By Magdalena Knapp, Editor
Photos: Emily Barylske
Emily Barylske is a junior from McKendree University. Emily didn’t spend her summer like most students did working in a hometown restaurant for $8 an hour: She went on a mission trip to Poland. What she experienced and how her faith helped to change one person’s life for good are only a few of the experiences she shared with the McKendree community during last week’s Brown Bag.
Emily Barylske travelled with a team of volunteers to Poland for two weeks over the summer. Despite being the youngest member on the team, her impact was huge. Over the two weeks Emily was in charge of a group of 7-9 year olds in an Indian village that has been set up by the organization she travelled with and has been growing over the years. Emily’s tribe was called “Lokato tribe” and the children she oversaw for the two weeks soon became part of her. They played a variety of games, sang, held Bible lessons, did some arts and craft, and spent time in the nature shooting with bow and arrow. Emily enjoyed working with the children and teaching them about the Bible and her faith. The only problem was that the children did not speak English very well, so it was hard for Emily to communicate with them. This is where Zuza came into play. Zuza was Emily’s translator, but more so she was like her sister. “I am closer with Zuza than with my own sister – as soon as I met her I told her she was going to be my personal translator for my time here in Poland, and that’s how it ended up being!” explains Emily laughing.
Besides spending time with the children, Emily also got to visit parts of Poland and its monuments. “Seeing the city and how the Holocaust history influenced Poland and their people really opened my eyes,” says Emily. She got to visit the concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau – an experience that will forever remain in her mind and that has changed her outlook on life forever.
On the last day Emily was in Poland she had to say goodbye to the people that grew very close to her. Her translator Zuza, who never went to church, went to church that day because Emily helped her to rediscover her faith. “My favorite part of the trip was that second Sunday morning we spent with the people of Poland. Seeing Zuza, my translator, there in church and sitting next to me gave me a sense of relief. I wanted to see her one final time before we had to say goodbye, and I was granted it. Being able to talk to her that day and relate to her was an uncanny like experience granted by God. Worshiping with her and everyone else really gave me a sense of what Heaven will be like, all of us there praising God in our own languages, no borders, and nothing separating us from God’s eternal love.” The mission trip to Poland changed Emily and her view on many things and she cannot wait to go back: “I won’t go back this summer, but for sure during the summer of 2020!”