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Monday, September 29, 2003

Big Update

Well� I have a big update finally� still no permanent internet connection, but that�s okay�. I should have it in a month or so. God is so good. Some of these may not actually be finished� but I�ll just leave them that way for now. Feel free to browse through them and take a look, comment, whatever. Thanks for your support� of which financial support is still needed� I�ll have a detailed report soon. Thanks!

Settled in, a little bit more

Feel free to print this and give it to whoever would be interested�

I�ve been here for 20 days now, something should have happened by now right? Well here�s the scoop�

I arrived here on the 7th just two days shy of Alexis� birthday, I had no problems traveling halfway around the world. I really love the landscape here, although the mountains are not as high, and the rivers not as big, and the trees not as tall; God is the same. When I arrived in Krakow (pronounced Crakoof in Polish) I sat in the Airport for about 30 min waiting to be picked up by the missionaries I have joined here, at first I was little scared that I may have told them the wrong date or something, but everything was fine.

I spent two nights in my new room in Zakopane (pronounced Zok-o-pon-e) before I left for Bratislava, Slovakia for a seven day conference on the Holocaust and how that has affected Eastern and Central Europe. What I learned was that even today we need to not forget what happened here, if we do something like the Holocaust could easily happen again. People of all races and religions need to understand each other, but not hate the person for what they believe or for who they are. We should always be looking to make relationships with people outside of our �culture�, we should never seclude ourselves to the point that was have no contact with people who believe differently than us, otherwise how would Christianity ever be seen for what it truly is. Christ left us the responsibility to do as he did, and frankly we have screwed that up quite a bit, but his Grace and Mercy has also let us continue to open up to him.

So, what am I doing here? Specifically I�m working with the young adults of our church plant here, the first Foursquare church in Poland. My roommate (Chris, who is Polish) and I are going to make relationships, and be examples of men following Christ. This means that both of us will be sharing messages and our hearts with these people of our age, to show and guide them in their walks with Christ, and our own walks with Christ.

We are currently looking for a church meeting location, other than the apartment Chris and I are living in. We have three possibilities, one of which we are bidding on this coming week, but it is our third choice, but currently the most possible, and the smallest, at the most we would fit in it for the next six months. Last night we had dinner with a British guy who has had Zakopane on his heart for the last 15 years, he is hoping to start an �Alpha course� here, which is a discipleship type of program being used by protestant and catholic churches. It was a great encouragement to talk to this man, he�s a business man so he was able to tell us what we can do to maybe get the rent prices of the other sites down to something we can afford, especially since they are just empty locations which are not being used, but have to be heated which is extremely expensive around here. Please pray that we get what we have dubbed �the dream place�, it is a three story building w/ plenty of room for the ministries we would like to start. Including a caf�, Christian counseling, and of course whatever events we can plan.

Another ministry opportunity I�m starting next week is, conversational English at a local English school here in Zakopane. Its going to be a stretch for me, since I don�t speak Polish, but they do speak �enough� English, please pray that I can be effective in showing the gospel and being a light for Christ.

Please remember that I only have four months of support, which may end up being less because of some unexpected costs (like needing to buy a desk, stuff for our bathroom, the apartment deposit, and we need to get a washing machine). Chris is working for a local college, but only gets paid once a month and it doesn�t start until next week, so that means no paycheck for the next month. So if you have something left over, please send it to the address on the right! God bless.

Krakow, Poland (Krak�w, Polan)

Today we toured the Jewish district of Krakow, well what use to be the Jewish district, today it is mostly pubs and restraints with only a hint of what use to be a thriving Jewish district of Krakow. We saw some of the Synagogues, the old Jewish market and square, but in this entire district, we saw only one Jew and he was in one of the Synagogues which was closed to the public. Learning more and more about what has happened to the Jews has taught me to never take my Christian walk for granite, and certainly I shouldn�t �cheapen� it. �Never take anything for granite, always be thankful and grateful for what you have� is not a clich� to me anymore, it is what I�m going to pray for each day, and at those moments when I�ve realized I�ve forgotten who is providing this life to me.

What can I do� 9/21/03 10:52PM

For those who know me, tell me what I can do. What do you think I�m good at, where I excel, and where I have ability? What do you think I need to work on, what areas am I weak in, or what do I need to change?

