Home – Poland – (1/30/17)

After a long day in the skies, we’re back in the United States! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during our time in Poland. We are grateful for your ministry to us, both spiritually and financially, while we learned and served together in schools and churches across “Polska.”

A recurrent word our team used to describe the Polish people was resilience. When we visited Warsaw at the beginning of our trip, we spent time in the Warsaw Uprising Museum. There, we learned that the majority of Warsaw was decimated during World War II, leaving the city demolished. Standing on top of the Palace of Culture and Science, a “gift” from Stalin, built by the hands of Polish laborers, we felt a bittersweet sort of resilience. A building once founded on communism and the principles of darkness, could be interpreted as a big person looking down at little people – how it once was.

We saw another narrative. Today, the palace boasts a theater and several museums and restaurants. It is a center for expression and enjoyment. It is a center for the people. The view on top of the building looks out over a sprawling metropolitan area. Warsaw is a huge city with a skyline of modern buildings, many built after the fall of communism. Though many “commy condos” – gray, plain apartment buildings – still stand, so does new development and modern architecture.

This new development shows resilience. The people of Warsaw did not leave their city a war zone. They did not settle for a communist, expressionless horizon. They rebuilt their city – both in architecture and in identity – and they gave their city a restored meaning. For the older generations who remember life before or during the war, this can seem like being a foreigner in one’s own city. It can also seem like a sign of victory. Life as they once knew it was gone, but the city is rebuilt and bears witness to the stories of the past. For the younger generations, they seek to establish a new identity for the city. They want to find meaning and purpose, some creating that through street art. (Graffiti is prevalent across Poland). They are finding their voice, some through protests, others through graffiti and for some, through faith. Our prayer is that the people of Poland will find their meaning through the Lord Jesus Christ and His presence in culture and history.

During our final week in Poland, we went to a place of remembrance that remains a memorial to what once was a fateful reality for millions in Poland and across Europe. We traveled to Auschwitz and Birkenau. It was disorienting at first because several of us imagined driving through miles of forests before finding the sprawling concentration camp. We were shocked to find it in the midst of a city. (Of course, much of the city was built after the atrocities during the Holocaust).

As we walked down the uneven cobblestone streets of Auschwitz, we saw the buildings, many in good condition and realized the Holocaust didn’t happen that long ago. Each step we took carried a weight because we knew that this was a place of death – innocent lives were lost under our feet. It felt surreal partly because the day itself was perfect. It was sunny and the frost sparkled on the trees. Yet, it felt wrong to call a day beautiful in a place, dark and dismal, which serves as a warning to never forget and to never allow genocide to occur again.

We visited at the same time as Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship for the EU Commission. He told us he came to remember. We must learn history, he told us, so that we may never let the Holocaust happen again. It’s hard to describe the feeling of standing in a gas chamber and imagining what took place underneath and all around. For many of us, that realization did not sink in until later. We realized the true darkness of human nature, the destruction that one human can do apart from a relationship with Christ Jesus. We felt a deep grief for the stories of millions whose voices we have never heard. We walked where they walked to remember. It is hard to understand or try to understand why the Holocaust occurred and why genocide and evil still occurs. We find comfort, only in knowing that Christ Jesus bore the weight of the Holocaust on the cross and He knew each victim by name. Each one was created by Him and loved by Him and grieved by Him.

We transitioned from Auschwitz to Krakow where we spent our final few days, processing our trip and preparing to travel back to the Chopin Airport in Warsaw before traveling home. In Krakow, we thought of the history we learned, the people we met and the courageous, resilient culture and lives we had come to love. Krakow, unlike Warsaw, was not decimated by World War II and contains many buildings, preserved throughout centuries. We visited several Cathedrals with stunning architecture, pointing us up and into the awe of God. Much of our team was feeling better and overcame the illness that was prevalent near the midpoint of our trip. We discussed our experiences as a team and said “Do Widzenia!” to Adam and Chris. We are blessed by their willingness to take time away from their families and community to drive us around, a time and energy consuming endeavor. Yet, they blessed us with joy and smiles, often sharing their stories of God’s providence in their lives as they drove us across Poland.

