While most of the team visited the collegium (high school), I along with my teammates Adam, Cara, Isabelle and our missionary partner, Sandy, taught English at two elementary schools yesterday. The first elementary school was one that Sandy had worked with in the past. Each Taylor team member sat down with a small group of fifth and sixth graders to practice conversational English.
I was impressed with their range of vocabulary and their willingness to learn. When they didn’t know a specific word, they would put their heads together to brainstorm or occasionally rush to the dictionary to ensure accuracy. At the end of our time yesterday, they presented funny skits, common Polish songs and in-depth presentations to practice their English and teach us about their culture.
Poland is a largely Catholic nation; many people have a Bible at home, but it sits on a shelf and is seldom read. I was surprised, therefore, when Igor, a boy who is about twelve years old, brought up the Bible during a conversation about veganism. His English was broken and theology may have been a little shaky, but he said he regularly read the Bible. I desperately wanted to ask more and find out if he was my brother in Christ, but the other children grew impatient and drew my attention back toward the English game we were playing.
Please pray that Igor, and the other children will encounter the Lord through his Word. As I reflect on my time with those kids, I can’t help but think of how God used the Bible to radically change my life when I was their age. Like many of them, I went to church and had a Bible at home. However, I didn’t believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior until one Christmas night when I read the nativity story in the Bible for myself. The Christmas lights and decorations are still on display here in Sandomierz and there is even a nativity scene set up in the middle of the town square, yet many of these children have no personal connection with Christ. To them church is just an old building they visit on Sunday.
Today, that same class of children took us on a scavenger hunt around town. The Taylor team members were tasked with reading and simplifying clues to the children. My team jogged around the town, our winter caps bouncing up and down as we raced from one landmark to the next. We saw an ancient cathedral, a restaurant named after an old shoe, and “the eye of the needle”, a small archway that only one person can pass through. Isabelle, the eleven year old daughter of our team leaders, blended right in with the Polish children. She laughed with them and taught them how to make shapes with her string of yarn.
The second elementary school we visited yesterday was new to the ministry; it was the first time a group had visited to teach English. The children were ecstatic to talk with native English speakers. Again, we broke up into groups, played games and talked with the children. At the end of our time, the English teacher said she had never seen the students so engaged. She asked why we had come, what were our intentions? Sandy explained that Taylor University is a faith-based school that sends students all over the world to serve others. Please pray that through out this week and next, we can have more conversations about faith with her. Pray that she—as well as her students—will be curious about our faith and we, as the Bible commands, will be ready to explain the hope we have in Christ.