Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas in Poland

video

The video is of the boys saying their lines for the Christmas program at Church today. This being our first Christmas in Poland, we have been trying to learn about Polish traditions around the holidays. Christmas Eve is called "Wegilia" (ve-ghi-li-a) and its a busy day for Poles. Wegilia is a big shopping day, probably similar to the day after Thanksgiving for us in the States. It's not uncommon for Polish people to set up their Christmas trees on this day either. So you can imagine some of the strange looks we got when we put up our tree the end of November. Though Poles set up their trees quite late, they will leave it up for weeks after Christmas. On the evening of Wegilia is an elaborate feast at which all the extended family gets together. No matter how many people sit at the table there will always be one extra plate and chair at the table. Though mostly symbolic, the extra plate is set just in case a stranger comes to the door in need of food and shelter. Twelve courses are served, the number twelve symbolizing the twelve apostles. Something else that is common is the placing of hay either underneath the tablecloth or underneath the table, symbolizing the place of Christ's birth.

The main course on Christmas Eve is always Carp. It's rarely eaten the rest of the year, but always eaten on Wegilia. However we haven't met too many who really care for it but it's tradition--kind of like the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving right? Through our language study and through talking with some Polish friends we have begun to learn about the importance of "wishes" in Polish culture. "Wyszystkiego najlepszego" is a common phrase heard around the holidays and it means "I wish you the best in everything." This wishing culminates on Wegilia when after dinner the family will brake off pieces of a specially made bread called "oplatek" (o-pwa-tek) and wish good things for eachother over and over again. Sharing in "oplatek" can also be a time of forgiveness or of letting "bygones be bygones" like we Americans do on New Year's Eve. Christmas morning is more of a time for immediate family and for opening presents, but Poles often travel to the homes of extended family later in the day. Ginger and I were kind of dreading the arrival of Christmas this year, mostly out of fear that it would bring homesickness with it. However, we're really enjoying it right now and I think this is a credit to your prayers for us as well as all of the cards and emails from friends back home. Those touches of kindness have kept us feeling close to our friends and loved ones. Thank you and "wyszstkiego najlepszego."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

December Baptisms

video

On Saturday night our church took three cars full of people into Warsaw for a baptismal service. In the video we are using the baptistry of the largest Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in Poland. The Pastor is Jan Towinski, he and his church have been a big help and encouragement to us and to the members of our new church. They purchased a building in 1996 and shortly after had the baptismal tank installed. As you can see in the video, the tank is in the middle of their auditorium--so they remove the flooring when its time for a baptismal service. I have to say that the most encouraging part to me was seeing all of the members who made the trip to Warsaw so they could encourage these new believers in this step of obedience. This video is fruit from the hardwork that our co-workers (Ben and Sarah Layer) have been doing over the last few years. Praise the Lord for what he is doing in Siedlce, Poland.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Quick Update

On Saturday, we are taking three cars full of church people into a Baptist church in Warsaw. We will be borrowing their baptistry for a baptismal service and Lordwilling 5 people will be following Christ in believer's baptism. I hope to post pictures/and or a video on Saturday night. In the meantime we would appreciate your prayers that nothing would hinder this service or the commitments on Saturday night.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Formal Church Membership

video

Sunday was an exciting day for the ministry here in Siedlce, Poland. All in all, sixteen people came forward to make up the original church membership. The video shows those who desired to join reciting the church covenant outloud and then lining up to sign. Three more people have come forward for baptism so they too can join the church. We will have the baptismal service on Saturday Dec. 15. The idea of formally committing to a local church is new for most of the believers in our church, so it was exciting to see them consider what the Scriptures say and then make the right decision.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

This Sunday


As you get the chance, pray for the churchplant here in Siedlce, Poland. This is an exciting weekend for our coworkers as well as those faithful Christians who attend. Lord willing, I will be able to post pictures and video of the church covenant signing early next week. For right now I'll paste an email from our coworker Ben Layer.

"This is the big week we have been looking forward to for many months now. We will be signing the church covenant this Sunday morning, and then we will have an official church membership. There are 19 saved and baptized believers that could join the church, but of course, there will be the temptation for some of them not to commit. Please join us in prayer over these next few days that the Holy Spirit would work in the lives of each individual and convince each person that should join as a member to commit to this body of believers. Pray that the Lord would bless our service on Sunday, that it would be a wonderful and memorable time of beginning."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Getting Medicated

My apologies for not updating our blog. For the last week and a half our family has been sick, all except for dad (incidentally, I think its because I'm the only one in the family who consistently eats Polish doughnuts--but Ginger disagrees). Ginger and the kids just haven't been getting better so today we bit the bullet and did something about it. I think this is a great time to give you a little insight into the Polish healthcare system. At the outset let me say, that anyone who is for an all inclusive government healthcare plan ought to visit Poland before they make any final decisions. Though government run healthcare is certainly better in some countries than others, there are always huge drawbacks. For an example that hits close to home just think about how much fun it is to visit the DMV each year to renew your license or get new plates, or think about the friendly and efficient customer service the U.S. postal system offers. Now think of that same government running the healthcare system. Yeah---you get my point. In Poland it is not uncommon for someone to come to the hospital with a less than life threatening condition only to be told to return after the new year when the hospital has more money. Once in the hospital it can sometimes be a struggle to get quick effective care because doctors have no incentive for expedience. All in all the healthcare system isn't terrible, but it could certainly be much better.

Missionaries and other foreigners are outside the system, which is a good thing for the most part. When we need to see the doctor or go to the hospital, we immediately pay for the services rendered, which usually aids in receiving timely and effective care. Some friends of ours were in Poland this summer, when the wife suddenly had severe pain from gall stones. Fortunately, since they were able to pay she had the gall stones removed via laprascopic surgery and she was diagnosed, under the knife, and finished with her hospital stay in four days. The bill totaled something like $600. Not bad at all. The way our international insurance works is that we pay upfront and then are reimbursed once the receipts have been turned into the Insurance Co. Today we called and had a Dr. visit our house. That's right, Doctors still make house calls here, though it usually costs a little more. After checking Ginger and the kids the damage was one infection of the ear, nose and throat, one case of bronchitis, one case of bronchial pneumonia, and one severe cold. The picture is of the boys standing in front of all the medication we bought tonight, even more medication than what is on my grandma's nightstand on any given night. We were suprised because the kids don't appear to be that sick, but I guess their lungs sounded a little rough. After the doctor prescribed the different medications I asked if any of it would make the kids drowsy and she said no. I told her I was bummed out about that and she got a good laugh.

