Now came the tough part – saying goodbye. Friends lingered over breakfast, took photos, exchanged contact information, hugged, and then piled their luggage into vehicles. Some were dropped off at the local train station; others at the bus stop. Some returned immediately to their country of ministry; others chose to spend two or three days simply having fun with their kids or visiting IM coworkers before returning to their work. Some will partner this summer for evangelistic family camps; most won’t see each other until next year’s conference.
Gene and I spent Monday debriefing with the IM leadership team asking/discussing relevant questions to help us know how to better serve the staff. I’m so impressed with this team’s unity. Everyone’s gifts and strengths are recognized and encouraged. I count it a privilege to be part of this group.
On Monday evening, we walked up a narrow, paved, pot-holed road to an alpine village for dinner. We enjoyed reading the menus, as always. Convoluted pork, for instance, means it’s rolled. Mixed salad makes me think of lettuce tossed with fresh vegetables. Think again. It’s an assortment of four or five different salads (each portion the size of an ice-cream scoop) served on a small luncheon plate. At this restaurant, the selection included shredded carrots, cubed pickled beets, another type of beet salad, and sliced cucumbers in cream sauce. Here’s a tip for anyone traveling in Europe – if you order a glass of water, you’ll be asked whether you want water with gas or without gas. Water with gas is like North American club soda.
Tuesday morning held more leadership meetings, and then came time for us to catch the bus and begin our journey home. We spent the evening in Krakow with an IM couple. While Gene went off with the husband, the wife and I enjoyed dinner outdoors in a famous square. Hundreds of people milled about, shopping at vendors’ booths around us. What was for sale? Everything from smoked cheese shaped like little sheep (to celebrate Easter) to amber jewelry to Polish pottery to whimsical clay angels, cows, and cats.
I bought a wee wooden box with a hand-painted little girl angel on the lid. She’s smiling, but she has only three teeth – obviously a few are missing. Apparently this is a special box for kids’ baby teeth. I thought it would be fun for granddaughter Anna to use in a few years (okay, okay, I’m thinking ‘way into the future – she has only six teeth so far). When she loses a tooth, she can put it in the box and set it beside her pillow so the tooth fairy can find it easily. ‘Way too cute to resist.
When Gene checked his email, he discovered that our daughter-in-law was online. He was able to Skype her using my laptop, which has a built-in camera. What fun! We caught our first live glimpse of our new grandson, and caught some giggles, waves, and kisses from Anna.
When I checked my email, I received a message from the women’s retreat organizer in Warsaw. She said a Polish woman who attended the retreat two weeks ago told her that she chose to place her saving faith in Jesus Christ at the last session that weekend! That news brought a perfect end to a fantastic trip. Many, many thanks to those who prayed. I wish I could take you all with me on the next trip.