I’m running around the house, trying to finish all the things on my to-do list. I didn’t manage my time time that well, but this is my first time leaving for a year. I’m used to coming back after a week or two. I won’t have that opportunity this time. Mom tells me she’ll take care of things and not to panic in the way moms do. I appreciate it, but it’s not really helping me be calm.
My friend Michelle comes to pick me up at 5. It takes me another 20 minutes or so to get myself together enough and load my suitcases and bags in her car. Mom snaps one last photo of me, sweaty and bedraggled, then we’re off to Dulles International. We’re chatting away about Andy Grammar, the beginning of the school year, her classroom (she’s a first-year teacher this year)…I’m trying to listen, but I’m just feeling nerves. I’ve never traveled alone before. Whenever I have gone overseas, I had at least 5 other people to point out which terminal is where and what’s next.
We stop at Departures after laughing that I mistakenly thought we needed Arrivals. It’s good, one last giggle. We pull out my bags and hug about 3 or 4 times good-bye. She snaps a picture of me dragging all 5 of my bags with me awkwardly.
Inside, I get through checking my bags, TSA security and my terminal within 10 minutes. Easy. Boarding the plane, I get lucky. My seat is near the very front and the couple next to me reserved seats in a way that there was an open seat between us and we had extra storage and arm room. I slept most of the flight to Paris. Charles De Gaulle is supposedly a difficult airport, but I had no issues grabbing a shuttle quickly and getting to the right terminal. My knowledge of French was indeed helpful. I had to speak a little and guess what some of the staff asked for (I pulled out my passport a few times rather than my boarding pass). Eventually, after sitting around 2 hours and watching people, I got on the airbus to Warsaw.
The lady I sat beside was Polish and couldn’t speak any English. I tried out a little of my Polish skills with her, but while she understood my small phrases, I couldn’t answer her very well. But she was very friendly and I was able to help her with the flight attendant once or twice. We ran into each other again after landing while heading to baggage pick-up and had one last broken conversation.
All my luggage arrived safely, thank God! Nothing was missing inside either as far as I could tell when I cheked later. (I did get a TSA search notice, but all they seemed to do was rifle through the plastic bag that had all my peanut butter gifts in it.) As I rounded the corner to where people got picked up, Żaba was there to meet me and drive to Tomaszów. Żaba is one of the school directors and Proem staff. She was a little worried when my flight didn’t show up on the board but all was well as soon as I came around the corner.
She was excited to see me and chatted a lot about the coming school year: expectations, plans, events, my responsiblities, ideas…they all sounded great. It was going to be a very busy year for me. We also talked a bit about our journey in becoming Christians, understanding Christ’s grace, and how important it is that this come across at the school, too. I’ll be teaching songs in English to the kids, and even simple ones like “Jesus Loves Me,” the kids don’t know yet. Right up my alley, so I’m happy to do it.
We pull up to one of the other’s teacher’s beautiful home. Żaba, John and their family were invited to dinner a while ago, but they included me since I was just arrived and quite hungry. Addison was an American that came first for a few months, then ended up staying. She’s been with Proem for 11 years, teaching English at the school. She has two kids, who were so excited to see John and Żaba’s two boys and girl. She had made us tacos and it smelled amazing. Tasted amazing too.
We all sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather and the fire pit. They spoke a lot in Polish, so I didn’t really get it, but parts were explained to me in English and they asked me questions, too. I would be teaching her little boy, Kaiden, this year. Of course, I was also feeling my 11 hours of travel by this point and sitting on a comfy chair next to a fire was making my brain relax too much to chat.
We said good-bye eventually and on the car ride over to Radek and Alicja’s house ( I would be staying with them until my apartment was finished), she shared with me that Addison was taking a break from teaching this year and it would have been very hard on the other American English teachers to take over her schedule hours, when they weren’t sure if I was coming. But, God made a way! So, already, my reason for being here is made quite clear. 🙂 God knew what was needed and in John’s words, it was probably the quickest he’d seen someone gather support to stay.
I’m excited and nervous about this year to come. I’ll be at the school, and as a Proem missionary, I’m expected to help with the other events, which happen year-round (I expected this anyway, too). It feels like a lot just hearing about it, but once I’m in the middle, I’m pretty sure I’ll love it.