Please don't mistake this blog entry for some type of cryptic statement about how we are suffering for Jesus over here or about how we are great examples of faith. The truth is, medical care on foreign fields is lightyears better than what it was for missionaries a hundred years ago and yet it is still one of the main fears for most people when they consider missions. I'd be lying if I said we didn't think about this while we were considering the move to Poland, and Poland's healthcare is better than most. If this fear has hindered you from going on a missions trip or from encouraging your child into missions, or hindered you from full time missions work---the question you must answer is "Is God any less capable of providing for, caring for, or protecting his servants in a country outside the U.S. ?" Your health and safety isn't a result of where you live, its a result of the God who made you, and His sovereignty doesn't change from country to country.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

UNO Night----Again

video

A few posts ago we told you about the teen girls who have been coming to our house on Monday nights to play UNO with Ginger. This past Monday she was able to get them on video, we thought this would be a great way to introduce them to you--that way you have a better idea of who to pray for. We have been so thankful that they continue to come to youth activities---it is very rare for Polish parents to allow their children to attend any church related activity unless sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Culture Shock Pt. 3

It has been a while since we discussed small differences between Polish and American culture. I have to say at the outset that it seems like the worst of "culture shock" has passed for Ginger and I, although we still have our days. Here are a couple of interesting differences.

1.) Awkward Silence
-If you take a moment to think about it, we Americans hate those brief pauses in a conversation. Dead time is nerve racking, so much so that we will run ideas over in our mind before the conversation begins to avoid risking silence. Think about the last time you were at some type of dinner party sitting around a table with people you know and people you don't. When the food comes often the talking stops and what phrase always manages to get the conversation going again? Usually it's something to the tune of "boy it sure got quiet in here," or "the food must be good, because nobody's talking." For some of us, the fear of awkwars silence is so paralyzing that we'd rather stay home with a t.v. dinner than venture out to social events. Polish people are so not that way. On at least two occasions my landlord has come when I was the only one home. At this point in the language I only know how to put together brief sentences--so both times he walked in, I asked him how he was doing and then paid him the rent. After that he stood about 10 inches away from me and we just looked at eachother for a good thirty seconds and I mean a full thirty seconds. Take thirty seconds right now so you realize what a grueling eternity that was for me. For him and for most Polish people as well, it was no big deal. We see the same thing on Sundays when our church has open prayer times, sometimes as much as 30-45 seconds will pass before the next person prays. We just can't handle this in the states. On the one hand its nice to avoid awkward silence, but on the other hand one can easily see how this fear of silence could be viewed as insecurity by our Polish counterparts.

2.) Don't ask unless you really want to know
How are you doing? Fine, thanks--------this is how we greet acquaintances in the U.S. In fact, we spit that answer out like its second nature. Anyone who does otherwise comes off as a little odd to us. Its a pursposefully distant question--simply a courtesy. We don't want an honest answer, we don't have the time for it. In Poland however, if you ask the question be ready for the answer. Let me tell you, you can find out a lot about a person by asking that question in Poland, including whether or not they coughed up phlegm that morning, but that's a story for another day, or maybe not. I appreciate the fact that a simple greeting is not wasted in Poland, so when someone asks "how are you doing?"---they really want to know, at least in Poland.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday Night---UNO Night



Probably our biggest concern, as we moved into our apartment building, was the neighbors we would have. Who doesn't worry about potential neighbors? Sometimes Polish people live in apartment building like ours all of their lives. They were raised in this building and are now raising their children here. We know of a few apartments here that have housed three generations through the years. All that to say, sometimes outsiders (especially foreigners) are not welcome. This has not been our experience at all--we have found the people to be quite friendly, sympathetic towards our language deficiency, and extremely helpful. Ginger has done an excellent job at breaking down barriers. Almost immediately she went down to the park outside our kitchen window and began to talk with the different teenagers who watch their younger siblings. She began to help them with their English homework and invite them over to our apartment for American games and Starbucks coffee.
By now, the word has certainly been passed around that we are American missionaries working in a baptist church here in Siedlce and probably the biggest hurdle to reaching teenagers with the Gospel in Poland is the parents. They are extremely hesitant to allow their teens to attend any religious function unless sponsored by the Catholic church. In July our church was having a teen activity so with great skepticism we invited the teenagers from our building. To our suprise and God's glory three of them came. Since that activity they have come to three more activities and have clearly heard the Gospel multiple times. Their parents know what we believe and where we stand yet God has used those friendships we have formed. Every Monday night Ginger invites the girls over to play Uno and have coffee or hot chocolate and we are excited to see what God will do in their lives in the days and weeks to come. They have been a big encouragement to us as well by the way they have embraced Caleb, Bradey, and Aubrie. The teens constantly offer to take them to the park and play as well as work with them on their Polish. Ginger and I can not think of a better place to begin our life in Poland, thank you for praying specifically for this request. Finally, as you think of it pray specifically for Carolina, Ewa, Nicola, and Magda that they might soon come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Karate

Caleb, Bradey, and Aubrie have finished their first month of Polish school and have lived in Poland for just over five months now. I thought it would be a good time to update you on their progress in the language though Ginger and I have found it difficult to gage from week to week. It's hard to tell how well children are picking up a language, the main reason being a totally different learning model from adults. While Ginger and I are slaving away in the dungeon of language school, our children are soaking up the language intuitively. In contrast to the vocab, grammar and syntax that haunts their parents they learn by associating speech with pictures or events. Slowly, but also sometimes rapidly they begin to comprehend words and phrases, not through an English explanation or chart, but simply by the context in which the words are used. Maybe this is old news to you or maybe not but this is the way we all learned our first language. Mom telling us "no" as we crawled towards the outlet or dad saying "ball," we associated words with specific events and those words were engrained into our head.