I want to be as effective as I can be while I�m here, and to do that, I need to have a clear picture of who I am to the outsider, that would be anyone who isn�t me. I like hearing feedback, criticism, and basically I am open to anything. I believe that to be effective in ministry (which all of �us� are) we must all realize our strengths and weaknesses, and hold onto what is true and good.

Finally getting settled

I still don�t have a phone or internet access, but its getting better. Things are not as fast as they are in the states. But God is awesome, I�ve been hearing about the stories of what is happening here. Healing is starting, many of these people have a bad mentality of things just don�t get better. They go about their days, like robots, and do not understand the grace and mercy and redemption we get from Jesus Christ.

The Polish language does not have two key words, which the English language does� Accountability, which is translated �responsibility�, instead of personal responsibility to God or another person, and efficiency, it�s translated �economical� instead of �doing something in a timely manner, and/or with as little loss as possible. So, for most Poles, they do not understand that we have to be responsible for our own actions, and that God will meet us, be we must do our part.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I should have internet access and a phone. I need to remind everyone that I still need support money, I have had a few expenses which were unexpected� I first needed to buy a desk to keep my stuff in, and for a place to do my work. The conference I was on (which was expected) cost me about $600, so it would be nice to get that back. The bathroom didn�t have a shower curtain, and so we had to buy the things to set that up, which was interesting, I�ll have to take a picture and show you� PVC pipe and lots of brain storming helped. I will be posting a detailed list of my monthly costs, and if you feel the spirit moving you to support me in one area, that would be greatly appreciated. Oh yeah, I also needed to spot Chris for his part of the rent and deposit, so that was a rather large expense, plus I need to replenish my �home� money, which was unexpectedly depleted by travel costs. Thanks! God bless. And thanks for your prayers and support!

Auswitz 9/14/03

Today we toured Auswitz. The past few days have an experience which is going to effect me the rest of my life, in fact, I�m going to go as far as to compare it with meeting Christ for the first time. I would say that this experience has opened my eyes, to the horrible things humans can do. As the leader of this seminar has put it, you can look at the Holocaust as the �torah� of humanity, a torah is the �law� book of Judaism, it is what the Jews use for learning right and wrong, and viewing their lives. The Holocaust was a horrible event in history, but when you study it you see the horrible side of humanity and the most amazing human acts of kindness anyone could imagine, and not imagine.

As I was walking through some of the barracks of Auswitz I (there are actually three parts to Auswitz) I could sense the evil which took place, the humanity, and the death which happened. I was overwhelmed with the images which entered my mind. In a number of places I could smell an odor which was of a dark death. As I walked around I was compelled to pray, sometimes for a family which has been affected by this, other times just for the hearts of people around me to be strengthened by this event in their lives, and for this to never happen again. But I know something similar will happen again, this time to Christians, I�m ready, and prepared, and I have no fear, in fact maybe I�m crazy, but I am not afraid to endure something similar or worse. Why should I want anything less horrible, why do I deserve to be treated any better, I don�t.

UPDATE: click here for pictures.

Eastern European Tragedy

In the United States we have had our tragedies, Pearl Harbor, September 11, Civil War, etc. Each of these events have left their mark, or scar, but as Americans we have the mentality, that it gets better, life goes on, and we will get stronger because of these tragedies. We have overcome, we will overcome, and we have hope.

In Eastern and Central Europe, they have had more than their fare share of tragedies, starting with hundreds of wars over the last 1000 years, nations and kingdoms constantly fighting and breaking apart each other, fighting even among them selves, both world wars, the holocaust, communism. No wonder these people do not see hope, are not optimistic, can�t see how to overcome anything, nor can they solve a problem because they haven�t had to, or haven�t been able to. Eastern/Central Europe has always been a conquered land and people, always being taken over by some other influence, have it be the Nazi�s, the Soviet�s or anything else, only until recently has each people group been able to claim their own, and even then, they can�t agree on it.

