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.

Dziękuję!

Dziękuję – the only Polish word I know, means Thank You. According to Google Translate it’s pronounced ‘gin-koo-ya’, which means though it’s my only only word, I’ve been saying it all wrong.

I just took a whirlwind Polish Pottery shopping adventure with the Spouses’ Club. We departed by bus at 10:00pm Monday, arrived at our first store at 6:30am Tuesday, shopped all day with a lunch break, and set out to return at 5:30pm. We finally pulled back into my neighborhood at 1:40 this morning. That’s about 950 miles and more than 10 shops with 23 other women in 27 hours if you’re keeping track. To say I was exhausted would be a gigantic understatement. I probably won’t do that again, but I’m so glad I did. Fun times, great deals, and an added bonus: memorable election results from friends in the States via text message and e-mail.

1:15am rest stop.
Rest stop on the Germany/Poland border for breakfast.

rest stop election results
I stood at this spot for the longest time…

And as I was walking back to our bus? I got a message from my sister that said, “OMG!!!!!!! Yayy!!!!!! Bronco Bama!!!! YAY!!!!!!! Omg omg omg!!!!!!!!!!

And another from Carey that said, “Obama WINS!!!!!!

And one from Angie that read, “Woo hoo! Yes, I’m crying and I have chill bumps. Empire state bldg is blue!!!!

All at the same time.

I was so sad that I wasn’t on the couch watching cable news with them, but I am so glad I’ll always have that memory.

Back on board the bus, I donned my Ojamas and popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

Celebrating Obama's victory

And then we shopped, shopped, shopped.

Polish Pottery

Polish Pottery

Hello from Poland!

We had delicious Perogies, apple pancakes, local beer, and Honey Vodka(!) for lunch.
Perogies and apple pancakes.

Honey Vodka shots

Honey Vodka shots

And after lunch? More shopping.

Polish Pottery

I won’t disclose how many hours I slept today! And as soon as I hit ‘publish’ on this post, I am going to bed.

Dziękuję for the memories, Poland!

Polski Festiwal Ceramiki

Every Army wife has at least one piece of Polish Pottery. And the longer I’m around, the more I acquire. Is it issued to us? Feels like it. I’ve received some pieces as gifts, I’ve won some items at Spouses’ Club events and I bought a piece or two somewhere along the way.

It seems like forever ago, but its only been two years since our group all lived in the same neighborhood. We called ourselves The Ohne Kinder (German for “without children”) but found out the neighbors were calling our little clique “The Evens” since we lived in apartments two, four, and six. We are scattered now, and one of us (not me!) is a new mom. I miss the old days, when we were together and had fun adventures like taking a road trip to Bolesławiec, Poland to shop at the annual Ceramics Festival.

The first day had us in many different shops, each with its own overwhelming selection options…
compemplating purchases at our first stop

So much so, that occasionally we just sat down and sorted through it all…
Tricia and Angel

The town has some super cute features, like this:
Angel, Jen, me & Tricia

We stayed in a fun castle in the country, where we saw local kids riding in a cart pulled by a horse. They were thrilled and we enjoying seeing simple things making people happy.
Kliczków Castle

We explored the city the next day, where I was surprised to see Solidarity flags flying – we were there on the 30th anniversary.
Bolesławiec, Poland

Bolesławieckie

The festival featured more than just pottery – I bought a lot of gifts and a treasure or two for myself.

Chicken Run at Bolesławieckie Święto Ceramiki
(35zł is about $11 US)

And the whole town turned out for a late afternoon parade.
Ceramiczna Parada

watching the Ceramiczna Parada

I’m headed back in November. Let me know if you want anything!
at the festival

More pictures from our trip are on Flickr.