Monday, January 30, 2017

Lessons I learned on the Tram

It's true.  You can learn a lot of life lessons from riding a tram.  Maybe it's because I'm out of my comfort zone, so I'm relying much more on faith these days.  But I feel like I've had a lot of little nudges from Heaven that have reminded me of some very important principles.  I'll share.  

Our first day here in Basel, we had a million of errands to run, in addition to the vital ones that allow us to live in this country legally.  We grabbed the kids and ran to tram #11 so we could head into the city and start checking off our list.  Joe had ridden the tram before.  I had ridden the tram before.  Our kids, had not.  As we arrived at the stop, Joe and I parked the stroller and sat on the bench that was well behind the white lines in the "safe zone."  The kids, immediately upon seeing the railroad tracks, got excited and were dancing and goofing around on the white lines and even crossing them as they got dangerously close to the tracks and as they leapt onto tanbark.  In an instant, we pulled ourselves out of our jet-lagged haze and taught the kids the importance of respecting those white lines.  Why they were there.  What purpose they served.  To be safe, it was important to stay comfortably on this side of that paint.  We never put Mack's stroller on those lines... we kept him safely away from them until it was time to board the tram.  The closer they "danced" around the paint, the closer they would come to heartache and danger.  Take that analogy on whatever level you'd like.  As our kids are getting older and having a tad more independence, I pray every day that they choose joy through Jesus Christ.  I am forever grateful that no matter what happens, He knows and understands them just like He knows and understands me.  That He will be there for them even when I can't.  I love my Savior.  So.  Much.

Another day.  Another tram lesson.  
Trams in Switzerland are known for their exactness.  When you look up at the schedule it is says that the tram will be here in 3 minutes, it will be here in 3 minutes and it will not wait for you.  It's also known that trams don't break down.  Well, on the kids first day of school, Joe, Mack and I went into the city to set up our bank account.  We had plenty of time to be there for the "first day" pick up.  It was a big deal!  Kindergarten, 3rd grade and 6th grade (junior high, oh my).  We hopped on the tram ready to make our way to pick up the kids.  We were crossing the Rhine River (how cool is that, by the way?!)  when there was a loud bang and then a jolt that threw us all forward.  And then we stopped.  There was a lot of German being spoken everywhere around us and over the intercom.  And Joe and I just stood there looking at each other, not knowing more than "thank you," "hello," and "please," in German yet.  
We finally started asking people around us what was going on, but unfortunately, even though everyone thinks everyone speaks English here, we happened to be on a tram where no one could tell us anything.  We obviously knew something had happened, but we weren't understanding the instructions that were blaring over the speakers.  FINALLY, after the tram slowly started going again, we thought everything was ok, and we stayed put.  What we didn't know, was that the tram was damaged, and it was making it's way back to the station,  in the complete opposite direction of where we were initially headed.  This was the only tram line that took us to our kids, and it was shutting down.  We didn't know the bus routes well enough to know how to figure out how to get to them.  Time was ticking away and it looked like we would be late picking them up on their very first day of school.  Suddenly, a man, half Joe's size, who spoke very broken English, with the worst breath I've come across since a few doozies in my dental hygiene school days, grabbed Joe's shirt and said, "I take you.  I take you to Aesch."  He had obviously heard us talking about needing to get to the canton, Aesch, where our kids would be waiting for us.  He literally helped us off the tram, made our way through a maze of people, and then we blindly followed him as he weaved in and out of streets until we came upon a bus.  He made sure we all got on the bus, and then another bus, and then guided us safely to another tram so we could get back to Aesch.  All we could do was say "Danke" over and over again.  We didn't have the vocabulary we would have liked to thank him properly, but we were so grateful for his goodness that day.  
And then it hit me.  How grateful I am for the guidance of the Holy Ghost in my life.  How many times is my Father in Heaven trying to tell me or teach me something, and I am not listening because I'm not in tune with His "language."  It is the gift of the Holy Ghost, like the smelly saint who literally grabbed us and guided us to our destination, who helps me get closer to my goal of being on the same path as Jesus Christ.  Physical goal:  LEARN GERMAN.  Spiritual goal:  Continue to learn how God speaks to me.  

And Finally.  My last tram lesson for the day.  
Joe and I had just parted from our "Swiss Culture" welcome course.  He went back to work and Mack and I were headed home to run some errands before picking the kids up from school.  This time, I drove into the city, but was taking the tram just a short way to the parking garage.  It was the middle of the day and since I had just learned that from 12-2pm every day is considered "quiet time," not many people were with me on the tram.  My stop arrived and I pushed the button to alert the driver that I'd be getting off.  I grabbed the stroller and headed out with Mack in front of me, when to my surprise, the front two wheels of the stroller didn't hit the curb, but fell straight out of the tram and into this empty space in between the curb and the tram.  As they did, the entire stroller started to fall as well, and I was headed right over the top of it.  Suddenly, out of no where, I felt a strong hand on my upper arm, and another hand grabbing the stroller, as they pulled us to safety.  Startled, I looked up, and saw 2 older gentleman, of different nationalities, who had jumped to our aid.  Again, I mumbled a bunch of "danke's," frustrated with myself that I didn't know enough German yet to properly thank these gentlemen for saving us from a nasty fall.  As I walked toward the parking garage, I thought of these men.  I don't even know if German was their first language.  I do know that they didn't need to help me.  But they chose to.  
With so much political turmoil in the world and especially in the US with the recent election, I have seen and read about so much division and hatred.  But this day, I witnessed kindness from complete strangers who didn't speak my language.  And they may have not spoken each other's native tongue.  But they chose to be kind to someone who is a newcomer to their land.  And I choose to follow their example and be kind.  There is still a lot of good in this world.  And I choose to focus on it and try to spread it in my own life.  Refugees, friends, immigrants, family members, neighbors, strangers...  We should treat everyone with respect.  What the world would be like if we could all just "try a little harder to be a little better." (Gordon B. Hinckley).


Laura said...

I love you Julie! Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

MC & FA Berryhill Family said...

Awesome analogies Julie. I shed a tear or two reading these beautiful stories. It's so humbling being in a foreign country depending on complete strangers, the Holy Ghost, and Heavenly Father. Thanks for sharing!
Love you!

Jill said...

what an adventure. your posts bring back so many memories of Tokyo. once coming home from church, Trent's leg fell in that gap getting off the train. I pulled him out but we lost a shoe and it got ran over! he had to walk home with one shoe. another time while waiting for a train emily dropped her library book on the tracks. I have no idea how that happened. but we were able to get a station master and he got it for us. I love reading all your posts!