From time to time we have sat the kids down and said "tell us some Polish" which usually yields little if any results. More and more though, Ginger and I observe them using their Polish. Today as I was walking out of school with Bradey he said goodbye in Polish to his teacher and he didn't appear to think twice about it. The other day before we ate Caleb used a word that is similar to "dig in" that he apparently picked up from lunch at school. Aubrie by far is the most vocal with her Polish, but judging a child's language learning solely on their speech can be misleading. For every word or phrase they speak they comprehend a ton more. I attached a video to illustrate this point. We enrolled the boys in a karate class as another way for them to interact with Polish kids as well as immerse them in the language. The video is the first day of class so the commands you are seeing them follow are new to them but yet they seem to comprehend. FYI the boys are the last two on the left of the group. Three weeks have passed since the video was taken and today after the 45 minute class the teacher came to Ginger and said that they are excellent at following directions. Compliments are rare for Polish people so there was substance to what the teacher said. Ginger and I just took the opportunity to thank the Lord for a little hint that the kids are beginning to adjust.

video

Friday, September 28, 2007

Beware, A Missionary with Blinders On



It's the little things on a foreign field that begin to eat away at your psychy. In Poland, all of your meat is bought over the counter from the butcher, so grabbing a package of meat from the freezer section is out of the question. Therefore, every two or three days we are reminded of our status in the language as we struggle to communicate what kind of meat we want and how much of it. Simple trips to the gas station feel like that long walk to the principal's office (you know, back when principal's were feared for the massive paddle they had in their office)because each time I have to communicate what kind of gas and how much to the person filling my tank. When that hurdle is crossed I walk into the station only to begin the hand signals again hoping to point out which pump is mine. We drop our kids off at school each day and choke through a few Polish words with their teacher, but if we're honest we have know idea what's going on at their school. Today our boys each came home from school with a brand new toy tractor---and we have no idea why. Did they when a contest we didn't know about? Did they find buried treasure? Worse, did they knock off a local convenience store? The only comparison I can draw to the current frustration of this language barrier is an example from my childhood. I vividly remember the day my cousin decided to educate me in the art of "Chinese water torture," he held me down and began to drip water on my forehead and, for awhile, I just laughed at him because it was only drops of water but soon enough it began to get on my nerves and it went from being "funny", to "quit it," to "screaming like a little girl" until he let me up. At first the whole language barrier was funny, then it went to "quit it," and now I often find myself "screaming like a little girl" hoping this language will let me up. Its unrelenting, unforgiving, and downright discouraging.

As you can tell, I've been holding onto this little pity party for the last few weeks. Focusing on MY feelings, My frustrations, MY discomfort. All of this "American introspection" on my part has blinded me to the grace of God in my life and the life of my family that is manifesting itself on a daily basis. It wasn't until a few days ago when confronted with this awful truth that my attitude began to change. Thank God for my family. Our children are the joys of our life. Aubrie wakes up every morning excited about eating "cocoa pebbles." When I say excited, I mean excited like "oh boy--cocoa pebbles." God help me to find joy in the little things. At almost three years of age is it obvious that God has gifted her with language acquisition. We first realized this when she was about 11 months old and we were praying at the dinner table. I closed with "In Jesus Name" and she finished with an emphatic AMEN. Ginger and I were in shock---and we are still in shock as we see her soak up the language, she knows no stranger and has no fear of making a mistake. Two vital attributes for learning a new language. We love the boys God has given us, the transition from Chicago to Poland was a lot more real for them than we had ever anticipated. I'll never forget driving back from Warsaw a few months ago, late at night, and they just opened up about how they missed "home" and missed "grandma and grandpa" and most of all how they were "nervous about going to school in Poland". I was rebuked by their courage as they choked back the tears and walked into their Polish classroom for the first time. They had a grasp of what they were up against but they walked forward. God help me to walk forward even when afraid. Their ability to see everything as a "great adventure" is an attribute I admire.

Finally, I'm so thankful for the wife God has given me. We've been married six years and I feel like I'm just beginning to realize what courage, devotion, and a heart for ministry she has. She's an "mk," grew up in Thailand and loves missions. Along with that though she has never really had a geographical place she could call home. We got married and began ministry at Bible Baptist Church in Romeoville, IL and that place became our home, some of the dearest and most dedicated Christians you will ever meet. After four years of ministry there we bought a house, our house, a home for my wife. Stability. I don't think the paint was even dry when I first approached her about Poland---yet the house was the last thing on her mind as we weighed the decision. Watching her here in Poland has been truly convicting. I know she misses our home but most of all she misses our church and yet she is so dedicated to the language, the ministry here, and most importantly our family. God help me to have that kind of dedication. She is a warrior and my lover. Wallowing in "self pity" was fun but it blinded me to the goodness of God. God's grace and goodness are amazing and its my prayer that I never overlook them again.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Language School


I thought I'd give you some details concerning our language acquisition. Before we headed to the field we asked prayer for the provision of good teachers in the town of Siedlce. We were hoping to hire teachers to personally work with Ginger and I so we could avoid the large classroom setting. The idea behind this was that a personal teacher would be able to work more on our weaknesses and move quickly over our strong areas (though those are few and far between). She would be able to focus on our pronunciation and grammar. Also, much of language requires working in groups, this has many positives but one negative is that you can sit passively in a group and let others do the work. When its just two of you in class and there is a group assignment you are forced to do it or it doesn't get done. Also, we were hoping for two teachers to alternate days and curriculum. Using two curriculums helps to cover any deficiencies in either curriculum. Our coworkers found two new and highly recommended curriculums so all we needed were teachers. Then one day Sarah Layer was talking to a neighbor who lives above them and through the coversation she found out that Monica had a master's degree in teaching English but she had not worked over the past four years while her child was young. Monica teaches us 3x a week for two hours at a time and then gives us two hours of homework each day. Our other teacher Kasia was recommended to us by one of the first acquaintances we made while in Poland. She is a English teacher at a local highschool and she teaches us 2x a week 2 hours each day with two hours of homework. We are very thankful for this answer to prayer and have found our teachers to be quite gifted also they certainly don't mind being tough on us and forcing us out of our comfort zones. I think they enjoy dishing out the homework which is always the sign of a good teacher.

