Terror at Night

July 23, 1978 – Midwest, USA

My apartment mate, Jane, and I drove separate cars to evening worship at church followed by a sweet time of fellowship at the Pastor’s house with the other young adults. Jane left a few minutes before me, so after arriving home, she left the front door unlocked for me, and then got in the shower. When I arrived home about 15 minutes later, I was puzzled to see our neighbors, Dave and Darlene, standing on our porch. I said, “Is there something wrong?” They replied, “We just heard Jane scream so we called the police! We’re trying to get inside to help her, but the door is locked! Can you unlock it?”

I took my house key with shaky hands and tried to put it in the lock. All of a sudden, the door was flung open, and a tall thin black man bolted through it with a butcher knife in his hand, shoved me down the three cement porch  steps, and went running off into the night. I quickly stood up and the three of us ran inside and screamed for Jane! “Is there anyone else upstairs, Jane? Are you OK?”

She replied, “I’m alone! I’m coming down.” She came down the stairs in her bathrobe and quickly told us he had grabbed her out of the shower and cut her legs with my kitchen butcher knife. When he demanded all her money, she emptied her wallet of the 5$ bill which was all she had. He grabbed her watch and then went running down the steps after he heard us outside. I cleaned and bandaged Jane’s cuts on her legs, and she got dressed.

The police finally arrived 30 minutes after our neighbors called them. They asked Jane and me to get in the back of the cruiser, so we could drive through the neighborhood to see if we could find the burglar, but we never did. We called Jane’s brother and my sister, (who were now engaged), and they called our Pastor. While awaiting for them to arrive, I took Jane to the emergency department to have the cuts on her legs sutured.

When Kevin, Linda, and our Pastor arrived, they read Psalm 56 and 37 to us and prayed with us. How God’s precious word comforted us!

“When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Psalm 56:3-4

“The end of the wicked shall be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him.” Psalm 37:38-40

We both called in sick the next morning because neither of us slept all night, and we needed to go to the police station to try and identify the burglar. The detective brought us dozens of mug shots to examine. After looking at about 500 photos, we picked out the six photos who looked most like him. Jane, of course, got a much better look at him than I did. At the end of the ordeal, we were both trembling uncontrollably from head to toe. The detective kindly volunteered to follow us home and search our apartment to see if he had returned.

He also told us that we lived in the neighborhood with the highest crime rate in the city, full of drug dealers and prostitutes. We were both so naive having grown up in the country where crime was practically nonexistent! Every one in the country left their doors unlocked at night, but we will never do it again, even for a minute! I also will never mount my knife rack on the kitchen wall! He advised us to move to a different neighborhood with a security system, which we did two months later.

Reflection – 2014

Belize dinner 1988

Dinner with the Medical team in Belize, 1988, before our nighttime scary walk to the Hotel.

In 1988, I went on a short-term medical mission trip to Belize (formerly British Honduras in Central America). Another nurse and I were assigned to a ramshackle hotel for our housing.  After we ate dinner with the medical team, we had to walk several city blocks in the dark to get to our hotel. About half way there, they had a power failure and all the streetlights went out leaving us in total darkness except for our tiny flashlight. When we arrived at our hotel, we ascended the outside steps to the second floor and had to walk down the narrow balcony which was lined with men leering at us. We both prayed silently and asked God to protect us while looking straight ahead.

When we arrived at our hotel door, we quickly went inside and bolted the door behind us. How we thanked God for delivering us! Then Jen shared with me how she had been brutally beaten by a robber in her home years before. I shared with her about the night Jane and I were attacked. We once again read Psalm 56 and 37 together followed by prayer in which we asked God to give us a quiet heart and put a hedge about us. I can’t say that either of us slept much that night because of the restaurant and reggae band blaring loud music beneath our bedroom, but God protected us!

Currently I work with many patients who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and struggle with nightmares and flashbacks. I remember it took me quite awhile to recover emotionally from the attack in 1978. But whenever I became afraid, I would read my Bible and ask God to comfort me, fix my mind and heart on Him, and He always did. It is also a great comfort to know that if someone kills me, I will immediately be transported into God’s wonderful presence for all eternity!

