Thursday, August 11, 2011

Prayer Requests from Gdansk

Please continue to pray for the Church in Poland. Here are few specific prayer requests from Pastor Pavel.

-Growth in maturity and in numbers in the church.
-Good results in the homeschooling of our children - Zuzia and Janek
-Good results of evangelism with CREC Mission Team
-New people: Wojciech, Grazyna, Mariusz, Marcin, Debora, and Mateusz

Saturday, July 16, 2011


The following
was written by John Unger and is a prayer request, praise, and epilogue to our trip.

As you recall, we had 10 people come to church on Sunday, who heard us at the concerts we did in Gdańsk.  One of these was a man named Wojciech (pronounced “Voy-check”).   Although he speaks no English, through Gary Farr, an Englishman who helps Pawel in his evangelism in Gdańsk, Vojciech shared some of his story with me. 

Wojciech is an amber craftsman, specializing in carving solid amber blocks into artistic sculptured works.  In his mid-forties, Wojciech has been a very troubled man, searching for God in various books and religions, and almost became baptized as a Mormon 11 years ago.  His wife died several years ago, and he has been raising his daughter alone since.   Four times he has unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide; his last attempt at hanging himself was foiled by a large amber carving he was working on.  Wojciech had attended three of our Gdańsk concerts, and was very moved by the message preached during Saturday afternoon’s concert.  On Sunday he came to church, took the Lord’s supper, and spent the whole day in fellowship with us. 

Early Monday morning, three taxis – and Pawel – ferried the RCC team to the Gdańsk airport, and we arrived a little before 6:00 AM.  After unloading all our luggage and gear, we said our farewells to Pawel, and proceeded to the ticketing counter to get our boarding passes.  Afterward, we headed to the security line and made it through with no issues.  Once that was done, the team decided to get something to eat and rest at our gate. 

After we ate together I went to do some final shopping at the duty-free store near the gate, where I bought a nice bottle of vodka.  Not long after, as I was sitting at the gate, I heard my name called over the loudspeaker system, to come to Security Control.  It was probably around 7:30.  Initially I was afraid that I was in trouble for the vodka I had bought, but as I got to the security checkpoint  there was Wojciech, standing with a security guard on the other side of the security scanners.   I was amazed to see him. (Pawel told me later that Wojciech had asked him when we were leaving; Pawel had told him, but didn’t think anything of his question, considering it to be only curiosity).

Wojciech waved at me, holding up a blue plastic bag, and beckoned to me to come to see him.  I was hesitant to go back through security at that point, so I just waved back at him.  He seemed to understand, and then handed the guard the bag he was holding.  The guard took the bag and passed it through the scanner, and I received it on the other side.  I looked inside the bag: it contained books, cards, and a pen, all souvenirs from Gdańsk.

I called, “Dzien kuje bardzo!”, waved at him again, and said, “Do widzenia!”  As he turned to go, he stopped and reached into the satchel he was holding, and took out a red velvet bag.  From it, he pulled out something brown, and gave it also to the guard.  The guard passed it through the scanner, and then handed it to me.  It was a bag of amber chips.  I was stunned:  this was something very precious to Wojciech that he was sharing with me, not only in appreciation for our team's friendship, but more so for the gospel which he had received.  I called to him and thanked him again in Polish and again waved good-bye, then walked back to our gate to share what had happened with the team, who were wondering what was going on. 
The team was as surprised and touched as I was.  It was and is very poignant to consider that Wojciech went out of his way to come to the airport early in the morning, to give these gifts and express his appreciation to us.  I am still in awe of God's work in Wojciech's life and ours, and am amazed at how He performs His wonders.  This event has become the highlight of the mission for me; to me, it's emblematic of our whole trip and the reason for it.  We came here to share Christ with the people of Poznań and Gdańsk, and by His Spirit He has granted us success.   Praise His Name!
John Unger

Friday, July 15, 2011

Leaving Poland

At 12am Monday morning a large group of us went out to pizza and beverages along the water. We discovered that the Polish word for signature is a good trigger for an Anna laughing fit, that Peter can keep a train of thought even between naps, that several unnamed persons no longer have the youth and stamina for an all-nighter, and that we were all going to miss each other more than we were willing to talk about.

We walked back through the quiet Old Town and returned to the hostel where some people stayed outside to smoke a pipe or talk, while others gave in to weariness, or played a variety of card games. Some of us dozed off  for a few hours, while the rest of us replaced sleep with a cold shower.

Peter and those on the Canadian team not going on to tour of the world left at 4:15. We tried to keep goodbyes hurried and quiet.

The RCC team left at 5:15. Joseph and Hannah amazed us with their preparation skills after their alarm failed and they woke up after the taxi arrived. They were ready with the rest of us...