One funny incident took place a few weeks ago in class. We were supposed to create sentences about meeting and talking with different people. I decided to use a sentence with Ginger and my mom and I used a verb that I thought ment "meeting or dealing with." After saying the sentence our teacher first blushed and then burst out in laughter. When she finally stopped she explained that I had just said in Polish "Ginger would like to end my mother's life." Technically the verb means "to deal with" but in the since of dealing with it "mafia style" if you know what I am saying. There are actually many more stories like that but time fails us to tell you about them all. We are having our language lessons in the building our church is renting, both of our teachers know why we are here and why we are learning Polish. Just this week Monica said to us, "I've noticed that you have Bible verses everywhere in your building, the Bible seems to be very important to you. We Catholics say the Bible is important but only the priests know what it says." I was amazed at her observations.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A New School

video

This past week was the first week of school for the boys. We've found it to be quite similar to pre-school in the states with a few exceptions. For one they are fed breakfast and lunch everyday and this is included in the tuition which is about $70 per month/ per child. The major difference in preparing for school here was the supplies----you must provide everything even down to the toilet paper your child/ children will use during the year. However these supplies are put in the community pile to be used at the teacher's discretion. Their teacher speaks absolutely no English, after the first day we asked her (through a translator) if the boys' were able to comprehend and follow instructions and she gave an emphatic "yes." I asked the boys the same question and they told me "we understand our teacher dad--but we just can't say what she says." It seems like their comprehension of the Polish language has come along way in the three months we've been here.

They've been begging us for a guinea pig (those of you who know our track record with pets are probably cringing) so we bought them banks and have begun to give them "jobs" so they can earn money towards a guinea pig. After the first day of school Ginger was asking them about the names of some of their classmates and they told us that "we play with our friends but we don't know their names." So as you see in the video we made a deal with them that if they could tell us a new friend's name at school that we would put some more money in their banks. They came running out of the room on the second day and said "dad, we call our teacher "Pani" and one of our friend's is named "Emilka." It's always hard to send your babies to school and it was especially tough for us this time knowing that they'd have this language hurdle to cross as well but it's thrilling to watch them work together and to see them conquer this hurdle one day at a time.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Sunday Service

video

Here is a video of this Sunday's service. Hopefully it will give you a clearer picture of the ministry here in Siedlce, Poland. Over the next three months we will be working towards organizing as a church and establishing a membership. This is a crucial step towards the goal of seeing an indigenous church established in Siedlce.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Day at the Zoo


This is a quick rabbit trail from the topic of culture shock. We'll continue that next week. Last Saturday Ginger and the kids went with some friends to the Warsaw Zoo. The major difference that we could distinguish was how much freedom you have to handle different animals here. The snake was the boys' idea--they were pretty proud. When they got to the monkeys a sign read "be aware they will throw poo" At first the monkeys appeared to be pretty docile but something set them off (possibly they saw their resemblance in my boys) and they started hurling stuff at Ginger, the kids and our friends. Everyone ran thinking it was poo but then realized they were only throwing apples from their lunch--man they can chuck it a long way. Well the boys thought this was hysterical (mom didn't think it was quite as funny)---the monkey's were screaming and clapping at the sight of eight people running for cover. One of their friends got hit by some of the flying food, don't worry it didn't hurt him because he immediately rolled over in laughter. As cool as holding the snake was for them, all they talked about on the way home was the monkeys and their great accuracy. You can't even make up stuff like this. They are currently hatching a plan to get their grandparents near the monkeys when they visit.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Culture Shock Pt. 2


Two weeks ago we went up to the Baltic Sea, which even in August is "ice cold." My boys loved it and they swam for 45 minutes. Ginger and I were sitting there watching them swim and an old Polish grandma came out of nowhere and began to chew us out. I don't know everything she said but the gist was "how could you let them swim in this weather (75 degrees), what kind of parents are you?" Let’s be honest, in the states those are fighting words (incidentally I did have to hold Ginger back from going “Thai style” on granny)--who is she to tell us anything---she should mind her own business. Had we reacted that way towards her--we would have been the ones out of line. There is a deep respect for the elderly here, one that involves listening to their advice, even though strangers, even though it may seem harsh, and even though you don't speak the language : ) But, we have been confronted by strangers our own age too. If someone walking down the street feels that your child does not have enough layers of clothes on (even if it’s 65 degrees) they will gladly stop and let you know. What a contrast to what we are used to in the States, if it’s not your child it’s not your business (until they trip and scrape their knee on the playground after which follows a $10 million lawsuit where everyone is at fault but the parents---that’s another story). For Ginger and I our comfort zone is with the American mindset—it’s hard not to respond angrily to people we deem “nosy.” Let me illustrate further.

We live in what is called a “block,” it’s a six story apartment building with three other high rise apartment buildings on all size. In the middle of these buildings is a little playground, no grass, rusted equipment, but none the less a playground. Our apartment is on the second floor and our kitchen window overlooks the playground. Because of this, Ginger and I allow our boys to go down to the playground, on their own, and they love the freedom. In the states when someone else’s child is out of line at the playground, and the parent’s aren’t directly in the vicinity, the tendency is just to look the other way or maybe move your children to another area of the playground. In Poland however, have no fear, one of the mothers will deal with the child no matter who’s child it is. Perhaps this could be called a “village mindset”---without the government ramifications that Hillary has advocated in the past. Along with this then comes a responsibility shared by all the moms to see that the children are protected and have their needs met. Awhile back it was a hot summer day by Polish standards and we hadn’t seen the boys for about five minutes. We could hear them but not see them. Rather quickly we realized that they were in the apartment right below us. They had knocked on the door to ask if their friend could come out. Before the mom would allow her daughter to come out she made them come in and get a drink. Not her kids, really not her problem, but a responsibility that was second nature to her. So which cultural practice is better? On one hand it’s nice not to have complete strangers challenge the way you are raising your family or offer disciplinary advice but one can also see the value of adults correcting errant behavior regardless if the child is theirs and actively showing concern for all the children of the neighborhood. Each of these ideas have their own set of pros and cons. For Ginger and I, our prayer is that we love these people and their culture like Christ. Our plan is to adjust to these interesting differences by being “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” James 1:19

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Culture Shock

Forgive me for slacking off this week with the blog, I am without excuse. "Culture shock" is a concern for any new missionary on the field. It carries the idea of struggling with one's immersion into a new culture. Basically, after being neck deep in a new culture for a few months you begin to struggle with the way they do things, the way they say things, the way they act, maybe even the way they don't wear deodorant. Our adjustment to this new culture in Poland has been easier than expected up to this point and we attribute this to your prayers. Over the next few weeks I hope to share with you our observations on differences between Polish and American culture. A major symptom of culture shock is an overly critical spirit toward anything done different than the way its done in your home country. You see when learning a new culture one must come with an open mind and learn to enjoy it for what it is. Hopefully this topic can be theraputic for us as we battle this critical spirit from time to time. I'll begin by sharing one of my favorite characteristics of Polish culture. The Poles are "world renowned" for their "bluntness." This is quite a contrast to the way we Americans operate. We like to think we "tell it like it is" when in reality this is only the case when it suits our interests. Case and point, your wife comes home with a new haircut that looks like it was done with lawnmower on steroids and she says "do you like it?" We all know what the answer is--there's just no way around it. Why hurt her feelings? Maybe I'll learn to like it. If I glance at it, its not that bad.This is a trademark of American culture. We strive to be polite at the expense of truth where peoples' feelings are concerned and ESPECIALLY when it comes to strangers. In fact, we are more accomodating when it comes to strangers than even with our own family. Most of the time we avoid contention if at all possible. Not so for the Polish and this really threw us for a loop when we got here.


