It’s always fun to run in to friends when you’re at the supermarket or at the movie theater, but it’s even better to run in to them when you’re say….hiking the Swiss Alps. While that’s never happened to me, (I ran in to NO friends while hiking in the Swiss Alps) I have had more than my fair share of meeting up with friends in places I never thought they’d be.
1. Venice, Italy 2004 While I was an exchange student in Austria, my former roommate Kendra and our mutual friend Kaitlyn were both studying in Paris. The three of us met up at a campground just outside of the floating city for our Easter vacation. Venice is an incredible city for getting lost, and we wasted no time in doing just that. One evening we were strolling along a canal, trying to figure out how to get back to our ferry, when along came a tall handsome figure that looked vaguely familiar. “Jon?!” cried Kaitlyn with incredulity. Jon had gone to high school with Kaitlyn and I, and he was just as lost as we were.
2. Amsterdam, The Netherlands 2004 David and I were both traveling Europe during the summer of 2004, and we decided to meet up in Berlin. We spent a couple of days together exploring the city and then went our separate ways. I went to a small city called Hoogland in the Netherlands to visit (are you ready for this?) the daughter of a woman whom my mother had met in my hometown, and they got to chatting and realized they both had daughters in Europe, and arranged that we should meet up and I would stay with Ira and her Dutch husband. The two of them took me into Amsterdam on one of my days with them, and wouldn’t you know it, but there was David walking out of the Anne Frank house just as I was about to go in. He met up with us a couple of hours later and we all explored together.
3. Chemnitz, Germany 2005 I wasn’t present for this interaction, but I heard about it later. So. In 2004, I’d met a guy in Chemnitz named Christian, and we became pen pals for the next several years, and we’re actually still in (infrequent) contact with each other. After I returned from my Europe trip in 2004 (and had found God while in Switzerland), I was gung-ho for Jesus and preparing to join a musical ministry rock band called Watermark, which would tour the US, Germany, Romania and Poland in 2005-2006. At the time I joined, there was already one other team member selected, and that was Katja, from Chemnitz Germany. I immediately asked if she knew Christian, but she didn’t. Katja was later trying to locate Romanian songs that we could sing in the band, and her church directed her to a young man who had recently been on a mission trip to Romania. The two of them got to talking, realized the project was familiar to both of them, and then asked each other, “Wait…do you know Meghan?” “Yes…..do YOU know Meghan?!”Christian and Katja both contacted me later to say “Die Welt ist ein Dorf.” (The world is a village)
4. London, England 2012 The first time I met Owen and Kelly, they were new teachers who had just arrived in Changchun, China in late 2010. I was at the end of my year of teaching, so I only knew them for a couple of weeks before I went back to the States. This last summer, Mom and I were traveling through the UK after I taught English in St. Petersburg, Russia. We were on our way to Southampton, and were catching a train at Waterloo Station in London. I tried to go through the turnstile with my ticket, but it was broken, so I turned to the man behind me to tell him that there was a problem. We looked at each other, did the classic double-take and gave each other big hugs. It was Owen! He called Kelly on his mobile, and the three of us had a brief but joy-filled reunion before we had to run off to catch our trains.
It’s a small world, after all.