On Thursday, we said goodbye to the Hatfields and to the nation of Poland. Dave and Sandy are amazing people. Their leadership and love for the people and nation of Poland is established in a deep love for Christ and hearts of worship. Their faith encouraged us, and their passion for their ministry partners and community members was beautiful to observe. We were blessed by Dave and Sandy and grateful to join with them to see a little bit of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing ministry in Poland.

Now that we are back home, please ask us more about our stories! We would love to share our experiences with you and the stories of those whom we’ve met. Please continue to pray for the ongoing work of PCM in Poland and for the local church there. Praise God for His continual work in the hearts and minds of the Polish people!

In Christ,

Katherine Yeager

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Sandomierz & Sosnowiec – (1/22/17)

Chris’s van rolls down the snowy cobblestone

and out of the city of Sandomierz. Classical music flows through the stereo and Chris talks of God’s sovereignty in his family’s journey. We’ve finished our time at the Collegium and other area schools and are headed to Sosnowiec where we will spend several days before visiting Auschwitz, traveling to Kraków and taking a train back to Warsaw where we will spend the night before flying back to the United States the next morning.

We have been blessed by the church in Sandomierz and its pastor, Adam, both of which welcomed our group with open arms and piles of pastries. These people are the hands and feet of Christ in Sandomierz and the surrounding area and continually extend abundant hospitality to our visiting team. Adam and Chris drove us to Sosnowiec today, nearly a four to five hour drive, and are driving us to the locations where we need to go for the remainder of the weekend.

On Monday, several members of our team joined the Hatfields at the Gymnasium, another school with students around 14 to 17 years old and another school with younger students (5th and 6th grade) afterward. The rest of our team taught at the Collegium. Connor, Dave, Sandy and I played games and talked with the students at the Gymnasium, all with varied levels of English proficiency. Some groups were shy and talked little, looking down and avoiding conversations. When we talked as a group about those encounters, I remembered my own timidity in speaking a second language in my high school Spanish class.

Fear and embarrassment drove me to avoid speaking in a foreign language. Yet these students, who are also afraid of speaking in another language, are finding their voice in English for the first time. It is a joy to see them begin to emerge from their reticence and express themselves in a new way with new, funny-sounding American words.

On Tuesday, our group was split again between the Collegium and Gymnasium. This week, the group in the Collegium has focused on English games and reconnecting with students we first met last week. Games like “Categories,” “The Dictionary Game,” and “I Have Never” are a few favorites amongst ourselves and the students. We’ve seen shy students begin to speak up and speak out in group games whereas they would have remained silent in small group conversations. We see the students’ personalities emerge when we play these games and laugh together as the students give themselves grace to make mistakes and strengthen their English language skills. The students are vibrant and talented and exuberant and love to talk once they’ve laughed off the initial language barriers. We see the heart of the students when they share their voices.

On Tuesday evening, we returned to the church for English lessons where we partnered up and spoke with groups of students and community members. More students came Tuesday night than the previous Tuesday and Thursday night as more students connected with us at the Collegium and became interested in the classes and conversations. After snatching a few cups of tea and sweets, we met with the groups. Mary Helen, Sandy (Chris’s wife) and myself met with a group of five students of various ages. Two boys in our group brought their younger sisters and one boy was the son of a teacher in the Collegium and Marta with whom we have been connected during our time in Sandomierz. Our group was timid so we introduced ourselves and spent most of our time playing English games. One girl in our group was afraid to speak and only whispered to Sandy at first. We continued to encourage her and by the end of class, she began to ask us a few questions! Praise God for giving a spirit of courage to His children.

On Wednesday, we all returned to the Collegium and Dream Teams A and B (as we have dubbed our groups) saw more classes of students that we recognized. Some of our group met for coffee with students after class before the evening Bible study. In the evening, we returned to church where several members of our team shared and served. Cassidy shared her testimony and God’s sovereignty in her own life, in high school after a soccer injury and today. Connor and Cristina led worship and we sang songs like “10,000 Reasons.” Praise God for allowing us to speak united in one language of worship. Professor Hernandez shared a message on Ezekiel 36, the valley of dry bones as Adam translated into Polish. We are blessed to share our stories with the people of the church. We are blessed to hear and share in their own stories.