Another way that this bluntness manifests itself is in the answer to the question "how are you doing?" Poles think Americans are phonies for always saying "fine" or they think we are melodramatic for saying "awesome." Ask a Pole how they are doing and you will soon learn ---this is really bad when they are sick because phlegm color is too much information for me. We are renting our apartment from a husband and wife who previously lived in it for 30 years. They are great landlords and we have no complaints, but we had one "run in" by American standards. When we moved in, I changed the locks, though I completely trust them, who is to say who has a copy of the apartment key from the past thirty years. It just so happened that he came right while we were in the process of changing the locks. He of course bluntly asked for a copy of a key and (through a translator because he speaks no English) I told him that we would deal with it later (this is the classic American approach--avoid confrontation--maybe it will go away). Well he came again, and again--the final straw was when I got a knock on my apartment at 6:30am one morning. I opened the door and he comes right into my personal space (a whole nother topic) saying "klucze" "klucze" (pronounced klooo-ch) this means key. By American standards he was being boligerant but by Polish standards he was just being normal. It was then and there I decided to adopt the culture I was now immersed in. About three inches from my face he said "klucze" again and I responded with one of the two words I knew at the time "nie!" (this means no). He said "nie?" And again I said "nie!" (I think the onion breath from the previous nights pizza added emphasis). This little exchange would have totally strained a relationship in the states, but here in Poland its a different story. I have found him to be much more respectful and cordial since the little key incident. And that's just it, they appreciate the truth and they respect you for it when you speak it.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monopoly Money

Adjusting to a new country means, among other things, adjusting to a new financial system. This involves new currency, watching exchange rates, and comparing prices to the U.S. When we first moved here I joked with some of the other missionaries that Polish money looked very similar to monopoly money and was thus easier to spend. Then when reality hit I realized that passing go was not going to give me another $200. We have found some things in Poland to be a real steal compared to the states and some things are quite expensive. Many of you have asked about this very thing so I thought I would give you an idea by listing the prices of certain commodities and services here in Poland

Cheap:
1.) Labor---$3 to $4 an hour
2.) Groceries---weeks worth is roughly $70 (and thats for a family of Stovers)
3.) Pizza delivery---$10 for two large pizzas and it comes in less than 20 minutes (much faster than Dominos and without the Botchulism)
4.) Restaraunts---family of four can eat at a mid range place for roughly $30
5.) taxi--picked up my car from the shop today and the fare was $3
6.) hotel---outside of Warsaw $50 can give you a very nice room
7.) Rent---$500 a month can get you your choice of any apartment
8.) dentistry---Ginger had two root canals done at a state of the art place for around $100

Similar:
1.) Utility bills
2.) cell phones
3.) internet

Expensive:
1.) pair of average jeans $80-100
2.) electronics---probably a 20% markup from the states
3.) Simple oil change---$100+ (oil is ridiculously expensive here)
4.) gasoline---roughly $5.50 per gallon (please stop sniveling about $3 gas-when you get over $5 then call me--but I'm not bitter)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Language Barrier

Our main purpose in this blog is to give you a firsthand account of missionaries adjusting to a new country. Some adjustments are a pain, some hilarious, and some downright scary. In my mind there is no bigger barrier than overcoming the language gap. This should be a missionary's primary concern in the first few years and a secondary focus for the rest of his time on the field. I cannot emphasize how important language acquisition is to effective mission work. Think about it this way-----when a foreigner speaks to you in broken English (this most often happens at the McDonald's drive-thru in the U.S.) your first thought, whether you admit it or not, is that they must be ignorant and uneducated. The reality is, its their second language and that's one more language than you speak---so who's the uneducated one??? Ever think about that? My point is, when a missionary cheats on his/ her language study he is placing an unneccessary barrier on his ministry and he needlessly sounds ignorant and unlearned. Here's the kicker, studying 20 hours a week is not enough. Fully acquiring the language demands that you drag yourself from the haven of your apartment and into the lion's den, also known as the grocery store, gas station, and restaurant. Here you must use your second language knowing full well that people will not understand and respond by speaking louder to you, like you have a problem hearing (never understood that one). Ginger and I certainly fight the feeling to just stay inside, so to battle the urge we've made it a point to just laugh about our mistakes.



One quick example: I was in Warsaw by myself awhile back when Ginger called and asked for an apple pie from McDonalds. I'm always up for a "gut bomb" but without thinking I pulled right up to the Drive-Thru window. Typical McD's drive-thru with a separate order and pick-up window. No one was at the order window so I was ready to pull out when I heard a voice over the speaker. I froze with fear, what do I say now? Fortunately, "cheeseburger" is the same in Polish and English. I proceeded with my order ------dwa (two) cheeseburger, duge frytki (large fry-pronounced doo-ze) and duge cola z lodem (large coke with ice). All of this was said correctly--I am a quick learner when it comes to food--but then I got to the pie and I have no clue what that is in Polish, thought about skipping it but I remembered there was something about pie in our wedding vows so I proceeded to embarrass myself. The person in the speaker started spouting off in Polish--I thought she was asking about the pie--and decided to answer with "tak" (yes). This worked but another question followed so I said "tak" again. She didn't sound satisfied with my answer this time and started speaking louder and slower. I said "tak" again, this seemed to frustrate her and suddenly I heard two people speaking now louder than ever. The cars were lining up behind me and finally I looked up to the pick up window and there were three employees banging on the drive thru window and motioning for me to pull forward. Years of drive thru experience kicked in and I realized that in Polish she was saying "please pull forward for your total," to which my reply had been a repeated yes. Sitting at the pick-up window was the longest 90 seconds of my life as I watched three employees trying their best to hide their laughter to no avail. As I drove away I called Ginger, we had a good laugh, and I felt better. I got off the phone, secretly spit in her pie, and felt much better, but lets keep that between us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Three baptisms



