The Hammer Falls
It was mid August and as it happens almost all the wives, with the exception of Sarah-Jane, Andreea, and myself, had gone off home for their annual or bi-annual holidays. Suszana and her children had gone to stay with her sister in Copenhagen, Isabel and Stanislaw, Jr. were in Bratislava, Kryztina and her children were in Zakopane with her parents and brother, Anna had gone home to Szczecin, and Kasia had taken Alexei and gone off to visit an aunt living in Ladushkin in the Kaliningrad enclave of Russia. That left only four adults and one child, Dorcas. Raj was therefore unusually quiet.
"How would you three like to go and spend a couple of weeks with the Engströms in Sweden?" Stan asked us.
The trip to the United States had been postponed to the beginning of October which had come as a disappointment to myself and Sarah-Jane who had been assured that we could travel with him and see our families whilst there was still some summer left. Stan would fly to Minnesota for his two week conference and then put us on flights to Kansas City and Sasketchewan. Only Andreea was to have forefeited a holiday this year.
"Wow, sure!" I said. "That would be great!"
Sarah-Jane and Andreea were, of course, enthusiastic as neither had been to Sweden yet.
"But can we afford it?" I wondered.
"Not by air, at any rate, it'd have to be the longer rail and ferry route, which will take you a good two to three days, provided you don't mind sharing a sleeper on the train together or taking a night ferry."
We agreed unhesitatingly and Stan got on the phone pivately to Björn in his office, which I thought was a bit odd as normally he would have spoken quite openly in front of us on the living room 'phone. But I paid no attention, only too happy to be returning to Sweden after so short an absence.
"Björn says that'll be fine, girls!" came Stan's voice from the office as he came back to us.
We looked excitedly at one another. Stan went away for another half-an-hour and returned with all the bookings made.
"You're off tomorrow at the crack of dawn," he said, "so be ready to leave the house at 6.15 a.m.
We gasped. "What was the hurry?" I thought to myself.
But Stan was not one to mess around when his mind was made up about something and the sudden change was in keeping therefore with his character.
Stan drove us to the railway station the following morning and put us on the train.
"Send my love to Björn, Sonja and Misha, won't you?" he called out as Sarah-Jane leaned out of the window while the train pulled slowly out of the station.
"Sure thing! Take care of yourself!" cried Sarah-Jane, waving frantically.
Stan waved back. I turned to look back at him and saw a serious, almost foreboding look on his face which sent a shiver down my back.
"Something's wrong," I declared to the others, "something's not right."
But they were too busy waving to Stan to hear me. Dorcas looked up at me, wondering what was wrong, and I regretted my sudden outburst. I shouldn't be alarming a twelve year-old.
Stan's face haunted me all the way to Gdansk. We changed trains in Warsaw and set off towards West Prussia. Sarah-Jane and and Andreea chatted together but I remained silent almost throughout. They supposed that I was engaged in romantic thoughts and didn't want to disturb me. For the firsts time since the family had taken up residence in Raj it was completely empty except for Stan. In the sudden rush it had never occurred to us to ask why Stan wasn't coming along with us - why was he staying behind? And why, it suddenly occurred to me, did he seemingly want us all out of the way?
We boarded the ferry at Gdansk, a beautiful old Gothic city that had once been German and was known before the last war as Danzig. I would have loved to look around but there was no time. We only had a two hour margin to get aboard the ferry for Sweden. Stan had issued us with letters of invitation signed by Björn of which he had several undated copies which he was able to produce at the Swedish border whenever we needed to visit. Only I had a Swedish visa but Stan assured us there would be no problem with Andreea and Sarah-Jane who had none.
I did not sleep well on the ferry crossing, though the others did after they finally turned their lights off at about 11 p.m. We were up at 5.30 a.m. the next morning as the ship docked in Stockholm. For some reason it had never occurred to me to ask Stan why we were being sent on the long route - it would have been much quicker and shorter to have taken the boat from Swinemünde up to Ystad. Yet this route viâ the Swedish capital was twice as long.
To our amazement Björn was waiting for us at customs.
"What's Björn doing her?" I asked with surprise.
The others, of course, didn't recognise him since they had never met. Björn was talking with the customs officer and was engaged in a long discussion with him as he searched for visas in Sarah-Jane's and Andreea's passport. Sarah-Jane was usshered through customs but Andreea took considerably longer. We were finally passed through.
I introduced Björn to the others and they shook hands and hugged in the Swedish way.
"What brings you here, Björn?" I asked, even more confused about things.
"I'll tell you later," said Björn hurriedly, "we've got two trains to catch and I want to be home by nightfall. Remember, I've got two pregnant ladies to look after!"
Whether by design to put me off the track of what I thought were strange happenings, or quite innocently I don't know, but I relaxed and I started thinking about other things. Björn seemed his usual self though rather more anxious than I had seen him before.
The train journeys to Jönköping were pleasantly spent chatting as Björn told the others about his country. It was early spring when I had first arrived and now we were in mid-summer. It was good to see Scandinavia warm as my mental picture of it was an ice wilderness.
