The Trevecca Around the Globe (TAG) mission trip to Gdansk, Poland, which left proved to bring great experiences for Trevecca students and sponsors.
Trevecca's Director of Church Services, Heather Daugherty, reflects on the trip in the article following
The trip to Poland was an amazing experience not only for me, but for those students who journeyed to Poland along with me.
While we were in Poland, we had the opportunity to do a good bit of ministry and sightseeing. We spent most of our time in Gdansk, which is one of the largest cities in Poland right on the Baltic Sea. While there, we spent the majority of our time building relationships with about 25 junior-high-school-age students in a nearby village. Our Trevecca students jumped in with both feet having conversations, playing sports, and pouring themselves into the students. We spent 3 full days with the Polish students, which included a basketball game between our students and the Polish 14-year-old National Champions. We also hosted them at the Nazarene Ministry Center for a coffeehouse event. It was an incredible experience for the Trevecca students to get to know the Polish students. There were definitely some relationships built that will last a lifetime.
Our other main avenue of ministry was building relationships with Polish youth who are already a part of the Church of the Nazarene. It was a great way for them to get to know a little more about Protestants in general and the Church of the Nazarene in specific. Our students were wonderful examples for them of devoted Christian youth.
One of the things that I really admire about the work that Nazarenes are doing in Poland is their willingness and excitement to work with the Catholic church and provide avenues of involvement that the Catholic church may not. They aren't trying to evangelize people that are already Christian, but to work alongside of the already existing church to help enrich the spiritual lives of people who are interested.
We were also able to do a good bit of sightseeing. We saw MalbrookCastle, which was for a time the headquarters of the Crusades and the Teutonic Nights. The castle was almost completely destroyed in World War II, and has been meticulously restored. We also saw the shipyards where the Solidarity Movement began (this was the beginning of the Fall of Communism in Poland), and some incredible old buildings. We took a trip (an 8 hour train ride!) to Krakow, which is in the southern portion of Poland. Krakow was the only major Polish city not destroyed in World War II, and so it has some incredible churches that are 8-900 years old! While in Krakow we got to visit WawelCastle, which is the castle of the Polish Kings. We also went to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, Nazi death camps from WWII. Until that day, I do not think that I could even begin to fathom the atrocities that went on in Nazi concentration camps. To think that 1 million, or more, people were murdered there, because of a man who didn't think that they were worthy enough to be treated as human beings. It was a tough day for our students, but I think that it was good for them to experience the camps. A quote posted in one of the bunkers really summed it all up, "Those who do not learn history are destined to repeat it." I hope that the hours that we spent in that place will be hours that challenge us to stand up for those who are persecuted, and to keep anything like this from ever happening again. It was not until I spent this time in Poland that I realized what a tragic and violent history the Polish people have had. They have stood up under centuries of oppression, violence, upheaval, and still continue to be a gracious people.
In addition to sites, we had the opportunity to eat some wonderful Polish food, which included lots of sausage, bread and cheese, pierogies (a family favorite), Polish pastries, European chocolate, and plenty of gelato. Our students were brave enough to try tome things that didn't look so great, like warm, shredded beets! We learned a lot during our 10 days in Poland, and I am so thankful for the opportunity that God has given us to share the good news of the gospel not only here, but around the world. Our missionary host family, Dawid, Simona, and Daniel Berdowski were wonderful, and are doing incredible work in the city of Gdansk. We are already making plans for another trip to Poland next summer.
Thank you for your prayers, they were truly felt and uplifted the team during the trip.