She has been in Poland a couple of months now and she has started teaching students. It was not instant teaching. First she had to go with the other new teachers to a month-long course that would help them to answer very basic questions in Polish, or ask them. Polish is a very hard language. Each word can have dozens of endings. It is a good thing that her students don’t need her to speak Polish to teach her class. Polish has been rated by some people to be the most difficult language to learn. It has seven cases, seven genders, and very difficult pronunciation.
Below Kristin is the second from the left. She has graciously answered my request to write something. The following is all from her. Don’t worry, it is in English.
Two and a Half Months in Poland
This time has been rich with new experiences, new relationships, a new language, and learning many new things. In a way, it feels I’ve been here much longer- I think we humans in new places quickly seek to find routines and create “normalcy” wherever we find ourselves. But I have daily reminders that this place is new, especially when I want to communicate with people who don’t speak my language-
Like today, when I went to the library to return some children’s books (one of my attempts to learn Polish). I walked to the counter, mentally calculating what words are necessary to return books. Thankfully none were needed, except a simple “dziękuję" (thanks). Then I decided to grab a couple new books while I was there. Once more I walked to the counter, wondering if I would be asked any questions. I was greeted with “dzień dobry” (good day), which I returned. The librarian then scanned my books and my card, and returned them to me without any questions. I once again said “dziękuję” with my excellent vocabulary, and exited the scene. Whew, I made it. :D
Before I relaxed too much, I came to my next stop- The post office. I had found a slip of paper in my mailbox at home saying I needed to retrieve a package. Simple enough, right? Before I went I learned from a friend that it was necessary to take a number from a machine to get in line. Upon entering the post office, I quickly scanned the scene and found the machine. There were several options (buttons) for different desired activities. I hoped for the best and pushed the one labeled “paczki” (boxes).
When my number was called, I approached the counter, once more hoping no words were necessary for the desired package. “Dzień dobry” I handed the slip. The lady took it and marched into the back, looking for my package. So far, so good. After a couple of minutes she returned, but to my dismay there was no package in her hand. She sat down and started to type, obviously searching in her computer for information about my request. Then it happened- She started to tell me many things, apparently not finding my package. My mind scrambled, trying to understand what she was telling me. “Nie ma nic.” She said. I understood- They didn’t have my package. Now what. “Przeprasam, nie rozumiem,” (I’m sorry, I don’t understand) I said to her torrent of words. I was preparing to give my most valiant attempt to tell her I would return later with a friend who spoke Polish, when she saw something, and scooted away to check another place. She returned, this time holding my package. “Dziękuję” I said, and gratefully took the package and exited the scene.
These are common scenarios. It’s both difficult and rewarding, as I find myself gaining confidence and understanding a little more each week. I desperately want to be able to communicate with people on the street, but I know that will take time. Thankfully it’s not uncommon to find people who speak English, even though many are shy about it. I’ve discovered on numerous occasions that if I looked confused enough, English would pop out of people- It’s kinda cool. :D
On a more serious note, school is now in full swing. We’re in our fourth week, and it has been a really good experience. At the beginning, it seemed pretty big and slightly intimidating to plan lessons, but now that we are learning to know our students, much of that has become easier. One of the most difficult parts is learning the balance of planning group classes, where students range in personalities, and somewhat in their English levels. We try to match people to the proper groups on their levels as much as possible, but there is a certain amount of variety that seems unavoidable. I have really been growing to love my students, and can see that some of them are quickly becoming friends. This is exciting to me.
I was able to have a really special time with one student last week. She’s about my age, and very easy to converse with. We were talking about a variety of things, and somehow in our conversations started to share some experiences we had been through in life that were difficult. We discovered we had both gone through some similar things, and I could tell it really meant a lot to her to have someone to talk with. As she shared, she began to cry, and throughout the rest of our class would alternate from talking and crying. When it was time for her to leave, she was still wiping tears, so I asked her if it would be ok with her if I prayed for her before she left. She gratefully accepted, and I said a simple, heartfelt prayer for God to minister to her heart. After I prayed, she looked up at me and said, “My faith is not as strong as yours- I pray every day, but only texts that I have to read. I do not know how to pray from my heart like you do.” I shared with her a little bit about prayer, and about God desiring us to bring our hearts before Him and to have fellowship with us. I could tell she was very interested, and she told me she would like to pray like I do. If you think of this dear soul, please pray for her, that God would lead her in truth, and that she would come to truly know Him.
I have met some really special people here. I love the small church family, and the people I am working with at the school. I feel like there are so many stories and so many things to learn from people around me, and I am really looking forward to many of these relationships deepening.
Kristin With a Special Friend, Karis
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