The train passed through large urban areas and then miles and milies of seemingly endless forest. I wanted to speak to Björn alone but there was no chance with the others, and he was visibly tired, having been on the move for nearly 24 hours and had had precious little sleep. He dozed off for a couple of hours.
It was dark when we arrived at Jönköping. We quickly packed ourself into his car which he had left at at the railway station car park. Sonja and Misha were overjoyed to see me again and to meet two more of Stan's wives plus his unofficially adopted daughter. After two days' worth of packed sandwiches we were ravenous for a cooked meal and devoured what was put before us with relish. Björn was silent the whole evening and let the women do as they pleased.
"How do you guys explain your simultaneous pregnancy?" I asked them as the bulges were already quite evident.
"Oh, it's early days yet," said Sonja. "We manage to keep it hidden with baggy clothes but the truth is bound to come out before too long." All three were as proud as could be.
We spread ourselves around the house for the night, Sarah-Jane and I on a couple of sofas in the living room, and Andreea and Dorcas in the spare bedroom which was almost as large as a shoebox. I still had questions on my mind and I still hadn't had time to have a private word with Björn since we got back. I determined to wake early before the others and speak with him the next morning.
My plan misfired. I overslept and by the time I was up and dressed with the others Björn had flown the nest.
"Where's Björn?" I asked Sonja. "Is he still asleep?"
"Oh no, he left two hours ago," she replied.
"I guess he'll be back later on, then?"
Sonja and Misha looked at one anothe puzzled.
"Didn't you know?" asked Misha concerned. "Björn's gone to Poland to Raj."
My jaw dropped. I heard Andreea give a little gasp and Sarah-Jane stopped chewing her food.
"POLAND!" I exclaimed, but didn't know what to think.
Misha and Sonja looked worried. "Didn't Stan tell you that Björn was going to Lublin??"
"No," replied Andreea calmly, "we had no idea!"
Sonja and Misha were speechless. And so were we.
"Can someone tell me what's going on??" cried Sarah-Jane, who was beginning to lose her composure. "We thought we were spending a vaccation with you three guys...."
Misha put down her orange juice. "I'm afraid we don't know much more than you three. Björn told us three days ago that Stan had asked if some of his family could be with us here in Jönköping whilst Stan and Björn attended to some important business. Björn said he would be away for up to two weeks but would be back to see you three again. He said we should look after you and not to worry, but that he couldn't say any more."
"Has Björn ever been secretive to you before?" I asked them.
"No, never," was the reply in unison.
"Stan neither," stammered Sarah-Jane whose face had definitely turned whiter.
What could be so important for Stan to get all his wives and children away from Raj at the same time without giving them a reason, and for getting Björn to do the same?
"Can I borrow your 'phone, Misha?" said Sarah-Jane all flustered.
"No," I said, "no. Stan must have a reason."
Andreea agreed with me but was worried. "But what could be so secret that he felt he couldn't confide in any of us? Surely he must have known we'd be asking these questions once we learned where Björn was going?"
Sonja and Misha looked at each other and blushed.
"Å, nei," whispered Sonja to herself. Misha put her hand on Sonja's clenched fist.
"What's going on, guys??" said Sarah-Jane, who had not calmed down.
"I'm really sorry. Björn made us promise not to say where he was going, and that he'd explain when he got back. And that we should trust him. It completely slipped my mind."
An hour of anxious discussion took place as we analysed the situation with the little information that was at hand. As Stan said, it's in situations where there are lots of unknowns that one starts to panic and to imagine all sorts of incredible things, even outrageously insane things. Were our husbands leaving us? was of course the silliest question of them all. Was Stan going to set fire to Raj and claim the insurance? was another stupid suggestion. Were we being secretly moved to Sweden without anyone knowing, and were we three the advance guard? Was this to catch the Polish contingent unawares? Question after question poured out in a torrent.
"This is foolish," interrupted Andreea after nearly an hour. "Where is the Lord in all this talk?"
We stared at her for a moment.
"None of us have even stopped to consider whether the Lord is actually behind this. We have all assumed that Stan and Björn are doing something dishonest - trying to trick us in some way. But what grounds do we have to assume that? Haven't they always been true and faithful? Why should they want to do anything harmful to us? What do you think they would want us to be saying and doing now? And what would the Lord have us do?"
There was silence again.
"Yes, you're right, Andreea," said Misha.
"But that still doesn't explain why Stan and Björn didn't trust enough to tell us what was going on. It doesn't add up." Sarah-Jane was still jittery.
"Does the Lord tell us everything he is going to do in advance?" reminded Andreea.
No, we all agreed with that.
"Aren't Stan and Björn our lords too? Aren't we just supposed to trust them to do what is right? Don't you think they would have told us more if it was possible or necessary?"
Dear Andreea, always spiritually to the point. Sarah-Jane protested a little more and then finally settled down.
"The best thing we can do, which we should have thought about an hour ago, is pray." And with that Andreea rested her case.
We prayed together, Andreea leading, and asked the Lord for peace of mind and for guidance. We asked the Lord to protect our husbands and to bring us all to our respective homes safely. We felt much better after that.
"Did anyone get any word from the Spirit while we prayed?" asked Sonja.
