Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday, July 27

Well today was our last day in the beautiful country in Poland and it will probably go down as the most powerful day of the trip. I am going to save the more powerful part of the day for last because it will be the most meaningful part of the day so I would like to end the blog with that part. So the second part of our day we spent in the tourist city of Krakow, there we did a bunch of souvenir shopping and had our last meal in Poland. In Krakow there was tons of people everywhere and there was plenty of neat things to buy, it was definitely worth the drive to go there. So that was the second part of our day

In the morning for the first part of our day the bus picked us up around 8 AM to take the hour or so drive to Auschwitz. All of us were ready for the powerful and meaningful tour of Auschwitz, when we got of the bus we took a short walk and met at the front with the group from Texas and that is where we met our amazing tour guide. We started off the tour at the first Auschwitz camp which is called Auschwitz 1, this place was previously a place for Polish soldiers before the Nazis took over, so all the buildings were already built. The first prisoners at this camp were 728 Polish people. At this place we went through numerous buildings looking at several different things like the living conditions and all sorts of other stuff that was extremely sad to see like peoples' luggage bags, shoes, kitchen items, and hair. It is crazy how all these people were psyched out into thinking they would all be totally okay and that was all part of the Nazi's master plan. All the prisoners were told to pack personal belongings in a suitcase thinking they would be able to keep them but little did they know it would be taken from them and sent to warehouses nicknamed "Canada." In Auschwitz 1 we also got to see the 1st and only still standing gas chamber and furnace room, all the other ones were destroyed. It was a very powerful moment to be standing in the same room that many had stood in before and it is something we will never forget. After our tour we went to Auschwitz 2- Birkenau, this is a much bigger site than Auschwitz 1. Here is also where the train would let off and all the prisoners would get off and go through the selection process where people would either be sent to be killed or sent into the camp. We took a walk down a pathway that prisoners that were sent to the gas chambers would walk down, at the end of the walk they would end up near the chambers where they were told to take their clothes off and be put in a room to take a "shower." All four of the gas chambers at Birkenau were destroyed and it is all just rubble now, but to think they built these gas chambers solely because the first one was not big enough of efficient enough is crazy to think about. I will end the talking of the Auschwitz tour at that so you can ponder and think about that for a while, because it is truly a horrific thing.

So our trip in Poland is over and now all we are doing is packing and getting ready for our bus to pick us up at 2 AM to take us to the airport. This trip has been truly amazing and I am extremely glad I got to be a part of it. Thank you to our wonderful leader Ben and all the host families here in Poland, your hospitality is truly one of a kind and you will never be forgotten. Also thank you to our adults on the trip: Jenna, Jake, and of course Jim. Thank you to the congregation and our families for the support and prayers. We will see you all soon.
                                                                          - Allen Middlebrook

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday, July 26

Today was one of the most memorable days in missions trip history. All of us, no matter which hosts we were with, were fully submerged in both Polish and Czech culture, food and nature. The Cieszyn group of us (Jenna, Kirsten, Ben, Haley, Hunter and I) were given the privilege to experience a trip in to the Czoland (Czech and Poland - word made by Hunter)  mountains. On this endeavor we used a ski lift to get to the top of a mountain on which we hiked for just over three hours hiking through some of the most breath taking forests. About half way through our hike we stopped at a look-out tower on the border of Poland and the Czech Republic. Although this border is currently very neutral, less than twenty years ago there were guards patrolling the border for those trying to cross the border, smuggle, and any other illegal activities etc. The pastor that my group had been working with actually had an interesting adventure with one of the guards. One day the pastor was hiking near the border listening to music using headphones when one of the guards yelled at him to turn back but because of the headphones, he didn't heard the guards warning. Apparently if a guard had to tell you three times to turn back, they were allowed to fire at you. It just so happened that the guard had given his third warning and as he was looking down the scope he realized the the pastor was wearing headphones. The guard then proceeded to chase him down to let him know to turn around. Nevertheless, the view was stunning and the border remains as part of Polish-Czech history. From there we continued trekking on the trail to the end where there was a small cafe with an outdoor barbecue. Some of us had potato pancakes, some of us langos (Hungarian fried bread topped with cheese and garlic mayo) and it resembled Indian tacos. I decided to get kielbasa figuring that this is as close to the source as I'll ever be! We all also shared some grilled cheese which was similar smoked Gouda but better. From there we journeyed back to the ski lift where we decided that we had to go on a bobsled ride, some of us more than once. This ride led down the ski slope and had many fun tight turns and straight aways. Once back at the bottom of the lift, some of us had ice cream and others decided that we didn't want to spoil our dinners. From the mountain we drove to a small lake where we had a barbecue for dinner, where many of us agree to having the best burgers in a long time. It was over all a great day, my personal favorite of the trip so far!