We (as Americans) have nothing compared to this, we (as Christians) must realize we have an endless amount of hope available through Jesus Christ. We (as Humans) need to do our best to fight against things like those mentioned above, from happening again. The atrocities which have happened in the US are horrible, and to Americans, are tragic, but at least we have the ability to overcome, and the history to know we can, other places in the world do not have that, we (Christians, and Americans, along with Western Europe and other 1st world nations) should do our best to provide the correct help to people in the same situation as Eastern and Central Europe (such as the middle-east, Africa, etc). But I believe it is the Church�s number one priority to first care for these people�

[Mathew 25:31-46]
�But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those on the right, �Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdome prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visted me.�

�Then these righteous ones will reply, �Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?� And the king will tell them, �I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!�

�Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, �Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons! For I was hungry, and you didn�t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn�t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn�t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me no clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn�t visit me.�

�Then they will reply, �Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?� And he will answer, �I assure you, when you refused to help the last of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.� And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.�

Life in Eastern Europe 9/10/03

So, I�ve been here for three and half days now (I arrived on Sunday at 8pm). In those three days I�ve learned that for the most part life isn�t too different. But there are some differences� First, driving here is not a Sunday drive, on any day. Second, Toilets work as many different ways, as there are different people, and sometimes you have to pay someone, or something to use one. Thirdly, God is in everything. Thanks for your prayers, and comments.

The last couple of days I�ve been in Bratislava (I spelled it wrong earlier) at a conference on how the Holocaust effected Central/Eastern and the rest of the world, and how this effects missions in these areas. We�ve talked about many different things, from anti-Jewish rhetoric, to post-modernism which stemmed from some of the Germanic ideals. The discussions have been good, especially the discussions on tolerance, prejudice, and stereotypes. It�s cool getting a truly global view from Christians from around the world, USA, Australia, Brittan, Slovakia, and Poland. The majority of us agree on just about everything, slightly different view points, but it goes to prove how united the body of Christ and be, and it�s exciting.

A couple of prayer requests: The church here in Zakopane (the one I�ll be working with when I return from this conference) has been meeting in a hotel conference room, but in this hotel, they don�t really stick to their word (along w/ a lot of Polish organizations), apparently we pay them 200zl per use (which we use once a week for the church meetings) and with that we are suppose to get the room for 12 hours, we normally ask for it at 6:30, well this week they said we can�t use it until 7:30, even though we already paid and they know we use it at 6:30. This is a problem, so please pray for us to find a semi-permanent location where we could create our own identity.

The second prayer request would be for my friend Josh Newton�s niece, she has whooping cough and she�s only one month old, so she�s in critical care.

And I�m gone.

Here is just a quick update.

1 � Wireless internet in the airports does not work right, at least my experience thus far has been unsuccessful.

2 � If you would like to send me something here is my mailing address in Poland.
Travis Mielonen
ul. Andrzeja Struga 3/6
34-500 Zakopane

3 � Tell everybody I�m okay, I made it safely, and I�ll have some pictures posted as soon as I can.

4 � I am very excited, but at the moment I�m tired (I�m actually on the plane from Chicago to Frankfurt right now), as soon as I get an internet connection I�ll be posting this.

5 � Thanks for all of your prayers, support, and friendships� if you couldn�t go, or didn�t hear about the surprise party, it was amazing, sorry if you didn�t hear about, they tried Alexis and Matt are amazing.

6 � I have lot more to say, but I�ll wait when I get the time to actually think straight, which might be a while.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Sending packages...

If you are going to send us/me any packages please send them via Air mail, and when you "declare" what is in it, put general contents (IE, if it is CDs and other "valuables" put "Information packets" or something more general than specific"), otherwise it may be stolen, and if it goes surface it could take up to 4 or more months! Thanks!

Thanks for the prayers.

Just a quick update...

I'm in Wratsclaw, Poland which is about 5 hours northwest of Zakopane. Pray for wisdome and guidance as we meet with other church leaders. I should have regular access to the internet in two weeks. God is good, all the time.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

I'm still alive!

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the delays... but have no fear the internet is here... but at a cost, so i'm afraid this is going to be short. I have quite a few "offline" entries I will post, but they will have to wait until I have an internet connection at my place... right now i'm using the "pastors" computer and internet/phone line, which is costly... and I just checked my email and it took almost an hour for 24 messages to read and respond... Anyway I love you all... keep the Poles in your prayers... more to come soon (I hope). God bless. Tell Alexis I love her!

