When I was a senior in high school, back in 1970, the French Club (which I was a member of) was going to take a trip to France after graduation. I was seventeen at the time and Mom was concerned about me traveling to Europe with those in the class who were going to make the trip. So she nixed the idea and I thought I would be in Chicago for the summer.
That was until my uncle offered me a summer job in southern Germany making precision drafting instruments for Teledyne Post, the leader in high end drafting boards, slide rules (back in the day), various french curves and other drawing tools. The plant in Pfronten, Germany made the metal compasses and other high end tools that engineers and architects used to make their drawings. I was to spend forty five days overseas that summer.
I left Chicago O’Hare on the Pan Am Clipper Intrepid, the second 747 to take off from O’Hare – on July 1, 1970. We landed in London where this 17 year old saw Harrods, Buckingham Palace and a host of other tourist sites before heading to Germany on the 4th of July. After landing in Munich, I took a train to Pfronten around 60 miles south, arriving late at night – far later than we expected. The guy I travelled with was the son of one of Dad’s clients and he was headed to college in the fall, just as I was.
Anyway, it would takes months to tell you all the experiences I had but suffice it to say that I grew a lot being “on my own” in Europe for the summer. I lived with a family, worked at the factory, walked miles to and from work each day – and made $.97 per hour. I was paid “women’s wages” as a foreigner because the government didn’t want me to take the place of a “breadwinner.” How things have changed in the meantime.
I also travelled to Zurich, saw King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein castle and had the great fortune to see the Passion Play at Oberammergau. That play is put on every ten years in grateful appreciation for God having spared the town from a plague hundreds of years ago. It is quite famous and our local hosts were able to secure tickets for the eight hour event near where we were staying. In fact, 2020 is one of the years the play was to be performed during the summer months but it has been postponed for a year or two as a result of the pandemic. The play depicts the life of Christ and local townspeople play various roles throughout their lives as they age. The year that I attended, I was told a man had been in the play 9 times, from a small baby to one of the crowd elders 90 years later!
I was also able to see Paris on the way home and all in all, it was a trip that I will never forget! I was grateful that Mom and Dad let me go to Europe and appreciated that my uncle was willing to let me work in the German factory for the summer. It was a great learning experience.
So what does all this have to do with my post tonight? Well, tomorrow I will celebrate 50 years since the day I returned home to O’Hare after my adventure. It does seem like a lifetime ago and ever since then, I have wanted to take Janet back to see where I lived and the various things that I did there. Janet has heard all the stories but it is different when you can experience it all firsthand.
So here I am – half a century after I went to Europe for the first time. Notre Dame has burned since I was there. Queen Elizabeth is still on the throne. The Berlin wall has come down. We have the International Space Station circling above us. I have had the good fortune to have built several businesses. And most importantly, Janet and I have been married almost 47 years, we have three children and 4 grandsons. I can’t say that I imagined any of this when I boarded that jet to London.
My faith has also deepened. I have attended college and seminary… Janet and I have raised our family to believe in God… and God continues to bless us! Every step of the way, God has had plans for my life and has been there, right by my side. Our verse for tonight comes the prophet Isaiah. He tells us, in Isaiah 26:4, “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” I have been a Christ follower for many decades now; and my trust in God continues to grow. That’s my encouragement for this evening. God wants to deepen His relationship with each of us. My prayer is that throughout the years, each of us will see how far we have progressed in our relationship with the Father and His Son, Jesus – wherever we are in the world; and there is even more to come. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…