We are home now. We spent our last three days in Central Europe in three of the four country capitals situated on the Danube – Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest – and rode our last train bound for the fourth capital – Belgrade. The Danube, beautiful although not blue, is the second longest river in Europe, stretching from the Black Forest in Germany to the Black Sea in Romania.
During these three weeks, my aesthetic tank has been filled to overflowing. I’ve revelled in the beauty of God’s artistry and man’s architecture. We’ve imbibed in culture, both glorious musical and visual art (I’m trying hard with Steve) and also ethnically. Centuries-old history everywhere permeates the present in Europe. I’ve been reunited with former teammates, now dear friends of both of ours, and we’ve hopefully encouraged (and definitely been encouraged by) the scads of missionaries we’ve visited. We’ve had interesting conversations, often deepening to a spiritual level, with fellow travelers we’ve encountered from America, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Sweden, and Hungary.
All this on a budget. We flew for free over the pond, traveled from country to country by train (the best way to see Europe), and received discounts on hotels and boats because of our environmentally-friendly train travel. Some of our three-star hotels were great and some not so; none were air-conditioned but all had hearty breakfasts. To save money and to fulfill one of my secret ambitions, I served as our tour guide, bringing local history, music, and art into my tours. Even in the places that I’d never visited before, I studied up, raised my pink umbrella high in the air, and led my tour group of one (curiously, only Steve joined in) to explore wonderful ancient cities.
And then a pleasant surprise unfolded. After more than two years of trying to track down the building on the cover of my book, I not only discovered the name during this trip but even saw it in person. My former neighbor in Budapest, an architect, identified the building as the Sanssouci Neues Palais in Potsdam (former East Germany) – just outside Berlin. Steve and I hopped on the metro in Berlin to find it. I love that sans souci means “without a care.” Since my book is about God providing everything we need to do whatever He calls us to do, without a care feels very appropriate.
God graciously enabled us to take this trip without a care. No pickpockets, no missed connections, no illnesses. No worries. Only lots and lots of good things. I am very thankful.