It was a special weekend for our church here in Siedlce. Three believers publicly identified with Christ by following Him in baptism by immersion. In the New Testament, baptism was often a pulic statement that brought scrutiny, separation, and persecution from one's friends, family, and government. Baptism by immersion is also a dividing line here in Poland. One can draw the ire of their family by attending a Baptist church, friends and family certainly won't like a testimony of salvation in Christ alone. But to publicly be baptized, that is the line of demarcation. For Poles it is an open dismissal of the teachings of the Catholic church. It is identifying with a "cult." Its an open display of the inward change and therefore an embarrassment for the family. Ginger and I were challenged by their courage in moving forward in obedience to Scripture. You have to understand that Siedlce, though a population of over seventy thousand, has a small town feel. Most people are born, raised, married, and buried here, so everyone knows everyone else. The baptism took place at the one small lake in the town. It was nearly 90 degrees so the place was packed with people. Most of whom were wondering what that group of 50 or so people were doing on the other side of the lake. So when I say it was a public baptism, you understand the peer pressure these young Christians were facing. I have to say that the best part was when one of the men in our church took out his guitar and began to play/sing "Amazing Grace," the entire church soon joined in and they were so encouraging and supportive of these new Christians as they took this step of obedience. They came out of the water and were greeted by bearhugs from everyone.

The testimony of each of these young believers is another story. Slavek (Swa-vek) gave a testimony last week and told the church that a year ago he was a terrible alcoholic who's marriage was about to end. He met Ben Layer (our co-worker pictured above) and was saved a few months later. Jesus Christ saved His soul and his new birth has saved his marriage. He is a hungry Christian who cannot get enough of Scripture and has become a good friend of mine in the last two months. Goscia (Go-sha) is a single mom, rough past, with two children and little money. Every week she faithfully cleans the church, this was a hard step for her to publicly identify with Christ, but she did. Olah is a young girl with five sisters, her mom is a Christian who spent time in Chicago and speaks good English. Two years ago her dad was shot dead by his drunk brother (for no apparent reason). Its enough for anyone to want to give up, but her mom has them in Church every week and faithfully teaches Jr. Church. Everyone is Catholic at school, so Olah has definitely opened herself to ridicule when school begins in the fall. As you can tell by the photo, she was not ashamed. Ginger and I felt privileged as we witnessed their faith in action and it makes us all the more anxious to learn the language so we can soon communicate Christ to those around us.

Jason Stover



P.S. I have a 2 minute video clip of the baptism. If you'd like to view it, just send me your email address

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A Familiar Face



When you live in a foreign country any familiar face is a welcome sight, no matter how distant a relative (see first picture). On Saturday we decided to take a 2 hr drive to the city of Lublin. Upon arriving into town the kids where itching to get out and do something so we decided to look for a McDonalds (preferably with a playplace) and after driving around the city for 25 minutes we found one. Its always funny to watch our kids interact with the Polish kids. The boys each got a "Shrek" toy in their happy meal and they began throwing it down the big slide first and then they would come down right after. A Polish boy about their age caught onto their game and began to wait for the toy. When it came down he would take it before the boys could get it and throw it as far as possible. This really bothered my boys and they asked him to stop but there is that whole language barrier thing, though I think he knew what they were asking. Ginger and I just sat back wanting to see what they would do. It was funny to watch their problem solving, they literally huddled in a corner and came up with a plan that required Caleb to wait at the bottom of the slide for the toy to come down, grab it before the other kid, and save it until Bradey came down. This worked to perfection a few times until Caleb and the Polish boy got to the toy about the same time, Caleb preformed a textbook box-out/ hip check and the toy was secure. Is it bad to say that I was beeming with pride?

I guess my point in all of this is to say that the boys have some big hurdles ahead of them in the months and years to come as we try to adapt to this culture. The biggest being starting school this fall in a completely different language. Yesterday we got a glimpse of how they'll conquer these hurdles---as a team. No doubt it will be years before they realize the great blessing God has given them in each other but Ginger and I are seeing the blessings already. They are evidenced everytime we send them off to sunday school, they're not only the new kids, they also don't understand a word, but they have each other(imagine what it takes for little kids to walk through that door). When they walk out to play in the park, they are foreigners and the new kids on the block, but push comes to shove and they are a team. Now I know some of you are wondering why I haven't mentioned Aubrie, but if you know her you know she'll be fine. I think she has a Polish vocabulary of almost 20 words already, doesn't know a stranger, and will most likely publish her first book in the fall : ) Ginger and I are beginning to see some of the different gifts and talents God has given our children and we find assurance in knowing that He has prepared them for this great adventure. Remember to pray for Caleb, Bradey and Aubrie--but don't pity them, they're having a blast "wiving in Powand" as Bradey says.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Language School Pays Off!!


Four or five different restaurants deliver pizza in Siedlce. Personally, I like them all, we Stovers have never been picky when it comes to food though you'd probably never guess it. Now Ginger, she grew up in Chicago (when not in Thailand) and Chicago is the pizza capital of the world, its hard to duplicate the kind of pizza they turn out there. Through three years of trial and error the Layers' have managed to find a place that is close. Well, you have to ask for thick crust, extra sauce and double cheese. But when all of it comes together, its a masterpiece my friends. The pizza is so good in fact that it even satisfies the tastebuds of my Chicago born wife and children. The major hurdle is in ordering the pizza, because its over the phone and because asking for all of the extra stuff only complicates the process. Up to this point we have called the Layers and asked them to order it for us, but that stopped TODAY.

We have learned many of the words in the first two weeks of language school that are needed to place a pizza order, of course putting them together in an intelligible way is a different story. I had Ben send me an email of what needed to be said and then I called them up. If you've ever attempted to speak a second language you know the fear and trepidation one faces when forced to use it. Fortunately my "hunter/ gatherer" instincts took over. The conversation went suprisingly smooth, she understood everything I said and I understood most of what she said. There were a couple of questions she asked that I did not understand so I just said "tak" (yes) and hoped for the best. 25 minutes later we had our pizza and just like we ordered, (ok so I didn't ask for the onions, but at least they weren't anchovies). To celebrate the momentous occasion Ginger took a picture of the pizza man as he delivered it. You can tell by the picture that he was thrilled. He may never come back again after being bombarded by camera flashes as the apartment door opened. At least he has a story to tell his colleagues about the crazy Americans taking pictures and cheering over ordinary pizza. However, you and I know that this wasn't ordinary pizza, this-this was the taste of freedom. It reminds me of a poem I learned in highschool, "two pizza joints diverged in a yellow wood and I--I took the one with more cheese, and that has made all the difference!"