On Thursday, we had a shorter day in the Collegium, only visiting about three classes of students. It was a day of rest after class for members of our team who needed a little extra sleep to fight off illness and more time to visit with students for those who were feeling better. We were back in the church in the evening for English classes where we met the largest group of students we have seen at the church during our stay, 36 students! Praise God for the courage of students to begin to embrace the English classes and set foot in a church, meeting Adam and Chris’s family and members of the community who they can continue relationships with after we leave. Adam and Elise led a group of students studying for the Matura (college entrance exam) which included Iga, one of the the students we met last week. Mary Helen and I took a group of three students: Julia, Klaudia and Ewa who had met members of our team previously. We had fun talking about our passions and sharing experiences. Afterward, all three girls excitedly told us that they would be at the concert Friday (Kolah) which we had mentioned in their classes during the week.

On Friday, we spent our final day in the Collegium. Walking down the castle-like halls Elise and Connor had their “Michal detectors” on. Elise explained: she and Connor met a student named Michal earlier in the week. Connor connected with Michal during a class and heard some of his story. Wanting to continue a friendship, Connor got to know Michal and wanted to invite him to the rap musician, Kolah’s concert on Friday. During the school day on Thursday, Elise and Connor were joking that, “what are the odds that Michal will show up right now?” because they hoped to talk with him that morning about the concert. At that moment, they looked over and there was Michal! Elise and Connor leapt from their seats and tackled Michal, grabbing the handle on his backpack and stopping him in his tracks. Michal was a little surprised to see his two American friends so excited to see him, but understood after they explained about the concert why they had stopped him so abruptly. On Friday, Elise and Connor vowed to put on their “Michal detectors” to sense him if he came by again.

Before we finished our day at the Collegium, we were ushered into the principle’s office. Not to fear, the days of detention were not returning. We walked through the door to find a surprise party, attended by several English teachers and the headmaster himself, bestowing chocolate, fruit and souvenirs of Sandomierz.

We were overwhelmed with gratitude for the hospitality of the administrators and teachers. They love their students and see great potential in each one. It was difficult to walk out of the Collegium for the last time, even as we said final goodbyes to some students later in the evening. Many of our group connected with students over Facebook and Instagram so that we can keep in touch, even if only minimally, over social media.

Later in the afternoon, Cassidy and I visited Iga’s home for the last time. On the walk over, she pointed out several buildings that I had never noticed before. One building, a gray apartment building, blended in with all of the rest. “That building,” Iga said, “is where someone threw himself down four stories and died. He killed himself.” We paused and looked up at the stucco structure, nearly close enough to touch. The fourth floor windows were in plain sight. I shivered.

We reached Iga’s apartment where we met her mother, sister and niece once again. Iga treated us with a dessert and we talked for a few hours before excusing ourselves to go to the concert. We will miss Iga – her curiosity, her resilience and her joy (though we’re convinced we’ll see each other in person again someday). She is a blessing to our team and even took the care to bake muffins without eggs so that Connor could eat some!

Iga joined us for a Christian rap concert featuring the Polish artist Kolah in a venue under the city center. A group of students with whom we’ve connected over the past few weeks joined us for the concert as well, a time to enjoy together before saying goodbye and to hear the heart of the musician. Our prayer is that the students will experience the love of God powerfully and tangibly so that the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ might resonate in their hearts. Adam arranged for the concert to occur and serves as an invaluable resource and source of encouragement and discipleship to students. Please pray that the students will experience a curiosity to know more of the person of Jesus and the courage to ask the questions about the character of God and the resources to get their questions answered.

The students, teachers, shop owners, church and community of Sandomierz are kilometers away, but continue to remain in our thoughts and prayers. We are excited to see the ongoing ministry of the church and keep in touch with some of the students we have had the privilege to meet there.

