Happy Easter everyone! Yes, I know I'm a few days late for Easter. But, you see, here in Poland the main celebration lasts two days. It started with your typical Easter Sunday celebrations. Our church service is at 4:00 PM, so we had a relaxing morning of reflection and an Easter egg hunt. For the service, Vasyl, Natalka, and their team led worship entirely in Polish, which was nice for us to get a short break from leading.
After worship, Mitch led communion. It's always interesting when we have an English speaker leading something because we have to do a double translation. Someone does from English to Russian, and then someone else has to go from Russian to Polish. Fun times. After communion, we put on a short drama, Sasha shared her testimony of redemption, and Tamara preached. Then we enjoyed a nice community dinner with the church.
Now, the interesting part is Monday. In Polish, the holiday is called Smingus-dyngus, better known as Wet Monday. I like to call it NATIONAL WATER FIGHT DAY!!! This was our day off so we fully got to experience the tradition. We had already planned to drive to a little touristy town called Kazunierz (I think that's how you spell it, at least phonetically). There, we were treated to what must be the biggest water event in the area. The main square had a working well which was constantly spouting water. The kids flocked around it with water balloons, guns, and buckets. They were all soaking wet, despite the cold.
The sidewalks around the square were packed with adults watching from a distance but not fully partaking. I was trying to see if they were waiting in line for something, or if there was a big event. I soon found out when I heard the fire trucks coming. I remembered reading an article about the holiday and how occasionally fire trucks were used in the fights, but I didn't expect to see them in action. I started taking pictures and videoing, then realized it was heading right towards us. I ran down a side street with a bunch of other people and ducked into a little museum and cafe, where I was able to stay dry but still catch a good view: (Let me know if the video doesn't work for some reason, this is my first experience with Vimeo.)
After circling around a few times, the trucks left and the crowd dispersed to find warm, dry clothes. We still had some free time, so we got to explore the colorful, festive little town. The riverfront had several fancy boats, horse-drawn buggies pranced along the cobblestones, the churches and castle towered above to remind us of its former grandeur, and street performers entertained the kids once the square had dried. It was definitely an event! We found some nice souvenir shops, a great pizza place, and enjoyed our walks through the town. Man, I love Europe.
Towards the end of our visit it had warmed up enough for some ice cream. It was still a little chilly, but at least the ice cream didn't melt while we were eating it.
Later in the afternoon, Sasha, Mitch, and I took a bike ride through the woods. (Side note: I LOVE being near the woods again! I've missed the trees after being in the city for so long. It's so nice.) We had a great time and the weather was actually very nice. Well, when we got back, we were greeted by the kids and Natalka on the balcony...with water balloons. On the bright side, we were warm from our bike ride so it wasn't that bad. On the other hand, my hoodie got wet and it's still cold today. Oh well. That's why I brought another jacket. Luckily, I think it's going to be warmer in Paris, where, by the way, we will be in just one week!