Relying on the Kindness of Strangers

           We have had some gracious hospitality on this trip from friends (Thank you again and again Greens and also Rops.).  It has been really fun to see how they are living their European lives and so nice to stay at the Green home and eat at the Rops table.  What we didn’t at all anticipate, however, is the unreserved help from people we don’t even know.  It began soon after we crossed the border into Germany.  At about the only restaurant open in Freidrichsberg on Boxing Day, the uncomfortable proprietors went and fetched their young adult son when they realized we spoke mostly English.  Their son was so cute, much like ours,  and gave us a charades walk through the menu so we could order something, sometimes flapping his hands to help him think of a word or making very literal translations like “The pig meat is covered with wheat”.  We took his suggestion for his favorite menu item and it was excellent:  their house schnitzel.  So sweet.  Lots of warm goodbyes from his family when we left.
            We are trying to travel through Europe as economically as we can and so we asked a friend who teaches at an international school in Germany if anyone on his staff would be interested in a vacation home exchange.  This would involve a place in Germany for a few days in exchange for a vacation in mild Tunis.  A single woman immediately responded to the request even before she knew there was an exchange offer on the table.  She was happy to have five people she doesn’t know stay in her beautiful apartment in Munich while she is away on Christmas vacation.  Absolutely unbelievable.  I hope so much that she takes us up on our end of the offer, brings along a friend, and gives us a chance to say thanks in person and return this whole-hearted gesture.
            When our study of the train schedule and ticketing options went from 5 minutes to 10 to 15, an engaging woman wearing big white sunglasses came to our assistance.  She had worked in Florida for six years and recognized our type.  With her help, we successfully purchased our tickets from the vending machine and then she went ahead and walked us to the station so we could visit for a few more minutes.  She gave us several gut busting laughs enroute and then she said goodbye, shaking each of our hands, and left us to our day.
            Finally, we have only kind things to say about the staff at the Pasing Klinikum where we took our Jordan (Steelquists, he’s our Jordan for the time being) to finally deal with the possible parasite he has been carrying around for about 12 days.  Shy receptionists rushed off to get coworkers who spoke some English to help us.  A bilingual doctor got accurate information and some tests to diagnose the problem and get some antibiotics started.  Everyone on duty pitched in to serve the Americans and we got the treatment we needed.
            This all reminds me of the quote from the Bible about being kind to strangers.  In that quote, the strangers are made out to be the angels, but in our case, it’s the other way around.

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