                                                                          -Dayton A. Dangel

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday, July 25

The day started, for team Jenna, with our bible camp parent closing presentation. We explained our week to the parents, sang goofy songs and ended with tea and cake. After our long morning we were joined with team Jim and toured around the city which included climbing up a castle tower that presented us with an amazing view of the city. From that point the world was put into perspective. How small we are in God's plan but are able to have a gigantic effect. For lunch we settled back at the church and ate one of Ben's favorite Czech dishes, fried cheese. I greatly enjoyed it but not everyone agreed with the quantity of cheese. Once we finished our lunch we headed over to bowl with the Polish team. We all had a lot of fun getting to relax and cheer on each other as we played. We finished our day with a fried chicken dinner with mash potatoes, green beans, and broccoli. I am so glad I got to prepare dinner for our team this week as well as getting to know our Polish host. I am blessed to be on this trip. I cannot believe it is coming to an end I am going to miss all the people we have bonded with and the spectacular open landscape of the marvelous Polish greenery. Miss all of you at home too so I am excited to get home and share our stories with you. Good night from Poland.

-Haley Beebe

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday, July 24

Well the main purpose of our time in Poland came to an end today.  We finished our camps today.  I think we can look back at our time over this week and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.  We didn't really have any idea if the ideas we generated in the Youth Room were really going to work in Poland.  Surprisingly enough they did.  We had to tweek a couple things here and there but not to much.  I think that just proved to me that God's hand was on the whole process and we were simply blessed by His guidance.

If you are a parent of a youth on this trip, you can feel a sense of pride in what your child did over this last week.  I know that I do as their DCE.  They stepped into some very unfamiliar territory and did an amazing job.  They cared for kids and told them about Jesus.  I don't think it could get any better.

If you are a member of Community Lutheran Church, just know that these kids did you proud.  They have been amazing ambassadors of your congregation and the state of California.  They reached out with the arms that makes Community Lutheran Church so special and did it simply out of their love for Jesus and their desire to care for the children of Poland.

A little recap of the day.  Both teams focused on the theme of Superheros and how Jesus is our REAL superhero and completed the camps in the middle of the afternoon.  Team Jim was in Golesaw and the day was highlighted with a water balloon fight with some 240 water balloons.  They then met up with Team Jenna in Cieszyn for a little shopping, dinner and dessert.  If you haven't picked up that dessert time is very important to this group then let me reassure you that ice cream is one of the most important foods we have consumed.  It started raining while eating our dessert so it was since to walk a little in the rain back to where our bus driver met us.  It has been a pretty warm week here in Poland and the Poland people are really looking for some rain.  (Not as bad as we are but still lacking what they are used to.)  We then got back to our "home" did devotions and are know just wrapping up a couple things before bed.

Tomorrow Team Jenna will be doing a short program for their parents in Cieszyn and then we all are going to do some hiking and shopping and maybe go bowling.  Thanks for all your continued support.  We look forward to completing our time in Poland and flying home on July 28.