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Golf in Poland: An Interesting Experience



Warning, what I'm about to say might seem overly boring to those who are not sophisticated enought to appreciate the game of golf.!!!!



I've been here for almost two months and was finally able to step onto a golf course today. Had to drive almost 70 miles to do it, now that's dedication (or maybe just desperation). For those of you that go on our golf outing each year, the course reminded me of Quail Meadows, maybe just a tad nicer. The first picture is of hole #1, a par 5--550 yds and your drive has to carry 150 yds to clear the water. I was kind of nervous b/c I hadn't swung a golf club in two months and it didn't help that everyone stopped to watch the "duge Americanie" drive the ball (that means "big American" but I like to think that I'm just Husky). For those of you who don't know, teeing off on hole #1 with a bunch of people watching is the stuff that causes Amateur golfers to wake up at 2am in a cold sweat. With great precision. . .er um . . .luck, I absolutely crushed it down the middle (ala Phil Marrero at the '06 Manitoumi outing), that was the first and last good drive of the day, but it didn't matter because I was finally golfing AND no one but me would ever see those other drives.


Over half the people on the course were Asian businessmen. I played with the CFO of LG Electronics (from South Korea), he spoke a little English and I had Korean food one time, so we had some things in common. His first drive went off into the woods and he looked at me and said "moment," he went back to his bag and got another ball, after he hit again he said "mulligan". Oh, that was a welcome word my friends. It seems "mulligan" crosses all linguistic and ethnic barriers. Its nice to know you can go anywhere in the world and have people identify with that term. A term of humility and a term of forgiveness. The other adjustment to playing in Poland is that all the distance is in meters. When your irons are dialed in like mine, that tiny difference in distance is HUGE. By the end of the day I figured out that that 150 meters needed one more club length than 150 yds. Had I figured this out earlier I would have been in the back bunker of each green instead of the front one. No problem though, this allowed me to pracitice my Korean, Polish, and English by saying "Mulligan." Finally, an interesting side note, I was in the woods on hole #8 and found a golf ball with the intials BV. Maybe those of you who go to Bible Baptist can help me find its rightful owner. At the end of the day I realized that golf, whether in Poland or the US, is a wonderful game I love to hate. Can I get a witness??

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Spiritual Warfare

Ginger and I are excited to begin language school on Monday. We will be studying four hours a day/ five days a week. Lord willing, we will be able to acquire the language much quicker than on our own. I have been told that one way to learn the conversational aspect of language is to watch news and other programs in that language on television. After seven full days of television my friend told me this was not Polish, it was the Spanish channel. Kind of a bummer : 0

Every Sunday we pass this Roman Catholic Church on our way to Church. Its not a holiday and its not the only Catholic church in town, yet all of its services are standing room only. The Polish people are gripped by Roman Catholicism, to be Polish is to be Catholic and when one becomes a follower of Jesus Christ they risk being ostracized by family and the community. The priests themselves are often the root of this pressure. The RCC has lulled us to sleep in the States. It seems so toothless and benign. As a result certain "evangelicals" have intiated fellowship again with the very church that spilled the blood of thousands of martyrs for hundreds of years. You see "that church" clearly in countries outside of the U.S. The fearmongering, the greed, the control, all out in the open. Often when a protestant work is financially struggling, the RCC steps in and grants them freedom to use their facilities on the condition that their priests speak on occasion. The tentacles reach out, grab their prey and squeeze out the Gospel.

The priests here in town have openly forbade their people from attending the "Baptist" Church in town. We are a cult and to be avoided at all costs. Their financial backing and sheer numbers could be a paralyzing fear if not for Christ's promise in Matthew 16 "I will build my Church." That promise is foundational to our ministry here in Poland. Praise the Lord for what he is doing in Siedlce, there were almost fifty in church today, including one family battling the very pressure I've just mentioned. There will be a baptismal service in a few weeks for four who have repented and come to Christ. He is building His Church here through the Layers' ministry and we are chomping at the bit to lift up their hands and assist in the ministry here. Many of you have been saved from the grip of Roman Catholicism, share with us here how the power of the Gospel broke the chains of sin for you.


Friday, June 8, 2007

Shades, Blessed Shades





It gives us peace of mind to know that Superman and Spiderman are with us here in Poland. Ginger and I had a good laugh yesterday over the whole language barrier thing. Our apartment is on the second floor and there is a little park just outside our kitchen window. On occasion we allow the boys to go to the park all by themselves, it makes them feel real big. Yesterday we noticed there were four girls in the park about their age so we let them go down to play. They went down there in full superhero mode, but those poor girls, who only speak Polish, could not figure out why these crazy Americans were jumping around and growling at them. The next time we looked out, all the girls had run home and the boys suddenly had the playground to themselves (the old Stover charm is no myth). Ginger and I got a chuckle out of that.

Initially our purpose in this blog is to share with you some of the adjustments we are making and some of the lessons we are learning. I took a picture of the kids in front of their new shades that just came in yesterday. I can't stress enough how important they are to ones' sanity. Poland's latitude is equal to Quebec, for that reason in the summer the sun rises around 4:15 am and does not set until around 9:30pm. The sun rises right outside the boys window so there's not enough nyquil in Poland to keep them in bed, and those who know me know I've tried. Several times in the last two weeks our wake up call has been the kids running into our room and saying "mom and dad why are you sleeping, the sun is up" only to look at a watch and to see that it is 4:30 IN THE MORNING. The first time it happened I remember thinking, "Jason, just remember your testimony, they are still children." Needless to say, when the blinds arrived two days ago there was great joy in the Stover household.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Driving In Poland





