Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Roller Coaster of Lessons Learned

(Note: I started this post on Saturday night, but finished it on Sunday)

It has been an exciting past two days, and unfortunately I can't say it has been all fun and good.  Yesterday and today have spanned an emotional spectrum from adventurous excitement and confidence to joy and peace to panic to devastation to painful tension and back to hope.

Let's start with Friday afternoon.  I got to fulfill a pledge I made earlier in the week when I had met two young people in the Jewish bookstore in Kazimierz.  They were members of a Christian discipleship program, a sort of "school" that equipped young people with missionary skills.  (I wish I could remember the name!  It started with a "W").  They were doing a photo project taking pictures of shop owners around the area.  We got to talking, and they invited me to their community art project exhibition on Friday.  I said I would come.

I left a little early on my way down to their exhibition, because I wanted to check out another event of the Jewish festival happening nearby.  It was a remembrance ceremony for the Jews who were taken from Kraków in secret during the Holocaust.  It took place in the Plac Bohaterów Getta, the place with the empty chairs Puffer and I visited last year.  I missed the first part of the talking, but the main presenter was speaking English.  Right after I arrived, everyone began a lantern-lighting ceremony.  I got to participate!  I lit a candle lantern and placed it on one of the chairs in the plaza.  When every chair had a lantern or two, the speaker sang a somber Hebrew hymn and his two musician colleagues accompanied on an electric guitar and an alto sax.  One thing I've learned about Jewish music now: it's meant to carry a specific emotion and often conveys it intensely.

After the ceremony was over, I continued on my way to the coffee shop where the discipleship students were displaying their art about the communities of Kraków.  Sweet Surrender was a very comfy, cozy-feeling coffee cafe which appeared to be run by American or Canadian Christians.  (I'm working on my alliteration skills. Can you tell? ;-))  I got to meet more of the discipleship students and I even helped them finish putting up their art.  It was a great time of fellowship!  I exchanged contact information with one of the students, who was from Germany, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find her on Facebook.

I would have photos of all of this to share, except that while we were at the language club meeting last night (Friday), my Nexus 4 phone was stolen.  The cafe was crowded--which is not unusual--and I had had the phone out to show our friend we had just met again since we'd returned to Poland, Roxana.  I put it away in my purse, which was hanging between my chair and the one in which Andy was sitting, and five minutes later, when I went to get it out again--gone.  After an increasingly panicked search around the cafe, we decided to head home as fast as possible.

It was as dramatic as something out of Hollywood: a thunderstorm had been building up, and then rain poured down as the realization hit us and we were frantically searching the cafe.  Thunder and lightning boomed and flashed, and we had to make our journey back to the apartment under umbrellas, as there were no available taxis anywhere!  I was able to change my account passwords once we got back safely, though.

Saturday was tense until we had the company of our friends John and Kasia.  They agreed to help us in our emergency errands, like activating Andy's old Polish phone for me, talking to the police, and providing general moral support.  We could not have gotten through the day without them!  I also want to give a shout out to our house-sitting neighbors, who were able to email me a photo of the phone's serial number on its packaging from back home.  This helped immensely when we went to make an official report in the evening.  John and Kasia accompanied us to the police station in Kazimierz, which was the nearest to where my phone was stolen, to make the report.  Our way was hindered somewhat by the crowds at the Jewish Festival concert, which happened to be going on in the plaza right outside the police station, but it was certainly an adventure!  Kasia interpreted for me, and for about an hour in a bare, Eastern-European back office, we made our report together.

The guys had to wait out at the front of the station.  They got a great place to hear the music, though.  Heehee!  Regardless, we are incredibly grateful to both John and Kasia--we could not have reported the theft and gotten the serial number in the police database without their help!  And now, well, I'm just a dumb-phone user again instead of a smartphone user.  I am going to miss its convenience and my photos, and we can't recover the cost either.  Unless the police find it...


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