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