Bittersweet goodbyes

Jancykcecil   -  

Our last day in Ilawa was on Sunday and we attended the local church with Chuck and Vikki. That was a beautiful thing to witness as the church gathered, just like we do at home. They prayed, sang, read scripture, heard a sermon (this time through a translator since Nathan was the guest preacher), encouraged one another, and ate together after the service; a delicious array of Polish foods along with some of our American leftovers from the conference. Watching them interact, love and serve one another, and perform their tasks they do each week was very special to see.

The pastor is Marcin, the same one who picked us up from the train station, and his family is so precious. Sunday morning he had to take his wife to a hospital 1 hour away because she needed surgery on potential cancer in her pancreas. When we left Ilawa, we were waiting on the results of this procedure that would happen later in the week. We heard the great news from Chuck that they did take out the concerning part, but that it is not malignant. I am so thankful for their family and the evidence of God’s grace seen in them and their kids. They really felt like family to us and we encouraged them to come see us in the US. His son, Piotr, is close to Isaiah’s age and is a very wise and thoughtful young man-he and Isaiah loved spending time together and we hope we will see him again! Chuck would say they were called to Poland to serve this family and to serve alongside this family. They know that Marcin is one of the primary reasons God called them to Poland and it is evident Chuck and Vikki have been an immense help and blessing to him and his family.

Being among the Polish people was easy in a lot of ways-we blend in very well as we don’t look too different-but the language barrier made it impossible if they didn’t know any English, and we certainly didn’t know much Polish! This barrier was a challenge and made depth of relationships harder even though everyone showed genuine love to one another as best as we could without the use of words. Occasionally, English speakers would be close so they could help translate a little bit but this was one of the harder things to overcome to me personally.

There is no doubt that our hearts are tied to this wonderful little city of Ilawa in the vast country of Poland. Chuck and Vikki made it possible for us to get an insight into life there and we treasured that. I thank God for His providence in ordaining the introduction we had with the Franks years ago and for the impact it has made on me and this entire team. I pray God will continue to use our church to bless them and aid their ministry. I pray we can be a help to them to continue the work God will do in Poland. It is such an honor to have been able to serve in this small way. It was also a humbling experience seeing how vast the world is and how God is faithfully at work in His people in this place, too. We can trust Him and His ways!

Sunday afternoon we got on a train and headed to Germany to have 4 days of exploring other parts of Europe. Chuck said he always encouraged teams to do this but they don’t always take his suggestion so he was glad we were. It was a very sweet experience taking the unity, kindness, support  we grew in during our time of serving in Ilawa to other locations and enjoying travel together. The Lord was so kind to allow us to love one another and show grace through many trying and tiring moments. I do not take that for granted and we all are so thankful for that opportunity. One of the best things someone said at the conference, to the whole group, was she was thankful we were honest and showed we were just “normal” and not special because they believed, at first, we must be special and perfect. It brought tears to my eyes because I was so thankful that was brought to her attention after time with us and she could recognize we weren’t special but the same God we all love is so great and He is the one to be admired for the work He is doing in us and in them!

In closing, I want to share a couple of highlights from my own personal reflections before I end.

  • Many, many women were moved and impacted by Jared and Charity’s testimony. Afterwards, so many women wanted to talk to Charity personally and share similar hardships. They were able to connect with her through her real struggles. It was beautiful to see the ease in which she engaged with them and they with her. She always had a Polish woman by her side wanting to talk!
  • The attendees were so grateful for the clear biblical teaching they heard from Nathan. I was a little surprised by the lack of teaching they have because of the lack of Protestant churches. I think Chuck said we have more Baptists in our city (Hampton) than they do in their entire country. Many Protestants have come from Catholicism which is, by far, the main religion there. They called themselves first generation Christians so they felt like so much of what they heard was the first time they heard it and they were eager to know how to implement these things in their lives.
  • Holly, Steph, and I were tag-teaming leading the cooking and food preparation. We had such a fun time in the kitchen getting these things done all together and having the rest of the team helping out wherever they could. Cooking is much easier and goes much faster when you have 8 people chipping in….slicing tomatoes, cutting broccoli, sautéing veggies, peeling potatoes, shredding cheese, hand mixing butter and sugar for cookies (thanks Jared and Isaiah), and so many other tasks that would have been harder and more time consuming if it was only the 3 of us. It was such a blessing having everyone willing to do whatever they needed, even til 1 am in the morning, several nights. Cooking for the conference added different challenges but really was such a great experience,
  • Julia and Isaiah did such a great job serving wherever was needed and doing it with joy. Their testimonies of being raised in a Christian home were both so encouraging to the attendees and I believe gave them a resolve to go home and continuing to be faithful as they raise their children! Julia helped a lot with the children of one attendee and I know it was such a help to this mom and dad. Isaiah was always helping with clean up, set up, moving whatever we needed moved, going with Chuck or Vikki to get things that needed to be picked up etc. I hope he continues to have that servants heart wherever he is in the future!

Once again, thank you all so much! Continue to pray for Chuck and Vikki, Marcin and his family, all the attendees at their marriage retreat, and for us as we transition home and want to use what we learned and implement it in our lives here! I am eager for more people to get to go and for God to use whatever gifts we have to serve the people in that country!


Jancy (for the Poland Team)