August Partners Update
Back to school preparation
Today, when I opened the door to school and walked up the steps, I felt the anticipation of fall school registration in the air. Teachers were cleaning up after our table refinishing project, and the secretary was printing off fresh new contracts for our students to sign. The newly painted bathroom and classroom made the whole school feel like it was another, better, exciting place to learn.
Earlier this week, our teaching staff met to discuss our purpose in teaching English here in Mińsk Mazowiecki. Matt led us in a clarifying conversation that pushed us from thinking that what we do here is
the same as why we are here. For example, we are here to connect with people as we teach English, but that is something we do, not the big picture, the why. Our why informs what we do, but it runs much more deeply and motivates every part of our lives. We left this discussion feeling inspired and ready for another year of teaching and loving people well in Mińsk Mazowiecki.
Our school year begins on September 9, but our registration for students opened on the 29th of August, which means the teachers are present at school for 7 afternoons before school starts. They welcome old and new students and make sure students have all the information they need for the next year.
We are looking forward to another year with four full-time teachers: Lyndon Beiler, Kristin Herrin, Alex Yoder, and Alyssa Zimmerman. Jaden and Jewel Kilmer, Matt and I, Hadassah Hershberger, and Lavern Hershberger will all be part-time teachers at Gateway to English.
Reflections on our summer furlough
Deborah and I spent two months in the US on furlough this summer, from the end of June to the end of August. We split our time between family in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Those two months felt like a whirlwind, as we made the most of our time to be with as many people as possible. Spending so much time with family and friends in such a short amount of time reminded us how rich we are in relationships. I was greatly encouraged to talk with so many friends who are serving God in many places and in many ways. Our life in Poland tends to be very focused in Mińsk among a rather small group of people. This is not a negative thing, but we found it refreshing to get a broader perspective by stepping away from our Polish life for a short time. We are deeply grateful for friends and family who have poured into our lives and for the chance to reconnect with them. We return with renewed energy for life in Mińsk: the Agape church community, our friends and neighbors in town, our team, and our work.
Alex and Lyndon both had family visit them this month.
Having my family visit me in Poland was definitely a (maybe the) highlight of my summer. We were able to do some exploring in Warsaw and also spent some time in southern Poland. We visited Kraków and also took a tour to Auschwitz. Big cities and adventures are great but simply showing them around Minsk where we live and teach, amongst other things, was also very enjoyable. And obviously, after a year without seeing them, it was great just to spend time together.
After a year in Poland, I have not forgotten my family, but their time here has made me realize how separate my life in Poland feels from my home in the States. It was unique for me, if only for two weeks, to experience the merging of these two worlds. Both are very important and hold a special place in my heart.
Visitors at Agape Fellowship
August 4 was a special Sunday for us at Agape Fellowship. There were around 20 visitors to swell the ranks of the faithful few who weren’t traveling. Among the visitors were my good friend Sarah (Overholt) Alimowska with her husband, two sons, and 80 yr. old mother-in-law Vala. Church people are still talking about the encouragement and inspiration they received from Vala’s deep faith and vibrant testimony. Sarah and I have been friends since I traveled to Poland for the first time with her family in 1992. Alex was very happy to have his whole family with us as well. We all had a wonderful time of fellowship and enjoyed lunch together outside in the parking lot.
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