Poland 2012 Report
This year our trip to Poland was definitely one where we saw many answers to prayer. On our arrival in Warsaw (- with all of our luggage, the first answer to prayer!), we took a short trip back to visit the ARKA centre where we were based last year. It was great to meet the staff again and some of the children even remembered us. We only stayed for a short time but it was an opportunity to speak with the director Krzysztof and to hear how the past year has gone for the centre. He is still acting director as they have not been able to find anyone else to take up the position full time. However, God’s hand can be seen at work at AKRA. Krzysztof reports that there are more children coming each day, in fact we saw thirty troop in for dinner! But God has also provided more volunteers to cope with the increase of children. Last year the centre was struggling to provide three staff to supervise twenty children, this time they had at least five or six for thirty children! Praise the Lord!
We travelled to Piątków surprisingly smoothly! Back in 2010 there were more potholes in the country roads than actual road surface! It was great to see old faces at the camp not only the leaders (Anyah, Dawid, Piotr, Ella and Boleck) but also Kuba and his sister Ola. Interestingly, Kuba has been attending the camp since Mark first went over in 2007! It was also good to see the new blue and white striped awning which provided some much needed shade from the hot Polish sun! The days were structured in the same way as in 2010 although it took some getting used to being summoned by a hunting horn! Mark did the breakfast talks on the Olympic rings. He linked each colour to a different stage of the Christian life, using the example of Usain Bolt the Olympic sprinter. He talked about how as an athlete you need to start in the blocks, keep to the rules, keep in lane, keep on track and keep focused on the finishing line. We did the main set of talks in the evenings on the parables of the prodigal son, the paralysed man, Zacchaeus and the rich farmer. It was interesting to work with the puppets as we had to remember to move the puppet after the Polish translation not the English one! The children enjoyed seeing the puppets; we simplified the stories and put them into a modern context so they could understand the translation easier. An answer to prayer was that at least six of the children from one Bible study group (possibly more in the other groups) took the step of faith. We were also asked to teach some English, we taught them the chorus ‘A B C D E F G, Jesus died for you and me’ and also the action song ‘God loves me’. Some of the children had a good grasp of English. We covered the basics of how to buy something in a shop, how to describe your family as well as numbers and the alphabet.
Some of the activities were the same as last time, such as water balloon volleyball with towels . The children enjoyed the beads and Hamma beads! They also liked the swimming pool! Needless to say by day five both pools (they had a large paddling pool as well this year) were pretty brown. However, it was the best way to cool off during the hot Polish summer days. Catapults with water balloons proved to be a favourite activity with the boys! A church member oversaw this activity along with archery and he was extremely grateful that we were helping with the camp. We also did a lot of face painting during this week, Emily and Mark excelled in this! Although by the end of the week some of the children had covered themselves head to toe in block colour!
One of the highlights of the week for me was doing the midnight ghost walk. It was difficult to wake the girls! Even after blowing a horn in their room, they didn’t even stir!! Nevertheless we managed to get all but one child up at midnight and set off into the forest and fields! Some of the older girls realised about half way around that Dawid and Piotr were “missing” from our group. By the time we returned it was around 2am and the children were all now wide awake! It took at least another hour and a half for the children to go back to bed, during which time Dawid and Piotr were hiding and making ghost noises! We also introduced the Poles to the game where a leader’s face is covered in shaving foam and as many puffy cereal grains as possible are thrown at them. The winner was Piotr whose total was around 45! We also found a use for the 144 ping pong balls, apple bobbing! I was actually surprised that all the children including some of the smallest girls managed to fit a ping pong ball in their mouths. Mohan also taught the children how to climb a tree!
It was a great blessing to be able to sit down with Boleck and discuss the future of the camp. There is no doubt that God has given this man huge dreams and it is amazing to hear the vision he has for Piątków. Boleck has just finished getting all the legal documents signed and approved for the proposed dormitory building. They are due to have a final surveyor come and take some more measurements this week. He is looking to build the dormitory in stages. We sat down and discussed finances and we worked out that it will roughly cost £8,500 to have the foundations laid. At this present time we are not sure how much the other stages will cost. We left with Boleck saying that he needed to contact the builder to see if they could start building in September! We will keep you updated with the progress of the building project.
This year I realised how much strain is put on the Polish leaders particularly Anyah. She has to organize most activities and translate all our talks, whilst listening to the constant chatter of the children. For me personally this just was God’s wakeup call that touched my heart and made me realise that for me to help Anyah in any way I need to learn the language. Poland still remains on my heart and I fully believe that it will play a large role in my future. I have taken a step of faith in buying some teach yourself Polish books, I am confident that God will bless me as I seek to learn the language. I know it will not be easy as there are many differences between their written and spoken language (looking at it from an English speakers view!). This year Anyah taught the children a worship song by Chris Tomlin called Our God translated into Polish. Just attempting to read the words and imitate the sounds they were singing was complicated enough! I know I have a tough journey ahead of me to even be able to speak a complete sentence in the language but I am certain that God will help me through it!
Thank you so much for all of your support and prayers.