Monday, August 6, 2018

Smoked sheep cheese? Vodka soup? Four hundred and nine steps? Yes, today held wonderful adventures.

 

The guys are staying at a separate lodging than the girls, and since I’m a guy, I shall begin the recount from they’re perspective. Our intention was to leave our lodging at 7:50. However that was delayed slightly by a photo shoot with the couple that owns the lodging. It took a bit of corralling to get all the guys together for the photo. After that was accomplished, we struck out in the bus. Our lodgings are only about 10 minutes from the girls’ so we still made it in good time. Breakfast awaited us at the girls’ lodgings in the town of Orzechowy Dworek. It was delicious! A wide selection of sliced meat, cheese, butter, sausages, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers. And bread to create a sandwich.  Coffee and hot tea filled it out nicely.

 

Around 9:00 we were loaded up on the bus and twenty minutes later saw us on the road. Travel time lasted just over an hour. Our destination? Old town Gdansk. Kudos to the bus driver who did a great job of backing into a very tight parking lot!

 

We headed off as a group toward St. Mary’s Cathedral inside old town Gdansk. It is a massive building, with a very high ceiling! Three rows of massive pillars. A large organ. It was a sight to behold! We were able to sing three songs inside. That was great fun. The reverb was amazing!  After singing and taking pictures in the main sanctuary area, many of us climbed the steeple. That’s where the 409 steps came in. It was a bit tiresome climbing. For the first 150 steps, we wound up a spiral corridor with very shallow steps. After that it opened up into the larger steeple. The final view from the top was well worth the conquest of the steps. We could see all of Gdansk and much more. The Baltic Sea was easily visible.

 

After spending time at St. Mary’s, we all split up into six smaller groups. Our group decided to head to a coffee shop first off. That ended up being the decision of another group as well and we had a good time just chilling at that shop. We left there around 12:45 and spent most of the afternoon strolling the streets and souvenir shopping. We had the delightful experience of trying Oscypek, or smoked goat cheese. Hot off the grill, topped with jam. Mmmmm! It was delicious. During the afternoon, we also came across the Vodka soup. There was a drink bar along the street and out front they had a sign reading “Soup of the Day: Vodka”. That got us all wondering and one brave soul decided to investigate. It ended up just being a joke. They didn’t even sell soup! It was just that – Vodka. It gave us a laugh.

 

Around 14:00 we voted to search out a restaurant for lunch. We chose Pod Bandera. I’m not sure of the exact English translation, but it had something to do with a ship. The meal was delicious! Several in the group ordered fish dishes. There was a chicken pasta dish, and I ordered a pork schnitzel dish. Scrumptious!

 

One other highlight of old town Gdansk was all the street musicians. There was a drum trio going full blast, a delightful violin duet, a cello and accordion duet, and a xylophone duet. They were all very good!

 

Groups filtered back through the mob of people on the streets to the bus by 16:45. As a general rule, the pockets had grown emptier and the arms more laden. We took our turn at “touristy”. An hour’s ride in the bus brought us back to Orzechowy Dworek where we had pizza for supper. The evening was spent throwing Frisbee, walking around the pond, playing card games, and just general chilling. It was a very relaxing time. Toward dusk a fire was started and most of the people socialized around it until 22:00 when the guys headed back to our lodgings. We’re back now, ready for some much needed rest. It’s been a grand day!

 

Written by Andrew Hinds

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Did you ever wonder what it would be like spend a Sunday in Poland with Hope Singers?

Here are a few highlights of our day of rest and worship in Poland:

  • Cooler Weather!
  • Polish Hospitality – The Polish people are very generous hosts!  Our hosts kindly served us a typical Polish breakfast before leaving for our first concert.
  • Morning Concert in Gdańsk- The folks from the New Life Christian Center were friendly, respectful, and hospitable.
  • “Fellowship Meal”- The noon meal they served us was absolutely extravagant!  Two extra-large kettles of soup, grilled kielbasa, a variety of salads, fruit, beverages, and CAKE!  The dear ladies kept bringing out trays of all kinds of cakes.  It was amazing!
  • Sunday Afternoon Rest- Two concerts in one day makes for a full schedule so a time to rest was refreshing.
  • Evening Concert at the First Baptist Church in Gdańsk- This was the first time for Hope Singers to give a concert in this church.  The audience was very welcoming and receptive.  Father God was at work and hearts were touched.  Observing a gentleman in the crowd wiping a tear…the pastor sharing how the harmony of our choir is a picture of the harmony in the Trinity and the harmony that we can experience in brotherhood, are two examples that are an encouragement to us.  They also blessed us with a delicious evening meal after the concert.

