IX. Churches and Hugs

by valerie shultz

July 17, 2011

2113 hours

I am hesitant to write that today was phenomenal, and possibly imply that every other day of this journey wasn’t, but I can’t think of another word for today.  It was phenomenal.  My insomniatic self was awake in time to hear the church bells at four o’clock this morning, and again at five.  I gave up on sleep after the five o’clock bells.

The first thing I did this morning, after waiting for the other girls to wake up, was skype Justin and Kari, my mom, and Sierra and Logan.  It was amazing to see and hear all of them.  Justin showed me Dragon and I got to see how much better she looks for having him nursing her back to health.  (He is taking care of Tanner’s bearded dragon while we are away and the poor thing was dehydrated when I had to leave.)  I was finally able to get the internet calling set up but by that time it was too late to call the boys, so I put that in the back of my mind as something to look forward to this evening.

We had a wonderful breakfast served by our amazing host, Joanna.  Joanna is Sebastian’s wife, and Sebastian is the pastor of the church we are serving.  She is only twenty-six but extremely personable and responsible, she speaks English extremely well and is so very friendly.  We have learned that Europeans are not huggy like Americans.  David told us hugging was blue.  This is true.  I’ve not gotten a hug from a European yet.

After breakfast, along with our check-in and devo, we went to church service.  While not able to understand anything except the readings by Pastor Dave, the service was still beautiful.  Communion was part of the service, and I took my first communion from the common cup.  While it seems a small thing, that was a moment for me to realize that I’ve experienced one more new thing and that I need to be more open-minded and welcoming about everything in my faith and in my life.

After church we introduced ourselves to the children we are here to work with this week.  We all stood in front of the pew and gave our names and a little bit about ourselves, with Joanna translating as we went along, and we watched the children nod and smile or look thoroughly confused.  It doesn’t take long to figure out which children can understand a little bit of English, even if they don’t want to admit it.

We then walked down to a little pizzeria in town and all forty-five or so of us ate pizza.  From there we boarded a bus and went to Park Miniatur.  We got back on the bus and went to a church that was built in the 1400s, named Wang (Vang, in English).  Actually, we first saw this church in miniature and then got to see it and take a tour of it.  The church started in Norway and was built with a lot of Viking structures.  Eventually the church was moved to Germany and then to Poland.  The cross inside the church, behind the pulpit, was carved from one single oak trunk.  It was another one of those “every bit of this is amazing” moments.  While waiting to go inside, I ran over to the bathroom.  In Poland they call the bathrooms water closets, and I forgot that in many public areas there is a fee for using the water closet.  I started in, not even realizing there was a window behind me, and heard a yell.  It was the water closet police, telling me to give her two zloty to use the toi-toi.  So I pulled a coin out of my pocket and paid to use the water closet.

We returned home, one seriously tired amoeba, had dinner and discussed our plan for tomorrow, when we start our first day of camp.

I made an internet call to Braeden.  He sounded fine, told me he loved me and was having fun, and then wanted to get off the phone and get back to what he was doing.  Tanner wouldn’t say hello.  I cried.  And I got my first European hug from Joanna.

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