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Bratslava , Slovakia

Hello everybody, these posts are not going to be the clean kind that your use to. I'm not using word to write this, and probably won't for a while. Anyway, i'm in Bratslava, Slovakia for a conference, the town i'm actually living in is Zakopane, Poland, which is about five hours away from here. The apartment i'm living in is great, it has two large rooms, a nice sized bathroom (w/o a shower curtin, this is normal here), and a very small kitchen, when I can i'll post pictures. My roommate is awesome, his name is Chris (when translated to English). On Monday they offically named the first foursquare church here, and it is "Tree of life" foursquare, the idea or picture is Christ is the roots of our lives, and so on... in english the picture is easier, but for the Polish its not as easy. Life here is negative, and the majority of Pole's don't understand the hope which Christ gives, because they've never had that before. Please pray for God's awesome power and might in the lives here.

If you have any questions just post them in the comments section. I'll be happy to respond. I think that's it for now, it's a little crazy around here, thanks!

Sunday, September 07, 2003

And the journey officially starts on the blog.

So, I left Seattle yesterday at 2:00pm, it was bitter sweet, bitter because I really am going to miss all of my friends, and of course Alexis. I would have lost it and balled right there in the airport but, I�m a man, and men don�t do that in public� right�. Anyway� the sweet part is I�m so excited to do work for the Lord!

I called Alexis from the terminal at Seattle, she had just gotten home, and I could tell she had just gotten done crying. Then I called her in Chicago, and just an hour or so ago, I called her from here in Frankfurt, and it cost me something like 16 euros� and it was 5am in Seattle� woops. Anyway, she�s doing great, and she�s excited to hear what is happening with me. God is good, and I think I like the traveling life.

The culture here isn�t too different from the states, except that the majority of the people actually speak two languages, and most of them speak English. I�ve noticed some people starring at me, apparently I�m an obvious American, oh well. I don�t mind all the drinking that people are doing, but I do mind all the smoking areas, there�s one to the right of me right now, and it stinks, I tried to get out of the way, but this is the closest electrical outlet I could find, and i'm sitting on the floor because there are no chairs near the electrical outlets... i'll post a picture when I can. The internet access in all of the airports has been horrible, Frankfurt has internet terminals, but the lines are ridiculous, and the wireless internet at all of these airports has issues, major issues. So, right now I�m typing this in Word, and hopefully the connection will stay alive long enough to post. As soon as I�m settled in Zakopane I�ll upload some pictures. Oh yeah, that reminds me, if you want to snail mail me anything here is my address.

Travis Mielonen
ul. Andrzeja Struga 3/6
34-500 Zakopane

So, that�s about it. God bless, and lets pray the customs people like me in Krakow, I found out in Seattle that if I�m planning on staying more than 3 months I need to get a visa, well� I don�t have one, so they added reservations to my tickets for me to have the �chance� to leave Poland within the three months. Anyway, god bless again, and I�ll be posting soon again, I hope.

And just a little FYI: I don't know when i'll update again... it may be over a week, becuase i'll be doing some missionary touring and conferences for the next 8 days...

I'm in the Frankfurt International Airport

Okay i'm going to post this really fast, while this stupid wireless internet is working, it keeps quitting on me.

Monday, September 01, 2003

The paradigm is shifting.

So, the paradigm in which I live right now is shifting. A year ago I was going to two churches, because I didn�t have the guts to �leave� the other one, yet I wanted a place with people my age, but I was serving in the other church. Today, I am attending one church, but in a week, I�ll be half way around the world, worshipping in yet a different group of people. One year ago, I would have thought this was never going to happen, me a missionary? I don�t have any bible school background (yet), and I certainly didn�t (at the time) have any kind of real ministry background, but over the past year I was co-leading Campus Crusade for Christ, and learned a lot about ministry with young adults. Plus I�ve been actively involved with my young adults group at church, so here I am now� less than a week before I leave, the paradigm is certainly different that last year. Now I feel confident, now I feel like I�m knowledgeable, now I know I am at least equipped for ministry as best I can be. I know I will have hard times, I know I will screw up, and I know I�ll be frustrated. But with the power of Christ, I will be okay, I just need to depend and lean on him. Thank you for your prayers, and I will be praying for all of you.