Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas & Moving

It was a different kind of Christmas this year. It is hard to try to establish traditions when so much is always changing. This year was very much a Polmerican Christmas. I went to a Wigilia (Christmas Eve) dinner. It was a traditional Polish Christmas Eve, we gathered as a family, all of us Americans and Polish that work in the shop. One of the girl’s mothers hosted it. The night started with sharing oplatic. We ate beet soup, cabbage dishes, and carp. We enjoyed poppy seed noodles and dried fruit punch. Dessert was ginger or lemon cookies, ginger bread cake, and poppy seed cake. After stuffing ourselves and opening presents we loaded into the cars and headed to the Rondo. Once again this year we served coffee and cookies at the Wigilia Pod Rondem and we also sang some American Christmas carols. This event is set up as Wigilia for those who have nowhere to go. The majority of the crowd it attracts is homeless. We thoroughly enjoyed passing out coffee. I had an interesting moment there. A homeless man came up and offered me a peace of his oplatic. He said merry Christmas in Polish. I felt bad because I had no oplatic to offer him (since I was backstage when it was passed out, I missed it). He still offered it, so I broke and piece off and responded merry Christmas in Polish. He shook his head and said merry Christmas in Polish again. So I responded Merry Christmas in English and his face just lit up. I was blown away that he wanted to share with me (an American he did not know) and he wanted me to respond to him in English because usually people are nervous when we use English. I was trying to use the Polish that I know and this man wanted me to offer him blessings in English. It was a neat experience to not only share the oplatic wishes with a stranger but to do it in our own languages.

Christmas Day was great! A group of us gathered in the upstairs apartment. The other volunteers here had some family in town and so I spent Christmas with them. We started the morning with breakfast and stockings. We moved into presents and were blessed with unexpected gifts. We spent the rest of the day playing, cooking, and eating. We enjoyed a walk in the snow. I am finding that no matter where I end up I some how become the one that is getting picked on. I came back a very snow covered girl! But, it was a time in the snow I actually enjoyed! I got to spend some time on skype watching my family open Christmas gifts, it was hard to see everyone there and not be there too. Christmas dinner was a collaboration of what was traditional in our families. It was a good day, with friends that have become family.

During all of this celebration I have been also facing a time of change. My apartment looked a little sad this Christmas because it went pretty much undecorated. That was because I am moving. I am in my last few minutes of living in my apartment. It looks very sad and empty now. I will be staying with the other volunteers until I move to Krakow. It will be interesting!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Packages, Customs, and a Christmas Party

One of the most exciting moments for a volunteer is when they receive a package or letter from home! This week (because it’s almost Christmas) was a week of packages. When the postman walks in and one of the Polish girls calls your name, you can’t sign the slip fast enough to grab the box and see who it is from. And of course you forget about what task you were in the middle of because you are so excited to rip it open and see what great treats from home are in it. As I ripped into the one from my Mom I noticed the majority of it was wrapped, which means- DO NOT OPEN UNTIL CHRISTMAS! Luckily, my mom knows me well enough to know that it DRIVES ME CRAZY to stare at presents and not be able to open them. (I was the child that always got in trouble for trying to peek at everything under the Christmas tree.) So, there were a couple things I can have right now! :)

I also received a slip in the shop mailbox this week. I was hoping it would be the package I was expecting. (I had something special ordered from the States while I was home). I took off to the post office in hopes to retrieve my SYPHON Coffee Maker. Instead the slip was for a letter. When I got back to the shop I opened the letter and saw the invoices from my Syphon folded with an official looking letter. When that letter was read to me (my friend had to read the Polish to me) I learned that my Syphon was stuck in the post office customs. And I have to go there and basically bail it out. Well, a coffee Syphon does not exactly look like and innocent gift and it is not a cheap coffee maker. So, I knew this was a task that my broken ponglish could not explain. I convinced an amazing friend to come with me to bail it out. That proved to be a crazy task! First we went a tram stop to far and had to walk back! Then we began a game of wait and explanation. My poor friend had to explain to them what in the world I was importing because no one had seen one of these before and it looks like something out of a chemistry set. And my friend did not know what it was. She only knew it was used to make coffee! So, round and round we went until finally they said I could have it if I paid 99zl and promise it was only for personal use. Ok, I’ll pay it! Then we had to go to the cashier and pay the bill. The cashier was fascinated with the picture in my passport and told my friend, “you speak very good polish” of course my friend is Polish!!! After we finished with that crazy lady, I was told no we go to another room and you can pick it up! YES!!!! After an hour of explanations I can pick it up!!!! We walk into the room; the guy has me sign a piece of paper and says 3zl. 3zl!?! For What?? I just paid 99zl to bail this thing out and now you want 3 more?! Yes, I had to pay 3zl for the guy to stamp a piece of paper saying that I paid the fee to pick up the package! I love government processes!!! Finally I was able to carry my Syphon to the shop! And now I can enjoy Syphon coffee everyday!

Last night was our Christmas party at the shop. We had a great night! We had a concert of both Polish and Irish carols. We had an artist come and express the Christmas story. Painting and telling the story at the same time. Our conference room was turned into a shop featuring all of our friend’s handcrafted items. We also collected canned goods for Bread of Life. It was a very successful and fun night! And in true Christmas Party fashion- I danced around the shop in my Angel wings! (Some traditions you just have to keep!) At the end of the night I was asked to do a demo for all our friends of my Syphon and we all tried syphon brewed coffee! It was great successful night!


Poznan Gospel Workshop

We partnered with a gospel choir (Gospel Joy) here in Poznan during their Gospel Workshop. It was a great experience. We made a lot of new friends. We heard some great music! It was a crazy fun weekend! One of the girls put together a video from all our footage to show our experience there.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Facing Changes

Sorry, it has been a really long time since I have updated anything. The month of November just disappeared in a haze of emotional stress. I have been faced with a lot of personal challenges. I was lucky, I got to be home for Thanksgiving! However it happened because of a sad circumstance. My Grandmother Fitch passed away. I was lucky to be flown home to be a part of the funeral and to have some time to be with family. It was a different experience for me. Flying home to visit, not to stay. I am learning more and more what it means to give up and let go to follow the call God has placed in my life. It was good for me to be home. I really appreciate those who made it possible for me to take this time with my family to heal.

Business at the shop in Poznan has been steadily rising. We broke a huge record in daily income a couple weeks ago. Also, we have brought on 2 more Polish girls as part time staff. We are so busy we are needing more and more workers! We are looking into hiring another person to be the main cook. At first this sounds like exciting news for me, because that means I get to train someone so I do not have to be in the kitchen so much. But really, we have to find someone for Poznan, so that they can survive after I move! For me, it's leaving one kitchen for another. It is very exciting that Poznan has become so busy that we need to hire more employees!

I am heading into my last weeks of working in Poznan. I have only about 3 weeks left in Poznan. I am feeling the sad and excited emotions all mixed together. All of my friends are here in Poznan and we have such a great work flow going at the shop. But, Krakow is going to be great. I want to be a part of the work God is doing there! I am ready to face a new set of challenges. This holiday season finds me packing, planning, and trying to figure out how I am going to get everything to Krakow. :)

Big Changes Are Happening Soon!

Adjusting to the FREEZING COLD