We boarded a plane headed to Warsaw, flew for many hours, and arrived. That's the version for those who lack either the time or the desire to hear the details. For the others there's this:
Greg was baptized into the church in Poland at age 19 (YES this is where the story begins. Leave me alone!) and anxiously waited out the year before he would be able to serve his full time mission. In his interview with his branch president, he promised that after his mission he would return to help the Church in Poland. While he was serving in Chicago, Elder Oaks visited for some sort of conference and chose, on Sunday, to attend the tiny Polish branch in which Greg was serving. In a discussion between the mission president and Elder Oaks, it was decided that if he wanted to, Greg should attend university in America before returning to Poland. With this endorsement and his continued promise of returning to Poland, Greg managed to get into BYU. It CERTAINLY didn't have anything to do with his previous academic record. (Oops! That "certainly" wasn't meant to come out so very capitalized! Sorry, dear! And it's only because he had been a rebel without a cause. Once he had a cause, he turned all academic)
So while he was attending BYU we met and were married. In Provo, we had some friends who were in a similar situation as us: he was Polish and she was American and he had just graduated from BYU. Our friend found a job right away and moved to Poland to work for a company that was based in Provo who had a factory in Poland which made frames and bodies of a '60's sports car replica. Greg spent a frustrating summer trying to find a good job in Utah while also trying to keep us afloat with various in between jobs. One day, after our friends had been in Poland for about 3 months, the guy called from Poland saying that his boss was considering hiring another Polish guy to come out from America, and would we be interested, if they decided to hire? We said yes!! with much surprise that this could happen so suddenly,but still thinking it was not all that likely. Um, within 9 days we were on a plane headed to Poland for an undetermined length of time*.
Well, I can't really say undetermined, because our plan was to live in Poland for one or two years and see how I got on. The implication was that after a year or two we would have done our time in Poland and would return to live in the States. We spent our first 4 years of living in Poland telling anyone who asked that we were going to be here for a year or two (or another year or two). At that point I finally had an experience that woke me up to the fact that we were meant to be here for at least a while longer, and to stop living/talking as if we might return to the States any year now. Since then I have thought very little about moving back.
Still, as the kids get older, I long for them to have some of the same experiences as I did growing up. We wish we could live closer to aging American grandparents (KIDDING, mom and dad!! about the aging, not the wishing) and beloved cousins and aunts and uncles. We've lived in Poland for eight years now. We all love it and will surely miss it if we do move back, but as the teenage years approach, I've been thinking a little more about the possibility. Then I had another little wake up experience (briefly mentioned in the comments of this post) and I'm once again on board for living in Poland as long as we're supposed to.
* The biggest tragedy was that my mother had moved from California to Utah literally DAYS before we found out about this job, and I was her only child living there, so we just up and left her!)
In case you wonder about some other things here's a bit of Q&A:
Do you speak Polish?
Not if I don't have to, which is why my Polish is so terrible. Before we moved here I had envisioned myself living in Poland and diving right into all the intricacies of the language. Apparently The Secret doesn't always work. I can understand probably 90% but my grammar is not good and my decent accent rarely comes into play, as I avoid speaking like the plague. Of course I can speak and do fairly frequently (or am forced to), but I do not express myself well, simply because I have not taken the time to do a little bit of studying. (Polish is a very difficult language for English speakers to learn. Particularly lazy English speakers.)
Does your husband's family live nearby?
They are about a 4-5 hour drive away. This is unusual in Poland, as nearly all Poles live in the city in which they were born and rely pretty heavily on their parents for support and help in raising their own children. We try to visit them every month or so. (And I love them! They're amazing.)
Were your children born in Poland?
Ewelina was born in Provo, Utah, and we moved here when she was 10 months old. Both David and Aaron were born in small town Poland, with the help of some great doctors and nurses in some (2 different) not so up-to-date hospitals. These experiences helped me realize a possible reason why most Polish families have only one or two children: NO ANESTHESIA!
Do your children speak both languages?
Very fluently. I'm only adding this question because people always DO ask it, although it seems fairly obvious to me. I speak English with them in the home in their formative years (Greg does too) and Greg speaks some Polish with them, and they hear it outside the home. I would say when they are under 4 years of age, their English is better, but the Polish catches up shortly thereafter.
What kind of school do your children attend?
They attend a normal Polish school, which is why David's English teacher pronounces "footprints" "feetpreents." They have an English class twice a week with their regular studies. We make sure they don't correct their English teacher, although it's a little upsetting when they come home and tell us that their teacher was teaching the kids how to make the "th" sound using a Polish "f" which is pronounced exactly the way an English "f" is pronounced. She had the kids repeating that "f" (th) sound over and over.
What do you love about Poland?
Oh, LOTS of things. Food, landscape, slow pace of life. Many things! I plan to write a post about this in the future. (update: I did write a post about some of the things I love about Poland. To read it, go here.)
Do you visit America very often?
We have been very blessed to return for a visit about once a year (Greg's bosses pay our airfare, as a sort of yearly bonus, and we love them for this). Generally I just travel with the children and Greg stays behind, but he has been with us twice, after we'd lived here for 6 months and then again about 2 years ago. We try to see as many family members as possible when we visit (they're in Maryland, Utah and California). We often just go to Maryland as it's much closer to Poland, and other family members visit us there, but every other year or so we travel across the country as well. It gets pretty crazy, but we love it.
There you have it! All you could ever want to know about our coming to Poland. (or if it isn't, I'll answer questions in the comments)