Sosnowiec

In contrast to the lost-in-time old European village feeling of Sandomierz, Sosnowiec is in the heart of the industrial region of Poland. According to Chris, nearly fifteen million people live in this region which resembles one giant city (comprised of many cities squished together). Sosnowiec is urban and full of fast drivers and tall buildings. We settled into our hostel on Saturday afternoon. Hostel Brooklyn is appropriately adorned in New York City decor – a taste of “home.” After unpacking, we met with Adam, a worship leader who plays an instrumental role in worship ministry and training in Poland. He is a talented musician, composer and conductor. When he spoke of the ministry, his face brightened. We were blessed to hear his heart for worship. In the evening, we drove to the church where we met Daniel, the head pastor. Daniel helped prepare a delicious meal for us and shared his story afterward. Growing up in a highly dysfunctional family, Daniel’s heart is for the church and sharing how God redeemed his life and gave him hope. As tears streamed down Daniel’s face, we saw the power of Christ at work. Daniel is proof that God restores broken hearts.

On Sunday morning, we drove back to church for breakfast and attended the service afterward. The small sanctuary was filled with people and rays of sunlight bouncing off the bright walls. Ashlen and I shared our testimonies with the help of an interpreter who was gracious and invited several members of our team over to her flat for lunch and an afternoon visit. Dave gave a message about how, like the widow with the jar of oil, we can give our gifts that they may multiply in service for Christ. We worshipped in Polish and then split into groups to visit with church families.

Mary Helen and I went with Szymon and Daria, a newly married couple, to their home in the countryside around Sosnowiec. They welcomed us into their log cabin where we shared a meal, laughed, played Mexican Train dominoes and talked about life and our experiences before hiking around a local castle, walking in a Catholic Church and visiting the mall nearby. Our team is grateful for the hospitality of the church families to give up their Sunday afternoons to pour into our team. Our prayers are for the church of Sosnowiec as it grows and multiplies.

Tomorrow, we drive to Auschwitz, leaving Sosnowiec.

Please pray for tender, courageous hearts to mourn for the horrors of the Holocaust and to process our experiences in light of God’s love and justice.

In Christ,

Katherine Yeager

Rest – Poland (1/14/17)

It’s snowing softly outside and our team is just beginning to wake up on this Saturday morning in Sandomierz. After finishing our first week in the Collegium, we’ve had the opportunity to speak with students inside and outside of class.

Several members of our team met a group of students at a local coffee shop where we learned about their experiences, hopes and aspirations. One student wants to enter an IT profession, others want to be doctors. Many are nervous about their upcoming Matura exam (somewhat similar to the SAT or ACT tests). Often, if we ask students, “What are your hopes after Collegium?” they answer something like, “It’s hard to say, it depends on my Matura exam.” Others respond, “If my Matura score is high enough, I can become _____. If not, maybe I’ll _____.”

While some students are more shy in speaking English than others, most whom we ask about the Matura tell us they felt stressed or nervous. When asked what they do in their free time, many students respond: study.

To help students study for the Matura, the local church offers English classes, open to the community where we have the privilege to serve. For students preparing for the Matura, there are practice tests and times of conversation with our team. Cassidy and I spoke with Iga, a third year student at the Collegium. (There are only three years of “high school” at the Collegium in Sandomierz where we visit). Iga hopes to become a linguist and passionately pursues the study of language. She speaks English well, but also wants to learn Spanish. Once, she spent time in Spain and was captivated by the language there. She remembers looking at an older woman who spoke Spanish and knew no Polish. Iga was frustrated that here was a woman in front of her with whom she desperately wanted to speak. Yet, due to the language barrier, it became an impossibility.

So Iga continued to study language as she returned to Sandomierz. She met some Taylor students last year whom she invited to her house. When she met some members of our team this year, she did the same.

Several members of our team visited Iga’s home where we were welcomed by her father, mother, older sister and four-month-old niece. We sat in Iga’s room as she showed us shelves of foreign language textbooks, flash cards, fiction books and decor (including a Taylor University mug, British flag and tumbler printed with the New York skyline.

