Monday, May 20, 2013

Spending Saturday exploring Szczecin

The port-town of Szczecin provided a major harbor and shipyards for the military needs of Nazi Germany. Known as 'Stettin' in German, it was the main port for land-locked Berlin during WWII. Much of this city was destroyed during the war by 'carpet bombings' carried out by the Allies.
The city is unique and very beautiful in that 42% of it is covered in forests and almost 25% of it is covered by water.  These were some of the most thick and dense forests we have seen.
    Driving to the outskirts of town, we came to this small city. I thought to myself..."It would be ironic for President to get pulled over by the Police in Police." We turned around and did not want to chance it.
A very old 'Welcome to Szczecin' sign coming into town by way of the city of Police.
We were heading downtown to meet some friends that were going to show us around their beautiful city.
The Tour:  As we walked, we came to the Naval Academy which was built in the early 1900's. Very tall and very beautiful.
There was a 'farmers market' going on outside the Academy and along the water. People were lined up to get a slice of these HUGE loaves of bread spread with meat, pickles and other various toppings.
One place we went that I have been wanting to visit since we got to Poland, is the Szczecin Underground located under the train station. These sprawling concrete tunnels beneath the city streets were a bomb shelter during WWII and then turned into a fall-out shelter during the Cold War. The shelter still keeps many secrets. Photos were only allowed in certain spots.
After being beneath the city, we decided to go above the city to the tallest building in Szczecin.
There we saw a magnificent view of a great city.

Our last stop was a huge cemetery in the middle of the city....almost 150 hectors. There we stopped to take a picture with our great guides, Lukasz and Dagmara. We love these YSA's, and it was so fun to spend some time with them. The cemetery was the most beautiful one I had ever seen. Lukasz knew it well, because this is where he works. But something happened here that almost put me in a grave! When we took the above picture, I had placed my purse down on the ground over to the side. I did not notice that I didn't have it until a 1/2 hour later! I was sick! Lukasz quickly ran to the above spot.
Fortunately, some nice honest person had found it and turned it into the Security station about 50 meters away. I had to go identify myself, tell how much cash was in my wallet (and other questions as you can see from the photo) and they gave it back to me. They told me it was customary to give the 'finders' some 'vodka money' as a I did. I was grateful to get my purse back and all my ID. A tender mercy from the Lord. My only regret.....Along with the 'vodka money', I forgot to hand them pass-along cards. I was frazzled and didn't even think of it until we were in the car on the way to the church. I repented and will do better next time!
That night, we met the Elders and a few of the members at the church for a social....a little food and a lot of visiting. (LtoR): Elders Kotter, Godwin, Waskiewicz, and Mikolyski with Lukasz, Shu, Henryk, Dagmara and Agnieszka.
We even had entertainment! Shu is a new convert who is in Szczecin getting her Masters degree in music. She put on a 'concert' for us all... and it was magnificent! Who would have guessed that a portable piano could sound so good?
Sunday morning: Sunday morning we arrived at the chapel early so President could attend Missionary Correlation Meeting and interview the Missionaries.
The Szczecin Branch Presidency:  Lukasz (1st Counselor), Elder Waskiewicz (Clerk) and Elder Mikolyski (Branch President).
Some of those who attended church that day: Henryk, Dagmara, Lukasz, Kasia, Shu and the Missionaries.
After church, it was time to head back to Warsaw...
Because Szczecin is on the Polish/German border,  we have special permission to drive through Germany on the Autoban and catch the great A2 freeway that runs from Berlin to Poznan. The roads were heaven.....big and not crowded (and the drivers move right along)!
This is a site we love to see!  No speed limit, no traffic....But...
...this is what happens when there is a bad accident on the German Autoban. Traffic was backed up for miles and miles.  People knew they weren't going to be moving for some time. Everyone was out of their cars, sitting on the guardrails.
Poland ahead.....1 kilometer!  Yea, back in Poland!
Crossing the border back into our mission. Even though the roads are unbelievable in Germany, it is always good to be home!
Taking the A2 from Germany to Poznan was a new experience for us. Here are a few bridges we have never driven under!
They always look better in person....but you get the idea.
We arrive in Warsaw to beautiful weather and many Warszawians taking advantage of  the big water fountains located between the Wisla River and Old Town. 
This trip from Szczecin usually takes about 7 1/2 hours of driving.  We went the long way by Berlin and it took 6 hours.  Plus President can set the cruise control in the car and his leg can last another few weeks... 'Thank you' to the Area Presidency who gives us permission to drive through Germany. It is a wonderful time of year to drive and see this gorgeous country of Poland. Everything is green and colorful! God certainly has created a beautiful world for us .... and I am glad I am a part of it! So much to be thankful for!
We love Szczecin.  Our wonderful members and our great missionaries.  We are one-third the way through on our Specialized Training.  Next week the Bydgoszcz Zone and the following week the Warsaw Zone.
Some other big events will happen before we see Kielce and Krakow on Thursday.
Never a dull moment especially as we sprint to the finish :(

1 comment:

  1. I do not know if you were aware that Szczecin was a HQ of the Church in Poland for few years and a great leader of the Church, who organised that "restoration" in the 1970s, lived and died there.


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