One more flight!

We made it to Berlin and are waiting for our next flight to Chicago. Our flight is currently delayed and will take off at 10:50am (Berlin time). We’re ready to be home!!

At the airport!

We’re starting our journey home! We’ll board our plane to Berlin soon, then have a short layover before we head on home to Chicago!

Heading home tomorrow...

It finally hit us that today was our last day in Europe! We spent the day exploring the city, walking from end to end, eating delicious food, and enjoying each other’s company. We’ve enjoyed our time here so much, but we’re all ready to head home to see what the Lord is going to do as a result of our time in Poland. We’ll be updating as we can as we travel tomorrow! For now it’s off to bed as we leave bright and early. Thank you for following along with us! Pray for smooth and safe travels.

(Wifi access and time to post has been limited the past few days, we’ll post more pictures when we can!)

Ready for day two in Prague!

Off to Prague!

We just had some tearful goodbyes with our new friends in Lubin. It’s beautiful how fast relationships were formed this week and how much the staff and church members we spent time with now feel like close friends. The Lord moved this week in our hearts and in the hearts of those in Lubin! We’re sad to leave, but ready to relax and enjoy Prague! More updates and pictures to come later today. Pray for safe travels!

From Isabella

(Our second birthday of the week!) 

Today was our last day of VBS, and we had a ton of fun ending the week with a Hollywood themed party!  At the end of the regular day of camp, we had a reception where all of the children’s parents were invited to come see a little of what we did at camp this week.  We performed the skit of the prodigal son and a couple of the awesome songs and dances that Jacki and Kelsey had taught the kids throughout the week.  It was so awesome to see the smiles on the parents faces as they watched their kids, and we saw a lot of the same families tonight at the fourth of July cookout we held at the church.  

When I first arrived in Poland a week ago, I was definitely out of my comfort zone, and I had a lot of fears.  Being so far away from the people and things that I usually look to for love and comfort was really hard for me at first.  As the week went on though, God showed me his love in so many little moments through the people around me.  Though I didn’t know my teammates very well before we left, they have spoken so much encouragement to me. Getting to spend free time with them walking around Lubin, playing games, and laughing together has really been one of my favorite parts of this trip.  It has been so encouraging to me to see that God can demonstrate his love and give me peace in a place where I am a complete foreigner, and I hope that God continues to grow me in my dependence on His love when we return home.

Cowboy Day and getting ready for tomorrow's cookout!

From Travis

To me, it seems like we first arrived in Lubin 5 months ago when we have only been here 5 days. But as our week here comes to an end, I can honestly say that this trip will be one that I will never forget. As soon as this opportunity was announced at Encounter, I knew that God was calling me to do this.

I first remember how shy and quiet the parents and kids where when we first met them. But once we opened up and shared our love and the love of Jesus, their hearts opened up. We have learned so much about them, their culture, and their church, even though there is that language barrier. The kids have been nothing but wonderful. Even though we cannot understand what most of them are saying, that doesn’t stop us from sharing the love of Jesus. And it was so heartwarming seeing how much they enjoyed watching our skits, playing our games, and dancing. I have definitely seen a relationship start to form between the kids and God. Years down the road, the people here may not remember our names, who we are, or what we did, but the seeds that we planted will create everlasting fruit. I love doing mission trips like this and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Can’t wait to see what He has is store for me next!

More pictures from today!

From Rhiannon

To say the least, this week has been absolutely incredible. God has moved in some incredible ways in the hearts of us and the people of Lubin. It’s hard to believe we only get another two days here!

One of the biggest things God has taught me on this trip is patience and compassion. I thought coming into this week that I’d be able to handle the language barrier pretty easily. I am a writing tutor on campus and I work with students who don’t speak English all the time. Was I ever wrong! Everyone here speaks so quickly in Polish that even if I knew more than two words, I wouldn’t be able to follow it. There are definitely moments where I’m frustrated, like when I try to speak to some of the younger kids who know no English at all. I can’t help but wish they’d just speak English, but I have to constantly remind myself that I’M the foreigner. So, instead of getting salty and walking away, I try a little harder to understand. I think everyone who only speaks English should come to a non-English country once, so they understand those in the States who speak broken English and have compassion.

The other thing I remember in the frustrated moments is that while I may not speak the same language as these kids, there are some languages that are universal. For example, music. Today, the big kids got a gospel music workshop from a local singer. It was amazing to watch them sing “This Is The Day.” While they may not understand the words, they know it’s about God, and sing along. Another thing is fidget spinners. I live with a kid named Michal (mee-HOW) in my host home, and all he ever does is play with his fidget spinner! What a wonderful reminder from God that while I may speak a different language and don’t completely understand the culture, we can all speak some universal languages, like Snapchat, or God.

From MacKenzie

(Our theme for VBS today was Gangsters from Chicago, so all of the kids got fake mustaches.)

Time has flown by here! As this week has gone by and we have been surrounded by the Polish culture I have, of course noticed many things that are different. However, the thing that has surprised me the most is the vast number of things that we share with people here. Being a volunteer in crafts at VBS this week, I’ve spent most of my time surrounded by kids. I’ve found that kids are kids everywhere, and they share much of the same joys as American children. One of my favorite moments this week was simply realizing that both I and one of the little girls have seen, “Dance Moms,” and the joy on her face when she realized we shared something so simple. Similarly, children here have many of the same needs and simply want to be included and loved. Because of this, I’ve made it one of my biggest goals this week to show the children that they are loved and included right here in Lubin!

