flow around.  My 18 cousins and their kids will hopefully be at the reunion as well - again, just amazing family to be a part of and I can hardly wait.
So loving life continues here in Poland.  Truly it has been an indescribable dream.  I have met some amazingly Godly people that are leaders in my new work, seen countries and cities that are so beautiful that I still pinch myself when I look through pictures and realize that I was actually in Turkey, Hungary, Poland and Austria all within a 2 month period!  Yes,  I have been overseas for two months now.  I left my job on November 1st and have missed my friends and co-workers terribly but also enjoy seeing them on FaceBook or sending e-mails back and forth.  I love that!
Work in the coffee shop is excellent.  I work in the kitchen preparing food for the shop - desserts, soup, sandwiches when ordered etc.  I also am working at the bar making coffee drinks - that is just beyond loveable to me.  Making coffee for work!  Ha:)....good stuff.  I do the laundry for the coffee shop; that is easy and I am even enjoying folding that laundry (as my personal laundry does not get folded quickly at all:).  I do some accounting tasks...not really though.  There is a gal that is coming back next week who is the expert and has been doing a lot from America so she is  the 'real' person.  Language school has been a great experience as well...3 days a week for 2 1/2 hours each time.  Coming home and doing homework, trying to re-type words, rules etc to get it into this 49 year old brain!  Again...love it.  I will love it more when I can naturally form a sentence but...hopefully that will come.  Small steps I guess.
Beginning a youth night at the coffee shop with games, dancing, food, music, crazy kids...that even and those kids are easy to love!  Such good times and hanging out with the adult organizers is just a kick - fun people.  So that is work too...right?!  We are starting a worship night in early February...I call that work too...awesome!  Having a prayer group meet on Tuesdays that started this week...also my work here and yet so easy to call loveable.  All these things I enjoy and love doing!
And the most loveable and enjoyable part of all this 'work' as it is for me now are the people.  Getting to know people more each time I spend a moment working, playing, learning, praying, whatever with them.  THAT is the most important goal of this new life for me.  It is more intentional that I knew at my previous work.  Before it was getting to know an employee so we coudl work on a computer together.  I would glean their background and their experiences so that I could try to relate to them easier as we went through learning this crazy software together.  Some hated it from the get go and it was my goal to help them learn to at least like it, but really I wanted them to love it!  Others were fairly accepting of it and it was my goal to show them how they could really use that software to get info for their jobs so that they would love it!  I made some great friendships through those steps...no doubt about that in my mind.
Now my intentionality is not hidden behind a computer or a software program.  It is truly a one on one relationship and perhaps there are 'tasks' that need to be completed but making myself vulnerable to that person at each moment is newer to me.  I don't tend to be a real 'vulnerable' person.  I do love life; and I enjoy sharing the joy I have from life but being vulnerable and all that entails?  Not so often and to be honest not quite sure what that does entail at this point in my life.  How do I make myself vulnerable to my Polish language teacher that I have such respect for...or the office manager at the Polish school that tells me after reading my blog that she prays when she hears sirens as well?  Or how about being vulnerable to the gal I met my first day here in the mobile carrier shop at the mall?  All three of these ladies' names are Joanna...which I find fascinating but how am I vulnerable to them?  I don't think I have a clear answer but I know I can pray, I know I can enjoy their company, laugh with them, talk with them, give them a gift of chocolate and a note to join me at church...but it doesn't seem quite enough or maybe vulnerable enough?!  I'm just not sure but I will continue to work at it.
All that to say...I love life.  I love life here in Krakow, Poland and am learning a new way of working and living.  Yes, this is the year that I will turn 50 and I love the fact that I have started in a new direction at this point in my life.  Some have told me I am brave, adventurous, and even crazy but I love it all.  I love the tears that have been on my face while writing this because that makes me vulnerable.  I want to be more vulnerable....I need to be more vulnerable.  That scares me a  bit but that is how I see it.  Life is good but God IS way better.  And to add even more to that...knowing and loving God is even way, way, way better!