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” II Corinthians 5:1

Fellowship in Austria and France

Austrian Alps – June 29, 1978

From Passau, Germany I took a boat down the not-so-blue Danube River to Linz, Austria using my Eurail Pass which was also good on the boat as well as trains. I met two American ladies and two German ladies on the boat, so I was their go between and  translator! They seemed to understand my German and I understood the German ladies which was so exciting! From Linz, I took the train to Salzburg, site of the Sound of Music film. I enjoyed staying in an Austrian guest house for $6 per night which included breakfast. It was fun to chat with a Swedish girl who was spending the summer there while studying music. I took a fabulous “Sound of Music” tour through the Alps, enjoyed a chamber concert in Mozart’s house, and toured Old Salzburg which is very quaint and charming. This is my favorite town by far!

 

Sound of Music Tour

Sound of Music Tour

After two days there, I came to visit the two American families who are sharing God’s Word with the people near Innsbruck, Austria high up in the Alps. They are in the middle of a fellowship week with several Swiss Christian believers who have joined them. They all meet together every morning for Bible study, singing of hymns, and prayer and then go out in the afternoon to share the gospel in the various neighborhoods. I was so blessed in going with a Swiss nurse door to door. She shared the gospel as I prayed silently for each person to open their heart to the Lord. I learned so much from her, and my German is improving daily. I understand much more than I can express in German.

Austrian Valley in the Alps

Austrian Valley in the Alps

Mrs. G., one of the American ladies, shared with me about Derrick, a single American Christian man who is working with them. Derrick’s fiancee came to visit him at Christmas time, but when she saw how difficult it is to live here, she broke their engagement and went home. They do things quite a bit differently here than I am used to in my home church, but the fellowship has been very refreshing.

I must admit I shed a few tears when I left Austria. I have such a burden for the people of Tyrol to receive Christ as their personal Savior, and just feel like I am meant to be there. But I’m not sure I would be comfortable working with this particular group of Christians.

France – July 3, 1978

It took me 20 hours on the train to get to this city in France! I felt so badly that I arrived at 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning and had to get the Pastor and his wife out of bed to come walk with me from the train station to their apartment. But they were so gracious. We slept a few hours and then got up for church which was held in their living room with about 20 people. We had such a precious time of fellowship as they shared with me the joys and heartaches of starting a church from nothing.

French Train Station

French Train Station

Mrs. K. and I talked many hours about my options for returning to the German speaking people. She said the nurses work 12 hour shifts in the hospitals and they are rather archaic compared to American hospitals. She said I would be so exhausted, that I would have little time after work to minister to people. The other option is to work with a married couple, but this also has drawbacks. Mrs. K heard of an older couple who totally ignored the younger single lady who was trying to work with them. If it is a younger couple, jealousy could develop. So I guess the only other option is to wait for God to give me a godly husband who is led the same way as I am.

And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all they that WAIT for Him. Isaiah 30:18

Reflection – 2014

I spent my third week of my journey in northern Germany visiting a cousin of my friend. I have to admit I was rather travel weary by then with sleeping in different beds and began longing to return home where things were familiar and I could freely speak English. It was also rather anticlimactic after the sweet fellowship with the believers in Austria and France. When I arrived back in the USA, I continued with my job as a diabetes hospital nurse on evening shift.

The Lord has continued to use me as a single lady over the years and has taught me to simply be content with Him and live in the moment. I used to wonder why He never chose to give me a godly husband, but now I simply concentrate on enjoying Christ and growing in His grace. I can only see my little corner of the world, but He has the grand picture for all eternity! I take great comfort and delight in knowing that His ways are so much higher than my ways.

“….for I have learned, in whatever state I am, in this to be content.” Philippians 4:11

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

 

 

How to Handle Pain

Dear Readers,

I am diverging for a moment from my usual format because I wanted to share a wonderful little poem from my Pastor on how to handle pain. It was a great blessing to me, so I wanted to pass it on. Perhaps you will be able to share it with some of your patients to encourage them.Pain Poem (2)

PAIN knocked upon my door and said That she had come to stay;

And though I would not welcome her, But bade her go away.

She entered in, Like my own shadow, She followed after me.

And from her stabbing, stinging sword, No moment was I free.

 

And then one day another knocked Most gently at my door.

I cried, “No. Pain is living here, There is not room for more.”

And then I heard His tender voice, “Tis I, be not afraid.”

And from the day He entered in–The difference it made!

 

For though He did not bid her leave (My strange unwelcome guest,)

He taught me how to live with her. Oh, I had never guessed

That we could dwell so sweetly here, My Lord and Pain and I,

Within this fragile house of clay While years slip slowly by!

-Author unknown

Blessed be… the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us IN all our tribulation…” II Corinthians 1:3, 4a

Dear Lord,

Help me to be more aware of others’ heartaches and to comfort them with the love of Christ.

