Sunday, April 28, 2013

End of an Era (for us)

When Greg was at BYU he always planned to come to Poland “to help build the church”.  2 1/2 years into our marriage and soon after his graduation, he quite suddenly and unexpectedly got a job in his homeland. Nine days later, we moved to the other side of the world.

There was no branch of the church anywhere near our little city but it was kind of fun catching the early morning bus for the 3 hour drive to church in Cracow every Sunday.  Attending our little branch was such a different experience than I'd ever had in the church.  A missionary was the branch president and there were very few priesthood holders of any other sort. 

For probably 7 months we went.  Same routine, every Sunday.  It was a great experience.  Greg didn't get a calling.  Just about the time I started thinking that this seemed like quite a waste of resources (yes, I like to call my husband a resource), he was called as the branch president.

A few months later David was born.  On our first trip to church after his birth when he was 4 weeks old, a kid sitting in front of us on the bus vomited all over.  I gave his mother a handful of wipes and a sympathetic look and vowed to myself to never take my infant on a bus again.  

So we got a car.

We'd only had the little red Fiat for about a month when the new Mission President asked if we could drive to Katowice to meet with him after he held a fireside there.  So we went.  

The drive felt like forever and ever.  It was winter and it was very dark and we were very inexperienced in driving in Poland.  We'd never been to Katowice.  We got lost.  Over and over.  What should have taken us 3 hours took us more like 5.  We missed the meeting but were still able to meet with the Mission president.  

That night Greg was called into the Mission Presidency.  He was to oversee the branches in southern Poland, 2, 3, and 5 hours away from where we live.  And he did.  And he loved the President and his fellow counselor.

About a year later a District was formed and he was released from the Mission Presidency and called as the Katowice District President.

That was nine years ago.  Today he was released.

That nine years (10 1/2 if you count the time in the mission presidency) feels like our whole life.  

We drove and drove and drove.  We stayed in lots and lots of hotels some very scary, some quite nice and most completely serviceable.  We ate lots and lots of plain rolls and cheese (and fast food).  

Our family grew.  Our testimonies grew.  The branches grew.  We spent lots of time with wonderful members of the church.  I spent hours every Sunday talking to the missionaries while Greg had meetings and the kids played on the keyboard in the chapel or wrote on the white boards.  

It was our life.  We loved it.  It changed a little as the family grew, but it was pretty much the same routine for all that time.  

And we were blessed.  David proved to be a baby and then toddler who just loved being in the car, even for long, long drives.  The other kids never minded much either.  Greg was blessed to work with some really wonderful men and I had the pleasure of spending time with their even-more-wonderful wives as we waited for them to finish their meetings.  

We learned a lot.  We overcame some of our weaknesses.  We discovered new weaknesses.  We worked to make everything fit (suitcases in the car, school and church trips in our schedule etc.).  We struggled and we thrived.

Our kids grew up that way.  It's all they've ever known.  

Now they'll have dad sitting by them at church (I don't believe there is a single branch in our district where there is a row of 6 chairs together in the sacrament meeting room.  Hmm.  We'll have to work something out).  They'll maybe even have a Primary teacher.

We'll have new adventures.  We'll learn what regular weekends are.  We'll sleep in our own beds.  We'll eat fewer plain rolls with cheese (and fast food – glory be!)

It will be wonderful.  And we will always, always be grateful for the blessing of these past 9 (or 10 1/2) years.