Monday, January 13, 2014

A few of my favorite things...

A few of my favorite things (we watched Sound of Music over Christmas...):
1.  Making my own vanilla latte! - I've trained 'on the bar' and I love it...I need more training but that will come and I enjoy it all so far!  Work at the coffee shop is going well...continuing to do the laundry since I have the washer/dryer combo deal.  I did train once in the kitchen as well so I have more to learn there...but I am enjoying working there very much...hoping to get more of a routine down but sure that will come after coordinating a bit more with the gal that makes the schedule:).
2.  Pieroigi, golabki and Krakow czekolada (chocolate) - Joanna took us to an awesome pieroigi place (often potatoe dumpling but usually filled with other things here in Poland and they had dessert versions which were amazing!)  Golabki is stuffed cabbage - I tried a recipe...had good flavor but not as good as the restaurant I had it at here in Krakow...that was amazing.  And there are a couple chocolate places here on the Old Town Square...very good!
3.  Things happening at the coffee shop! Having a youth game night this coming Saturday...hope that goes well and plan to have that about every 4-6 weeks.  There are a several people part of the planning and I met some new people through that was awesome in itself (see #4).  I'm going to work on the brackets for the X-box games....pretty simple right?  We have 2 X-boxes and so I'm hoping we will have a lot of kids rotating through the brackets!  Music, food, board/dice/card games going on...should be pretty good chaos hopefully:).  Also we are going to have a worship group once a month...Second Saturday Gathering (sound familiar Sacramentans?)!  Met another gal through that  works with YWAM (see #4) and so this too should be a good time at Sweet Surrender.  Different musically talented people leading songs, having prayer, parables, proverbs, testimonies etc....nice!
4.  Meeting new people .  A gal who has been here almost 2 years with the Wesleyan National Church and knows Polish very well!  I'm impressed...she was great to meet and chat with a bit.  Will be good to see her again Saturday.  They have their church earlier on Sunday so I think I will see about making it over there (all in Polish) and then head over to Sweet Surrender for church that is in English and Polish:).  The gal that works with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) has been to Ethiopia also!  It was good to talk to her; she was mostly in the South East part of Ethiopia so different people groups and climate etc.  Good stuff!  Joanna - there are 2 in my Polish life now...the gal I met the first day which I had coffee with on Friday and she is awesome.  And....my new Polish teacher!  She is great, so patient and very good.
5. Eating with friends here in Krakow...coffee with Joanna...then the volunteers that live in the lofts with me - dinner Saturday night and tonight as well as a big group of us after church on Sunday.  What a great way to get to know people...
6.  Learning Polish - Joanna is my teacher and she is a linguist so she shows us how to pronounce words...with the mouth, with 'vibration' in our throat or not etc...it is pretty awesome.  We are learning vocabulary, started on case/singular/plural today.  We (there are four of us Americans in the class...all people I work with currently) have 3 classes a week for 2 hours and 15 minutes.  So 9:30 - 11:45 a.m. (or 12:30 - 2:45 a.m. for you in Pacific time zone) on Monday/Wednesday/Friday - feel free to pray!  I need it but I do love it.  I can say some basic stuff like - good morning...how are you...what is your name...please repeat...how do you say...etc etc but the answers come back so fast in 'real' Polish it makes me crazy.  So today we learned the word for slowly...wolniej.  That is my new favorite (volnea...the w is our 'v' sound and j is silent like in Spanish).
7.  Learning I'm the 'oldest' of our group of workers here in Krakow :)   Crazy but I guess that is what I get starting a new phase of my life at this point.  And volunteers in missions etc are usually people just graduating from college so there you have it.  I'm the old one.  I'm okay with it so far...I feel young just starting so many new things I guess!  With this colder weather (no snow yet but man it gets cold)...my joints are acting at least my age but that too shall pass:).
8.  Hearing from people that I miss!  I do enjoy receiving emails and I even got an actual Christmas card in the mail over here...loved that!  Thank you for your communication - any and all of it.  It makes me feel more 'connected' and I like that.  I know - out of sight, out of mind...life moves on but I do enjoy hearing from you.
9.  Music and concerts available here in Krakow!  I found a website that has musical activities so I have on my calendar different nights that have concerts at the Old Town Hall, Philharmonic Hall, Cathedrals etc etc.  My first adventure was last night...there was some vocalists singing in a monastery and I was assuming it was going to be like a vespers service (monks singing) and I went to that in Seattle back in the day - loved it.  I was excited so I headed off...my phone died which had my map but I remembered the address so I found it early and had time to walk around the square for a bit etc.  Went back - it was at a church and it ended up that I was in the church but didn't go far enough back -- the monastery was further back so I sat through full on Catholic mass!  It was beautiful, sat in those old seats that are on the side that look like the choir lofts...loved it.  After the first service there were more people coming in so I thought I'd see what that was all about and it was the 'contemporary' service...they had guitar (instead of organ) with several vocalists for the songs and had the LCD projector with the words on it etc etc.  I loved that too because I could actually sing along!  So my concert night ended up being a cultural experience alright...2 full mass services :).  Next one on the calendar is at the 'Cloth Hall' - the main (huuuge) hall in Old Town so we'll see if I can find the right place that night. 

