Christmas event Poland 2018

Christmas event Poland 2018

This year we went to Poland with just a small team. Just us (Björn and Melanie) and our two daughters. After a smooth journey we arrived in Poland, and found that there was about 10-20 cm of snow laying there. A beautiful view! 
As usual we were warmly welcomed. 
After a final update about the program it appeared that we had some unexpected free time for almost the whole Friday. 

Friday December 14th:

We decided to go and visit the old centre of the city Jelenia Góra. After all we have never been there before. 
Before we left though we had to pack the presents for the family home in which we are expected at the end of the afternoon. 

  

In Jelenia Góra it was fairly quiet, as apparently there was too littl;e snow for the wintersport tourists and the summer tourists are long gone of course. 
As it was quit chilly outside (-2) we did not manage to stay outside very long 🙂

  

As we also needed to go back in time we visited a traditional Polish restaurant for lunch as we would have a late dinner. 

At 17:00 we left from the church towards the family home in Błażejów, a very small town close to the border with Tsjech.
It took some exploring in the dark, but we did manage to find it again 🙂

In this family home are living about 15 foster kids from which various brother/sisters.
Good to see that in this way these related kids can stay together when that is not possible at home for a while. 

Again we are welcomed with coffee/tea and cake and all kids around the big table. We had some nice conversations untill the small kids could not take it anymore and asked if they were allowed to present their drawings and presents to ús 🙂
That was allowed.

After we thankfully accepted those we gave all kids the presents from us. They all received a personalised present. Earlier the leaders had the opportunity to tell us what presents the kids wanted to have, and they came up with presents for each kid. 
Then we had to try to read out loud the (Polish) names of the kids. Of course this is always fun for them as we -of course- are doing it wrong  🙂 The kids where very happy with their presents.

For us it is sometimes hard to understand why some presents were chosen upfront. A 10 year old girl asked for a powerbank. Why? Her phone charger had been stolen, and now she could charge her mobile phone again so she could be called by her biological dad again.  
Another about 7 year old girl received her first ‘Barbie’ doll ever. She had a big smile on her face for the rest of the visit.
Great to see this!

   

After the visit to the foster home we go back to our apartment in church. Here we eat something together with a missionary from the UK with which we also cooperate sometimes. In this way we have a chance to catch up in peace and all openness. 

Saturday December 15th:

Today will be a busy day. 
We start the day with a visit to a couple on a farm on which also the UK missionary is living. 
The man is Dutch and invited us. This farm also hosts a summer camp in the summer which is organised for the poor kids from various towns. 
Unfortunately we cannot stay too long.

At 14:00 the christmas dinner for poor and homeless people starts in the church in Kamienna Góra.
This is being organised by the church and the foundation ‘Misja Nowa Nadzieja’ (Mission New Hope). We have contributed by sponsoring a part to make it possible.

Just like last year again more people came than expected. 120 people found their way and the hall was packed after adding additional tables and chairs.
Christmas songs were played and sung by the band, we briefly told why we sponsored this event, a guest speaker preached and after that there was food while enjoying more music. 

   

The food tasted great. 4 courses; As starter Borsjt, then żurek, after that a plate of mixed salads and after that a few pieces of cake as desert.

   

At the end every person received a small Christmas package with items people on the street could also easily eat or use.

After evaluating the event which the pastor and his wife we leave for Wałbrzych which is a bigger town a small distance to the east.
Originally we would have attended a meeting in which the Christmas packages would be handed out in Boguszów-Gorce.
But as we also sponsor the event of the street church for the homeless, the organisers chose to combine these two events on one day. This street church event though was scheduled for the next week so we could not attend this.
(You can watch the photo’s in the gallery as it has meanwhile been held)

Instead we go out for dinner with the pastor from the church in Boguszów-Gorce and his family. At least we then can catch up about the things in church etc.

Sunday December 16th;

We should leave early today, as are going to the church Swierzawa. This is a 45 minutes drive from Kamienna Góra, and as there has been snow in the night we leave in time. It turns out to be a beautiful ride seeing all the snow on the mountains, tree’s etc!