Amen.

The Castle

June 22, 1978 – Bamberg, Germany

After one night in Nurnberg, I decided to reboard the train and move on to Bamberg. There were 6 Americans in my compartment, so we had fun chatting. One of the men was stationed here with the U.S. Army and was very informative. He stated that many of the German people hate the presence of the American military. He works long hours and there is constant pressure on his job. I really don’t have any peace from God about being a civilian nurse on the US Army base, but I want to pray more about it to make sure it is God closing the door and not me. I never had a response to my application in April.

It only took one hour to come here on the train. I checked my bags in a locker and walked until I found the tourist office. The agent made me a reservation at a guest house for two nights for $10 each night. I asked the Lord for courage and took two city buses for 40 cents to the guest house on the outskirts of the city. It was beautiful with a farm and lake across the road and flower boxes everywhere!

Picturesque Bamberg!

Picturesque Bamberg!

Now I will simply mention sights and sounds that have struck me as common to the German way of life. Schoolchildren with briefcases on their backs and clogs on their feet, children playing the fountain, beautiful babies in large carriages that are lifted on to the trains and streetcars, a young man kayaking, gorgeous rivers, flower boxes on every house, screenless windows that tip out, feather beds hanging out the windows to air, police cars that are green Volkswagen bugs, church steeples with bells every 15 minutes all through the night, dawn at 4 a.m., crepe paper toilet paper, 30 cents for public toilets with no soap or paper towels, no drinking fountains, city fruit stands, spectacular bakeries and meat shops!

I enjoyed a lovely stroll around the pond this evening while praying and meditating. I smiled at a sweet 80 year old lady, and we struck up a conversation. I was able to give her a gospel tract which she gladly received. My German is slowly improving!

June 23, 1978 – Passau, Germany

I finally managed to catch a “Schnellzug” (fast train) to Passau and arrived in 3 hours. Passau is a beautiful city on the Austrian border where the Danube and Inn Rivers meet. I decided to try out a Youth Hostel for the next two nights which is located in a Castle! It sounds so romantic and gives me visions of knights in shining armor! “After lunch in a department store, I finally figured out which city bus to take which dropped me at the bottom of the mountain where the Castle was located.

My feet were so tired from all the walking I had done already. I think I will wear out my new walking shoes on all these cobblestones and probably lose weight this trip! As I began trudging up the mountain, asking the Lord for strength to climb it with my two suitcases, an elderly man stopped his ancient rusty Ford Pinto and climbed out. He asked if I was going to the Hostel, and I replied, “Ja” (yes).  He motioned for me to get in, and he put my bags in the back. My mother always told me not to hitchhike, but he looked very friendly ! My tired feet won out, so I climbed in and asked the Lord for safety.

He drove me two kilometers up the mountain and dropped me off at the door of the Hostel. I gave him a hearty “Danke schon!” (thank you) and bid him goodby. The sign on the door stated the hostel opened at 5 p.m. Since it was only 2 p.m., I toured the fascinating Castle museum across the road. Then I settled down on a nice bench to read. At 5 p.m., they unlocked the doors and I paid my $1.75 for two nights. I walked into the women’s bunk room and put my sheet sack I brought with me on a lower bunk. There were no lockers for my bags, but I guess I didn’t have anything too valuable. I met a very pleasant German girl who actually spoke very good English! I have only encountered  a few Germans who speak English.

Arrow points to Hostel Castle

Arrow points to Hostel Castle

Dinner with the “group” was unreal in the communal dining room.

Hostel Dinner ticket with the "Group" and my Hostel Membership Book. !

Hostel Dinner ticket with the “Group” !

Several high school tour groups are here and act like typical teens – very loud and immature. I think this is my last time in a hostel. I would rather pay more for peace and privacy! Castles aren’t really romantic at all. So much for all the fairy tales I heard as a child. I feel so lonely tonight even with so many people around, and am feeling the language barrier acutely, but it is precious to hide under the wings of the Lord.

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust; His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Reflection – 2014

I continued to pray about being a civilian nurse on the Army base, but God did not give me peace about going this direction. I never had any response to my application, so continued working at the hospital on the diabetes unit when I returned home.

Since 1978, I have met many people here in the USA from other countries who struggle with communicating in English. Because of my experience with the isolation of being the foreigner in other countries I have visited, I can readily identify with them. I greatly appreciated the Germans who spoke clearly and slowly to help me understand them, and I try to remember to do the same when speaking with foreigners here. Smiles and pantomime still go far in breaking down language barriers!

