Hey family and everybody!
Whew, so sorry that this letter is a little later than it should have been. We had quite the adventure this past weekend:
So, I don't know if it's known in America or not, but there have been some pretty bad floods in Poland this summer. Last week, a big dam burst in the south-west region of Poland (over by Zgorzelec, where I once served), and there were some really bad floods. Elder Torke and I, along with Sister Nielson, Elder and Sister Harding, and three members, we all went down and helped bring stuff to them. We got a call on Thursday that "we would be going on a field trip" and so, Friday morning, at 4:00, we started our adventure. We picked up Sister Nielson, and then drove over to the Chapel to meet everyone else. We had the Mission Van which we had filled the night before with donated itmes like blankets and clothing, and and then started our drive to Zgorzelec. It was over in that area where the recent flooding was. We made a detour and went to another city called Kielce to pick up stuff that the branch there had been collecting. So, after a full day of driving and everything, we finally made it to Zgorzelec at 9:30. At night. That means 21:30. We had also stopped in Wrocław where we had rented a van and a driver. We had received 10,000 dollars US for Humanitarian stuff. So, we filled the rented truck with baby diapers, infant food, soaps, shovels, and all sorts of stuff. When we got to Zgorzelec, we unloaded all of the things from the rented van, and the man took it back to Wrocław (about 2 hours from Zgorzelec.) There was a big 18-wheeler truck that had been donated to use by a local banana importer company, so that's where all of the relief materials are being collected in Zgorzelec. We spent the night there in Zgorzelec, and then the next day, Saturday, we went to an area which had been hit really bad: Bogatynia. It is right in this little notch in Poland that is right next door to both Germany and the Czech Republic. The actually main roads to get into Bogatynia had been flooded over, so we had to drive down through the Czech republic to get in. I was driving and we were on these little back roads that had some crazy puddles and bumps and flying around at about 40 miles an hour. It was way fun. We were in a caravan of about 5 cars: the Mission van, the Harding's mission vehicle, and 3 local vans that were also hauling things. And we had permission from the local Police and stuff to run the red lights and go speeding and use our horn as necessary to warn everybody to get out of our way. I used it as necessary :). So when we got to Bogatynia, it was pretty crazy. There was a lot of destruction from the river. Houses that had been literally sliced in half, roads that had crumbled away, bridges that had fallen, water damage on houses which were lucky enough to still be standing, etc. I think that it'll take years before it is back to normal. We were able to maneuver our way around the broken parts of the road and tried to get in as far as we could. Then we opened the trunks and people started coming up and asking for things and we started getting all of the boxes out. People were going through them and taking out the things that they needed. After a while, the crowds died down and we packed the boxes back up and put them in our vehicles. We took all of the remaining items and dropped them off at this school which was being used kind of as a drop off/collection point for people in the area. After that, we had to get back to Zgorzelec through Germany because the roads in the Czech had flooded over since we had been there. So, I was in three different countries in the space of one day! Wild! but yeah, we started heading back to Warsaw at about 4:00/5:00-ish and we pulled up to our apartment after having dropped people off and everything at about 1:30, early Sunday morning. I was able to stay awake all through Church, except during the last hour. My head was bobbing around...President Nielson made fun of me about it after church...haha.
But yeah, that was our pretty wild adventure! I think what the people need there the most is just people. People who can help clean, fix, repair, organize, etc. Sure we can bring them things and everything, but who is going to help them do the clean up work? It'll take months/years. The Polish Army was there helping out and everything, so that's good.
Other than that, our week was kind of the same. Elder Torke is doing well. He is getting used to The Office. The man that he contacted and gave a Book of Mormon to that one time hasn't been answering his phone or texting back or anything. So, we'll see if we can't get a hold of him somehow.
Thanks for sending the package! It hasn't arrived yet, but I'll sure be glad when it does. I've been waiting for those new shoes for a while. The ones I'm working on are getting pretty sad and hole-y. Heh, get it? Hole-y? Holy? Like, spiritual? Mehh, nevermind...
Well, cool. That's pretty much our week. Have a cool day/week and I love you all! Shave your faces!
Love, Starszy Lewis