However the road is clean, and thus we arrive quite early (9:10 am) at the church. Strangely nobody is there yet…. We decide to do a small tour in the surroundings and show the kids some parts of the town. 
Some time later we drive along the church again, and yes! the pastor is there now 😉 He is quite surprised we are already there. It seems that the message that the service will start at 11:00 instead of 10:00 was lost in the communications! So we are there way too early…..

This church has their own building as of last year which was acquired in a very special way. At some moment there was an auction for the building, and for some reason no other buyers showed up besides the people from the church. So they were able to buy the building really cheap 🙂
There still was a tremendous job ahead of them restoring the building, and the building is still a long way from being finished. However with the help from a group from the USA, last summer they were able to finish a room in which they can meet. Various other rooms are not complete yet, though they are already used on the bare concrete and with plaster walls without finish on it. 
But the people in church are happy, and slowly continue restoring and building.

Because of this first owned building of the church they invited all receivers of the packages to their church building this time. In this way they hope that the people will find their way to their church. 
The service was well visited, and the little room was packed with about 50 people. During the service there also is a testimony of a Polish evangelist and Björn is preaching. There also are shoe boxes with presents for the kids which were brought by the Polish evangelist from a church in Germany. 

After the service the grocery bags are handed out to the invitees which are very happy to receive them. 
Then the is time for a free lunch for everyone with salads, cakes etc. 

   

However we were supposed to go out for lunch in a restaurant with the pastor and thus were not able to taste much of it. This was quite a rush job though as we already had to leave again at 14:30 to be in time for the next appointment.

This year for the first time we are able to visit some Polish orphanages. These are secular orphanages which are state controlled. Weird enough they apparently do not get enough funds to do that as they lack in several areas. This however gives us an opportunity to help them. We visit 3 orphanages in the region. 

The first one is a house for a bit bigger kids/teenagers. However there also are some kids of 5-6 years of age. There really is an orphanage cultuur and atmosphere. The leadership is strict and the atmosphere does not feel nice.
However we are allowed to explain why we are there, and thus have an opportunity to briefly explain some of the gospel. 
After that all kids receive the presence they had chosen. This was logistically quite difficult as because of the new GDPR regulations we could not get the names from the kids. So every present had a number, and the leadership had the list with the names for the corresponding numbers.

Also because of the privacy/GDPR we are not allowed to make pictures here. This also had to do with the fact some kids had been extracted from their home situation and their parents were not allowed to know where their kids are housed. (secret locations). The leadership feared that the parents might be able to trace their kids, which of course would not benefit them.

At the second home the atmosphere was completely different. Here there were mostly todlers and babies. Also two girls of about 12-13. This also was more setup as a family home, and you could clearly experience the difference in atmosphere. 

The packages we gave away here just contained a small gift for the kids itself, and the rest mostly were care products for the kids. Shampoo, cleaning wipes etc.
After asking it appeared they had great troubles to make ends meet. The budget per kid is fixed, but the costs for these small children are higher because of all the expensive care products like dipers they need. 

The foundation that also organised the Christmas dinner in Saturday is joining us, and they will also try to help them a bit in the future. Maybe Phileo can also help a bit if people will sponsor us to help. 

The leadership here was very glad we visited them, and thought it was special that we came all the way from NL to help them. 

The third orphanage also was kind of a family home setup, but still a little bigger. The atmosphere here was good however. Here about 8 children lived in age of 1-14 years. Also here the kids were really happy with the gifts.

We even got a tour in this house and are able to see how the children are living here. Very weird to hear is that because of lack of money the leaders are doing shifts of 12 hours, and that there still mostly is only one leader present for all kids.  This leader also has to watch the kids, clean the house, cook and when needed bring the kids to school etc.
So also here there is a lot of need.

Every time it shows that even though Poland is not considered a ‘poor’ country there still is a lot of need. So we are able to help on many places, but unfortunately our budget is limited, and so we can’t 🙁
So if you are in the position to help us then please do so! It is really needed badly. 

After this third visit it has become evening already.

So we have dinner somewhere and reflect on what we have seen. Also the Polish are impressed about what they have seen and heard. These kids deserve so much more!

After all of this, the trip is over already and on Monday morning were are going home again. An intensive and busy program. Way too short to do everything we wanted, but that is how it goes. We will save that for the next visit.