It’s now 1 PM. We’ve been traveling for nearly 5 hours. Our journey began with a one hour bus ride. When that ended, we hailed a taxi. The driver, who spoke no English, communicated that he would charge us 17 Euros. A Polish friend had told us to expect a charge of 20 Euros, so Gene asked the driver if 20 was okay. Stoic-faced, the man nodded. He detached the “taxi” sign from the roof of his car, tossed it into the trunk with our suitcases, and settled himself behind the steering wheel.
The taxi ride wound for 22 miles through lush countryside and took us across the Polish border. The road had partly washed out in several places, so it narrowed to single lane access periodically. As we approached the first Polish village, the driver pointed at a building on the right. “Train,” he said. Then he pulled over and stopped.
We’d expected to board a train, but our directions told us that our station was in the next town. The taxi driver motioned with his hands and verbally assured us that this station was okay, so we climbed out and whispered a little prayer. Gene stepped inside the station to inquire about tickets to our next stop and was delighted to find that the agent spoke a little English. She, too, assured him that we could catch the proper train at this station. Gene paid the driver, and off he drove, back to Slovakia.
Cold drinks are not always readily available in these countries, but this wee station had a cooler with a sparse supply of Nestea and Coca-Cola products. Cold lemon iced tea never tasted so good. A tiny grocery store across the street had a freezer filled with ice cream, and a good selection of yogurt and bananas. We felt like we’d struck gold! But the best part was the conversation with the train station’s ticket agent.
Her name was Iwona. A beautiful blonde gal, she was, about 24 years old. She seemed delighted to practice conversational English with us. She plugged in a kettle and made me a cup of instant coffee for no charge. I gave her a new cloth grocery bag, a souvenir of Canada, in exchange.
Iwona asked if we were tourists, traveling the world. I said, “No, but we come to your country once or twice every year.” I explained that we bring North American volunteers to teach English at family camps. Her eyes lit up. “This is wonderful,” she said. As we spoke, a thought came to my mind: Give her a Bible and tell her about your book that’s now available in her language.
And that’s exactly what I did. Just so happens that I’d stuffed bookmarks in my backpack before leaving home—bookmarks that show the covers of my four books. I gave one to her and pointed to Moving from Fear to Freedom. “This book has been written in the Polish language,” I said.
Iwona’s eyes nearly popped. “You speak Polish?”
“No, but someone translated it,” I said.
“I must buy this book,” she said.
My husband had been sitting nearby, doing some work on his laptop. Overhearing our conversation, he opened a file containing the cover image for the Polish edition of Moving from Fear to Freedom.
I showed Iwona the picture and gave her the internet link to the Polish distributor that carries the book. Then I handed her a copy of the New Testament (New Living Translation—the same translation we distribute at our family camps here). She gave me a beautiful smile and clutched the Bible to her chest. “Thank you!” she said. “I’m so excited. So very excited!”
Why did the driver drop us at the train station prior to the one our directions stated? I think I know. A young woman named Iwona was working there, and God is drawing her to Himself. What a joy to be part of His plan for her life. Would you pray for this gal? Ask God to give her a desire to read the Word. Ask Him to help her understand it and grant her the faith to believe it.
The train arrived a few minutes later, and off we went. I stood, looking out the window at the station as we chugged past, knowing that the likelihood of meeting Iwona a second time are nil. Then again, I met the Romanian granny two years in a row. Never say never.
The train ride lasted one hour, followed by a two hour bus ride. Well….maybe two will stretch into more because we hit road construction and had to take a detour. The bus on which I’m sitting now reminds me of the buses in Nepal. We’re winding along narrow country roads and chugging at walking pace uphill. Sometimes a breeze blows through open windows, but most often not. There was no cargo compartment, so our suitcases are stacked atop each other beside the driver’s feet. At least they won’t topple down the stairwell when they’re stacked like building blocks (as opposed to standing upright).
Another half hour or so remains. Then we’ll catch another train. That one will deliver us to Krakow where we’ll spend the night in a hostel. We’ve been there many times before, so the owner knows us. It feels like home away from home. Tomorrow we’ll catch another train to Gorzow. This leg will take 12 hours but require only one change. Praying for air conditioning and more divine appointments!