Here are some pictures of our new family car. It is called a Nissan Almera Tino. You've probably never heard of this model because it is only sold in Europe. The best way to describe it is a cross between a car and SUV. One of our prayer requests as we came over was wisdom for finding a car here in Poland. They don't track vehicles through VIN numbers like they do in the States, so there seems to be a greater propensity for fraud in the used car market. One thing in our favor was with Poland joining the EU the borders opened up and the market here is now flooded with cars. A man in our church here in Siedlce by the name of Thomek Glinka deals with cars and brought this one to our attention. It is a 2001 with 65,000 miles, one owner, a clean and traceable track record, proof of service every 3,000 miles, and a reputation for being highly dependable. The owner was originally asking $35,000 zloty ($12,500 US), but with interest focused on cars from other countries he had not found a buyer. This is where Thomek was an awesome answer to prayer, long story short, after some serious negotiating by Thomek, we bought the car for $27,000 zloty ($9,500 US).
I don't know if the pictures do it justice, but it can easily seat five adults. You can see that there are three captains chairs in the back seat and to give you an idea of the trunk size we were able to put four full-size tires in there with ease. A couple nice features are the trays behind the front seats that allow the kids to color and play. Also, it has a very sensitive parking assist, this is very helpful in Poland as you always find yourself squeezing into tight places.
Another adjustment for us is the driving here. It is comparable to the way people drive in Chicago after the Cubs have lost. . . . .AGAIN. Highways are not frequent here so most of the driving is done on simple two lane roads. What is different is that people pass all the time though there is oncoming traffic. In fact, its the responsibility of oncoming traffic to pull over on the shoulder if neccessary. Now imagine coming around the corner and seeing a huge semi, coming from the opposite way and in your lane. I think Ginger has actually spoken in tongues a few times when this has happened but we are adjusting. You simply cannot drive to relax like you do sometimes in the states. I think one of the craziest things we have seen to this point is when I went to pass a truck and someone behind us decided to pass us and the truck. We were THREE WIDE on a TWO LANE road!! I know some of you NASCAR buffs are foaming at the mouth, but you'll have to come visit to experience it for yourself. Well, this is all for now, I think I'll go enjoy a nice glass of ICE water before I go to bed.
Jason Stover

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Moved In







Nearly four weeks into this new adventure and we're almost completely moved in. Ginger and I were very pleased with the work done during our apartment renovation. You can't beat the cost of labor in Poland. All tolled, I think the labor for six days of tile and flooring work was about $400 US. Nice, huh? It would cost me that much in duct tape alone if I tried to do it myself. The fact that we were able to find an apartment and renovate it in a period of about two weeks is completely of the Lord. That just doesn't happen in Poland. Ginger is now busy making our things fit into 800 sq. feet. The apartment is smaller than we Americans are used to but it is large by Polish standards. Our home in the states is about twice the size, but we honestly dont feel "caged in." I think layout helps, there is a large entryway that gives it an open feeling. I also believe that we Americans don't need as much space as we think to be happy.

What I can't get over is the whole "warm drink" thing here. It's literally culturally unacceptable to serve ice cold drinks. They believe that doing so causes sore throats and colds. Whoever heard of such insanity. The milk here doesn't have the preservatives we have in the States so it is sold at room temperature and can last on the shelf for a month. Imagine waking up in the morning and putting that into your cereal. Talk about cultural barriers. We bought a fridge and got it running last week and the first thing I did was fill some ice trays we brought from the states. Combined the ice with water I let sit in the freezer for half an hour and only one word describes it . . . .OASIS. You can feel the refreshment right now can't you. I think its the little things that keep you sane when you are adjusting to a new culture. All in all, the adjustment hasn't been bad to this point. Living in a smaller town allows you to learn your way around quickly and it allows you to make friends and acquaintances more easily. To this point Ginger and I have found the people here in Siedlce friendly and sympathetic to our plight concerning the language. Thank you for your prayers and don't forget to hug that refreshing glass of a ice water a little closer today.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Kids Hit Poland


Ginger took the kids to a park here in Siedlce two days ago and they were offering pony rides, as you can see, the kids had a good time. Bradey kept asking for the horse to go faster but to no avail. We are right in the middle of moving into our apartment. The tile work and flooring have been completed and I now have carpel tunnel from putting 10,000 screws into IKEA furniture. Those of you with IKEA furniture know exactly what I'm talking about. Yesterday Kristen and Deb flew back to the states, they were a great help with the kids and with painting in the apartment, they will be missed. We are still hit and miss with email because internet and phone have not yet been installed in our apartment, hopefully that will change in the next few days. As we get settled in this week we hope to connect with many of you back in the states. You are constantly in our thoughts and prayers. But admit it, you thought we wouldn't keep our promise of updating the blog weekly, shame on you. OH YEAH---I FORGOT TO TELL YOU---LOOK AT THE TOP PICTURE---IT IS ABOUT 65 DEGREES OUTSIDE---LOOK HOW AUBRIE IS DRESSED AND LOOK HOW THE POLISH BOY IS DRESSED. THIS IS VERY COMMON

Friday, May 11, 2007

Renovations




I've been here in Poland for over a week and a half now and we've been able to knock out several details. The apartment we are renting is in very good condition with the exception of the flooring and the bathroom. We worked out a deal with the landlord where I will pay for the renovation and they will discount our rent for six months. What you see here is the new flooring in our living room. We've run into a snag for flooring the entryway. The concrete is so uneven that they can't guarantee the floor. I guess we're going to find out if you can by quickcrete in Poland?!?

With Poland joining the EU, trade has opened up for them, so many of their skilled laborers are currently in Ireland, Germany, and France. There they can work for much more money. This has made it difficult to find someone to do our renovations. I know some of you are saying "why not do it yourself?" If you are thinking that you should really keep your comments to yourself. Also, if you can't fix it with duct tape--I can't fix it, in addition, labor is extremely cheap. After a week of looking for a tradesman to do the bathroom remodel we had given up hope. However, Wednesday we got a call from a member at the church in Siedlce who had the name of an acquaintance that had just returned from working in Germany. He began the bathroom work on Friday. Ben and I have been very impressed up to this point.

Some of you know that our plan for the last several months has been for me to come to Poland, ahead of the rest of the family, to work on lining up a house, car, etc. . . At best I never thought I'd be able to do what we've done in the last two weeks. I attribute that to your prayers. Ginger and I greatly value your friendship and spiritual support.

On another note, I believe that's two updates in one week, which is how many times we updated our website in a year and a half. So let the skeptics be silenced and in the words of Emeril "BAM!"

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Oh No!

Yes, the Stover family has entered the blogosphere. And in the words of Stinky Pete from Toy Story 2, "its a dangerous world out there Woody." I know what you're thinking. . . "yeah, yeah, yeah, you had a website and updated it like twice in two years." Well, Ginger and I feel sooo strongly about keeping you informed that I promise, thats right, I PROMISE that our blog will be updated once a week. And if we fail in this endeavor feel free to send us an email full of Biblical confrontation.