The Alaska team left later in the day to spend the night at Frankfurt before getting home at about 10am Tuesday.

Miwaza took the train back to Poznan before starting her two days of travel. Thankfully she's home safe!

The Dukes, David, Elyse, Nathaniel, and Landon are still traveling in two different groups.

Pastor Pawel insisted on seeing each of us off. We will miss him and his family. God has used them to greatly bless us! Please pray for them in their continued work.

The RCC team met several members of the US Volleyball team at the Gdansk airport as they flew to Frankfurt on the same flight. It was very strange to be talking to Americans again. Only Rebekah had the bravery and presence of mind to ask for signatures, but we all enjoyed talking with them and watching tall men cram into a tiny airplane.

We were all packed into a bus for our first flight. We must have sat there for 15 minutes before we finally moved a few feet and got out. It was a joke. But we did make it on the flight.

Our layover in Germany was relaxed and enjoyable. We stopped at a nice restaurant for breakfast or lunch, people ordered as they felt called. Gustavo was an amazing waiter and brought us pitchers of water free of charge. Newly revived with coffee, chocolate, pancakes, bacon, salad, or what you will, we explored the Frankfurt airport for an hour or so before resigning ourselves to all the various lines and procedures.

We must have looked like a pathetic group on our Condor flight to Seattle. Some unnamed persons couldn't even stay awake through the take-off. We had an uneventful flight where most of us got some good sleep.

Customs and baggage claim went quickly in Seattle, but the team ended up waiting for another unnamed person to get her bags completely emptied while they searched for any Polish dirt she might be smuggling... They broke her lollipop. Mrs. Unger and Susannah surprised us with their presence along with Mr. Dahlin. How wonderful to see family and friends again! Thank you Mr. Dahlin for being the only person awake in the van and for seeing us all safely to our various destinations. It was a long drive and we couldn't have done it!

God blessed us all with safe travel and a good conclusion to an amazing adventure.

This trip to Poland is over, but our mission isn't. God gave us two weeks as a team in a foreign country to encourage and be encouraged. We can learn so much from the Polish saints perseverance and apologetic presentation of the Gospel. We are still on a mission, it looks a little different for each of us, but there's no room for slacking. Let us go out, invigorated, and tireless into the battle on our own front lines.

Please pray with us-

-In great thanksgiving for God's abundant blessings on us in our two weeks in Poland.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 13 - Sunday in Gdansk

Sunday might seem like a long time ago, but it was too good of a day to miss.

We all attempted to dress up with whatever we could find that was still semi-clean and unwrinkled. The walk to church was through Gdansk and along the water and the weather was glorious. After the whole team waited for Pastor Vanderveen to acquire his necessary coffee, we left the river and went through more streets in Gdansk to an old building, currently being used as a school.

The Church used a beautiful 14th century chapel room with amazing acoustics. We got there a little early and were able to meet some of the members we had not seen earlier in the trip. Fifteen people attended for the first time, ten of which were Gdansk residents. Everyone was willing to talk, and we had some amazing conversations.

One man, Violtek, had been seriously struggling for many years, but had attended several of our concerts and talked through an interpreter to Mr. Unger and others. He had been convicted after Mr. Unger's short sermon at a concert and attended the church very willingly. He had some deep conversations with Mr. Unger and Pastor Pawel and we are so excited about how God seems to be working in his life. Please keep him in your prayers!

One Catholic woman attended as well and was willing to talk and exchange contact information. Another lady, Grazyna, attended who had lived in Gdansk all her life. She was very open and eager to have conversation in any common language we could manage.

Pastor Pawel was able to talk to most of the visitors directly. We hope we can stay in contact with many of them and that God would do wonderful things in their lives. We were so blessed by our conversations and they're eagerness.

We sang several songs before the service as well as several through out in response to Polish songs. Pastor Vanderveen preached on John and the Eucharist while Jola translated. We took communion together and were able to sing the Doxology in both Polish and English simultaneously. It was a beautiful example of our time in Poland and the fellowship God has given us with the Polish saints. Even those of us that do not have a single word in common, can work together as we run in the same Race and are changed by the same Love. That Doxology is something we will not forget.

After the service, we sang for the last time as a chorale. Some of us got a bit emotional...God has truly blessed us by bringing us together and giving us the joy of singing!

After some good conversations we moved outside in the sun where we had a delicious lunch of all sorts of wonderful things! We will miss Polish food and Polish hospitality. Thank you to the ladies of the church who gave us a scrumptious feast.

Pastor Pawel and a few members of his band, performed a couple of amazing songs for us after lunch. I hope they are going to do a CD. :-) Joseph and Benjamin tried a few guitar songs and Mr. Unger and Rebekah sang. This is what this sort of music is for!

