Hello from Cadca in northern Slovakia! Poland ended with a lot of fun & a lot of rain. An enormous storm passed over Europe 2days ago causing major damage & loss of life with torrential rain & massive winds. I almost walked through it but was saved by some planning I had nothing to do with. I arrived in Krakow last Tuesday just in time to see the sun set over the beautiful & historic city centre. Krakow was a scheduled rest day & I am very grateful to the City on the Hill Covenant Community for organising a place for me to stay while there. I stayed with Marek, Rita & their 4 children for 2nights. A big thank you to Sarah for giving up her bedroom for me! The extent of their generosity became evident when, over dinner, Marek asked me where I was from & what I was doing in Poland. He had invited me to stay simply on the premise that he'd been told that a man passing through Krakow needed somewhere to sleep. That was enough for him. He hadn't asked who the man was or what he was doing, he simply let me in & then his 15yr old daughter moved into her older sister's room so I could have a room to myself. I spent most of my day-off tending to 76emails but I did pop out for an hour with Marek to visit the Basilica of the Sister's of Divine Mercy where Saint Faustina Kowalska's ministry continues today, bringing the divine mercy of our Lord to the world along with the words many are well familiar with now, "Jesus, I Trust in You". I walked from Krakow to a small town in the Polish hill-country & stayed with Marek's uncle & auntie before countinuing further on to Wadowice (the birth-place of Pope John Paul II) & Andrychow where I was picked up by Michal from Bielsko Biala. I wasn't scheduled to pass through Bielsko but because I passing so close the City on the Hill Community had invited me to stay with them & then they'd return me to Andrychow to continue walking. I thought it would be as scheduled & that I'd stay for the night & that would be it but they were under the impression that I would be staying a little while longer & so had organised a few things for the next day. I was frustrated to begin with but decided to stay for one day & I'm very glad I did. That night Michal invited me to speak at a youth meeting. I agreed though almost lost my bottom jaw when I walked into the jam-packed Church filled with hundred's of youth from all over southern Poland. Even Marek's son, Kristopher, was there playing drums. It was an amazing evening filled with songs, dramas, film, adoration & a beautiful altar call where hundreds walked forward as a sign of commitment to Christ. The next day I had breakfast with Michal & a few of his friends before heading out to Wojtek's home for lunch with his family. We were all around the same age & appeared to have a similar sense of humour so had a blast for the whole day. Michal & Wojtek have discovered a new pass-time in the Polish hills, trumpet playing. Neither of them can play but that hasn't stopped them buying two old-style trumpets, which they let loose with in as many obscure places as possible. They're even on youtube, playing a trumpet submerged in a lake. Spending time with them was one laugh after another. That day saw the storm pass over that area of Poland. I should have been walking over a mountian pass that day & if I had, I would have found myself in a 100km/hr blizzard & frigid conditions so I was very pleased that the community had organised a few things for me. In the afternoon we headed off to a young adults prayer group where I was invited to share once again. The next day Michal drove Wojtek & myself back out to Andrychow & Wojtek joined me for the 36km walk to Zywiec. Wojtek guided me along an alternate route that avoided the mountain pass & so instead, we wound our way along a fast flowing river & then a chain of lakes nestled between enormous forest covered hills. It continued raining all day long & I discovered that all the salt spray from the roads in Belarus & Russia (salt is spread on the roads to melt the snow) had ruined the water-proofing of my jacket & pants. I would have gained as much protection from a cotton t-shirt. Wojtek was also saturated, but his gear wasn't water-proof to begin with so his soaked-ness came with less disappointment :-) Wojtek carried a trumpet with him all day long & upon our arrival in Zywiec an hour after sunset, we stood in the town square & 'announced' our arrival. It looked as though we'd had around 3inches of rain that day judging by the amount of rainwater that dribbled out the end of the trumpet. Then I realised that mass was on in a nearby church so we blew no more. Sorry to anyone in Zywiec who had the gospel interupted that evening... The article from the journalists 2weeks ago was in circulation this week & for those final 2days in Poland it was easy to get the invitation to pray for unity across. Most people I met had read the article & so all I had to do was smile & ask if they would please remember to pray for unity. On my last day in Poland I was walking through a tiny village when two elderly women began yelling at me form the 2nd floor window of their appartment. "Hey! Hey!" They were gesturing for me to come on up & visit. They had apparently been standing at the window talking & watching the world pass by when they noticed 'The Australian' walking past. The fed me better than I've been fed in years. They were hilarious. Their neice came over & translated for us but she couldn't stop laughing half the time because of their constant antics. Age had not slowed them down! Eventually I was on my way again & in the late afternoon I crossed the deserted, un-staffed border into Slovakia. The scenery is incredible here. Absolutly amazing. I haven't seen a flat piece of land yet. I had to return to the border this morning to meet & talk with a television crew but I'm now back on the trail heading south towards Bratislava. I am once again unknown & once again having to learn a new language. How quickly it all changes. God bless & please pray on. Sam.
"Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:13
("On the morning of the third day there was thunder & lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, & a very loud trumpet blast." Ex19:16)