Jim Meyer

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thursday, July 23

Hello from Poland!  Our group is sleeping better and better each day, and most are now able to ignore the 6:00 am church bells and roosters.  Today was Day 4 of English camp at our two villages, Goleszow and Cieszyn.  In Cieszyn, Team Jenna continues to celebrate the small moments we have with our students.  Many children know our names and come running in to camp in the morning with a huge smile on their face.  We can feel their excitement to learn English and to come to know the Lord through our presence there.  In English class, we have been teaching how to hold a conversation in English using complete sentences which link back to our daily topic, which for today was all about courage.  Sometimes students do not feel as comfortable using their English in front of a group, so we try to find small moments throughout the day to speak with them individually.  These moments are so special to us because we learn so much about their lives.  In Bible class, the students heard stories about courageous people from the Bible, such as David defeating Goliath, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  The weather was beautiful in the morning, so Dayton was able to hold Bible class outside on blankets on the lawn. They continue to ask thought provoking questions, such as "What will judgement day look like?" and " How did the rest of David's life turn out after defeating Goliath?"  We are encouraged by their curiosity of the Word. During craft time, students made necklaces and bracelets that spelled "Courage" as a reminder that they can be courageous in their lives through Christ.  My favorite time of our day together is eating lunch at a canteen.   The Polish children politely help serve the younger children, and clear the plates of the adults.  It is also a time for us to teach them English, and they in turn teach us some Polish...there are so many sounds in their language that we just are not used to pronouncing!  It started to rain in the afternoon, so we had to move our game time indoors.  It was difficult to organize  a game with 45 students in one small room, but we managed to play 4 Corners, balloon games, and a really difficult game of charades. (They have some very interesting ways of acting out animals!)  We start and end our days with worship music, and it is such a blessing to hear our students singing the songs to themselves as they go about their day.  Back in Cisownica, Allen and Haley cooked an amazing dinner of barbecue chicken and salad.  After dinner, some of us went on a hike/run through the country trails around town. We finished the night with devotions and a yummy apple crumble, courtesy of Jenni.  We are all so grateful for your thoughts and prayers as we finish our last day of English camp tomorrow.

Polish faces

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Bracelet making.

Burger time

Wednesday, July 22

Where to start.. this trip has been so amazing. I can not believe that we have been gone 9 days already, it feels like we just left. The time change has been a little difficult to get used too. Today was fun and eye opening for all of us. All the people here are so amazing and kind that it has shocked us all. Today I woke up at 7:15 am and got dressed and went down for breakfast. As soon as breakfast was over the Jenna team which includes me, Jenna, Ben, Dayton and Hunter left for our site. We arrived early like usual and started to set things up for the day. We all prayed together including the other volunteers who know very little English or no English at all. When we pray, we pray in English and the pastor's wife prays in Polish. The children here are so helpful and kind. They pick up their plates and pick ours up for us too. If we try and take our own plates, they get mad at us and yell at us in Polish, it is pretty funny.One of the little girls at the camp has made a huge impact on me already. Her name is Nadia, she reminds me of me when I was little. She is beyond talkative, she talks to me all the time really fast in Polish. Even though I do not understand what she is saying most of the time she is one of my favorite kids.She will randomly run up to me and hug me for 5 minutes straight.She is always smiling and having fun. I am going to miss her so much when I am back at home. As you have probably already heard from the others before me, we have a routine for our English class. The order is music, snack, 2 rotations which are either English which I run all by myself other than the interpreter, bible lesson by Dayton or crafts by Haley. Next we have lunch then some more music then our last rotation and have fun playing games outside. After games we have another snack break and then our closing for the day. Today during English camp we talked about food and Jesus feeding the 5,000. The kids are very good at speaking English when they do speak. They are way more comfortable with speaking to me than they were on Monday. They pick up things very quickly and are so eager to speak in English. English lessons went very well today. I am so proud of these kids for getting out of their comfort zones. After closing for the day, Jim's group came and joined us and we all went out together, we visited a different country, Czech Republic. Then we went to a different city in Poland and went shopping and got to know the other volunteers better. They are people that I would love to stay in contact with in the future after we get home. While we were shopping I bought this beautiful skirt that has a Polish pattern on it. I love it so much, I am so excited to wear it. We had burgers and fries when we were out! So many of us were thrilled to have food other than sausage! Then we came back to where we are staying and had devotion and now are getting ready for bed.  
By Kirsten Bigalk

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday, July 21

Day two of English camp is done! All of today's lessons went very well, The stain glass window crafts turned out really good and we are really starting to get a hang of the lessons and have everything practically nailed down. For the bible lesson that I'm in charge of we played charades and taught them the story of creation. The songs we sang all went well and the kids loved all of them and were very enthusiastic about dancing and singing along with us. I felt that all the kids really started to open up today they were coming up to us and trying to talk to us. They came up to Jenni and I and just completely swarmed us and were teaching us how to say things like bike,car,backpack,and a lot of other words. I think they were more making fun of our bad Polish speaking and funny American accents. Then towards the end of English camp we were playing games outdoors we played capture the flag which the kids loved very much. Then we played Caterpillar race which the kids liked a lot, the other games we played were polish kickball which is just kick ball but with pretty much no rules and then we played some type of team keep away that the kids and us made up while Jim played a game called link tag with the kids that didn't want to play. After that the kids just started playing with each other and trying to teach us English. At the end of the day we sang some closing songs than went home ate dinner had devotions (with ice cream) and then got ready for bed. That was our day in a nutshell! Hope everything is going well in the states. Thank you for reading and good night!

