By JOHN KEREZY (assists from NAOMI DEVA and SAM LUPICA in Poland)
ZYARDOW, POLAND JULY 20 – Cuyahoga Valley Church’s CVC GO Mission Team departed Cleveland late on Sunday due to delays. But the team made its connecting flight to Washington Dulles Airport, then crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Frankfort, Germany. Next they went through customs, then boarded another flight and arrived at Chopin Airport in Warsaw late day on Monday. (There is a six-hour time differential.)
The team then traveled about 30 miles southwest of Warsaw to Zyardow. It spent Monday evening meeting with Pastor Adam Grzywaczewski and his wife Gosia from Kościół Chrześcijan Baptystów. The Mission Team and the Grzywaczewskis had dinner on Monday with Kristoff and Aliscia and their family, also members of Kościół Chrześcijan. The Team’s main mission: Helping serve Ukrainian refugees in Poland.
On Tuesday morning, despite jet lag, the Mission Team went into action. “Half of our team helped teach at something the church is calling Three Cultures, a vacation bible school (VBS) style event at the church for about three-and-a-half hours,” says Sam Lupica, who’s heading the Mission Team. Lupica adds that Polish and Ukrainian volunteers presented the VBS program in concert with the CVC team members.
Five different stations at the different areas of the VBS camp. The church is also doubling as a temporary home from some of the Ukrainian refugees.
The other half of the CVC GO Mission Team took to the playground! In this case, it’s a playground which CVCGO is helping build for the children refugees and the people in Zyardow.
“It’s like putting together some from Ikea. The directions are confusing, and we are hoping that all the pieces are here, but so far it seems to be coming together fine,” Lupica adds.
The CVC GO Team has learned that there is an influx of about 50 families who have come into this area from the war. “There are around about 60 kids at the bible school, and three-fourths of them are Ukrainian,” Lupica says. “We’re doing Bible stories and crafts with the children. The Ukrainian and Polish women are helping, and non-church people are assisting us too.”
Even in the flight delays, the members of CVC’s missions team is seeing God’s plan at work. “At the Frankfort airport, we encountered Gianna, an 18-year-old Ukrainian refugee whose parents are trapped behind Russian lines there,” Lupica explains. “This young woman was trying to reunite with her brother in Nice (Italy). Gianna was interrogated for nearly a day by the Russians before she was able to flee the Crimea are. Hearing her terrible story really impacted us and made us realize what so many are going through.”
The Southern Baptist Conference (SBC) Relief has been sending disaster relief teams to Poland since the beginning of the war. CVC is the 15th disaster relief team which has provided assistance in Poland, and at least four more are coming in the near future. The van which CVC members are using for transportation in Poland was purchased by the disaster relief team from North Carolina.
“Teams from North Carolina, Ohio and Mississippi have all been here in Poland,” Lupica says. “A group came here initially to determine what the needs would be and how to best help. That’s been a big aid for other teams.
“The church has been extremely supportive of us. They are providing meals. It’s a very welcoming community, and so far it’s been an amazing experience for us.”
SOME FAST FACTS
About 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees are living in Poland
About 300,000 of those refugees are in the Warsaw area
CVC MISSION TEAM MEMBERS