Arriving in Poland

Arriving in Poland

In spite of the Lufthansa ground strike in Frankfurt, and arriving in Warsaw too late for the buses to Lodz, we made it.

In spite of the Lufthansa ground strike in Frankfurt, and arriving in Warsaw too late for the buses to Lodz, we made it.

God was in the details.

Our humanitarian fare allowed us 3 bags each – big 50-pound duffels they were – so we couldn’t have fit ourselves and our checked and carry-on bags into one local Warsaw taxi.  We thought about the logistics of two taxis to the train station and bag dragging with two people in one of the most notorious (for bag rip-offs) train stations in Europe, and boarding the train and disembarking in Lodz and two more taxis to our apartment and . . . we decided that was just too much.

The airport hotels in Warsaw are $200 and up.

It was after 10:00 p.m.

We wondered what we should do.  A 70-year-old gentleman approached us about a taxi.  He was the only other person left standing in front of the airport.  Now, we are almost always wary of people in airports approaching us about a taxi.  This fellow, though, was kindly and gentlemanly and helpful.  He suggested a taxi from Warsaw to Lodz.  We had missed the best night train.  Even if we bag-dragged at the train station, we would be getting into Lodz at 3 or 4 in the morning.  We phoned Kaz Bem, our partner contact, in Lodz, and he approved the amount of the fare.  We paid in a combination of Euros, Polish zlotys and dollars – all we had.

It was a Mercedes taxi with a lighted sign on top that said “TAXI” and our bags and our persons just fit – just exactly.  The trip was uneventful.  We stopped for gas and bought biscuits, tea and a few other things for breakfast the next morning.  As it happened, we used those biscuits and that tea to host guests in our apartment the very next day.

About midnight, we arrived in Lodz, found the address (the driver’s wife’s family used to live in Lodz), and dragged our duffels up to the second (U.S. third) floor.  There are 22 steps per floor (including ground) with an extra 11 (to the garden flat) to start you out that’s 77 steps with high ceilings.

We had started our journey the night before, leaving for the airport at about 5:00 p.m. from Albany, NY.  It had been a long day but finally we were home.

“Home” is where you can leave your stuff and find it again in a few days.  Our Toyota Camry had been home for 13 months in the U.S.  Now we have a home in four high-ceilinged light and airy rooms–kitchen, bedroom, living room and dining room/study–in a decent neighborhood in Lodz, not far from the train and bus stations, the main shopping street–Piotrkowska–and the huge former textile factory recently turned shopping center–Manufactura.  At one time, the factory employed over 6,000 workers.  No more.  Lodz’s unemployment rate is among the highest in Poland, which has about the highest in the EU.

Kaz Bem, Rev. Semko Koroza, our landlord and his wife, and the apartment-hunting agency representative all descended upon us the next day for the ceremonial signing of contracts and trips to the bank and paying of huge sums of money and ceremonial toasts with tea and biscuits.  In a few hours, we were signed, sealed and delivered to a 3-year lease.  Hope we continue to like the apartment.

We’re shopping for furniture and appliances, and trying to figure out how to use our space.  The sky is blue, the clouds are huge and white, and we have a gigantic old-growth tree in front and in back.  There’s a small garden to sit in, and kids play in the open out back and come and go to the shops with no concerns about stranger danger.  So it must be a safe neighborhood, we figure.  Lodz has a few big parks and a lot of green space that we want to explore when we get time.

We have our internet hooked up and bought a printer scanner, so communications can proceed.

It’s summer and people are on holiday, but on September 3, we’ll have a big meeting about hopes and plans for our first 3-year term here, serving the Evangelical Reformed Church in Poland.

October 1, we start language study at the university – a five-month intensive study, about 6 hours daily.  This is good since Polish is difficult.

We’ve had a few meals out with families.  So far we’ve been served pork sausage, ham or roast pork, cheese and deviled eggs.

More later as things develop. Thanks for writing and for keeping us in your prayers.

We’re happy to answer any questions anyone has.  Now is the best time to ask, when everything is fresh and new, and before we get heavily involved in language study and program.

Looking forward to hearing your news, as well, and blessings on all your ministries.

Liz & Doug Searles, and Mick who has returned back to Interlochen for tenth grade.

Doug and Elizabeth Searles serve with the Evangelical Reformed Church in Poland.  They serve as mission workers for church growth and outreach.