Saturday, July 31, 2010

the journey to Wisla, Poland!

What an adventuresome day we had today!! I’ve never flown with kids before and always pitied those who did, especially the mother who had two little ones and all the assorted gear that goes along with munchkins and how did they ever manage to get through security and on and off the plane without going mad. I have an even greater appreciation for those women today! The morning didn’t start off so well when Audrey began screaming half an hour before we were set to leave. Thankfully I was able to take her and calm her down for Amy while they finished last minute preparations and loading the van. We were just about set to load up the last of the bags and the van wouldn’t start. A few moments spent pulling the cars out so that it could be jumped and we were back in business thankfully and off we went to the airport.
While there was virtually no traffic driving to the airport we quickly found that it was indeed a very busy travel day for France. First unloading the suitcases and bags was no small feat, Amy pushing the stroller with baby Audrey inside and Sophie and Thomas clinging to each arm, and Claire and I each had carts piled with suitcases while Charles parked the car. We made quite the processional. :) Once inside there were OH so MANY people!!! I don’t know where the heaviest flights were headed but it wasn’t our counter. Instead they were all wrapping lines around so much that no one knew where one line ended and the next began and it was pretty much mass chaos as people pushed and shoved their way through looking for where they needed to be. After two or three stops to ask questions at various ticketing counters we finally found where our airline was supposed to check baggage in and we got into that line. It moved fairly quickly until WE got to the front. Then the lady was so confused between how many of us there were, the baby, the nanny, who had checked suitcases and which ones belonged to who. We had only just finished sorting through all of it and getting it all checked in when Charles finally made it back from parking. He joked about what great timing he had. Of course that was only the beginning!

Next we had to make it through security, which if you’ve traveled in the last two or three years you know what an undertaking that has become. One must essentially half undress, removing belts and shoes, emptying pockets, pulling laptops out of bags, etc. etc. This plus a stroller and baby, who had so far been perfect and sleeping, but I was worried would wake up screaming again at any time. Thankfully she didn’t seem much disturbed by being pulled out of her seat and patted down (gotta watch those two month olds, never know when they might be trying to smuggle liquids or fingernail clippers on board!). By the time all of this completed we only had half an hour to kill before our plane was to begin boarding. God is good for allowing us just enough time!! Somewhere in here Emma was kind enough to point out to me that once again she approved of my outfit. She is such a mess always telling me how romantically I dress. I’m glad I haven’t let her down so far since she has such high expectations of me now. :D
All along the way in the airport it was amusing to me that our little travel party seemed to grow. There were several other missionaries with GEM headed out on the same flight with us. The Williamsons had been scheduled on an earlier flight but it was cancelled and they were rerouted to ours. I thought that was kind of fun. A Candian pastor who has apparently done some work with Charles and the gypsies was also there.
Getting on the plane was another small task but didn’t go as badly as it could have. We got settled into our seats and waited about twenty minutes before the plane actually took off. I’m not sure what the deal is but so far every flight I’ve been on this trip has been so late leaving the airport! Maybe this is typical of an international flight but I know when I’ve flown domestically the last couple of years we’re usually good about taking off right on time or even five minutes early so that was kind of annoying. Patience IS a virtue however. :) Once we got to Krakow we had to walk down the stairs off the plane and get into a bus like Germany only the airport was like so close we really could have just walked. In fact by the time our crew got off the plane and on the bus the others could probably have walked to the terminal and back again. Krakow is not a very large airport so we were able to fairly easily use the bathroom, collect our suitcases and find the bus we were supposed to get on for Wisla and the hotel.
The bus was pretty nice!! I think it was more comfortable than all the planes I’ve been in this week. Thomas sat by me this time and it was a lot of fun. It was most everyone’s first time in Poland so that made me feel more a part of the group to get to experience something new with everyone instead of being the only newbie in the bunch. :) We oohed and ahhed over the beautiful scenery as we drove through. Although I’d seen photos online and heard about the hotel from another missionary I was still amazed when we got to the hotel. It is one of the biggest hotels I’ve ever seen! I don’t have a lot of pictures of the hotel yet but I hope to get some more soon. The one annoying thing is that GEM told us we shouldn’t drink the tap water but the free bottles of water in our rooms are icky bubbly water. That’s not very satisfying at all when you are thirsty! I’m leaving mine open to see if it will go flat. :P Does it work like that? I figured it’s worth a shot anyway!
Mealtime is apparently going to be quite the experience all week! It’s this extraordinary buffet and I liked everything I put in my mouth. There were “turkey nuggets”, potato dumplings, penne in a white sauce with mushrooms, vegetables, salad, and much much more that I can’t even remember. The dessert spread was just as amazing!! Charles told Emma when she asked to go get some that she should be moderate, and then Amy said “go get one of everything so we can try it all and decide what to get!” Emma being quite literal did just that and came back with two bowls full of a little of everything! We all tasted a bit of this and that and then went back for our own bowls. :D My favorite part was the chocolate mousse complete with dark chocolate curls on top. There were several other very yummy things that I have absolutely no idea what they are because all the signs are in Polish. It was soooo yummy.
There was an opening kind of session tonight that I got to sit in on part of. There is childcare available for all the children down to Audrey and Amy said she hopes for me to be able to attend some of their sessions. We started out with everyone in their classes but as if I was worried about job security the nursery came within ten minutes to get Amy because Audrey (who had been angel ALL DAY after her first little screaming fit that morning) was crying. Amy calmed her down and then brought her to me and I took her out so she could sit in on some of the service. She fussed a tiny bit at the beginning but I talked to her and within moments she was grinning, cooing and even laughing at me. As it got closer to 8 she did get hungry and fussy but I was glad to see she did not scream or become inconsolable with me. Bless their hearts in the nursery but I’m thinking they maybe don’t take care of babies a lot or something. :)
Well breakfast comes early (it starts at 7!) and I think I want to try to get this posted and still get some sleep. I can’t get internet in my room, I have to go to a public area of the hotel which is lame but I guess it’s better than none at all! We’ll see how much I can post the rest of this week as I’m supposed to help with Audrey so that Charles and Amy can do their jobs here at the conference. Charles is the GEM director in France so I think that makes him kind of important. :) The one thing so far that amuses me is while there are a lot of people here for the conference it still seems to have a small church family feel to it because everyone seems to know who I am, even the ones I don’t remember meeting. :D This week should be pretty epic!


Mamma said...

Don't know how to leave IM's, so just have to reply to your journaling. It is sooooo fascinating!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love you soooo much and praying for God's blessings on your ministry. I'll ask your mom what GEM is. :)


Misti said...

Reading your posts reminds me of all the little quirky things about Europe that I had forgot about. Like bubbly water! You'll find if you go to many restaurants, that you have to ask that your water NOT be bubbly. AND they don't use much ice there. :-P

Isn't it AWESOME, though to be in a place that has so much more history than the USA? There is just something about a country that is so old - it's SO COOL!!

Be sure to send lots of pics!!


Kat said...

What Misti said about culture and history - I love it. Man, I'm so envious of your life right now!

I love how they call it "sparkling" or "still water." Lol, just plain water is still indeed, I s'pose. I don't like that stuff either. Let me know if it does go flat. That's really cool that it's free.

I've never heard of missionaries who get to roll in such style! Let me know where to sign up.

I found tickets to Paris through AA for ~$800; unfortunately, the sale begins on 10/31. :(