                                                                                                            -Eli Euhus

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday, July 20

Hello everyone! Today was quite eventful. We started the first day of VBS with the polish children! We separated into two teams out of are whole group and both went to 2 different locations/church. I am on team Jim. We were more in the rural area where there is a lot of farmland and it is very green.We started off the day of VBS with an opening and music. The children enjoyed the songs very much. Of course it was a little hard for the children to understand the lyrics at first, but they were able to catch on and enjoy the dance moves that went along with it. We had different stations all throughout the day, such as: crafts,bible study, english lesson and games. The kids were able to learn some words very quickly and were very proud when they learned the new word. At first the children were a little shy to speak to us in English, but then they became very comfortable with us as the day went on. Our last station of the day was games which Sara and I were in charge of. It was definitely challenging at first to explain the games due to the language barrier, but we were able to get the kids to understand. One of the games that we played was capture the flag. Most kids knew how the game went. It was surprising how competitive the kids were! We played that game for a very long time, It seemed like none of them wanted to stop playing. We also "tried" playing baseball. It didn't work out so well. Instead they came up with there own version, which actually worked out better and was an easier way to learn for the kids. Regardless if they played it right or not, they all had a blast! We then ended with the closing, learned some polish songs, and sang along with the kids. After VBS was over we got PIZZA! Which was definitely one of the highlights of the day. We were all kind of sick of eating meat,so Jim and Ben decided to treat us and get us some pizza and then afterwards ice cream. It was overall such a great day. It went smoother than expected. We all worked very hard and Jim and Jenna were very impressed with how well our groups did. It's crazy how fast we bonded with the kids and how open they were to learning anything. I can't wait to see what the rest of the week has to bring to us. That's all I have for tonight! See ya folks!
                                  - The Camryn Beebe :)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday, July 19

This morning was our first experience in a Polish Lutheran church service. They had two baptisms at the church team Jenna went to and a blessing at team Jim's church. The church team Jenna attended was the biggest Lutheran Church in all of eastern Europe. We enjoyed some recognizable hymns and some unfamiliar Liturgy but overall the service was quite enjoyable. Today was the most divided the group has been the whole trip. We all split up into small groups of about 3 after the church service and went to spend the day with a polish family. The main objective was to learn the routines of a typical Sunday. I grouped up with Ben and Dayton. Soon after we arrived and sat in the patio we asked Victor, an 18 year old, about his normal day, he stated that he mostly reads or plays on the computer. They too are fans of taking it easy on a Sunday afternoon. Quickly we were served Gazpacho which was quite delicious and began to get to know the family. After breakfast we went on a little adventure, we weren't sure where at first but when we pulled up we knew it was a Polish Zoo. Deer were roaming around the grounds which made for some rather good GoPro footage and we made our way up to the bird show where Falcons, Hawks, and our very own Bald Eagle were zooming across the sky catching food in their talons after the keepers threw it into the air. We soon went back to the house and had a lunch consisting of Pork cutlets, potatoes, carrots, and a special mushroom sauce. Overall our time at Victor's house was a great experience and was quite fun to gain some insight into the lives of the typical Polish Family.
Hunter Johnson 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sara playing organ

Church in Golesow

Scythe grass cutting competition

Forest Church

Saturday, July 18

In the last four days Gods creation has shined through in the beautiful nature that is surrounding us, the friendliest  of the people and the church and around th community, and the amount of Christianity throughout the different villages. After a delicious breakfast we split off into groups team Jim and team Jenna. Being apart of team Jim we head to our church that we will be be starting vbs at on Monday we took a tour of the church. The church was built in 1877 and is three stories tall. They had a huge organ and Jake and I had the privilege of playing it. After we looked around the rest of the property we began to take a trip there satellite church's. They have a total 5 satellites and we visited 4 of them. Many of the church's were through the woods and a few were very close to the Czech Republic; we plan to cross the border to check that off on our list of countries we have visited. After we had a quick snack we headed to a mountain for a festival which included scythe race that was very intense. They measured the quality of the cut, the width, and the length. The news was there so there may be a video online if you would like to watch the race. Jim was also interview because they wanted to hear an Americans view of the races. There was also a 89 year old woman there who competed. Next we headed down the mountain and headed to another mountain. We had amazing pierogi's and then took a short hike to a forest church which was definitely my highlight of this trip so far.  It was used by Lutherans during the Counter Reformation. The view of the forest behind a wooden cross was beautiful along with a small creek running right next to it. It is used once a year by a church and it is a wonderful area that God created for people during the hard rules during there life. After a running race up the steep hill we headed back to our house and are now practicing vbs songs and beginning our nightly devotions. We miss you and cannot wait for more adventures that God has in store for us on this trip. 

