Poland 2019

Shine – Jessica Parente

Hello again! Today, some of the team went back to the campground to help run an event called “Shine!” The objective of Shine is to make people with disabilities feel not different, but special. Our job was to make them feel loved and wanted and beautiful. There were about 54 participants at the event and 60-70 volunteers. Getting the chance to be more one on one with the participants was so, so special.

The ladies got a whole glamorous makeover, where they got manicures, their hair done, their makeup done, and the choice of a beautiful dress. The hair and makeup were done by professionals that were brought in so they looked amazing. There were about 10 volunteers doing nails, three of those being Carlee, Huntir, and Alicia! They killed the nail game.

The dresses were where the church service was held, and there were about 100 dresses, all donated by volunteers. Again, wow! Once they were all glammed up, they were led to a photo shoot in the woods, where they shined (get it?)!

The gentlemen, however, got to dress up in costume. The theme? Wild West. I felt right at home!! The costumes were from a bunch of donations, including stirrups, toy guns and holsters, bandanas, and of course, cowboy boots! They posed near the horses that the campground had and wow, they looked like the real deal!

After they finished their photo shoots, we all ate some good ol’ Polish sausage with potato salad, and finished lunch off with some ice cream. Once we were all full, we hit the dance floor and played the game “Just Dance.”

For the last thirty minutes, we had a live band come out and perform. We sang and danced until we dropped. Dancing with all of these people was more than fun. The language barrier was gone, it was simply just living in the moment and loving life as it is. Music is magical, y’all.

I was in charge of general photography, so I walked to every station of this event and got the chance to capture and experience it all. The coolest part of the whole event was the transformation in the participants. Poland is doing some amazing things, but the inclusion of people with disabilities is not one of them yet. Some of these people’s families have no pictures of them in the house because there is this shameful stigma around having a child with a disability.

You could tell that these people were very scared and insecure when they first stepped off of their buses. Luckily, Proem is helping to start a movement. The volunteers instantly were cheering, making them know that we were glad that they were with us! The smiles instantly came out, and the confidence only grew from there. Not only did they gain a new form of beauty and confidence from this event, but they will also receive the pictures that we took in February, when they have their Night to Shine (kind of like prom). They left with their heads held so high, and I hope that is the only way they feel from here on out.

Tomorrow, we head to the Kantakt festival! We will first head to a school and rotate in classes, working with art, English, and physical education. Then we will head to another after school program, and finish the night off with a concert!

Stay tuned, na razie (goodbye for now)!

Prayer Request: That we travel to Łódź safely and let the Lord not only help us guide these children, but help show us what it looks like to truly be a servant of God. 

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