The communist grip held strong over Poland in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and visas out of the country were nearly impossible to obtain. To many, a stable future could only be found over the border in Germany or across the ocean in the United States–but escape to either was difficult.
Young Polish native Slawomir believed the time had finally come to leave his homeland. He hoped moving to the United States would grant him opportunities he could not find in Poland. He planned to take a tourist visa to Germany and never return.
The year was 1983 and Slawomir began dating Renata, a young Polish woman he had met when he was on leave from the Polish army. Slawomir told Renata his plans to move to Germany, but she did not think it was a good idea.
However, when the time came, Slawomir could not pass up the opportunity to escape Poland, and when he gained his tourist visa, he left for Germany.
Despite the distance, Slawomir continued to stay in touch with Renata. For two years they corresponded through letters while he organized his relocation to the United States. At the time, Renata was studying to be a teacher and was learning English on the side.
As his plans to move began to finalize, Slawomir urged Renata to come to the United States with him.
When Renata’s family learned she was considering following Slawomir to the U.S., they told her she wouldn’t be able to get a visa–it was unheard of to be granted a visa straight to the United States. And besides that, Renata was in her final year of college.
To her family’s disbelief, Renata applied and gained a direct visa to the U.S. She dropped out of school and moved with only one suitcase full of her worldly possessions. She met Slawomir in Chicago and they married right away in a courthouse ceremony.
While in Chicago, Slawomir and Renata saw advertisements for Seventh-day Adventist prophecy seminars. After time and study, they decided to convert. As they grew within the church, they continued to research and study the Bible, trying to understand some of the discrepancies they discovered–one of those being the celebration of Christmas.
They saw where God instructed the celebration of Passover and the honoring of Sabbath, but Slawomir and Renata did not believe God created the celebration of Christmas. Instead, it appeared to them to be a manufactured holiday that the Bible did not support, and they decided they did not want their family to be a part of something that was unbiblical.
Today, Slawomir and Renata Rybicki still choose to not participate in Christmas celebrations. However, they do enjoy the break Christmas grants their children from school and work to come home to Elkhorn, Wisconsin.
Their middle daughter, Caroline, has just finished her first semester in the Physical Therapy program at Andrews University and is happy to be home for the holiday, even if she doesn’t celebrate it.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with celebrating His [Christ’s] birth,” said Caroline, “the Kings came, and in that sense, they celebrated it. But there is nothing in the Bible about the holiday Christmas, so it’s not something we [as a family] celebrate.”
What does she do instead?
“To us, it’s a normal day, but we’re all together because we have time off from work and school. It’s nice to be home.”
One activity Caroline does in her spare time is baking, and with a break from her studies, Caroline is excited to do a lot of baking!
A favorite recipe Caroline discovered is Nutella Cheesecake Bars. Made with Oreos, vanilla bean, and Nutella, it’s a perfect December treat for any occasion.
Whether you celebrate Christ’s birth with a Christmas tree, a candle, or year-round, take some time to whip up this recipe and enjoy God’s blessings.
Nutella Cheesecake Bars
Active Prep Time: 35 minutes
Serving Size: 16 dessert sides
2 c Oreo crumbs 1/4 c unsalted butter, melted 16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature 2 eggs, at room temperature 1/2 c granulated sugar 1/4 c+ 1 T heavy cream 1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped (or 1 t vanilla extract) 1/3 c Nutella
Instructions: Preheat oven to 325 F and generously grease an 8-by-8 baking dish with butter or non-stick oil. Line with parchment paper to the corners. Set aside.
Pulse Oreos in a food processor until they are crumbs. Add butter to Oreos and pulse until the mixture is moistened evenly throughout. Scoop mixture into the baking dish and spread evenly. Bake approximately 12 minutes, until set. Place dish aside until cool.
After cleaning out the food processors, add eggs, sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, and ¼ cup heavy cream. Pulse mixture until smooth in texture. Then place 2/3 of the mixture in a bowl and set aside. Add Nutella and 1 T of heavy cream to the remaining 1/3 mixture in the food processor and pulse until smooth.
Assemble the dessert by spreading the 2/3 plain cream cheese mixture on top the cooled Oreo crust. Handle the crust with care. Pour the 1/3 Nutella cheesecake layer over the plain cheesecake layer. Spread carefully until even. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the center wiggles slightly. Remove from the oven and cool completely and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Cut into sixteen pieces and serve.
Rachel Logan is a writing intern for Spectrum Magazine.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6512