I broke up a fistfight in Poland. Total international peacekeeper here.


I did.  I broke up a fistfight between two twenty-somethings and the elderly drunk they were beating down. Oh, and, by the way, I did this in Poland.  With my limited Polish.  That’s right.  Take that, you punks!

Before I get to the fistfight, however, I have to bring you back to my teaching days before we ever left for Poland.  I used to teach at a local junior high school, and my first year of teaching was in a classroom full of total tough guys and gals.  I would just say guys, but I had one gal that would literally pick the guys up and physically move them out of her way.

Yes.  There were some days that I questioned why I even got up and entered that lion’s den.  Don’t get me wrong, I was a total hard-bottom in class.  I had to be.  Otherwise, those students would eat me alive.  They probably had forks and spoons in their desks with some condiments on the side for the day that I would crack under pressure, and then they’d pounce like a pack of wild wolves.

But, ha!  I never did crack—-well, in front of them, I never cracked.  I would have to wait until the last one slammed the door, and then my facade would slip away, and I would cry and cry and cry-thankful that I made it through another crazy day.

I am so much tougher than I appear…

One day was super fun (and I state that sarcastically).  One of the guys just released from juvenile detention, by the way, walked into class hitting everyone on his way to his seat.  Literally.  Bam!  Student one hit.  Bam!  Student two hit.  Bam!  Student three hit.  Bam!  Student four hit.  And then he made it to the back of the room where his isolated desk was.  Surprisingly agile, he leaped over it, doing a flip-like somersault, and then he popped right up, sitting himself into his chair and crossing his arms.  It was a total king of the hill moment.  You know, king of the hill, that childhood game we all used to play where you pull people off and try to be the one on the top of the hill?

All of this took place within about 5 seconds.

He was so proud.  All of the students angry.  And I was sighing.  Of course.  Again.  I walk over, pick up the phone and call, “Security, please come and remove xxx from the class.”

And, sure enough, our awesome security guard walked in and pulled him up and escorted him out.  On the way out, student xxx said, “What?  What did I do?”

Looking at him in the eyes, I simply said, “Ummm…well let’s just start with the fact that you can’t hit people.”  And they left.


This brings me to Poland.  For two years we went everywhere by public transportation before we got a car. And, honestly, even after a car, we still used public transportation a ton.  The car was super helpful, though, in picking up our donations for Bread of Life.  For the general travel around town, going to our teaching locations, etc., it was mostly public transportation.

During one of these random tram moments, I was sitting at a very popular tram stop on the West side of the train station, ready to go home after a long day of teaching.

Well, while sitting there these two punk 20-somethings decided to pick on an elderly homeless man.  How did I know he was homeless?  We had been serving homeless for about a year now.  I had gotten very good realizing who would be someone we would serve (I only made a mistake once asking a man that was “very offended” if he wanted some hot tea and a sandwich.  Oops.  I guess my radar was a little out of tune that day, eh?!).

And before any of us at the tram stop knew what was happening, these two punks started beating down this old man.  Literally beating him down.  He was on the ground trying to shield away the blows.

I jumped off of the bench all ready to enter the ring…Okay, I wasn’t looking to enter the fistfight, but there was no way I was going to sit there and watch what was taking place.

Remember that psychology example everyone learns in Psych. 101, called the Bystander effect, where people do or don’t react to someone’s need for help due to 5 characteristics that bystanders go through to determine if they will or will not help?  Anyhow, that popped in my mind and I told myself, “You go, Brooke!  Don’t be a bystander.”

So I hopped off of my bum and started yelling at those 20 somethings.  Yep.  At this age, I am a twenty-something, too, so technically they were my peers.  And I was a scrawny, skinny thing.

But I wasn’t about to be a bystander.  Nope.  By golly, I was gonna break up a fistfight in Poland.  Nostalgic for my AZ teaching days?  Perhaps.

Therefore, I hopped up, started yelling at those punks to leave the man alone.

I startled the thugs so much that they paused long enough for the elderly homeless man to hop up, grab his bag, and scurry across the street.

The thugs.  They didn’t know what to do!  Run after him?  Confront me?  Let it all go?  Stand around, now looking foolish at all of the other waiting passengers?

I think with all eyes on them, me, and the elderly homeless running away, they decided the best thing that they could also do is run away too.  In the opposite direction.

Who knows where they went?  I don’t.  Who knows if they picked a different target?  I don’t.

But I am sure that they’ll always remember that skinny foreigner that broke up their fistfight.

Yep.  Brooke.  International Peacekeeper.  Or, at least, fistfight stopper for one elderly homeless man.  In Poland.

I felt like Rocky Balboa…without throwing a punch!

Our washer and dryer sit on our porch, and I am thankful. Thrilled even!


I love this 30 days of thanks.  I’ve seen many Facebook funnies that have said that it’s the time where everyone else that has been complaining all year takes a break and gives 30 days of thanks.  Well, even if that is the case, I am still enjoying reading why people around the world are grateful.  Why they are thankful.  Why they are blessed.

It’s a whole bunch of warm fuzzies going around, and I am appreciating each post read.

And so, today, I would like to share two things I am especially grateful for:  our washer and dryer.

Where are they located?

On our outside porch!

Now, you see, when I was teaching in the States before we ever moved to Poland, I remember the counselor talking about the “poor” kids that came from other countries that lived in small apartments and had their washers and dryers (gasp!) on their porches outside.

I had just come from a honeymoon in Mexico, and while we were there we traveled to some pretty remote areas.  We talked with many locals.  And we saw many things.  Things such as kids walking a mile to go to school two days a week.  Things such as children going down to the local creek to scrub their clothes with a bucket.  Things such as kids having to use outside toilets with no water—therefore they had to go and scoop water into a bucket to pour into the toilet so it would flush.

These were just a few of the things we saw or experienced, and I thought, “Man!  I am pretty sure these people that we had just visited would really appreciate a washer and dryer—even if it had to be located on their porch!”

And then we moved to Poland.  Half of the time in our first flat, we wouldn’t have electricity.  Our washer wouldn’t work, and we would be scrubbing our clothes by hand.  And, let me tell you, jeans and sweaters being washed by hand and then DRIED in a cold environment was no piece of cake.

So, when we moved back to Arizona for this year and we were forewarned, “Oh, by the way, your washer and dryer are outside,” I didn’t think twice about it.  I was so thankful that we would have them (on loan, of course, from some GREAT peeps!).

And, truthfully, the Arizona weather is so gloriously beautiful, that doing your laundry on the porch is actually pleasant.

But then it made me think, “What would my former coworker think of my situation?  Small home, washer and dryer on porch, coming from a foreign country?”

And I giggle.  Truly.  Sometimes people lack perspective.

Roof over the head?  Check.

Health?  Check.

Clothes?  Check.

Education for my daughter?  Check.

Food in our bellies?  Check!

Love?  Abundantly!  Check.  Check.  Check!

So, this November, I am grateful for many things—including our awesome washer and dryer on our porch in beautiful Arizona!

And sunshine, and our chickens that cluck, and my baby boy that is always sick and smiles readily anyway, and my daughter that came to a foreign land (America) and yet has made great friends, for family close by, a husband that serves, and a baby in my belly that has made it past the most dangerous stages of pregnancy.

Yep.  I think as long as we keep it all in perspective, a washer and dryer on the porch are luxuries.  And, for these, we are truly thankful!