My next travel destination via conversation is a country in central Europe, whose capital is Warsaw. Do you know which country this is? Poland! Known for incredible food such as dumplings called pierogi and cabbage roles called gołąbki, your tastebuds will be met with savory foods made with love.
I first studied Poland in 7th grade, and I remember giving a speech about it to my history class. Then, about 10 years ago, I became friends with a woman from Poland in a Bible study who I knew as Maggie; in Poland, she is known as Magda or Magdalena-such a beautiful name! She overflows with joy, ambition and kindness. Maggie and her sister hosted a New Years’ Eve event one year and cooked many
delicious Polish dishes. The cabbage roles were my favorite. I always enjoyed my conversations with Maggie and left encouraged. She cares deeply about others and joyfully lives life with passion for loving others with the love of Christ and helping people be healthy through yoga.
A couple of years ago, I met another sister-in-Christ from Poland in a prayer class at church. She is also an encourager with a servant heart who loves to cook and always brings over a treat and tea to share when she visits. She delights in sharing what she has with others and sending words of encouragement. I was thankful to get to sit down with her recently and learn
more about her life and about her home country. My friend, Marysia, is from Lublin, Poland. She told me that in her home country, women are independent and bold. This explains the beautiful ambition in my friends, Maggie and Marysia. :)
I am excited to share with you what I have learned from my friends, and I hope you will get a glimpse into the culture of Poland and into these beautiful hearts that have inspired me in my journey of faith. Thank you to Maggie and Marysia for allowing me to share a part of their journeys.
Maggie described Poland as a country with a beautiful, diverse landscape. In the northern part of Poland, there are many lakes as well as the Baltyk Sea bordering Poland to the north.
In the center of Poland, it is flat with a few rolling hills. In contrast, southern Poland is mountainous. There are nine different mountain ranges in southern Poland, including the Karpaty, Sudety and Tatry Mountains to name a few. In this picture, Maggie is on a famous hiking trail in the Tatry Mountains, near the Koscielisko Hills.
Poland is also known for its many castles, historical monuments, and architectural old city towns that Maggie says are “truly a beautiful piece of Polish heritage.” There were many kings and queens ruling Poland, starting from the year 966, when queen Dobrawa and Polish prince Mieszko 1st married. She shared that Polish history is full of wars, revolutions and crusades. November 11th marks an important day for Poland. On November 11, 1918, Poland gained its independence after 123 years of being under control of Germany, Austria and Russia.
Maggie wrote about several traditions surrounding the holidays, especially surrounding Christmas Eve. She said
that there are 12 traditional dishes prepared for Christmas Eve. One of these is polish dumplings, in which they hide coins as a symbol of fertility and provision for the next year. In addition to the feast of traditional Polish dishes, they share a holy communion together. They pray, rea
d about Jesus' birth, sing carols and attend mass at midnight.
MAKOWIEC is another traditional Christmas Eve favorite in Poland. It is poppy seed cake and is in the picture to the right.
Marysia also reminisced about Polish traditions from her childhood:
The day that Marysia came to visit my home, she told me that it was her brother’s “name day,” or “Imieniny,” coming up. She explained that in Poland, each day of the calendar has a list of names, and when it is your assigned name day you get to celebrate! How do they celebrate? When it is your name day, people bring you flowers and gifts. There is cake and food, and children take chocolate and candy to school for their name day.
Marysia remembers going to the store each day as was tradition to get fresh food. The grocery store and butcher were close to their home. One of her favorite memories was picking up warm, fresh bread to eat as she walked home. There was also a market where farmers would sell freshly harvested produce and flowers. Families often had fresh flowers displayed in their homes throughout the year from the market.
In Poland even if you are just stopping by, it is customary to prepare food for a guest. Marysia said that if someone in Poland plans ahead for you to be there, they will put out a fresh tablecloth and prepare a nice dish for you. She loves to cook special food for family and friends. For a special visit, they also use special plates, china and fresh flowers. Many times Polish friends will bring a fresh bouquet of flowers for a friend even when there is not a special occasion.
This past weekend, there was an international tea at a church in Indianapolis. It was a wonderful time of worship, music, food and fellowship with several countries represented, celebrating the beauty of each culture and the beautiful
mosaic formed as the body of Christ from many different cultures come together in one in Spirit.
