I have learned a thing or two via my journey on earth. I realize 20/20 hindsight is always the best. It is just too bad we don’t have the option of viewing life as it happens while holding a road map of the future. We would be very smart indeed.
I think of my sheltered life in a small, red neck community. I recall the events which propelled me to seek shelter away from the ongoing abuse which I was mired in. I had loving, caring parents so I do not speak of them. I speak of the long term abuse via my peers at school and the cold hearted indifference by teachers, those academians who should have protected a student. They did not and the abuse was etched into my soul.
So it was a year after I received my diploma I found myself boarding a commercial jet for Europe. I had planned to leave Kountze as soon as I could. I discovered a company that promised to get me to Europe and obtain a work permit for me. Of course this was not realistic. My parents knew little of overseas work or how to go about it. They supported my dreams to flee up into the clouds but I am sure they felt justifiable concern as well. I was 19 and had little preparation for a life overseas. I had no job experience and little money but off I went. The date was June 20, 1971 – Sunday.
My dream to move overseas had begun several years before. As is often the case – victims are prime targets for trollers or perps – who focus on the neediest and I assume I had a bull’s eye on my back. I met a twisted sister whose wild day dreams included going to live in London. She mixed enough Bible quotes to give her goofy quotes validity, especially to an impressionable teen. I planned to go to London. I focused on that dream and believed it would be the answer to the deep needs I experienced. By the time I finished high school I had shed myself of the perp. I had no respect for her but I did still hold to that dream. I had little to go on other than sheer determination but off I went.
The company was a fly by night farce. A group of several hundred found ourselves in Brussels in some abandoned villa. I wrote my parents of our so called living arrangements and the letter created a huge red flag. Within a few days those who were going to Germany were paired off, those going to Switzerland, etc. sent to their specific groups. The group going to England consisted of Delphine, a young woman from California. We became friends and later traveled across the English Channel together. As the midst from the sea separated and the White Cliffs of Dover emerged I felt my heart skip a beat. I was viewing the land I had longed for, dreamed of and read about.
An employee of the company whose name was Bunny traveled with us. He said he hoped we made it through customs and kept a safe distance to make sure we did. Once that hurdle was accomplished we boarded a Britrail train for London. I can remember looking out the window and seeing endless fields – livestock contentedly munching on green grass.
Once we arrived in London Bunny wished us well and disappeared. Delphine and I needed to find a place to live. We did find rooms near Albert Hall. Next was a job which meant we would be working without a permit. I discovered working as a temporary was a good way to earn cash. I also got a job working at a Wimpy’s burger. The owner kept hitting on me so that ended. I think of these events and marvel something bad did not happen to both Delphine and I. We were young women in a city of eight million people and we had no contacts. We were on our own.
One thing I learned – no matter how far I went – how fast the jet flew I would not get away from Kountze. The hurt went with me. It was a humbling discovery. It was reality. I had little self esteem and that created problems in and of itself.
After a few weeks of London Delphine went back to California. I stayed. Eventually I ended up in a flat as they call apartments in Ladbrook Grove. I even had a so called boyfriend for a short time until I was contacted by the company and informed I needed to go to Switzerland to work if I hoped to obtain a work permit for England so off to Switzerland I went.
I worked for a family on an estate. I could not speak their language and they could not speak mine. The owners of the estate the Mussey’s invited me to live on their property – a villa – but I was housed in the stables above the horses. I did work for them and learned Mrs. Mussey’s grandfather was Civil War Union General Sheridan. She spoke good English and encouraged me to return home. The company called me again and said they were going to send me to Klosters to work in a hotel. I recall Mrs. Mussey drove me to the train station. The dear lady even paid for my ticket and gave me money for a lunch. I rode on the Swiss train – and felt I was truly in a situation which I did not have the coping skills to make quality decisions. Of course the twisted sister was nowhere to be seen. Her idiotic yak seemed more irritating and disgusting with each passing mile.
Klosters is a beautiful town – famous for skiing. I recall the town and my stay at the Korhouse Hotel as a bump in the road. I met a girl there from Utah – Holly. She and I shared a room. The local police kept our passports which I did not like. A letter had been forwarded to me from London. My parents were trying to find me and had sent $50 to help out. God Bless my Big Thicket Parents!
Holly and I worked as maids. We cleaned the rooms and were allocated room and board as payment. On our days off we toured around the countryside. I recall a little boy would herd cattle up into the hills – past our window. We would open our ground floor bedroom window and offer him chocolate. He would always run over and thank us.
We learned Greta Garbo – the famous actress lived in the area and we did see her from time to time. At least we thought we did, a lean figure wearing a hat which she hid behind.
Holly and I decided to head to the American Embassy which was located not too far from Klosters and speak to someone regarding our passports. We were told by the American representative the passports were held to keep us from leaving. However, the local authorities needed to return them. We were relieved when we did receive our passports a short time later.
Holly and I both wanted to leave and did so a few days later. We headed west – across Germany, into Belgium. We were going to England. We boarded the ferry but were denied entry so had to return back to Europe. I ended up in Anterp and Holly and I were separated. I still had my return ticket. I knew I needed to return home. I stood outside a restaurant and asked a couple if they could help me? They spoke little English but did invite me into their home. They provided a hot meal and a hot bath and later took me to the airport. I never got to thank them properly.
I returned to the states almost as brutalized as I had been before I left. I learned one does not just go overseas to work. One has to have proper papers. One also needs money. Europe was inexpensive then compared to now. The school counselor never once provided information as to overseas employment. The twisted sister sure didn’t. I did write to her and informed her of her so called dreams. She never responded. I doubt she ever went out of the states.
I share these memories in the hopes my experiences will assist others. Those who seek to fly into the clouds will not proceed without proper knowledge. The internet has created an awesome resource for anyone who has the desire to learn. The internet did not exist 45 years ago. Emails, texts, cell phones, tablets were unknown words and the three tv channels I watched provided entertainment for the majority of America.
I have also learned the emotional wounds have remained. Only the Lord can heal them. The wounds may stay – and serve as a reminder than HE is able and can create beauty from ashes. Like the burn victim – whose scars will never leave – so it may hold true for me? I forge ahead as best I can. Along the way I seek to help others, serve HIM by serving you.
I have been to Europe 10 times and traveled to other foreign countries. I was based in Houston for nearly three decades. I returned home to Kountze in 2001 to care for my dad and inherited the home and some acres. I remind myself of the scripture found in Genesis 50:20 “What the devil meant for bad God meant for good.”
I did hear from Holly several times. She returned to Utah and enrolled in college. Delphine wrote to my parents wanted to know if I was ok? I appreciated her concern. I appreciate those whose lives reflected God’s grace in a wilderness. I know that HE has sustained me and provided for me and will continue to do so.
BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!