Racha tried to create a long string of plastic bags we could tie between the two basketball hoops for volleyball, but we were a little short. The worker that was staying at the school came up with a long strip of tape that saved the day. We played some very primitive, but entertaining games of volleyball, had more fellowship, and a generally amazing, relaxing Sunday afternoon.

We walked back to the hostel in various groups to change, loaf, played Frisbee, or card games. Peter and Miwaza interviewed people for the documentary they are planning and we exchanged our favorite incidents (some of which involved head cracking or throwing people in the ocean). God has truly been directing and teaching us on this adventure.

We met at the catering place where we had a wonderful last dinner together. Pastor Pawel gave each of the team members a letter and gift from the Gdansk church. We tried to hold ourselves together between goodbyes and acknowledgements. So many people have worked so hard and with such patience to make these past two weeks a good, organized and (hopefully) fruitful experience.

Pastor Vanderveen and Mr. Unger's labor, leadership, and encouragement have greatly affected us all. Pastor Bubu, Pastor Andrzej, Pastor Pawel, and all the other striving saints in Poland have blessed us with their perseverance, openness, and unapologetic dedication to the spread of the Gospel. What an example they have been in the front lines of battle. We will miss them and keep them in our prayers.

There are too many people to mention who have made this trip possibly with their time, money, and prayers. We are so blessed.

Pastor Pawel returned to the hostel with us where we all sat around and talked or returned to walk along the waterfront.

Some of us started to gear up for an all-nighter before flying out early the next morning... Whether this was a good idea is still to be determined, but we had fun. We could not imagine sleeping our last hours together in Gdansk.

Please pray with us-

-That Violtek, Grazyna, and all the others who heard or talked with us would be convicted and willing to talk with Pastor Pawel and be eager to attend church.

-That the Gdansk church would be encouraged and stand strong. They are doing great work.

-That all those who made our two weeks in Poland such a wonderful, learning time would be blessed and reinvigorated in their tasks.

-That blessing and encouragement would be showered on Pastor Pawel, Jola, and their children for their hard work and dedication. We are so blessed to have been able to spend a week in Gdansk with them.

-In praise and thanksgiving for our time in Gdansk and in Poland. God is good!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 12 - Last Working Day

Today started too early for some of us... We woke up all too Elyse, Nathaniel, and Landon-less. We hope they have an amazing time bashing around the Europe. We miss them here!

We held devotions and started our goodbyes to Pastor Bubu before crawling down to Old Town to hand out more fliers, do any last shopping or sightseeing, and have another lunch at Subway. After four lunches there, they must have decided to give us some variety. The new advertising method was break dancing and stunts outside the restaurant. It made us miss Andy and his mad skills.

Pastor Bubu left around 1pm. What an encouragement, example, and inspiration he has been to us. He has poured many hours into this trip and years into the work for Christ in Poland. We cannot thank him enough for his patience, wisdom, and unique humor on this trip!

We reconvened to sing at the table, took a short break, and then marched down to St. Mary's Church. We received permission to sing a few songs, and attracted a good sized audience during our four or five Psalms and hymns.
The acoustics were unbelievable. Singing in there was an awe-inspiring experience. Not only to sing in a church begun in the 1300s, but to be proclaiming truth right in the middle of a historic battle ground between Roman Catholics and Protestants. God's plans are strange and give us an opportunity to sing there was truly amazing.

Re-energized, we left to prepare for our final concert together in Poland. A few of us caught had time to see some other churches and fly through a wonderful art museum, before meeting for another outside concert on the main street in Old Town. We got very good attendance, and tried to give our best efforts even in the squelching heat. Mr. Unger preached while Mrs. Bartosik translated, and people seemed to receive it well. A group of people came that had heard us in St. Mary's, as well as others we'd had conversations with and people we did not know at all.

Afterwards, we cooled off, got slightly sentimental, relaxed, visited churches, and updated our facebook statuses while waiting for our dinner reservation at a very fancy Turkish restaurant. The food was amazing...and we had plenty of time for good conversations and fellowship.

We continue to have interesting encounters with bold insects...including bee stings, swarming, and bug swallowing (particularly during concerts). Tonight we discovered a hedgehog named Trevor and caught a floating lantern near our hostel. If Dr. Horvath's predictions come true, we will all wake up in reptile form after  capturing this foreign object.

We all need a goodnight's sleep and are looking forward to worship and fellowship with the saints in Gdansk tomorrow.

Please pray with us-

-That our singing would have planted seeds that God would cause to grow.

-That we would have health and energy to finish well in Poland.

-That Elyse, Nathaniel, and Landon would be having safe travels.