"Nothing special," answered Andreea, "only that we should spend a lot of time in the coming days in prayer and Scripture study. I believe the Lord is going to teach us something very important about trusting since there's nothing more we can realistically do."
"We could go back to Raj..." insisted Sarah-Jane but withdrew the suggestion when everyone looked with exasperation at her.
"Maybe we should 'phone the others..." and finally gave up.
It never occurred to me until our ordeal was all over that we didn't have any return tickets nor the money to buy them. Everything had been done so quickly.
We had every human reason to be anxious but no spiritual one. This was to be a valuable exercise in faith for us. We were in a situation deliberately set up by our husbands, presumably with the Lord's sanction, and it was our duty to wait patiently, a gift, Stan had often reminded us, that was bequeathed to women more than men. We waited, as it turned out, for twelve days without any word at all. The telephone was always nearby. Sonja forced us to go out into the garden and for walks in the wood and on shopping tours for food even though we wanted to remain in the house.
Björn had arrived in Raj thoroughly exhausted two days after he had left us in Jönköping and Stan had packed him off to bed after a good meal. Three days later the house was full of packing people. Stan and Björn had already packed up the office and put their valuables to one side ready to be put into the Mercedes, and had got to work in the apartments packing personal belongings The library took a whole day to pack up between the two of them. A farmer came to collect the chickens and most of the older furniture was sold to various buyers in response to advertisements put into local newspapers and magazines. Within a week the house was bare and all that was left of the Królewiec's goods was shipped off for storage to Stralsund in German Pomerania..
Stan looked around sadly at Raj which echoed to the footsteps of the two men as they wandered around checking to see if anything was left. After a long embrace Björn set off in the Mercedes leaving Stan alone with his thoughts and memories, an old matress, a small amount of food, and an old brown leather suitcase. His heart was heavy and yet there was a sense of relief about him.
The following morning he met with a private and trusted courier who drove to Warsaw with registered envelopes and sent them to the rest of his family in Poland, Denmark and Russia. Each contained a letter, air and rail tickets, some travellers cheques, and some American dollars in cash. The letter read as follows:
May the Lord Yahweh give you grace and peace through His beloved Son Yah'shua.
This is probably one of the most important letters you will ever receive from me in your life. It is important that you read it very, very carefully and do exactly as I say.
Firstly, you are absolutely NOT to return home to Lublin. If you do, your life will be in danger. I will have left long before you receive this letter and nobody else is here. All your belongings, and the belongings of the family generally, have been shipped to a new destination.
Secondly, you are to proceed to the places on the dates and at the times shown on the tickets and the attached instructions.
Thirdly, you must NOT try to contact one another in any way at all - not by telephone, email, fax, telegram or letter.
Fourthly, you are NOT to discuss with your families or friends where you are going except those who will take you to your point of departure - but it would be better if you could leave unannounced..
Fifthly, do NOT tell our children anything. Just tell them once you have left your points of departure that there has been a change of plan and that you are meeting up with me somewhere else.
Sixth, DON'T BE AFRAID. If you obey my instructions to the letter, you and the children will be safe and we will be reunited in a short time. You will soon be together with the others.
Seventh, PRAY ALWAYS, be courageous, and trust Yah'shua to guide you.
Give the children a hug for me. I love you.
Until we meet again in a short while,
Kryztina was given instructions to cross the Slovakian border by bus and meet up with Isabel in Bratislava. Anna was instructed to wait for Stan in Szczecin and together they would proceed to Swinemünde and take the ferry to Ystad in Sweden. Kasia was to proceed from Ladushkin to Kaliningrad Airport and Suszana was told to remain in Copenhagen. Within 24 hours of receiving their envelopes most of us were out of Poland and at various intermediary points.
With the envellopes on their way, Stan relaxed a little. After prayer he retired to bed with his solitary candle. The telephone and electricity had been cut off and it was cool inside the house. The buyer had already taken possession of the keys but had allowed Stan an extra 24 hours before having to move out, and the money was already in a bank in Liechtenstein. His passport, some cash, travellers cheques, and other personal items he had arranged to be secreted in a luggage locker in Szczecin central railway station by Björn who had mailed the key on to Raj. All Stan had on him was some money - some in his trouser pocket and the rest sown into the lining of his sheepskin coat. The locker key he placed in a hollow heel in his right shoe and nailed it back.
There was nothing more that he could do. Tomorrow he would leave Raj and never see it again.
It was a dark, inky night, the moon obscured by threatening rainclouds. He shivvered a little under the blankets. It was only one night, he thought to himself, and then, he hoped, he would be in some comfort again.
A little after midnight a car pulled up into the drive and he heard the crunch of boots on the gravel path. There was a sharp knocking on the door.
"Open up, open up!" came a harsh voice in Polish. Stan stumbled out of his bed, and opened the door. A flashlight shone in his face.
"Stanislaw Królewiec?" demanded the voice.
"Yes," said Stan.
"You are under arrest! You have two minutes to get dressed and pack a bag!"
Two minutes later Stan was huddled into a police car and driven away into the night.
This page was first created in 2002
Last updated on 5 March 2009
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