Goodbye Warsaw, Hello Sosnowiec!

Happy Friday the 13th from Sosnowiec! We started off our day by eating breakfast at Kwadrat Bistro Art, a cute quaint cafe that was a close walk from our hostel. After breakfast, we left our hostel a bit later than planned, and sprinted to the train station with all of luggage. While crossing under the street, it is sometimes hard to tell which side of which street the stairs lead to, and we took the wrong one, making us run back down the stairs (with all of our luggage and no escallator) and up another set of stairs (again with no escallator).  After over 20 minutes of dashing along, we went down one more flight of stairs into the Warsawa Centralia train station, where we found an escallator to take us to our platform.  Despite all the chaos of getting to the station, we made it just in the nick of time, and quickly found our seats when the train pulled in.  About four minutes after boarding the train, we were pulling out of the station in a very comfortable, smooth, fast, modern train.

As the train raced down the track, I (Karleigh) stared out the window thinkingt hat Sosnowiec was going to be very different from Warsaw. Even though we had not yet reached our destination, I could begin to see differences. Warsaw is a big city filled with skyscrapers, fancy cars, and it has a modern, fast-paced lifestyle. However, after leaving the city, we were surrounded with thick greenery on both sides of the train. We passed areas that were run down, with signs of heavy industry, fewer and older cars, and most of the buildings we passed were coated with graffiti.  It reminded me that there is also a lot of disparity between parts of our country too.

After about two hours and forty-five minutes, we hopped off and were perplexed that our contact person was not there.  At first we thought that we might have gotten off at the wrong station. After a few frantic minutes, this changed when we heard a man calling out, "Doctor, Doctor". This was when we met Daniel. He approached our group with open arms, and not just literally, giving Dr. E. a great big bear hug.  Our train had been delayed to allow an express train from Warsaw to pass us, and it got to the station when ours was due to arrive.  Daniel thought that the first train was ours, and when we didn't get off, he left and began driving to the next train station!  But then, he saw another train coming into the station, so he came back, hoping that we were on it.  So, after both he and we were left anxious and perplexed, we were happily united on the platform. Daniel and his friend helped us carry our bags to the cars, and they drove us to our hostel, which is very nice and only a few years old.

After we freshened up a bit, we went to Daniel's home, where we met his wife, Gosia, and his children, Tymo, Julia, Martyna, and Jeremiaz. Leo Christopher once said, "There's only one thing that's more precious than our time. and that's who we spent it with". I think this quote accurately describes our trip thus far, and especially today. Daniel and Gosia opened their home to us today and served us a delicious lunch that included juice, a pork and gravy stew that was served over potatoes and home made potato dumplings, red cabbage, two cakes, and bannana bread. Some people say that the fondest memories are made when gathered around the table, and that could not have been more true today. We laughed, shared stories, reminisced about the past, and enjoyed a pasttime of teasing Dr. Entwistle, which Daniel has clearly done (lovingly) many times before.  It wasn't hard to tell why Dr. E. keeps coming back to this place and this family.

After sitting around the table for a good two and a half hours, we ventured out to the largest grocery store I have ever seen. Auchan is not just a grocery store, it is also a mall. This store is like Sam's Club or Costco on steroids. We saw American brands such as Lays, Jack Daniels, and Snickers, but these brands sold flavors of products I have never heard of before. When I walk down the aisle at my local grocery store for example, I will find a few different brands of chocolate to choose from. Here we were surrounded with upwards of 30 or more brands of chocolates filling two long aisles, each with a dazling array of varieties to choose from: chocolate with red chili, milk chocolate with Oreos, dark chocolate with hazzlenuts, white chocolate with blueberries, truffles, and on, and on. With so many brands and flavors to choose from, we had a hard time deciding on what to try.

When we arrived back at Daniel's house, we watched Thomas the Tank Engine in Polish, exchanged information about our studies and our languages (and you think our tongue twisters are hard!) and ate ANOTHER delicious meal (cold cuts, cheese, bread, sausages, lettuce, cuccumbers, and tomatoes), and planned what we would do tomorrow. Today was a great day that was filled to the brim with learning, laughter, and love.

We do have a change of plans tomorrow.  Because we will be very busy doing English language service with students starting on Monday, Daniel recommended that we go to Auschwitz tomorrow.  He was unable to book an English guide for us, but he and Dr. E. have been there many times, so they will be our tour guides.  Oswiecim (the Polish town which was called Auschwitz in German) is about an hour away, and it should take three or four hours for us to go through the Auschwitz I and II concentration camps.  We know this will be an intense and emotional experience, so please keep us in your prayers as we try to understand what happened there and to face the many questions that it raises.

Karleigh, for Jordyn, Carrie, Sarah, and Dr. E.

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