Monday, May 5, 2014

Danke Deutschen

A few days ago I went to have ice cream with a bunch of friends. (useless bit of information but I so love ice cream and my friends that I decided to give it a shout out).
At the age of 16, I could not form a proper English sentence beside: "Hello, my name is..." , "Thank you very much" and "Nice to meet you, good bye.". To my utter humiliation... 
During the summer of that sweet sixteen, my parents offered me  trip to Germany. I panicked. All I heard before was that Germans are very stern, very rigid, have very strong personalities,  and that they will basically not help anyone unless they spoke German. I barely knew English. I am seriously (ill-ly) disoriented. Topped with a wandering spirit (I am with a group and out of the bluest blue I almost always find myself behind or ahead and I totally lose the group!), I was doomed, I thought. 

Day 1- 5 pm - Munich. Rathaus-Glockenspiel Clock Tower. Everyone stopped to behold this masterpiece. The music plays. The figurines start to dance. It is so beautiful. It felt like I stood there for a lifetime.  The Bavarians wins. The music ends. I look around me. No one is there. My heart beats hard. I search my pockets for the address of my hotel. I get the map out . I turn it 90 degrees, then other 90 then another... then back to first position. I turn in my place a full circle. I sit ready to weep. "Français?" "French" "Me lost, speak French". Nods of no, looks of pity in their eyes. Until a guy saw me, tears in me eyes. He looked very German. I did not even approach. He comes towards me. Says things in German that sounded totally like a call for war or something.
Me: "No English. No German. Me lost." 
Guy: "Me no English. Map?"
Me: "Yes. map." 
I hand him my map and my address. He smiles big. Makes sign in his hands of something tiny. Smart me guess that he meant close. He walks. I follow. Point to the hotel sing. I find my friends. They were looking for me. I try to explain my gratitude to the wonderful German. I just wave stupidly. He waves back. I sit. He goes on in his way. 

I never forgot this incident. There was so much compassion in the eyes of that wonderful stranger. I thought, my, I did not even ask him for help, something in him was genuinely kind. In my mind I was trying to avoid all circumstances where I would be in need of the natives because of the myth I built about their unwillingness to help and dislike of foreigners but I was confronted with such a generous freeness to help from the very first day till the day I left (and trust me that was not the only time I got lost!) that I can only remember them graciously now. 
I learned something very valuable from this daring gentleman. He did not think about the language barrier. He did not think of the risk he took to talk to a stranger. He did not think about anything beside trying to help a person clearly in need. And I learned that many times we are not equipped for the task ahead but with the mere courage of having the willingness and taking the step, comes a lot of blessings, if not all the blessings we need for the journey. I learned that when I hear the call of duty ringing, to stop and go forth without counting on the languages I know or know not, about the strangeness of the journey ahead or its normality but to trust the Spirit that leads and take a leap of faith, of faith in Him who set the course before us. And I pray that He takes away my cowardice and replaces it with bravery no matter what the cost is! 

ps. Thank you German people for the lesson and for the wonderful hospitality!
pps. I am NOT, unfortunately, with Germany in the world cup. Just thought it was important to mention!

1 comment:

  1. Fa2astiné, I'm with Germany. And what a great lesson to learn! Thanks for sharing:)