there are many things i want to write about, but as i reflect back on our trip, one thing sticks in my mind: the amazing kindnesses of strangers in other lands. this has been true on every trip we've taken outside the united states, and this trip was no exception. as we traveled on a local train outside salzburg on our way to oberndorf to visit the "stille nacht" church, a kind austrian lady picked up on our uncertainty about where to disembark and where to go once we did get off the train. in flawless english she answered every question. with her help, we left the train at the proper stop, and, as we stepped down, another austrian couple introduced themselves and offered to escort us to the church, as they were making their annual pilgrimage there.
as we walked along, they explained that they live near vienna and come to salzburg every december for the christmas markets and concerts. they always make a trip out to oberndorf to visit this little chapel built to commemorate the creation of the world's best-loved christmas song, and it was our good fortune to choose to make our pilgrimage on the day they had chosen. we had a wonderful time visiting with them and learned through them that we could cross a bridge over the salzach river into the town of laufen, germany, and cross another bridge back into austria on the other side of laufen. we four made this long trek together, and this time with these former strangers, now friends, is one of our fondest memories of our trip to germany, austria, and switzerland.
there are many other instances of such kindnesses that i could tell, but this one serves to illustrate how much we are all the same and how there are always others along our paths that are ready to help us. my prayer today is that you and i can be one of those who find ourselves on the side of the path
when another needs our help. may we be the "good samaritan" for another this day. shalom.