The rest of our weekend in Haarlem was blessed and taught me so much. We even had the chance to visit the chapel of Our Lady of All Nations on December 12, which was Our Lady of Guadalupe’s memorial. I felt so honored that we were able to visit on one of Mary’s special days! It was especially powerful for me since Our Lady of All Nations played a huge role in my discernment process of becoming a European missionary.
Sunday’s Life Night quickly came and went, and then, it was time for us to get on another set of trains to travel home. The journey started off well. We were accompanied to the station by some friends who helped us find the train we needed. They also warned us that we would only have 2-5 minutes to catch our connecting train in Amsterdam. As soon as our train reached the station, Ashley and I jumped out and raced to catch our next train. We found the right platform and could see our train in the distance. We ran, carrying all of our heavy luggage. It seemed as if we couldn’t run fast enough, though; people were racing past us to get to the train.
The handle on Ashley’s bag had broken over the weekend, so it was an extra challenge for her to carry it. I had my own difficulties, as well, as I was carrying our heaviest bag. I was also still in recovery from being very sick and it was incredibly hard for me to breathe. So, Ashley was able to run faster than me. I looked around and saw people waiting for their trains. I knew that time was running out and then thought to myself that we might be able to make the train if a strong man could carry my suitcase for me. So, I decided to ask for help. Due to the high level of adrenaline running through my system, my “asking” came out as a half-way scream (in English) for help. As you might have guessed, it wasn’t answered.
I kept running; I couldn’t breathe, but I kept running. I saw that Ashley had reached the train. She was sweetly encouraging me to keep going. Then, it seemed as if I couldn’t keep running. I felt like I was going to collapse. But, I didn’t. I persevered and made it to the train. It was a beautiful yellow color with dirt clouding the paint and the red break lights were such a great sight to see. Suddenly, I realized that the doors had already closed. I screamed for someone to open the door, but it didn’t work. (By this point, I should have gotten the hint that screaming in a train station doesn’t do much good). Then, the train began to chug away. I fell to the ground and shouted “NOOOOOO” in a very dramatic tone. I was coughing so badly. My lungs were such a mess that I was coughing up phlegm. There we were; two girls, at night, in the Amsterdam train station.
Thankfully, there was one last train that was going to our destination that night. We caught it and finally arrived in Sittard at 12:45am. Ashley and I were so excited to get off the train. We grabbed our stuff and waited for it to stop. When the train came to a halt, we pushed the button for the doors to open. We waited. We waited longer. And, we waited still longer. The doors didn’t open. We tried a different button, and that didn’t work either. Our already panicked minds began to fly into a frenzy as we knew that we probably only had 2 minutes to get off the train before it kept going to the next city. We decided to run into a different train car; those doors wouldn’t open either. We felt so alone, stuck in a train in the middle of the night. I dropped my stuff so as to seek help. I found one man sitting in the car and asked if he could help us open the doors. He came running. The doors opened. Then, he asked if everyone was okay as I had given him the impression that someone was dying because I was so frantic!
Other than completely embarrassing myself that night, the Lord taught me something very important. I learned that sometimes the Lord permits suffering, frustration, and loneliness so that we get to the point where the only thing we can do is scream out for His help. So often, I try to control my life. That night I was not able to control anything. I could only rely on the Lord, and I fought Him. I hated it. I felt sick. I was embarrassed by my screaming like a mad-woman in the train station. I wanted to be in control. But, I wasn’t; He was. We got home safely and unharmed that night. He was and is in control. He showed me that I am completely helpless when I am left to my own devices; I need Him.