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.
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.
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