Mosty, Poland – orphanage visit

I’ve been procrastinating re: this post because I just don’t know how to document my experience. The description on my photo set says, “Thirty five people from various US Military installations in Germany brought Christmas to 77 kids at an orphanage in Mosty, Poland.”

The highlights:

Ready for adventure

After a long bus ride, we arrived, settled in, and explored Szczecin the first day:

Basilica of St. James the Apostle, Szczecin, Poland
Basilica of St. James the Apostle, Szczecin, Poland

I was intrigued by the variety of architecture – Eastern bloc, old, and modern all mixed together:

Szczecin, Poland

Szczecin, Poland

our hotel in Szczecin, Poland

We trekked across the frozen countryside to Dom Dziecka:
Polish countryside

Dom Dziecka Mosty
The building was much nicer than I expected.

Dom Dziecka Mosty
In addition to regular firewood, they used old furniture to keep the common room warm. Here’s something to think about: We all took turns standing near the fire at different parts of the day. But the kids were used to the chill.

We didn’t have a common language with the kids, but we communicated well. I just noticed that in this photo, snapped just as we arrived, the Americans  are standing around with their hands in their pockets, not sure quite sure what to do. The picture of Heather and her new friend below really shows how far we all came in just one day.

this guy loved using our cameras
Almost every child wanted to use our cameras.

The chaplain held the chords and the kids strummed
The chaplain held the chords and the kids strummed.

Singing songs
The kids formed small groups and sang for us. Later, someone handed out carol lyrics, and we sang for them. I will never again hear Silent Night without thinking of that day.

Opening gifts from Santa
Each kid received a backpack with items they requested and school supplies. We also brought personal care items, soccer balls, and clothing, along with gifts for the staff members.

Santa Alex was very popular

You don't need delicate ornaments

the kids took lots of pictures (like this one) with my camera
The kids took lots of pictures (like this one) with my camera.

This little guy loved Heather
Heather and a new friend.

And then…our trip was extended:
meanwhile, vandals broke into our bus

You can guess how a bunch of Americans passed a snowy day:
Szczecin, Poland

Eventually, a replacement bus arrived (which was easier to acquire than a replacement window) and we trekked home.
long, slow, snowy road home

I stole this from someone in the group and just found it in an e-mail I sent to Kara:

  • 24 hours on a bus, crappy.
  • 24 hours on a bus in a 65 hour time frame, crappier.
  • 24 hours on a bus in a 65 hour time frame with 35 other people invading your personal bubble, crappier still.
  • 24 hours on a bus in a 65 hour time frame with 35 other people invading your personal bubble, in order to deliver Christmas presents to children who would normally do without, priceless.

More photos from the trip are on Flickr.

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