Poland (Pomerania region) September 2009

 

“Poland’s history is an immense tale.  Forever sandwiched between two powerful and aggressive neighbours, it has over the past millennium defended its freedom and sovereignty on innumerable occasions, only to be overrun and subjugated to occupation by foreign powers time and time again. It has gone from being the largest country in Europe to completely disappearing off the world map, and seen its population devastated in two world wars. Yet it is testament to the astounding resilience of the Polish people that Poland has not only bounced back from every crushing blow but also had the energy to hold strong to its own culture.” (from the Lonely Planet Poland travel book)

This is the Poland that I have enjoyed visiting.  I’m amazed at the resilience of this country.  To think that over 40 years ago they started their journey of Solidarity, a nationwide independence and self-governing trade union. Waves started happening, but after its formation after the Gdansk agreement on 31st of August, it was suspended in 1981 after a martial law was declared. Strikes and demonstrations were abolished, and life was back to the former regime before the Solidarity independence. This did not stop them, they came back in in a sweeping force by gaining the majority of its elected supporters of the Senat in June of 1989, while the Communist 65% of the seats. Communism was now on a downward spiral of collapse! The first time of a power-sharing deal, a Communist President and a first time noncommunist prime minister. The result was Poland being the first to break free of Communism! The following decade was a struggle, but by 1999 Poland becomes a member of NATO, now it is in alliance with powers of the West. 1997 a new constitution was passed to replace the former Soviet-style document of 1952. On May 1st of 2004 Poland makes its biggest move, joining the EU.

Poland is still working towards it political reforms, and it has been so interesting to study its journey towards reform.

What has been so astounding to me has been the history of WWII that permeates this country, especially the city of Gdansk.  It has celebrated 70 years since the attack in Gdansk, when the German Battle ship Schleswig-Holstein fired onto the Polish military post in Westerplatte. This invasion started WWII. Gdansk has painstakefully rebuilt its city, from the rubble of WWII, to the beautiful town centre of today.

“Though it’s an old city with a tumultuous past, and the historic scars to prove it, 21st century Gdansk is a vibrant destination packed with diverse sights and entertainment options, and also makes a great base for journeys into the surrounding countryside.” (quote taken from the Lonely Planet travel book)

Our trip starts here in Gdansk, the Pomeranian region.  We walked all around this picturesque town centre, and even visited the pier at the Baltic Sea. What a fantastic view.

Sunday we drove to Slupsk, pronounced swoopsk, a lovely country town, with beautiful forests.  We hiked the trails in the forest, and hunted for edible mushrooms (which is almost a national pastime in the hills and forest of Poland in autumn).  I devoured the fresh wild blueberries, the Polish call them blackberries. Yummy, the bigger the better.

The boys fished, helped collect wood for our huge bonfire, roasted real Polish sausages, and our host, Br. Rudolph and his lovely wife made us feel so at home in their home that was right by the forest, tucked right by a ravine that turned into a river. It was serene and beautiful. Br. Rudolph’s wife, Marguerite, fixed us Polish dishes, that were so full of flavour and local spices. My boys had so many different vegetables, cooked and prepared in so many ways, that I was so happy they ate them, and enjoyed them. I have determined to be sure that I do the same, so thank you Marguerite for the inspiration to prepare dishes as you did, especially the soups, DELISH!! It is so boring to fix the same meals as I do, and to have this culture exposure from travelling has been a great adventure for trying different foods that are indigenous of the area visited. So “cheers” for a more European touch in the kitchen.

We pray as the Lord opens the door into Europe from the West to the East, we will follow. Our heart’s desire is to see God’s people gather together and worship Him, in “spirit and truth”. Knit us together, in your love…."rooted and built up in Him, and stablish in the faith, as ye have been taught..” Col. 2:7

We may have this desire, but it will only grow and abound IF the Lord provides and opens the door for us. Pray for us, that the Lord will lead us to His flock, the sheep of His pasture.

Some facts of Poland & its people  
Frederic Chopin one of my favorite composers
Marie Curie first woman to win the Noble prize, and the first ever to win two
Nicolaus Copernicus proposes the earth orbits the sun (in 1541)
Hitler hides in Poland, known as the Wolf’s Liar, known as one of the eeriest historical relics, near the hamlet of Gierloz
Antoni Patek co-founder of watchmakers Patek Phillippe & Co.
Max Factor the father of modern cosmetics
Four Warner Bros Founder of Warner Bros
WWII three million Polish Jews die, almost the whole of the population died in camps
WWII one million Poles died in camps
WWII Auschwitz-Birkenau, this grim extermination camp is the largest, and is Poland’s most moving sight. These are two different camps
Baltic Gold Amber, this ‘precious stone’ is actually a fossilized tree resin, and the largest deposits are found along the Baltic shores and Russia.
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