Thank-You to our family and friends for your prayers and support!

 

Written by Kaylita Stoltzfus

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Choral Group Begins Tour in Northern Poland

Saturday, August 4

OLESIN, POLAND—the Hope Singers embarked on the second half of their Poland tour at 7:32 this morning. The early nature of their departure was described by Bass 2 Kenneth Godoy: “It felt a little bit like…living in a hopeless world. No coffee. No sleep. And only an eternal stare into the red eyes of dawn. Nothing more.”

The Hope Singers, an Anabaptist choral group mostly from the USA, has been touring for about a week in the southern part of Poland, and after a few days respite at a retreat center in Olesin, have now begun the second leg of their tour into the northern part of Poland.

They were headed in a large yellow coach to an historic farmstead close to the city of Gdansk where the ladies in the group were destined to stay. The men, meanwhile, had lodging 7 kilometers away at an historic Mennonite farmstead.

After several hours of driving, the group stopped at a rest area for 45 minutes, where they used the water closets, threw a Frisbee, played Apples to Apples, and ate snacks. The mild weather, which lacked humidity, was a break from previous mugginess.

Upon arrival at their destination, the singers ate a hearty meal of sandwiches, chips, and fruit, and the single male portion of the group departed to their separate lodging. After a quick change into concert attire, the male consort headed back to the main place of abode, where the whole group regrouped and drove the forty minutes to the Baptist Church in Elblag for the first concert in the second half of the tour.

By this time, the temperature had risen considerably, according to several witnesses. Clothed in their uniforms, the choir sweated profusely.

After a bit of practice, the choir gathered in the basement for prayer time, where they discovered that the concert was to start twenty minutes earlier than planned. According to eyewitnesses, this caused consternation, but not panic. Mennonite youth appear to be flexible.

Andrew Hinds, Tenor 2, did not sing in the program because of a cold. Other choir members expressed concern about vocal issues, but managed to sing anyway. Christopher Good (Bass 2), who did sing, said, “I do feel a little sick. So far I’m planning to sing tomorrow. But I’d rather be better.”

Choir members voiced varied opinions on the concert. Esther Strickler, Soprano 2, said, “I thought the audience was very responsive. It was fun to sing for them.”

Myron Eby, Bass 1, said, “It was probably the warmest program for me personally. The air temperature didn’t feel that warm, but the humidity was very high.”

After an encore, the choir congregated in the church basement for supper, provided by the church people. Abigail Miller, Soprano 1 said of the meal: “Well, it was amazing. There was grilled chicken, and there was chicken with herbs, and there was potatoes, and there was a really delicious noodle soup, and also salad and cake.”

Late this evening, sources have confirmed that in anticipation for a long day tomorrow, the choir has begun to wind down for the night.

 

Written by Joseph Miller

 

 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Our morning and afternoon was spent touring the town of Mińsk Mazowiecki.  This was exciting in different ways, the best being that we as a choir were able to see the town and general location where the AIM staff work and live.  Mińsk is not a touristy town, but there were still some locations to experience. 
 
After a short train ride to Mińsk, on which the conductor said he didn’t need to check tickets because of the large group of “sisters”, we split into different groups to make touring simpler.  I believe that all the groups went to the open air market sometime throughout the day.  Most choir members had a wonderful taste of the amazing garlic, dill pickles sold by a family that has had a stand there for years, others bought hats, blueberries, delicious raspberries, shoes, pants, and other items.
 
Other sights that the groups saw and experienced were:
 
Mińsk Palace of Culture (some groups cooled off by running through the fountain)
 
The park beside the palace
 
Ekler & Kawa Czy Herbata (Cafe) 
 
Some type of quick restaurant for a light lunch
 
Amazing Ice-cream shops
 
 
Our choir then met at the English school, Gateway to English, where we changed into our choir uniforms, rehearsed, and ate some dinner provided by the dear folks from Agape church.  As soon as possible we headed over to the Music School Center for our concert.  This building is new and the auditorium and stage were amazing!
 
We all felt the presence of God during our concert!  Praise God!  Being able to sing to a crowd that had our friends, family, students, and neighbors in it, seemed to make it go even better!  For me, this concert made it to the top of the charts.
 
Saturday, we again leave bright and early for another 5 day tour.  We appreciate the prayers, especially for those that are struggling with sickness!
 
God bless!