Hey, all. Apologies for having put this blog on hold for so many months. The first half of this year has been a whirlwind! Between re-emerging from COVID hibernation to the war in Ukraine after winter break to then the even busier spring-to-summer camp transition, there’s been tons going on.
Refugees fleeing Ukraine
Around 2,000 refugees came through Proem Zako’s facilities over the winter-spring period, collecting much needed supplies and a safe-haven from the fear of bombs falling overhead. Many stayed in homes and apartments of church members; some found more permanent places to live in and around Tomaszów. Proem purchased an old hotel to be a new home for the refugees still seeking shelter and the hope of returning back to Ukraine soon. As of August, the old hotel is currently still housing refugees and will eventually be a family crisis center for the city.
I was able to help a few times during the week and weekends, but God blessed us with many volunteers from all over Europe as well as the USA, so most of the staff could focus on their everyday roles in the ministry. At the Christian Education Center, I had a lot of new students from Ukraine who spoke little to no English and almost no Polish. So, it was a little challenging trying to catch them up with the class, but I was glad they were able to regain a little normalcy by attending school.
This year was the first year we had American volunteer teams return after two years! It was refreshing to meet some new people and beloved, old faces as well. I also debuted as a translation coordinator and translator for some of the morning/evening meetings. I guess my Polish has improved a lot in the last 5 years. 🙂
I also coached during basketball camp this year, which was a first for me, because I know practically zero about basketball. I learned a few things though, and more importantly, had fun cheering on my girls. We didn’t make the championship game, but it was still a good week. For our youth camps, we had guests from Lithuania, Ukraine, the United States and Palestine (during Five Cultures/Intermixer camp).
Back to the US
At the very end of the summer, I returned to the States for a six-month visit to see friends, family and supporters. It’s been five years total that I’ve been in Poland. Five! It totally doesn’t feel that long. So, I suppose it’s about time I come back for a little while to reconnect and rejuvenate for the next five years to come. I’m looking forward to it!