August 10, 2016
One eye opens. The second follows suite. They look out the window, letting in some dim morning light. Eye 1 and 2 then look at the clock, “You’re hiding me,” Eye 1 mutters.
“What?” Eye 2 mumbles. He was so tired he couldn’t focus.
“The numbers say 415.”
“Eye-yi-yi,” 2 slurs as he falls back into a deep sleep.
It was a rainy, cool day in the faraway land of Poland. A kayaking trip had been planned but was canceled due to the weather. Although slightly disappointing, it may have been for our best well being. You see the next two days are recording so just chilling isn’t all that bad.
The morning was spent drinking coffee, practicing music, bonding with electronics, or talking about the wonders of life. At 12 o’clock we stopped our loitering around and sat attentively at the feet of Lloyd our master conductor. He led us in ironing out a number of inconsistencies in our repertoire.
Around 2 o’clock we filed into the dining room for Turkish Kebabs. These had been graciously ordered and delivered by Marlin.
“How is your kebab arranged?”
“Meat to the right, cabbage to the left,” Titus replies.
“I wish they would do it in layers,” Benjamin responds.
A few minutes before 3, big Bertha (our bus) arrived. Robed in our uniforms we climbed aboard once more.
Six o’clock arrived and once again we opened our mouths in an attempt to make a joyful noise. All in all the program went well.
At the end of the last song we were greeted with a hearty applause along with red roses for the girls and sunflowers for the guys. It was a joyous occasion!
And then there was food! Glorious food!! Large pizzas to be exact. This was followed by chocolates, cakes, cookies, and coffee.
Then we rolled out. J
The morning began full tilt on the street outside our window… cars, bikes, pedestrians….oh, and don’t forget the trains! Most of us began at a slightly lower caliber, though some people got up earlier than I and enjoyed a stroll through Old Town Warsaw. (Bless their hearts…*yawn..) At 9:45, we clattered all our luggage down the street to meet our bus, and settled in for the ride to Kielce. We stopped for lunch and explored Chęciny Castle there…
The narrow stairs leading down to a dingy cell where a plastic skeleton sprawled in rags…
The haunting laughter echoing around us…
The stairs leading up… and up… and up some more to watch towers where we could survey the land for miles around….
The broadsword skirmishes (once I can get this thing off the ground ..ooofff!!!)…
Then we were back on the bus after lunch and into the legendary traffic that shows up whenever you’re running behind schedule. So, like good singers, we pulled out our music and set to work fixing a few of those trouble spots. Ever tried to sing on a very bumpy road? Let’s just say it makes for rather uneven vibrato…
Finally, we arrived at Piątkow. We all tumbled out of the bus, and set to work with lineups.
It was a very small chapel, and warm, but the breeze coming through the windows made life bearable. The dog next door wasn’t fond of American choirs, and barked his head off during our short rehearsal time. (Or maybe he was just trying to join in… not sure. His vocal quality was definitly pushy.. and rather harsh…)
When the program began, we were all surprised at how full the little room was. Overall, the program went very well. The people were so excited to have us there, and seeing the expressions on their faces was very rewarding.
After being treated to a delicious supper, we finally loaded up and headed off to the Warsaw Baptist Seminary….and our beds….and sweet sleep….
-Sarah for Hope 2016
August, 8 2016
A large part of the day was spent in travel but I will spare you the boring details of all that. Suffice it to say that the hours on the bus were passed in a variety of manners: some chose to sleep, others engaged in controversial conversations, others lost themselves in their fascinating books, and a few wandered the aisles enjoying a variety of diversions that helped to pass the time. After two and a half hours had passed we arrived in Krakow and deposited our luggage at the hostel where we would be returning later in the evening.
With our luggage out of the way, most of the group again boarded the bus for an hour and a half drive. Destination? The Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camps. Because of a mis-communication our group did not have the necessary arrangements to enter Auschwitz. This was a disappointment, but we made the most of it by trekking around the perimeter of the camp and peering over the intimidating concrete/barb-wired fence. Dervin was our capable tour guide, providing us with much information and answering our many questions.
After grabbing lunch we crammed into a very full bus that transported us to Birkenau. There we were able to enter the grounds and stroll our way through the barracks and the ruins of gas chambers.
A few facts about this camp.
We spent an hour in silent reflection, strolling through the camp. Some described this part of the day as being “emotionally draining”. For all of us, it brought a harsh reality to the stories we’ve read and the facts we’ve learned in our history classes.
It was 4:30 by the time we had finished at the camps and were once again en-route to Krakow. There we spent our evening touring an ancient castle, and walking the streets of Old Town.
I should mention that by this point in the tour we have come to accept assorted Polish cakes multiple times a day as an essential part of our diet. Today proved to us that we can indeed survive a twenty four hour period with no cakes. However, the streets of Krakow offered ice cream, waffles, kebabs, and chocolate; we certainly did not go hungry! By the end of our evening souvenirs had been purchased, songs had been sung in fun chambers, unique conversations had taken place, and our feet had begun to feel achy. At 9:00 we all convened at our hostel where we spent some time re-capping on our day before retiring to our rooms.
There was a breeze coming through the window….
A fan droned over the noises rising from the street below….
The thought of sleeping in the next morning was quite pleasant indeed….
A good night….