I took advantage of this break in our classroom duties to do a bit of exploring on my own. Prior to the trip, I had contacted a new friend living in Slovakia who hosts a Bed & Breakfast for missionary families. A missionary kid, and former international teacher, Amber Stark saw the need to come along side of those serving around the globe and she hosts a place for them to rest and refresh. Wanting to know more about this endeavor, I planned a visit to her home in Vrbovce-Šance, located close to the NW Czech/Slovak border. My first challenge was buying a train ticket to the right destination! Piece of cake, er, Koláč! thanks to the help of one of my students, whom I chanced to meet as I walked to the station. The two hour ride required one transfer in Zilina. No problem, the two LDS missionaries I saw within minutes of departing the first train were eager to help. Grabbing my bags, they lead me to the right platform and I was good to go! Having made the connection, I was headed in the right direction and could relax, find a seat and enjoy the beautiful Slovak countryside our train passed through. I engaged in a surprising conversation with my seat mates, trying to explain that I was a visiting American, here to teach English and hunting for my Slovak Grandfather’s roots. One seat mate willingly translated my narrative to the others who wrote down the names of my family. I thought they were all traveling together, but they didn’t even know one another! They urged me to hurry to the doors, my stop was next!
My hostess found me waiting outside at the station and we drove to her “oasis” as LifeImpactministries.org calls their many retreat locations around the world. Leaving the city, we drove through fields, hills and beautiful rural landscapes. I relished experiencing new places and new faces.
Sunday morning Amber and I left her church family just as they were enjoying a meal together, so that I could catch my train back to Martin. A quick good bye and she pointed me to the right platform to await my ride. Changing trains at the Zilina station went smoothly, thanks to the ticket agent who left her office to point me to the right platform and I was on my way back to Martin. With a sigh of relief and sense of accomplishment, I had made it back safely, well, with some divine interventions! Walking back to the dorm, 10 minutes away, I found my roommates had moved into our new home for the upcoming week and had deposited my large suitcase in my upstairs dorm room. Déjà vu! Same room from 2015, my first visit! Let the English classes begin!