Her eyes lit up as she described her love for languages and music. When Iga is not studying, she sings at her church, which according to Iga, is one of nine Catholic Churches in Sandomierz. Iga smiled as she described visiting a worship service while in Spain where she remembers singing with people of all backgrounds of Christianity. She saw unity in the worship service and that filled her with joy.

Iga told us that sometimes, she watches Taylor University videos online, including chapel videos and has seen many films showing Americans at church. She asked us if all churches in the United States dance and feel so free when they worship. We explained chapel and some of our varied experiences with different church backgrounds. Iga told us, she love the beauty in her church, an ornate cathedral in Sandomierz. Though she does not know the meaning of every tradition, it is treasured to her.

We are continuing to learn from the students we meet, even despite illness that has spread to many members of our team. Please pray for restored health and a smooth, speedy recovery so that we may encourage the students and love them with Christ’s love well.

We are encouraged by the curiosity and passion of many students in our conversations. We feel privileged that, though most of us do not speak Polish, the students learn to speak our language, even as it is difficult. When we discover a topic which they love, they gather the a English words to express their thoughts, even if they were shy before.

Please pray for the students at the Collegium (and elementary schools). Pray that they would be courageous in their pursuit of language and relationships with the church community. Pray that they would be resilient in a difficult season of exams. Pray that they would feel the love of Christ tangibly, that hey may know the God who fully knows and fully loves them. Pray that they would accept and experience grace. Pray that they would be, as C.S. Lewis would say, ‘surprised by joy.’

We’re resting today, but continue to praise God for his unfolding story in Sandomierz. It has unfolded for centuries, from the beauty of cathedrals to the people of valor who fought battles in the tunnels below the city. We see His story in the narratives of generations with varied experiences, blending together. We see precious children of God with stories, some hidden by language barriers and told instead through expressions, passions and the eyes.

In Christ,

Katherine Yeager

Conversations – Poland (1/11/2017)

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.

In Christ,

Cassidy Grom

Week One in Poland (1/9/2017)

Dzien dobry from the Poland Lighthouse Team!

We arrived safely late Wednesday evening in Warsaw, Poland’s capital,where we were greeted by smiles and McDonald’s hamburgers by Dave and Sandy Hatfield, leaders of Poland Christian Ministries.

After eating our burgers at the Chopin Airport exit, we boarded a bus and sped off to our hotel as snow fell outside of the foggy windows. During the following few days, we became reacclimated to sleep, conquered jet lag and participated in a variety of cultural experiences. From visiting the Polin museum to taking part in a local church service we became more immersed in Polish culture before heading to our main destination, Sandomierz.

On Thursday morning, we awoke to a fresh snowfall and set out for the Polin museum, exhibiting 1000 years of Jewish history. The museum is located on what used to be part of the Warsaw ghetto, a site destroyed in the aftermath of the Holocaust. We were joined by Oksana, a Ukrainian woman who works at Astruda Christian Camp, a ministry sponsored by Polish Christian Ministries. Oksana shared her story with us and joined us for the museum tour and lunch afterward. Her joy and resilience were clear and stood out to our team.

Our group was amazed by the meaningful care put into the creation of the museum. The Hatfields explained to us that many memorials to the Jewish people in Poland focus on the horrors of the Holocaust. While the Polin museum does feature a Holocaust exhibit, its primary purpose is to show the life and zest of the Jewish people in Poland throughout the centuries. The Polin museum provided a space for solidarity with and learning from the Jewish people. Nearly every member of our team remarked, “I never knew ____ before about the Jewish history.” We are grateful to continue to learn from a cultural and historical experience far from our own.