That is it for now - hope it gives you some insight to my view on life here in Poland.  I love it...feel safe, sound and warm in my loft apartment for sure!  It is convenient to my work, school, shopping, public transport etc etc so life is good and God is still proving to be waaaay better.

Hugs (yes...hugs) to all!
sgb.cms@gmail.com
ul. Zablocie 25 - #30
30-701 Krakow, Poland

Friday, January 3, 2014

Yummm...stuffed cabbage (Golabki)!

Golabki!  Polish stuffed cabbage...well at least I'm calling it Polish.  Many countries 'claim' this dish but I had it in Krakow and loved it.  So the friends I had it with found a recipe and I attempted to make it here in Budapest.  It seemed okay to me...not as good as the restaurant in Krakow but it definitely had good flavor.  Along the process I learned I could keep a 'recipe book' online at Food.com.  Now - that is kind of ironic to me since I don't consider myself a cook much but to have recipes available online is awesome...I can take them anywhere:).  So yes...I signed up and created a recipe book...woo hoo!  I'm growing up...I hope my Momma is proud! Ha!

Since the 21st of December (last blog post) lots has happened.  Christmas and New Years was amazing with family.  We took a side trip to Vienna which was over the top!  There I sat in a beautiful little church (St. Ann's) listening to a string quartet playing Mozart.  Did you catch that?...Mozart lived and composed much of his music in Vienna and there I was sitting in that very city and listening to music written by him!  A couple days later we went to the Opera House in Budapest to see The Nutcracker.  That was another new experience for me.  I have never been to an Opera House.  I've been to see The Nutcracker in Sacramento, Chicago and San Francisco but never in an opera house.  It was absolutely beautiful, a great experience!

It's Friday night here...Mom, Dad and Robby are all back in the states.   Mom and Dad are in Boise...at a consultation right now to find out what treatment Mom will go through.  It was great to have them here for Christmas.  I'm worried it was a bit much for Mom so I trust she can get well rested before all this treatment 'stuff' is to start.  She and Dad were both troopers...just a lot to take in within the 15 days they were here.

Sunday night I head back to Krakow...and I"m excited to do so.  It will be good to get into a more normal routine.  A doctor visit Monday to get papers signed off for working in a Polish kitchen.  Then start some 'normal' shifts at the coffee shop, and language school starts on January 9th.  There you have it!...life is good and God is mucho better!

Happy New Year to you...have a great 2014:).