Conversation With a Taxi Driver

I’ve never sat in so many taxis in one week! On our family vacation in Dubai, we chose not to rent a car, so taxis were the handiest means of transportation for us. Since this city is amongst the most international in the world, our drivers were from various countries: Kenya, India, Pakistan, Jordan, etc.

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Given the current political strife between the USA and Pakistan, when our driver from Pakistan found out we were Americans, he turned the subject to President Trump and politics. We gave him the opportunity to share his views and were sympathetic toward his situation. We laughed together when talking about life in general. Finally, when we were almost at our destination, he said in his broken English, “The people get along with each other and even like each other, while our governments fight.”

I saw a wonderful movie once that portrays this perfectly. It was a Hallmark Christmas movie I highly recommend called Silent Night (made in 2002). American soldiers during WWII find shelter in a cabin inhabited by a German woman and her young son. Before they can leave, a couple of German soldiers arrive seeking shelter as well. It is Christmas time and the woman insists the weapons be placed outside until they can all leave. The soldiers reluctantly agree. It’s a stirring film, forcing these soldiers to look beyond the political disagreements, propaganda, and prejudices, and finally seeing each other as human beings. The movie is thought-provoking and deeply moving.

Over the past 30 years of our marriage, my husband and I have opened our home to people from various parts of the world, often from countries where our governments are not allies. We’ve shared many meals and conversations with people who, politically, should be our enemies. The wonderful thing about opening yourself up to people from different cultures and backgrounds is that it forces you outside of your little box. You are compelled to see the world through someone else’s eyes. You are stirred toward compassion for the plight of others and gain an enlightened understanding.

God doesn’t look at the world through an American lens or even a western lens.  His view encompasses the entire globe and His plans are for His Kingdom — not ours. This is how God instructed the children of Israel to treat the foreigners among them. “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34 NASB)

We must never forget we were once foreigners. Maybe you, yourself, were not, but your forefathers were. How would you have wanted them to be treated? Treat others that way. I didn’t say, “How were your ancestors treated?” I asked, “How would you have wanted them to have been treated?” Jesus said, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” (Matthew 7:12 NLT) Again, he didn’t say to treat them as they have treated you, but rather, as you want them to treat you.

When I moved to this country years ago as a young girl of almost eight, I briefly attended a school in Philadelphia. I was a minority there and one girl in particular had it out for me. She picked on me whenever she found the opportunity. Not knowing the language yet, I could not defend myself well. A few months later, after my family moved to New Jersey, I  attended a school in the suburbs. My second-grade teacher taught me to read in English in the back of the classroom while the other students were working on an assignment. When I became fluent in my reading, she instructed me to read a page of the book in front of the classroom. After I finished, my classmates started clapping for me. I felt accepted and welcomed. It was a wonderful feeling! Now I had a choice. I could treat others, including foreigners, as my classmate in Philadelphia had treated me or I could encourage them as my classmates in New Jersey had encouraged me. My choice determines my future.

There isn’t much we can do about how our governments treat each other outside of the voting booth, but there is much we can do for the foreigner in our town or neighborhood. Why not show kindness and let them feel welcomed? If you see someone being impatient with a foreigner or unkind, why don’t you step in and try to help them? Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

I doubt I will ever meet the taxi driver in Dubai again, but I’m glad we gave him a good impression of people in America. Should someone ever speak ill about Americans in front of this man, maybe he will remember the American family he enjoyed chatting and laughing with for a few minutes in his taxi cab in Dubai. It may not make a difference globally, but if everyone reaches out in love, imagine what an impact that would make over time.

 

Breathtaking Views and a Sign

A cable car took us high up onto a mountain in Grindelwald, Switzerland. The view was breathtaking! It’s something we’ve seen in pictures and wondered if it could really be this magnificent if we saw it with our own eyes. Now, as we stood there taking it all in, the splendor was beyond description. Hiking around the top of a mountain over 7,000 feet above where we had parked our car, we gazed in wonder and gasped at the things we could see, wishing all our closest friends and family could be there to savor it all with us.

When we reached a certain peak, there was a sign someone had posted. It was there to remind travelers, tourists, and shepherds of who was responsible for all we could see. Whose hand created it. Who is worthy of our praise. I don’t know the person who posted the sign or how long ago it was placed there, but I realize they, too, were enraptured by all that stood before them and they knew who was responsible for putting it there.

fullsizeoutput_1ceeEverything that has breath,
Praise the Lord. – Psalm 150:6

“Our land in all its splendor,
Its mountains, its corridors,
Are the witnesses of your might,
Traces of your fatherly goodness.

Everything in us bows,
Great things you have done.”

K. V. Greyerz

(Translation of poem by Curt Dalaba)

An Amazing Vacation

fullsizeoutput_1cc8My husband and I just returned from traveling to Europe for two weeks to celebrate our 30-year wedding anniversary.

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We started out in Munich, Germany.

 

 

 

 

 

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Stayed a couple nights in Grindelwald, Switzerland and enjoyed some amazing scenery.

 

 

 

 

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We traveled down to Lago Maggiore, Italy, and stayed at a lovely Airbnb.

 

 

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Finally, we drove to Altach, Austria and visited some of my family.

 

 

 

 

It was an amazing vacation we will never forget. We had the opportunity to use the German language again, which was a lot of fun. We met many people in our travels, and each one played a part in the enjoyment of our trip. From the workers in hotels and restaurants, to our Airbnb host in Italy, to a young mother and toddler at a rest stop in Austria, to a street sweeper in Germany, my family, a priest, a 90-year old Austrian lady, and four young boys asking us to check out the goods they were selling in their backyard — everyone added to the richness of our experience in Europe. Even my aunt’s dog, Chuck. (After we left, my aunt told me Chuck walked around the house whining. Poor dog…)

On our last Sunday, we attended a church in Switzerland: Glaubenszentrum St. Margrethen. People greeted us as we walked up the stairs to enter the building. More people greeted us as we walked into the sanctuary. It was a warm and welcoming church. They sang the same songs we sing at our church in Michigan, except in the German language. The message was solid and the building was packed.

Now that we are home again, I want to contemplate all that I saw, tasted, felt, and experienced. Perhaps some of this will be implemented into my writing at some point in the future.