Hanna Chrzanowska has accompanied me every day for the last thirty years of my professional career. Whenever I would enter or leave the school building, or took part in activites on the patronal feast of the school, I would look at her portrait and feel that she was looking at me also. Sometimes I would pray to her asking for support and intercession, especially in difficult and sometimes hopeless situations, and I always felt that she was watching over me; that I was not entirely alone in my beliefs, actions or decisions. A year ago I experienced the great joy of being able to participate in her beatification. It was an extraordinary experience for me, very moving. It was the first time I had participated in such an elevated religious ceremony and Hanna is still a person very close to me spiritually. I felt both honored and happy; and I bought a rosary with her image, which was to play an extraordinary role in my life. After returning home following the beatification, it turned out that my 83 year old mother had sigmoid cancer. The diagnosis was unambiguous. A very serious operation awaited her, the sooner the better. My mother did not want to undergo the surgery, she did not accept her condition. We were in despair. And then something special happened, thanks to the courtesy and compassion of the school management. I brought the relics of Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska to our home. I decorated the table with flowers, lit candles and began to pray with my sister and mother for her health and positive outcome of the surgery. After the prayers, we sang several Marian hymns. My mother seemed to be calmer and reconciled with her situation. The operation took place at the beginning of June 2018 in Warsaw in the Oncology Clinic. It all worked out well. My mother was recovering quickly and could not wait to return home. The results of histopathological examinations were satisfactory. Further radio or chemotherapy treatment was deemed unnecessary. We were overjoyed. It has been almost a year now since the surgery. My mother is feeling good and I hope that we will be together for several more years to come. Meanwhile, in July 2018, we left with my husband and friends for a long-awaited summer trip to Asia. My husband is a teacher, but also an enthusiastic traveler and this passion for travelling had also infected me. For half a year, he would organize our independent trips, sitting in front of a computer, booking hostels, guest houses, buying airline, train or bus tickets. Our family lived from one year to the next for these expeditions, from December onwards. We could not wait for the arrival of the bonus paycheck and the start of our adventure. This time my husband arranged a very attractive trip to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia with visits to Java, Bali, Lombok and Gili. And everything went perfectly for four weeks. What we had planned – we realized. We experienced extraordinary emotions and great satisfaction. We experienced two volcanoes: Bromo and Ijen, and we got to know the exciting culture of the island of Bali; and we saw idyllic beaches on the island of Lombok. But we missed the presence of my daughter and her husband. And then our wish came true. On August 4, my daughter and her husband managed to happily join us. We were glad that we would be able to spend the rest of the holidays together. We showed them the charming beaches of Lombok, and in particular the unique beaches of Cocos, where you could see the beautiful shells and the largest species of mollusc in the world. We ate a delicious dinner in a small restaurant and drove back to our small hotel. It was August 5 at 19:46 and we were all outside our building planing the next day of vacation. My husband sensed it first, and shouted - "Earthquake, onto the grass, lay onto the ground!". At first, I thought he was joking, but after a second I felt it too, a strong twitching of the earth and a growing shrill sound that was everywhere and I froze. We threw ourselves on the lawn, and while lying, I grabbed my daughter's hand. The earth continued to tremble and waves tossed us like balls to a height of about half a meter. The electrical cables broke, and suddenly all was dark. Only sparks could be seen in the air, then tiles began to fall, then bricks. The Indonesian woman who lived next to us panicked, got up from the lawn and started to run towards the buildings. My husband caught her legs at the last moment and toppled her over onto the lawn. My daughter began to cry, and still holding hands, I prayed it would end, that we would all survive. I do not know how long it lasted, but for us it seemed an eternity. Suddenly everything fell silent. We had not much time.
We knew that there might be secondary shocks any moment. I turned towards our cottage – the view was horrific, but we had to go there and collect a few things – our passports, money. My husband pushed the door ajar with all his strength and we got into our room through a small opening. The ceiling and the remnants of the TV were on our bed. I peeked into the corner of the room where the bedside table should be, it was intact. On the table lay my cell phone and a glasses-case, and in it the rosary with the image of Blessed Hanna. I grabbed the cell phone, put the rosary around my neck and began to shift the fallen ceiling, with my husband, in order to get to our things. Fortunately, the ceiling was made of cardboard-plaster, not concrete. And so we were able to recover the most important things we needed and our documents. This all lasted maybe three or four minutes, and we ran out. Outside we met boys from the reception with flashlights, who were checking to see if we were all alive. They informed us that we must immediately go to the evacuation point, which was located on the mountainside, because there was a tsunami threat. During this conversation with the boys from reception, we experienced a second earthquake. It was shorter than the first one, and again we fell to the ground, feeling waves, vibrations and horrifying cawing sounds.
When it all subsided, we started escaping towards the evacuation point. Already a lot of people had gathered there. There was total lack of information and panic. At one point, they told us to flee to the top of the mountain, as it seemed most likely that there would be a tsunami. So we listened to them. During the climb to the top of the mountain came a secondary shock. However, we climbed on, despite the fact that the ground was slipping from under us. During one of the after-shocks I saw at the last moment a broken branch flying in my direction. I instinctively covered my eyes with my hand, but I was stunned. All around me became dark. I was climbing past people, but I did not recognize them. I just kept on walking. I got seperated from my family. Consciousness only returned to me at the top. I realized then that I was alone and without my family. My only thought was that I had to find them. A German tourist manged to light-up my face with his cell phone and saw that I was bleeding. He gave me a handkerchief and wiped my face; but all I wanted to do was to go back to my family; but they did not let me go. They told me to wait until the tsunami warning was cancelled.
Those were the worst moments in my life. I did not know if I would ever meet my family again. I started to pray. After an hour someone received a Text message saying that we could go down. During the descent, about 100 meters from the place where I was, I saw the light of a cell phone, and in it the face of Szymon, my daughter's husband. I was so glad that we were all alive, but we knew that this was not the end of the earthquakes. We waited on the hillside all night. I prayed to Hania that she would let us survive and return safely home. Getting off the island was difficult. We camped at the airport for three days, experiencing several aftershocks and accompanying panic. But we all survived. We managed to get back to Poland. The 6.9 magnitude earthquake that struck the island of Lombok was one of the worst in the history of the island. Five hundred and sixty-three (563) people were killed and one thousand four hundred and seventy-seven (1477) were injured. We are alive thanks to God's providence and the intercession of Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska! I wore the rosary around my neck for a long time, but unfortunately it has come apart. All I have left now is the picture with the image of Blessed Hanna and a few beads. Beata