Shortly after arriving in Croatia, we noticed something very different about the culture here compared to the U.S. Everything here seemed to move a little slower, and we kept hearing people say, “Polako. Polako.”
Rewind to our lifestyle back in the States. We planted a church about 13 years ago with some friends. Over the next few years, we all committed to growing our little church. It eventually grew, but with that came challenges. A bigger congregation meant more responsibilities. Anyone who is a pastor or is involved in any ministry knows life can fill up pretty quickly. It happened very subtly, but before we knew it, our Sabbaths became very busy, our weekends were packed with church activities, and our weeks were filled with visiting members, attending meetings, cleaning the church and more. For the first couple of years pastoring the church, we did not take any vacations because we did not have anyone to preach or help with children’s classes. It did not feel right to leave the responsibility to others. But, along the way, those who came to our church became friends, then family and now help to pastor the church we have left behind. It became an incredible and yet busy life.
Now we are in Croatia. Life is different here.
We arrived as winter was ending, while most businesses were still closed. This place runs on tourism, but before the tourists arrive, the locals hibernate in a sense, resting and preparing for a hectic summer when many run Airbnbs or work at hotels and restaurants. The tourist season lasts about four months, but for the rest of the year, our town in Croatia seems to run on one word—polako (slowly).
The Lord knew what He was doing when He placed us in this part of Croatia. He knew we needed to learn to slow down, to polako. We have so much to learn from the people. They live a life we do not yet understand. We are so used to fast food and entertainment at our fingertips. Here the movie theater is almost always empty. People meet you by the beach to take a stroll with you. There are no drive-through restaurants. Instead, the cafes are always filled with friends sitting down for hours to drink coffee and catch up on life. It is a beautiful way of living, and we are excited to dive into this aspect of the culture.
Yet, in all honesty, Gabriel and I are having a hard time adjusting to this slower-paced life. We liked being surrounded by friends and family, constantly carrying out the Lord’s work. There is something amazing about working alongside your friends to share the gospel with others. We pray the Lord opens doors here to share Christ with others and eventually have friends joining us in this ministry, even in a more polako way at the cafes or on the beaches.