After spending the morning in the Polin museum, we spent some time resting before visiting Ogrod Swiatla, a palace in Warsaw in the evening. The Polish culture is rich in the arts, with composers like Chopin, who once called Poland home. We saw the beauty of the arts through the architecture and light display we observed at the palace. The gardens were illuminated with nature themed lights which blinked to the tune of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and other classical pieces. We saw in the lights, the gardens and the grandeur of the palace, the mark of a creator which points toward the eternal Creator, the God of, as R.C. Sproul would put it, the good, the true and the beautiful. He is the God of peace, even when there is no peace.

On Friday, Poland celebrated the national holiday Three Kings Day and we visited the “Mother Church” in Warsaw for the first time. We walked up a staircase to the office of Nate, one of the ministry partners at the Protestant church. Sun poured into the windows of the office and Nate, accompanied by his wife, Ola, began to share his story. Polish Christian Ministries (PCM) works with several churches including: Warsaw North and South, several international churches and a collaborative initiative for growing church leaders to continue church development, evangelism and discipleship. Nate beamed as he described the limitless possibilities for ministry in Warsaw and beyond. While nations such as the United States, he said, have seen just about every church development and ministry strategy in one way or another, Poland has experienced little and leaves much room for creativity and ingenuity in ministry. Nate, and the evangelical church’s goal, is to immerse the city in prayer. Many of those prayers come from prayer walks in the community, organized by Nate and the Eli project. They disciple, because Christ first discipled. They love because Christ first loved. They speak, because Christ speaks through them. Tears brimmed in Nate’s eyes, a few spilling onto his cheeks as he spoke of a discipleship team member he was mentoring. The team member told Nate that he had never felt or understood the love of Christ. Nate grieved and continued to disciple the team member who began to understand the height and breadth of Christ’s love for the first time, even after working in a ministerial setting for numerous years.

From the church, we took a tram across Warsaw to Chopin Park, home of the Chopin monument (Poland’s equivalent of the Lincoln Memorial, according to the Hatfields). We traipsed across the snowy cobblestone through the wooded park to Lazienki Krolewskie, the summer palace of a former Polish royal. Peacocks and pigeons surrounded the palace entrance which overlooks an icy pond, full of ducks and swans walking on the frozen water. As we took the palace tour, the audio recording mentioned the goal of the founder to create not just a palace, but a museum, one of the first of its kind in Europe, which served as a place of thought and learning. The founder believed in the importance of the aesthetic, ethical and philosophical to establish a healthy society. It was a palace that became a cultural hub. During World War II, when 80% of Warsaw was destroyed, though Nazi troops drilled 1000 holes into the palace and set fire to some of the inside to prepare it for implosion, they never got the chance to destroy it. It stands today as a victory in solidarity. After the palace, we traveled to Old Town where we entered Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, a Catholic Church with an ornate interior. The moment we entered, a hush fell over our team. Slowly we gazed up and around. Murals of saints, apostles and Christ plastered the expanse. An organ sprawled across the entrance wall. The nave reached heaven-bound heights, covered in murals of scriptural scenes. Silently, we filed onto several pews and sat. Some prayed, others thought, a few grabbed several photos to capture the beauty of their surroundings. The awe factor of the cathedral was found in what it pointed to, a heavenly king. Holiness and awe, maybe even a dose of holy fear captivated our team. When one reflects on the centuries of worshippers who filled the expanse with sacred hymns and liturgies, it is humbling. It gives one the feeling of insignificance in self and eternal significance in the object of worship.

We left as silently as we came and walked further into Old Town where we ate a late lunch at a local Polish restaurant before exploring Old Town in the dark of night, by Christmas lights. Saturday morning, we awoke and traveled to the Warsaw Uprising museum. The exhibits featured the surrounding context to the historical event – nearly five years under siege and deep rooted hurt and long memory after a city was very literally blown to pieces. We began to consider what it would mean for the oldest residents of Warsaw to have culture shock within their culture. When the remaining Warsaw Uprising survivors, who remember Warsaw in its historical grandeur, saw it in its post-war destruction and today in its metropolitan development, what would they think? Could they still identify with their own culture. What did “home” become for them?