Marysia brought several Polish dishes and decorations celebrating the Polish culture.
The cookies by the teapot have a marmalade jelly in them that make a savory treat.
Below is a picture of Marysia at one of the beautiful tables she set up, and the picture below that is of a table that Marysia set up as well to celebrate the Polish culture. The doll is wearing traditional Polish clothing for women, and the red hat on the table is worn by men. Can you find the Polish flag in each of these pictures? What colors are in its flag?
(The Polish flag has one red stripe on the bottom and a white stripe at the top)
At the tea, we were blessed to hear a worship song in Polish as well as a polka song that everyone danced to! It was a fun time! It was a joy to hear worship in many different languages! Below is a picture of Marysia on the right, myself in the middle, and our friend, Jeanette, who is from India.
Learning a greeting in another language is one way of opening the door for conversation to help to gets to know someone from another culture. Below are a few Polish expressions. The Polish language has many letters and sounds that we do not have in English so it is a more difficult language for me as an English-speaker to pronounce, but it is fun to try! Thank you to Maggie for recording these expressions for me! Click HERE to listen to the expressions.
Maggie and Marysia offered some helpful tips in getting to know someone from another culture. Maggie encourages (and models) having a loving spirit and kind attitude, friendly posture, listening attentively, and bringing some humor to a situation in case of any misunderstanding. She added to keep the conversation light and authentic and to be joyful with a smile to help break the ice. Finally, be sensitive to cultural differences such as nonverbal signals. Marysia encourages people to also be openminded as they meet new people.
The Lord has placed a passion on Marysia’s heart for sharing the love of Christ and prayer. She is a passionate prayer warrior and eagerly seeks the Lord and to share the hope of Christ with others each day. She desires to see others come to the abundant, joyful, and peace-filled life in Jesus and to know what Jesus paid for on the cross. She shared that knowing our identity in Him is the key to walking victoriously in Christ through renewing our mind daily and reading the Word of God. She says that the change in our hearts happens in the secret place alone with God. She also gave these words of encouragement:
“If God gives you a gift, walk in it.”
I am grateful to Maggie for also sharing her heart and faith below:
"There are so many stories and great testimonies throughout the years of my living both in the USA and after moving back to Poland.
My HEART is currently halfway an American flesh, as the crucial and fundamental form was shaped by the US culture and a Christian family.
Everybody has a story, and God is writing it within the Holy Spirit dwelling in us....I remember how loving, accepting, humble and kind Spirit of many new friends has drawn me closer to Lord. The light of the living Word from the Holy Bible was also releasing Rema as I was digging daily into a bread of life, reading, studying and memorizing Scriptures from the book of life....my parents taught me, allowed me to discover later on in the USA my passion for praying for others and releasing God's Word, declaration through Holy Spirit on lives. I became a part of a dance ministry, as well as women Bible study group.
I believe that encouraging others refreshes us. It is very important to encourage one another and carry burdens of others: speaking life instead of death, speaking promises written in the Bible instead of focusing on the earthly wrongs or lacks can shift our focus toward the constant, unchanging, unconditional love of God. That daily renewal of the mind, the encouraging posture is simply essential for every Christian, so that we can become more Christ-like and persevere whatever is standing against us. God always wants the best for HIS children however, missing the mark of listening to the voice of Holy Spirit can lead us astray. Pain is real, but healing is possible too!"
I wish for every human being to be able to grasp how high, how wide, how deep and how long is the Love of heavenly Father! How much he desires the best for us, and how his will over all, is the best will...my encouragement for you and myself is not to lose the perspectives through the heavenly realm, the final destination and the victory that we have in Jesus by His death on a rigid cross and resurrection.
There is so much beauty in each person, each life that is on this Earth. Marysia and Maggie bring out the beauty in others with their encouragement. I pray their words and journeys will inspire you to look for the beauty in others and encourage them today!
Maggie is in the picture above in front of the Tatry Mountains
I will close with an encouragement from Scripture that Maggie shared is one of her favorite Bible verses:
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of GOD in Christ Jesus for You .” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"Zawsze się radujcie. Nieustannie się módlcie. Za wszystko dziękujcie, gdyż taka jest wola Boża w Chrystusie Jezusie względem was."
1. Tesaloniczan 5:16-18, Nowe Przymierze