This day marks 29 years for me and 29 weeks for baby. Eleven weeks to go and we are getting excited about meeting our child!
By now, I have a pretty good-sized list of differences between Poland and the US, so it’s about time I write a few more of them down. I was made aware that some Polish people who read our blog were intrigued by the differences that had caught my eye. I hope everyone enjoys a few more observations.
Windows almost never include screens, as they do in the US. On the other hand, windows often include a cool feature that windows in the US don’t have – they have the option to open just the top of the window, leaning it inward. In my observations, windows always open inward, without exception. Of course, there are differences from an apartment setting to a business setting.
Apartments always seem to have drapes, but rarely mini blinds (Venetian blinds). If the windows have blinds, it’s a roll of vinyl that’s fastened to the part of the window that can open. This means that you can’t have the window open and the blind closed at the same time. (Or if you do, the blind will be rendered useless.) It’s also very popular for windows to have a thin, lacy drape. Maria and I agree that we have never ever seen a window that slides open in the same manner as an American window.
Phone numbers are usually 9 digits long, or they could be 11. The two digits that often don’t get written are the country code: +48. (Don’t know why it’s always written with the + when it’s written.) Polish people can’t seem to decide how they want to group the rest of the numbers. I would say the most common that I’ve seen is three groups of three. For example, my cell phone number could be written 535 397 141. Also fairly popular is a group of three, then three groups of two. Then, my number would be 535 39 71 41. I think (but I’m not totally positive) that with land lines, the first two numbers are the area code.
Walking around Mińsk, you’ll see a lot more people on foot or bike than you probably would in the States. Specifically, you’ll see a lot more strollers, because moms (or grandmas, or whoever is taking care of the kids) tend to go for walks with the kids. Pedestrians have more right-of-way here than they do in the States — at crosswalks. At stoplights, however, don’t try to jaywalk! It’s not very socially acceptable. But at crosswalks, I’ve seen people step into the street without even checking for cars.
There are very few stop signs here. When needed, they prefer to use a yield sign, but generally, they avoid the problem by using roundabouts (rondos). There’s a sign that I think is slightly humorous, but it takes a bit of explaining.
The cross street that is supposed to yield has a yellow triangle sign to show them this.
On the other street, there’s a sign with a yellow diamond inside a white diamond, which means, “don’t yield.”
And on the street that is supposed to yield, about 20 meters before the intersection is a sign with a yellow diamond inside a white diamond, and then a black slash through it, which means, “don’t not yield.”
That’s a little of what you might see if you took a walk around Mińsk.
Now for some random ones…
At the train station, the taxis waiting for customers keep their engines off. This means that when the first one in line gets a customer, all the rest in line, keeping their cars off, move forward by pushing.
The napkins in almost every public place are these tiny little delicate tissues. It takes about 3-6 per person to make it through a meal. We call them “finger wipes.”
Lawnmowers are a bit of an extravagance. More common are electric push mowers, and weed eaters. In fact, about half of the town is routinely mowed by a small army of men with weed eaters. Noisy.
Well, that’s certainly enough for now. I hope this is interesting for you!
On Wednesday I went to the doctor again. This time it was good news! The ultrasound showed that the placenta is healed, and the hematoma is gone. The doctor said that if he hadn’t done an ultrasound two weeks ago that he wouldn’t be able to see that anything had ever been wrong. Obviously we are relieved and so thankful to God for his healing. In two weeks I’ll go to the doctor one more time before we fly just to double check that everything is stable.
In the meantime a heat wave has us melting into puddles and waiting for a thunderstorm to cool us down.
Thanks for your prayers!
Yesterday Nate and I went to another doctor here in Mińsk. Once again we were relieved to hear that our baby is healthy and well. But the doctor could quickly see the reason for the bleeding I had 3 weeks ago. There was a partial placenta abruption (the placenta detached from the wall of the uterus) and a hematoma formed on the wall of the uterus. It’s really scary to hear the doctor saying all the possibilities of what could happen. At the same time we know that I could carry the baby to full term and worrying doesn’t help the situation. Pray for Nate, me, and the baby.
The basic details are confirmed for our flight home to the US. Lord willing (and baby willing), we will fly out of Warsaw, Poland on Friday, July 12 at about noon, and connecting through London Heathrow. We plan to arrive in Philadelphia about 8 PM that same evening.
In other news, I have accepted a position to teach high school math at Ephrata Mennonite School in Lancaster County, PA. This is the same job I had before I left PA.
Thanks for all the prayers and warm wishes!
One week has brought a bit of clarity and a lot of uncertainty into our lives. First of all we have a job in place for Nate, and tickets are being bought for our return trip to the US in the second week of July. We are checking out some different houses that we could rent in the Ephrata area.
The uncertainty comes from the words of my doctor, “high-risk pregnancy.” After a night in the Mińsk hospital our doctor explained what is going on. A low-lying placenta is causing bleeding. There’s nothing that can be done besides hope and pray that in the coming weeks as the uterus grows that the situation will correct itself. And in the meantime I am resting at home. We’d appreciate your prayers as we deal with the extra worry and stress of this.
So, there are just a couple of things to say at the moment. The first, and most important, is that at 5:59 AM tomorrow morning (that’s actually 5 hours and 40 minutes from now) our alarm clock will begin irritating us, at which point we will take Kaitlyn and Alissa to the train and help them get to the airport.
It’s been a really great 2 weeks with them here. There’s one sense in which we will enjoy normal life again, but there’s another sense in which we will very much miss them.
The second thing is related to our trip to Warsaw on Friday afternoon. I’ve become interested in the fact that I can take easy “panoramic” photos by holding my camera vertical and snapping about 10 consecutive pictures, and then pointing the free program “Windows Live Photo Gallery” at them at telling it to stitch them together. 90 seconds later, I look like I had a super wide lens camera with me on our trip to Warsaw. I’m pretty pleased with the results.
This is an 8-photo stitch of the entrance to Old Town (Stare Miasto) in Warsaw.
Disclaimer: if you try this with subject material that includes moving people, it may decide to digitally dismember them. I have a great picture of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with exactly half of my niece in the picture. I also have a picture from Berlin of the Humboldt University courtyard with a 1-legged woman briskly making her way into the crowd. Hey, maybe that’s how that kid that Milo met in that one book got to be 0.57. Anyway, you’ve been warned.