Yesterday I put out a request for stories. Here, in the raw format in which I received them, is what has come in so far. I am very grateful. If anything more makes its way to me over the next few days, I’ll put up another post. I’m working on my own story to throw into the mix too. Thanks for playing along, everybody!
The night was alive as Jake and I arrived in Munich Germany. Both 18, we had finally accomplished our escape, though we didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. Had little reason to even think it really. We weren’t from some dying town in the Midwest which cultivates that acute sense of claustrophobia and subsequently, an overwhelming need to get out of Dodge ASAP.
We were from a thriving area of paradise not far from the fabled Santa Barbara. More fabled then I knew before taking my first missions trip to Russia when I was 14, only to find that seemingly everyone in the USSR had seen the soap opera Santa Barbara and knew exactly where on the map we lived, how we all lived in enormous mansions and had affairs in the middle of the day.
Anyway standing in the Munich airport with a steady buzz of people humming around from here and there it was easy to feel fully alive as I looked out the glass wall of windows with snow gently starting down and some city lights in the near distance. With our train not coming until morning we had the whole night to kill-meaning try to find somewhere to stay warm and get some grub (preferably without spending too much of our precious dough).
So we set off on foot into the oncoming snow with all our luggage, into the distance and, low and behold, after what seemed to be an unreal amount of time, came to a beautiful 4 star hotel of towering glass and steel.
So, after the careful consideration that young men are known for, we went in and found a world that we had only seen in the movies. It was like on Titanic where everyone had already paid for the ticket and was just going up freely to take as much food as the wanted. Glorious piles of amazing looking food everywhere and no one was paying for any of it! So far, we were loving Erurope. We grabbed some plates, stuffed ourselves and chatted a couple of people up to find out what was going on. Apparently some flight had been delayed overnight, so everyone had been diverted for a free stay at the hotel which included dinner and we just happened to be there to cash in on it. We then crashed on a couple of couches on one of the quieter floors to be awaken by management (which happened to be around the same time we needed to get going anyway) who, it turns out, were very cool and gave us a free breakfast on our way out the door. It felt like a personalized and very gentle wake up call more than an eviction really. We then proceeded to find our way around the famously punctual transit syste. Well Jake was finding our way around and I was, preoccupied as I sometimes am, my brain working Fuhrer- I mean furiously, to figure out the connection between the obvious ability to make trains be on time and having a fiercely ingrained take-over-the-world gene that would make you try to take over every so often.
We were both so wrapped up in these important questions of finding our way around and solving the mysteries of the German people that we didn’t find it very odd that we were hopping on and off trains and not paying anything.
After several free rides on the public transit we finally got to our train which, by the way, was taking us to Spittal Austria, a small idealic town set in the Alps. A perfect place. It was the home of the European Calvary Chapel Bible College, a place that Jake had found surfing the web. He then called me up and asked if I wanted to move there instead of Tahoe which is where we had been saving and planning on moving to be ski bums. In fact we already had jobs there. I said “sure” and I guess Jake didn’t use the internet anymore that week because we were headed to bible college a week later with no further interruption.
On the main leg of the train trip to Spittal we ran into a guy named George who was actually from our home town of Paradise and was headed to the Bible college for a semester as well. I’ll never forget the worried/superior look on Georges face when he said that Christians really irritated him.
My favorite part of this whole little jaunt from the airport in Munich to our arrival at the Bible college was when Jake rehashed all these afore- mentioned happenings on the welcoming worship and testimonial night during the share stories of how God provided for you to get here. Jake had a lot of confidence and easy smile and an overall creepy story to tell of how we mooched, took without asking and basically cheapskated our way into town, with the unique Christian spin that God has really guided and provided for our whole way. Luckily I was quick enough to play it cool and look around curiously whenever Jake motioned to me during this testimony to play it off as if I too were looking to see who his mysterious partner in crime was. This also afforded me the option of looking back to see a couple of people cringing and a couple of teachers trying not to laugh. To top it off Jake made what he meant as respectful remark about how cool it was to see so many great Christian girls around. This time there was not suppressing the laughter at this dude on stage and his mysterious friend no one seemed to be able to locate.
Janet Gillett – Too large a heart
When I was 12 I had a best friend named Marilyn, who was one of 7 children. Her older brother Terry, who was 15 had a terrible crush on me. I was too young to pay any attention to this until one Valentine’s Day. He gave me a giant heart shaped box of chocolate, which of course I could not refuse. I had only one problem about this transaction, how to get it home and safely under my bed without my mother seeing it. She would make me return it no doubt, plus even more concerning to me was the size of it. It was twice the size of the one I had bought for her. So I decided to break in to my own house. I climbed up to the bathroom window but struggled with removing the screen quietly and in my haste tore a huge hole in it. Now even though I made it safely inside with this treasure of chocolate , a confession was necessary. As you can imagine , all did not go well.
Lilianna Gillett – Lili and Levi