 

The Golden Arches in Germany

June, 1978 – Nurnberg, Germany – 9 p.m.

The train slowly rolled into the station as it passed the sign which read “Nurnberg”. After arriving from the USA in Frankfurt yesterday, I slept last night in the quaint village of Rothenberg at a luxiourious hotel which I had reserved in advance. I toured the walled city this morning and met a nice older Swiss lady at lunch. We chatted and switched between English and German which was fun! She also was alone, so we walked through the walled city together after that. At the end, I gave her a German gospel tract which she graciously received.

Rothenburg - an ancient walled city

Rothenburg – an ancient walled city

I then boarded the train and showed the conductor my 21 day Eurail pass which allows me to travel first class on the trains and boats anywhere in Europe. Each first class compartment has comfortable spacious upholstered bench type seats for six people and overhead racks for luggage.

I wrote my friend’s aunt and uncle who live in Nurnberg over a month ago asking if I could visit them, but have not received a reply. I am so hoping they will be at the station when I arrive! I don’t know where I will sleep tonight otherwise, and I do not have their telephone number.

The train stopped and I descended the three steps with my two small red suitcases. I stood on the platform and looked right and left, but there was no friendly looking middle-aged couple in sight. I prayed, Dear Lord, Show me where I should sleep tonight. Put a hedge of protection around me. Thank You that You have promised  to go with me and never to leave me or forsake me.

“My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” Exodus 33:14

I walked into the dimly lit nearly deserted station. Several older poorly dressed men slouched on benches and glanced briefly at me. As I exited the station, I noticed some luggage lockers. Since I didn’t know how far I would have to walk to find a hotel, I decided to put my two suitcases in the locker. I walked down the  cobblestone streets past an apartment building. A woman yelled out the window at me, “Ein Amerikaner!!!” I guess I was a bit obvious in my light blue pantsuit compared to the German women in dark skirts and white blouses. I quickly kept walking and praying. I definitely did not feel welcome here!

I had not had anything to eat since lunch, so also asked the Lord to show me someplace where I could buy some dinner. As I rounded the street corner, I looked up and saw the Golden Arches of McDonald’s fast food restaurant!! How wonderful it was to see something familiar from the USA! I walked toward it, deciding this would be a good economical place to get dinner. As I got closer, I saw a sign on the second floor above McDonald’s which read Hotel!

I climbed the stairs to the second floor and entered the hotel. A small elderly bald man was sitting at the desk. I asked in my best German if he had a room? He replied that he did for 31 Deutsch Marks ($15). I paid him the money and he took me up the stairs and down the hallway to it. He unlocked the door and I walked in. I saw the twin bed with a feather bed on top and a sink, but no toilet. I asked, “Where is the bathroom?” in German.  He motioned me to follow him as we went down a flight of stairs. We entered a room marked “Badezimmer” and he pointed to the bathtub! He said I could take a bath for one Mark. I stammered, “Wo ist die Toilette?” (Where is the toilet?)

He said, “Oh!!” and motioned me to follow him again. We climbed back up the stairs and he led me down the hallway two doors from my room where the toilet was located for the entire hallway. Things are certainly different here with three separate rooms for the sink, toilet, and bathtub!

I then quickly walked down to McDonald’s and stared at the menu. I was amazed to see that they serve beer at McDonald’s in Germany! I don’t drink alcohol, but I have never seen alcohol served at a fast food restaurant before. I ordered a hamburger, fries, and milkshake which made me feel less homesick. Then I walked back to the train station, retrieved my bags, and walked back to the hotel. I entered my room, locked the door, and knelt beside the bed. I heartily thanked the Lord for bringing me here safely and providing this nice feather bed to sleep under!

The next morning I walked out into the city streets and was amazed to see it transformed into a bustling open market! I walked past the colorful flower, fruit, vegetable, and bakery stands and finally decided to buy some fruit and bread for breakfast. Then I browsed through a department store to compare prices and products, finding it similar to the USA.

Nurnberg Market

Nurnberg Market

 

Reflection

So began my three weeks alone in Europe. The Lord was so gracious in putting His hand of protection around me. I discovered smiles go far and saying “Hello, how are you?” in German broke down the cultural barriers. I had fun striking up conversations with others on the train and coming out of my comfort zone.

Over the years, I have explored many other countries and have been richly blessed in making friends around the world! It is also a great privilege to share the good news about how Jesus Christ wants each person to be receive Him as their personal Savior.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16