Lost in a foreign country with no outside contact, I patiently awaited for an oncoming train. The train station was on the outskirts of a silent, small town in Holland, and the weeds that poked through cracks in the station’s foundation were just as dead as the people working there.
“Kann ich dein Telefon benutzen?” I asked in German, to one of the only Dutch employees in sight, meaning, “can I use your telephone?”
The plain looking woman in a uniform just scoffed at me a “no” as she briskly walked away. “No” is the internationally polite way of saying, leave me alone. So I trudged back to my waiting place on the long brick walkway in defeat.
I honestly didn’t know any other foreign language except for German. I had just left my Dutch friend, who spoke English, Dutch and German fluently, two train stations ago. She did most of the talking for me, then handed me a cell phone for me to borrow to call for any questions. I was on my way to Berlin, and it was just my luck the train company decided to do construction on the railways that day.
All of my previous transfer points were changed and some of the stops and times were not on my list. I had turned the cell phone off thinking it would save battery life, only to find out that when I needed to use it for friendly direction -- I needed a password. I was given no password. Doomed.
This stopping point was the longest, two and a half hours of nothing, no one around and nothing to drink. I was afraid to move from my waiting spot, staring off into the blank horizon thinking that if I lost sight for a second the train I was waiting for would whip right through unannounced.
I was kicking myself hard for the predicament I put myself in, but found peace in prayer. I took turns praying for my stupidity just as much as I did for a sign or a helpful soul. Then, an hour and fifteen minutes into the deserted wait, was a train. It wasn’t my train though, because it was heading in the wrong direction. During its brief stop at the station, a couple in their 40s stepped off.
The couple were carrying two suitcases each, chatting in German and holding onto each other as if it was their last day on Earth. In my deranged boredom, I concluded only for my own amusement that they both were secret lovers on their summer holiday vacation. I had no other choice but to observe their peculiar flirtatious behavior while waiting. Finally, another train arrived, and I escaped the madness!
After train hopping a couple times, I became even more frantic to find out if I was even in the right place. Sitting directly across from me was a woman around my age, carrying the same anxious expression. She asked me if I knew when and where the next stops would be, and thankfully I had written every insignificant prior stop down on my notepad just-in-case. As I shared my notes she was overjoyed, so I figured I might as well ask about using her phone.
“Ya! Natürlich,” she said, meaning, “yes of course!”
Finally, I found a kind soul and it turned out that I was heading in the right direction the whole time. I just lacked faith in the unknown territory and sea of unfamiliar faces. Through some reflection since that crazy trip three years ago, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It may be a stretch but that predicament made me realize that almost always we are awaiting a train of opportunity to take us to the next place in life.
Often times, we are too impatient and ungrateful of the waiting period and get easily discouraged. Almost always we forget to hold onto our initial faith as reassurance and wander into a blind panic. But in the end, it all works out for the good, and in some cases it’s better than we had ever imagined.