We left the museum with a new understanding for the people of Warsaw, who stood with their city when other cities surrendered because they loved their home, their culture and their people and would do everything to keep it safe. This morning (Sunday), we packed our bags and checked out of Hotel Aramis. Before leaving for Sandomierz, we visited church at Warsaw South, a contemporary congregation housed in a former Soviet printing press. The church, a sizeable congregation by Polish Protestant standards comprises only three percent of the entire facility. Prior to the service, a member of the congregation approached our team and exclaimed, “Oh, the famous Taylor!” and smiled. The ministerial staff extended immense hospitality to our team, offering us free coffee or tea from the church’s coffee shop.

During the service, several worship songs, though sung in Polish, had English equivalents like “How Great is Our God.” As our Polish brothers and sisters sang in their native tongue, we sang in ours and we both sang in one unified voice of worship to our one Father in heaven. We praised God for varying our culture and uniting us in worship and praise. As we sang, we felt solidarity with the Body of Christ. Not only were we worshipping Christ, we were declaring light and truth in a facility, the Soviet printing press, that was once founded on evil and propaganda. We were shouting the truth, transcending cultures and ascending to Christ. The lead pastor preached a sermon on Revelation titled “Apocalypse Now,” the first in a series of sermons on the final book of the Bible. Our interpreter, Pavo, explained the sermon to us. He spoke of its ability to give us a “healthy tremble” and what it means to be “engaged to Christ,” awaiting the time when we will be fully united with him. The pastor stated, “You have to have the past and the future together to live in love today.” He outlined the idea of being a suffering servant, something we’ve seen showcased throughout Poland’s history. The pastor ended with a call to hope in the future reign of Christ as king. After the sermon, Pavo shared part of his own story with us. Several years ago, Pavo was diagnosed with what the doctors thought was multiple sclerosis. At the time, Pavo was a worship leader, a part of two choirs and a lover of music. Along with the diagnosis, the doctors, informed Pavo that he had lost over half of his hearing in his left ear and nearly ten percent of his hearing in his right ear. Music, then, became difficult. God spoke to Pavo in a dream and gave him hope in his circumstances. A time later, Pavo heard the voice of God in another dream, telling him that in the next decade, he would become a supporting pastor at a church. Pavo did not want to be a supporting pastor. His father was a pastor. His grandfather was a pastor. Pavo did not want to be a pastor. But Pavo trusted the voice of God and still trusts his voice, even as he is unsure how a pastor’s salary will provide for his wife and children in comparison to his current salary working at a bank. Pavo chuckled as he told us that he is learning to trust Christ, even as he has no idea how everything will work out.

After church and lunch at Warsaw South, we left for Sandomierz and arrived this evening. Wedebriefed, finalized lesson plans for tomorrow and will start our first day of teaching at 8 a.m.!

Praise God for safe travels and a blessed transition into life in Poland.

Please continue to pray for our team’s physical, emotional and spiritual energy. Wherever the hand of Christ is at work, opposition pushes against. Pray for resilience and courage as we approach our ministry in the elementary and high schools. Pray that we would listen and love with empathy and grace. Pray that we would have open hearts and flexible schedules to see and serve where we are most needed. Pray that the students would see the love of Christ in us and that we, like road signs, would point them closer to Him. Pray that the students will become connected with long-term church partners in Sandomierz to continue relationships with them after we leave.

On behalf of our team, thank you for your prayers and support. We are humbled by your thoughtfulness and for keeping us in your hearts.

Do widzenia! – Katherine Yeager

Arrival Team Poland – (1/5/2017)

The Lighthouse home-base has been notified that the Poland Team has arrived safely last night (local time.) They have spent an enjoyable day in Warsaw getting to know the city, as well as their ministry hosts David and Sandy Hatfield. They have also met with one of the Hatfields’ ministry partners, Oksana Bilous, an intern supervisor for PCM.

 

Meet the Poland Team of 2017

Our Poland Team is going to be working with the local schools and churches to share the truth and love of Christ in practical ways like teaching in the classrooms! Will you join us in praying for them as they complete finals next week and finish last minute preparations of teaching plans?15369998_10154824959958928_5482152858757650993_o