ITMI Missionary Jim LaRose brings us his April 2009 report concerning his work at the orphanage in Poland.
Transition Back to Poland
It is taking longer than expected to get settled and back into a regular ministry routine, primarily due to a variety of difficulties in trying to find a new place to live. My current hope is to rent a place in a town about 25 minutes southwest of Poznan (Buk, rhymes with Duke). This would keep me close enough to Poznan to maintain all of the regular ministry involvements, yet also put me in the position of being able to permanently host Daniel in my home (when he turns 18 next summer). The problem is that we have scoured the Internet, as well as enlisted the help of a professional realtor – all to no avail. The next step is to post some ads in Buk’s local newspaper and perhaps in some key locations such as the train/bus stations, grocery stores and news boards near the town square. Finding a place to live soon is definitely a prayer concern, since moving forward in almost every other area of “settled ministry” largely depends upon finding a place to live and getting registered as a local resident there.
Pastor Zaremba’s Basement
In the interim, Piotr and Krystyna Zaremba have been extremely gracious in allowing me to continue renting a room in their basement. It is only a temporary arrangement, and it presents some challenges when hosting Daniel and Mirek on weekends, but I am very thankful to the Zarembas for making this option available to me. The main problem with living in the Zaremba’s basement is that most all of my teaching supplies/work materials are still in storage at two other locations, and without quick/easy access to these things, getting back to a full slate of ministry activities is greatly handcuffed. Again, prayer support in finding a permanent place to live is a top priority.
Slight Trouble with Airport Customs Agents
Because so many items of clothing had been donated while I was in the U.S., and because my mom and dad offered to pay the airline fee for two additional pieces of luggage, I arrived in Poland with four large tote tubs of things to use or distribute. Admittedly, it looked unusual and I expected to get stopped and questioned by the customs agents at the Poznan airport. This time, however, turned out to be a little more intense than usual. I had typed out copies of the specific items in each tub. So upon the initial inquiry, I was able to offer the lists, open the tubs, and verify that my lists were correct. There was absolutely nothing illegal or even marginally questionable in terms of what is normally allowed in “arrival luggage.” However, the sheer quantity of items (plus the excellent condition of the used clothing) all seemed suspicious to the inspecting agents. My luggage contained 8 pairs of boys sports shorts, 2 pairs of men’s shorts, 17 hooded flannel shirts, 13 pairs of shoes, 7 sweatshirts, 12 T-shirts, 6 pairs of blue jeans, and over 100 pairs of ankle socks, (all of the previous mentioned items were brand new), . . .PLUS, quite an array of secondhand (but in very good condition) jeans, sweatshirts, T-shirts, shorts, and billed caps, . . .PLUS, numerous things for my personal use, including about 30 packets of Bear Creek soup mix, a camp-related plastic rocket/launcher, numerous dollar store DVDs, a variety of Christian music videos/CDs, a couple bottles of American-made cologne, some personal toiletries, two electronic “20 Questions” games, and quite a few packets of assorted Ziploc baggies. I honestly don’t blame the customs agents for having some questions. But to put it mildly, the customs agents were absolutely convinced that my intention was to sell everything for personal profit, which would then classify my luggage as “commercial” (resulting in additional regulations and fees). I was actually taken back into a little sealed-off inspection room (a first-time experience for me) where 4 customs agents repeatedly suggested to me that my luggage was commercial. I repeatedly countered that everything was for my personal use or was to be donated free of charge, mostly to the kids at Dom Dziecka in the town of Goscieszyn. I offered the Dom Dziecka’s phone number and the director’s name a number of times, and I even offered to make the call myself, but this wasn’t the route the agents wanted to go. I want to be careful not to over-dramatize the account, because the whole time this was going on I was still nearly 100% sure that they would eventually let me through with all my luggage. Even so, what did surprise me was the head agent’s parting question to me, “Why do you help the Dom Dziecka kids anyway?” (Remember that the sense of community service/volunteerism that is such a mainstay of our American society not only is not the norm, but in fact, hardly even exists here in Poland.) Of course, in hindsight I have thought of a hundred other things that I would like to have said. The end result was I was eventually allowed into the country with all of my things. I would like to believe that this is confirmation from the Lord that He does, indeed, want the ministry to these Dom Dziecka kids to be continued, even though there seems to be so little tangible spiritual results to report.
Current Ministry Activities
(1) “D”: When I first got back, “D” and I had 4 good weeks of interaction and conversations. Both his attitude and behavior gave me hope that significant progress was being made. Then for a few days in March, he had some trouble at schooland at his work-study job. I think we have resolved both of those situations, though, and he seems to be back on a good track now. Overall, time with “D” is very pleasant, and I am cautiously optimistic that he is actually beginning to consider taking on some Biblical values for himself. (2) “M”: At the moment, it appears that “M” may be moving in directions that would not be acceptable at my home. Pursuit of alcohol-related activities, lying (even when the truth is already obviously known), and the way he uses the Internet are all huge factors in my hesitation to continue providing for him and including him in the time that “D” and I spend together. Prayers would be definitely appreciated!
(3) Dom Dziecka (Institutionalized Foster Home/Orphanage): I have resumed my weekly visits to the Dom Dziecka to help the kids with their English language homework. Considerable ministry through informal interaction also occurs. Almost all of the clothing items donated for the kids at the Dom Dziecka have been distributed to individuals of my choice. An interesting side result of these shoes, shirts, pants, etc. is that many of the kids felt “specially chosen” when they received these clothing items. This has resulted in strengthening relationships that were already established, as well as opening up new relationships with kids that formerly were more on the periphery of my weekly interactions. Every week I am specifically greeted (by name) and with a warm handshake by many of the kids. Some even go so far as to initiate a solid “hello-hug” each time I arrive. Thanks to all of you who have helped make this expanded ministry possible.
(4) Summer Camps: There won’t be any youth camps this coming summer, but I recently spent 4 days with Mr “W” (the man who adopted “D’s” younger brother and sister) and an accompanying school administrator during their fact-gathering trip to Poland. It looks like we are on a solid track to have a group come in June 2010 for Phase 3 of the Dom Dziecka Playground Project, as well as hold a 5-day Cowboy Gospel Camp using local horses and some of Mr “W’s” Kansas City-based cowboy friends. More on this later. (5) American Missionary Home-School Program: I am working with 2 teenage boys from a missionary family by helping each of them with their home-school education. “G”, a 15-year old with a slight case of cerebral palsy, is receiving help with Reading, Thinking Skills, and Personal Life Skills. “I”, a 13-year old, is focusing on developing his paragraph and essay writing abilities. (5) Car Trouble: I’m still having significant car trouble. Piotr Zaremba is sacrificially letting me use his van for the time being. Prayers for wisdom and solutions are welcomed! As always, please feel free to email any comments or questions that you may have. I can’t always respond immediately, but I will try to get back to everyone as soon as I can. Jim LaRose If you wish to contribute financially, you may contribute through In Touch Mission International, P.O. Box 7575, Tempe, AZ 85281 or call the ITMI Office at: 1-888-918-4100 to donate by credit card. Email: [email protected]