The last ten days in Poland we spent with our daughters who came to share our mission with us. And what a great reunion and ten days this was with them. We started in Warsaw where we met them at the airport, and from there it was a well-planned excursion around the country planned by Elder Reed. We shared and sites and the people we have grown to love so much, and they came away with the same feelings as we have. At the conclusion of the trip, each one of our girls said that they enjoyed everything, but meeting all the people we know and love here was their most favorite part of the trip.
Poland and its wonderful people will forever be a part of our lives and our hearts. Serving a mission for the Lord and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is an experience which has changed our lives as nothing else could. When retirement commences as another era in our lives, serving in this way is unbelievably enriching, both spiritually and temporally. Our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ have been strengthened even more, our knowledge of people and cultures has expanded, and our love for those we have met has forever enlarged our hearts. We are forever thankful for this unique opportunity to serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
When our daughters arrived in Warsaw, the first place we went was to visit the park in the city where President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the country for missionary work. We read together the dedicatory prayer given by our great prophet around 40 years ago. Then it was off to Krakow in the southern part of the country where we stayed for three days – Karna, Meghan, Elder Reed, Kirsten, and Sister Reed.
The Salt Mine just outside of Krakow was on our agenda the next day. This was an absolutely amazing tour where all the sculptures are carved out of salt. The miners did the carvings in their spare time. Some of the carved out rooms in the mine are massive – the largest being the chapel, which took several decades to carve out.
As in any mine, the working conditions were not the most pleasant.
This is one of the carvings on the chapel walls. The chapel room even had chandeliers made out of salt.
Another carving on the chapel wall.
On Sunday we drove up to Katowice to be with our Katowice Branch for the last time. After church they all gathered and sang, “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again”. This was a pretty emotional time for us.
Nathan presented us with a picture he made for us to take home. Sister Reed will miss this warm, beautiful smile which she saw all the time in Primary.
Visiting the old castle ruins in a village about an hour from Katowice was a must for our daughters to see. The pictures of this castle are on the blog at an earlier date. We had to put Meghan in the stocks during the visit because of misconduct!
After seeing the sights around Krakow – Auschwitz, Wawel Castle, the city square, and enjoying a wonderful concert – we headed up to Wroclaw, visited the old wooden church just south of the city, and then had a great evening with the Durrants and the young Elders. We spent the evening wandering around the city square and marveling at the beautiful architecture in the city. We are so thankful that we had the opportunity to see the Durrants quite often as we served in Katowice. They will always be highly valued friends.
In Poznan we visited the Antkowiak family (Marta’s family – she is serving a mission now in Chicago) and just had to get in a few games of Cornhole.
Here is most of the Antkowiak family – one brother and his family and Marta were the only ones missing. We love this family, and we were so glad we had the opportunity to visit them before we left the country. We will miss them.
We spent a few hours at the 1800′s Polish village close to Poznan and then went to Lednica to walk around the island which has ruins of one of the power centers of Poland in the 11th and 12th centuries. Here are Meghan, Kirsten, and Karna on the ferry to the island.
Before leaving Poznan, we had another opportunity to say good-bye to those we love. At the Sheley’s apartment we had a gathering of the Branch members and a couple of people we had in our English class at our apartment. What a great event this was for us to give some good-bye hugs. (Sorry for the blurriness)
We will miss seeing the Sheleys, but we know we’ll see them when they come home in March. It will be a great reunion with this wonderful couple who have served so well in Poznan after we left for Katowice.
Then it was on up to Malbork Castle after spending the night in Torun. This massive castle has been restored beautifully since the war, but the restoration is and will be ongoing for quite some time. We spent many hours touring this fascinating site. This view is only a small part of the castle grounds.
Gdansk, on the Baltic Sea, is only a short drive from Malbork Castle. This is a view from the window of our hostel room of the beautiful city sight which greeted us in the morning.
On the day we spent in Gdansk we went to the Solidarity Museum with the Tufts who serve there. The Solidarity Movement, whose leader was Lech Walesa, was started in this city.
We took a wonderful tour of the port in a small yacht owned by a man who has his own touring business. The port was beautifully rebuilt after the War, and we saw quite a variety of boats and ships there.
The port was entirely destroyed by the Soviets after the War, and some of the ruins have been left to remind all of us of the devastation and heartache which is caused by war.
It was a bwarm, sunny day, and we enjoyed spending some time with Elder and Sister Tufts.
The first shot of World War II was firedin this spot. Little did everyone know what was to follow this incident in the way of death and destruction.
After the girls were on the plane on their way back home, we went to church in Warsaw and then had dinner with our wonderful senior couple serving there, the Jensens and the Hutchinsons. The senior couples have all become such treasured friends. We look forward to seeing them again.
After spending the night at the Mission Home, we boarded the plane for America, and 23 hours later we were greeted with this heartwarming sight – family and friends from our ward in Colorado Springs. What a wonderful surprise this was for us to be greeted back home by those we love here. Thanks, Broadmoor Ward, for such a warm welcome!