Pics from Beach Day and Craft Night!

From Daniel

Second day of VBS! The kids are really enjoying it. I’ve especially enjoyed seeing them getting active with games in the morning and music with Jacki and Kelsey in the afternoons. Even though most of them barely speak English it has still been amazing to make that connection through running around outside and praising Jesus through worship. Even one of the volunteers, and young boy named Chris, has been really influenced by the week. On Sunday he came to church for the first time and every morning he prays with us after we’ve set up the games. Keep praying for God to work in his life even after we leave Lubin!

As I write, Jacki and Isabella are prepping for our first community outreach event tonight. We’ll be doing a craft night for the women of the church and community. I can’t wait to see how it turns out and I know the women on our team will do a great job at being a Godly influence on the community.

On that note I had a good conversation yesterday with one of the missionaries here, Paul, on the way back from Legnica. We talked about how most of the older community in Poland is very stuck in the Catholic culture, but that we’re beginning to see an opportunity for the spread of the Gospel in the young people who are more open and questioning of the old ways. Pray that we’ll begin to see a revival, specifically through Logos’ new ministry in Legnica.

Thank you all at home for your support, more updates to come!

From Kelsey about Tuesday

Today was the first day of vacation bible school in Lubin! Jacki and I have been preparing music and recreating some of our own vacation bible school memories through songs like “Every Move I Make.” We have been able to make connections with the children and the Polish volunteers through singing and dancing. It is amazing how God’s love can be translated through any language and at any age. After vacation bible school, we had lunch with the Polish volunteers and share special moments where we saw God at work in the children.
The second half of the day we traveled to Legnica to sight see and shop. The tour of the new Logos building was eye opening for us to see how God truly provides. I also had the opportunity to learn more about missions work from some of the volunteers. They shared struggles, inspirations, passions, and encouragements that they have experienced in the field. This missions trip has deepened my perspective on discipleship. Jesus calls us to be a disciple reaching every corner of this earth whether that be Illinois State University or Lubin, Poland. I hope to continue to learn more about God’s people and the body of Christ.

More pictures from day one of VBS!

From Hannah

Today was our first day of camp and it was a lot of fun! It was pretty hectic at first, but once we got rolling everything clicked into place. It was really exciting to see all of us work together as a team to start what we had been planning for months. The kids were a lot of fun to be around, and I couldn’t help but smile when I was around. I feel like I have so much more energy when I am around them because they are having such a good time and it makes me even more excited than I already was. My teammates also always have so much energy and are always there to reenergize me. At first, I was nervous about the language barrier, and I was unsure how we were going to communicate. It was really uplifting to see God take that fear away by putting kids in my path who genuinely wanted to talk to me and help me learn Polish even though a lot of them couldn’t speak English. There are other volunteers who are helping as translators for us and they have been a blessing to us and I see God in their willingness to help out in every way. They have become friends of ours and joys to be able to work with. I am really excited for the days to come because after day one we know more of what to expect and we can now be fully immersed in the moment without worrying about what is going to happen next.

More pictures from today!

From Brooke

*Brooke in post-pierogi state* 

Today has truly been such an amazing day filled with so many great experiences. Time really does fly when you are having fun because I think I blinked and the day was already coming to a close. We were all so excited to attend church here in Poland, and it surpassed my expectations. When we arrived at church, everyone was so kind, welcoming, and genuine. They were all so willing to translate for us and make sure we felt at home. Then as if church wasn’t amazing enough, the church made us a big lunch afterwards with lots and lots of great food and conversation! I got the chance to talk more with a boy from Poland who is pretty outgoing, and getting to know him more has been such a pleasure. Trying to learn Polish has definitely been humorous for everyone here! After lunch, we got to explore Lublin! I really enjoyed getting to spend time with Jacki and Kelsey as we shopped around. Getting to know them on a deeper level has made my heart so happy. As we were shopping we were reminded of how incredibly kind the people here are. For example, when we were shopping at the mall, people were apologizing to us for being unable to speak good English. This absolutely blew my mind. Here we are in THEIR country, unable to speak their language, which can be extremely frustrating, and they are apologizing to us!? It was extremely eye opening and I was so grateful for their kindness. After shopping we met up with everyone in the most BEAUTIFUL park ever! We were blessed with amazing weather and had a blast as we walked around the park enjoying both the animals and the scenery! Today truly has been such a joy. I am so grateful for this team and to be with them in a country that after two days feels like home, filled with people who feel like family. Only two days in and this trip has been the biggest blessing! MY HEART IS FULL!

From Luke

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” — Hebrews 10:24-25

Today we saw the words in these verses come to life in an incredible way. We were able to join the family of believers here in Lubin in worship on this beautiful Sabbath Sunday. I can speak for the entire team when I say that we were deeply encouraged by the ways that this Polish church family worships our Lord. The congregation is made up of about 20 people, and the service doesn’t look like anything you might typically see in the USA. They spend a lot of time sharing prayer requests, worshipping through song, multiple people sharing Scripture, multiple people praying, and it ends with the entire church sharing food together. I was honored to be able to share some of my testimony with the congregation as well!

To me this is what Jesus’ bride was meant to look like. It was a blessing to catch a glimpse of this here in Poland and I left the service encouraged to try and bring this ‘family feel’ to any group of Christians that I find myself involved with in the future. Tomorrow begins the first day of our English Camp for the kids and we are all excited to meet them! Thank you for following us on this journey and I ask that you pray for the Lord to make His presence known in the coming days to these children through the workshops we are preparing.

More pictures from Poland!