Sara Tracy 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Our walk back home

Dessert time

Dinner out in the countryside

Lunch outside

Friday, July 17th.

Today was off the chain! This morning we had breakfast, sang songs of praise, and then we toured a Lutheran school. It appears God has already been doing great things in the area. 
For lunch we ate outside. We had Polish sausages, or as they call them... sausages. 
We then headed out to our next place where we will be staying the remainder of the trip. It was quite a warm bus ride. It was a little unsettling when the driver pulled over to ask for directions!
We got settled in and then headed out to eat! It ended up being at a random person's house who lived in the middle of the countryside. They take reservations and then serve home cooked meals at their home, a very interesting business model! 
We are now back and ready to scout out our areas tomorrow! God has blessed us with an amazing time already, and I can't wait to see what is next to come.

-Jake Euhus
From Jim - team is all pretty healthy. Had a couple with some stomach issues but all good now. Just needed to drink more. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Our afternoon walk around town

Lutheran church we are staying at right now.

Thursday July 16, 2015

Wow. That's the word that has been like repeating like a stuck record in my mind the course of this trip. Wow, in a tone of annoyance, when I awoke at 3 in the morning, completely restless with the Lords work waiting to be done. Wow, with appreciation, as we conversed with great company over a breakfast of bread, bread, and meat. Wow, in awe, as we sat humbly in the polish church, listening to Pastor Andrew speak of the history of the church and Polish Lutheranism in staggered English. Wow, in confusion and disappointment, as I, and many others, choked over insane polish words such as niebezpieczeĹ„stwo, or danger, and przepraszam, or I'm sorry/excuse me, which is completely not pronounced like it looks. Wow, with happiness, as we munched on lunch. Wow, with a students heart, as we learned knowledge of Poland and the polish people. Wow, with admiration, as I walked along beautiful old polish architecture while eating a 1$ gelato cone.  Wow, stuffed still from lunch, as I ate sandwiches for dinner. Wow, filled with the Lord's love and unwavering support, as we shared communion with our brothers and sisters. Wow. The word that keeps bouncing around my mind as I dream of the experiences to come, and the love and friendship to be shared in the minutes, hours, and days to come. -Jenni Richter

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


In Frankfurt, Germany

Girls sleeping room

Guys sleeping room

Some pics from today

We made it!!

It has been a long day and we are all pretty wiped out. We began our Tueaday with meeting at LAX by noon and get all checked in and through security which was a breeze. 11 hour flight to Frankfurt was uneventful other then we were kind of scattered throughout the plane. Be glad you were not sitting by Sara and Camryn who were close to a pooping and crying baby. 
Quick turn over in Frankfurt and then a short 90 minute flight to Katowice, Poland. Ben Helge who is the missionary in this part of the world met us as the airport along with another adult mission team who will be teaching and English camp as well. We drove about 30 min to a church that has apartments attached which is where we are staying for the first two nights. We will be doing some orientation the next two days and then moving out to our service locations.  
I forced the kids to stay awake through dinner before we could shut it down for the night hoping to get on Poland time as soon as possible. So it's almost 8 pm here in Poland and the team is getting all tucked in. Been a great day. All are healthy and just need a good night sleep. Peace to all and love from Poland. Kids will start writing tomorrow.  Jim Meyer 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Off We Go Again

Family and Friends,

It is that time again for the Sr. High Youth to head off on their International Servant Event.  The group will leave on Tuesday, July 14 and return on July 28th.  This will mark the 7th International Servant Event that we have been a part of.  (China x 3, Macedonia, Slovakia, and Puerto Rico)  We have a group of 12 people that will be working in the cities of Cieszyn and Goleszow which are located in the southern part of Poland along the Czech Republic border.  We have divided ourselves into two teams and will be leading a week long VBS/English camp in those cities.  We will primarily be working with children ages 9-11 years old.  Our after-event will take us to the concentration camp at Auschwitz which should be a very eye opening experience for us.  

We covet your prayers while we are gone and look forward to sharing our pictures and stories with you when we get back.