Jumping ahead again … but I’ll fill in the gaps eventually.
These are pictures of the train station in Frankfurt, Germany. It’s still a mystery to me how we made it from the airplane down to this platform, because between us, we know only two German words: Ya, and Nein. You can’t go too far with Ya and Nein. We managed to pantomime our way through a couple of conversations and just kept following signs that had the word “Bahn” in them. After annoying one porter, who waved his finger at me and then scoffed repeatedly as he walked away–even stopping to scoff again when he was about twenty yards away–we found a sympathetic stranger who pointed us to platform 4.
We finally figured out that we had to switch trains two more times to get to Siegen. So again, relying on the kindness of strangers, we changed trains at the Frankfurt Main Hbf, and then again in Geissen. It felt good to hear the conductor announce “Siegen” about an hour later, but our adventure was only just beginning.
Dave and I had both read David Guzik’s instructions, and both of us picked up on the fact that the Bible college was “just across the street from the train station.” Not only that, but I had seen a picture of the building and knew that it was underneath a giant overpass. So what could go wrong? Well, for starters, we didn’t realize the Bible college wasn’t in downtown Siegen. It was actually down the track a bit in a place called Eiserfeld, which is kind of a suburb of Siegen. We disembarked feeling confident. “It must be over there,” I told Dave, pointing across the tracks at a row of buildings framed by an overpass. Just as we started up and across the overpass bridge, the rain began. And not the pleasant, drizzly, “just kidding” kind of rain. This was pelt you in the face, soak all your clothes in 30 seconds rain. I had my black shawl with me, so I tied it over my head babushka-like. Dave and I were both hauling our Rick Steves’ rolling suitcases behind us and wearing our backpacks. In addition, we both carried a pair of our sweatpants. Back at Heathrow airport, we’d been told our Rick Steves’ suitcases were too bulgy and we’d need to pull out some of the clothing. So Dave, who is very smart about these things, figured out that we could knot the legs of our sweatpants, fill them with extra clothing, and cinch up the waist. And yes, it was as hobo-ish as you are imagining. But it worked. So while traipsing through Siegen in the rain, we had our bulgy bundles of sweatpants on top of our other luggage. At one point, Dave took mine and put it over his neck, because it looked to him like it was about to fall off my suitcase. I can only imagine what these Siegen-ites thought of the two of us.
We walked Siegen for over an hour, up hills, down hills, through the town center … asking stranger after stranger if they’d heard of Calvary Chapel Siegen or the Bible college. A few had heard of it, but all had different ideas about where it was. Two mentioned “Eiserfeld,” but neither of us had heard anything about Eiserfeld, so we were reluctant to take that seriously. We had no phone number, no Euros (only American dollars and English and Scottish pounds), and no one seemed to know where we could find an ATM or connect to the internet.
After an hour of wandering the streets, we came back to the train station. Dave had me sit with the luggage while he went out in search of someone–anyone–who had had more than a quarter of English in school. While he was out doing that, I pulled my laptop out and began searching the files on my hard drive for “Siegen.” I was pretty sure the info I needed was locked away in my Gmail files, but I thought I’d search anyway. And lo and behold, what came up was a document Kim Underwood had sent me when she was helping me research the pastors I was interviewing last June at the pastors’ conference. (Thanks, Kimmie! 🙂 Right there on that document I read that the Calvary Chapel Bible College was in Eiserfeld, just ten minutes from Calvary Chapel Siegen. Aye yi yi. We had bought train tickets for the wrong city.
The thing is, it wouldn’t have been any big deal to just hop a train. No one even checked our tickets on the three legs of our trip to Siegen. But I knew we couldn’t do it. We couldn’t steal a ride, and we couldn’t pay for one, so we were stuck.
I had prayed a bit while we wandered Siegen, but I really started praying now. I said, “God, please direct us to someone who can help. Just have someone be there, right where we need them.”
When Dave came back, he was grinning. He’d walked through McDonalds trying to ask strangers if anyone had heard of CCBC or if they knew where we could get on the internet, but everyone just ignored him. He then tried to talk to a cab driver, who passed him off to a girl walking down the street–Annika, who “just happened” to walk by at the right time. She was on her way into McDonalds where she worked. And as it “happened,” she not only knew where Calvary Chapel Siegen was, she attends church there. She called both her youth pastors, but neither answered, so she directed Dave to an ATM and told him we should take a cab to the Bible college. That’s what we did.
But there’s just a bit more. When we walked out of McDonalds to hail a cab, there were seven or eight of them lined up at the curb. How do you pick? All the men were staring at us, waiting to see if we would come to their cab. So we just went to one in the middle. And guess what? That man not only knew where CC Siegen was, he attends there! He had been a Muslim until 25 years ago, when an American couple by the name of Terry and Lisa Jones witnessed to him. He said, “I like Jesus.” We told him we like Jesus too.
So we made it to the Bible college. Once here, we were among family. They were waiting for us and led us to our beautiful apartment, which Inga-Lill Guzik decorated and stocked with all kinds of juice, bread, cereal, yogurt, cookies and German chocolates. I felt just like Shirley Temple in “The Little Princess” when she woke up to find that someone had given her nice soft slippers and a beautiful robe and a tray full of hot food … and there was even a fire to warm her hands by. Remember that?
We’re just back from having lunch with David and Inga-Lill at IKEA. I’m trying to catch up on my blogging, and Dave just headed to his first class. He’s teaching through the book of Revelation to about 20 students–five days a week, three hours a day. Please pray for him. 🙂
Thursday I’m teaching 25 or so of the women. I’m looking forward to that. I’ll have two hours this week and two hours next week, so I’m waiting on the Lord right now to see what He’d like me to teach.
I hope He tells me by Thursday.
Here are some pictures of our apartment: (Do you see my Mac sitting on the coffee table? I sit there while Dave’s studying at his desk.)