-That preparations for departure and travel plans would go safely and smoothly.

-That we would have a blessed Lord's Day and be an encouragement to the church in Gdansk tomorrow.

-In thanksgiving for another wonderful day and good concert. We have been so blessed to be here!

Day 11 - Gdansk

Friday was a wonderful, crammed day for us.

We rolled out of bed to split up between Gdansk and the beach. 

Some of the team continued to hand out fliers while Pastor Pawel stayed at the table handing out literature and talking with people. 

Those on the beach excursion left on the train with Pastor Bubu to the pier, and were welcomed by gorgeous sand and water. Soon after the walk on the pier, they began a frisbee game, which involved much tripping, diving, and general sandy chaos. Certain male persons found it necessary to make sure that other certain persons got thoroughly wet in the Baltic Sea. It only took five guys to throw Joe into the water... 

The beachers brought home sea water and a baggy of sand to have a ceremonial toe dousing...we all want to say we had our feet in the Baltic Sea.

We met for another lunch at Subway where we are becoming increasingly more efficient, and then returned to the table to sing. Between several rounds of short bouts of singing, we buzzed around the old town, had conversations, and/or relaxed and panted. 

Our first concert was on the main old town street at 4pm. There was a good turnout and despite the erratic showers and several people coming and going, it was our best concert attendance yet. People were hanging out of windows and coming out of restaurants to listen and clap. 

Dr. Horvath preached, sandwiched between two sections of Psalms and hymns. We were able to have several good conversations after the concert before rushing to dinner, changing, and arriving at  La Fontaine for our second concert of the day.

We got a lot of rain the 9pm concert, but it forced us to cram under the canopy which changed the acoustics and made us sound pretty good...seriously, even with tired voices. The audience was sparse, but we were able to talk to all the attendance and were very encouraged by people's interest and response. 

We waited around at the tram stop, piled inside, went to the hostel, and then split up. Many of us went back out along the waterfront to celebrate Elyse's birthday with a second dinner of pizza, drinks, and conversation. By the time we made our way back, some of us were ready to fall in bed, while the rest sat out on the steps of the hostel and talked into the light hours of the morning.

Elyse, Nathaniel, and Landon all left early Saturday, so we had to have a last bash with them. They are missed!

Please pray with us-

-In thanks for the blessing of reaching people through singing on the street, in the two concerts, and conversations. God has been very good. 

We are earnestly praying that He uses us to plant seeds that will bear fruit, and that we could be an encouragement to the Polish saints here!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day Ten - Malbork Castle

Today we pilled out in chaos to catch a tram and then a train to visit Malbork Castle. Malbork is the largest castle in Europe and the biggest brick castle in the world.

Our trip there involved a lot of "hurry up and wait", but we finally connected with our competent tour-guide who led us in a whirlwind through the massive main structures. We could have spent weeks, but we got to see enough to have an amazing time. The major highlight was being able to sing The Nicene Creed in the oldest hall of the castle...that has simply awe-inspiring acoustics.

By the end of the tour many of us were faint with hunger, even those who had already resorted to ice cream earlier in the day. We had several options, but the tough spirited decided to laugh in the face of starvation and charge up the several hundred steps to the castle's highest tower. It was worth it all. The view was amazing. The trees are so dark and beautiful here. Sadly, our photographers keep missing out on these stair challenging adventures...

We charged over to McDonalds to meet the rest of the group, only the rest of the group had providentially changed their plans. There was one McDonalds employee who knew any English and the whole place was mobbed with children who spoke another language yet. It took us over a half-hour to get about eight people's worth of food...and even then, three of us ended up sharing a Happy Meal. Thankfully there was an appeasing bird toy that has proved to hold hours of fun-filled entertainment.

Through much stress we all made it to the train platform in plenty of time. Most of us took advantage of a relatively still and quiet hour to doze and drool contentedly. Elise, who seems to have long lasting caffeine effects, continued to cause entertaining trouble..

Tonight we are having a spaghetti extravaganza at the hostel organized and executed by leading female members. Right now the kitchen is very much alive with wild voices...I thought today was our day of rest from singing. apparently we can't help it. Peter and Miwaza are focusing their artistic genius on a photo shoot with Benjamin and Rebekah. The rest of us that still posess any energy are playing Frisbee outside the hostel.

Tomorrow it is back to work. We may be able to take a quick morning trip to dip our toes in the Baltic Sea. We have two concerts and street evangelism scheduled. It's going to be a big, awesome day!

Please pray with us-

-For energy and lively voices for our work here.

-Good attendance and conversations at concerts and on the street.

-Blessings and encouragement on Pastor Pawel, his family, and his work here.


-Praise to God for a wonderful time here! We can't believe it is already Thursday.