Where do I begin? I feel like I barely got started explaining stories and a whole new bunch fills my spirit. Today was bittersweet. I experienced a Polish Protestant worship service, which took place in a vacant room of a youth center. I cannot explain how different this was - it could have been a couple families gathering for a bible study, so different than the magnificent Catholic structures here and the modern masterpieces back home. I watched the communion, given with one glass and crackers and thought about all the churches that have been torn apart by arguments over how often to have communion. Yet, this little church stands, a beacon of light among a confused people, humbling remembering our Savior. I guess I was struck by the irony and simplicity of it.
Another blessing of the church service was that people from camp came! One family, who I adored, came from an hour and a half away. Their daughter and I became very close during camp and she is a believer, but her family does not go to church, nor does anyone in her village of 800. So, for them to come to a Protestant church was so touching. There were others too, and the Lord blessed us with this one last meeting.
We explored the Ryneck, Main Market area in Old Town. It was so much to take in - I kept going in circles and finding new things to watch, admire, and smile at. I set off on my own determined to master some of the streets and had wonderful excursions, but always found my way back to the square. We went to Wawel Castle and I had to make sure my mouth didn't just drop constantly. How beautiful - and what history! To think of who walked there so long before me was crazy. This was the third castle I have seen so far. I went to Slovakia with some of the people from the camp one afternoon last week. And we also took a field trip as a camp to a famous castle in Poland. Both experiences were amazing and I don't have enough pictures to capture how beautiful everything was.
Okay, the bitter mostly came when I had to say goodbye to my new, wonderful friend Ania. I miss her already. This past week has been like a lovely story - we shared bits of our hearts and spirits. She taught me Polish, slowly, VERY slowly. But she was so patient and always encouraging my efforts. More and more I have a desire to learn to speak this language. I want to tell people my heart in a way that speaks to their heart. I never, ever expected such a friendship to come from this. Of course, in my idealistic mind, I am planning a trip already to return and renew these relationships, maybe with a little more Polish. When I said goodbye, it was kind of unreal, like I would meet back up with her later on... but after she left I just set off walking and let the tears go.
How does that happen? God made us such vulnerable people, whether we admit it or fight it, we just are. And, no matter how hard I fought, I couldn't win against the prevailing love that Jesus put in me to share. Anyway, with that said, I don't know how to explain my growing awareness and desire to know about this place. Is it because it's the only place I've ever been? Maybe. Or is it God's leading? I'll let the Lord direct that one.
I have arranged to meet with some people here, in Krakow this week, but tomorrow I am headed to Auschwitz.
Hmm. I've been saying this a lot, but words escape me (I know, not apparent from the above). I have been thinking so much and English doesn't fit. So, I guess with that I'll end.