I could see her black and white polka dot leggings beneath the hanging banners. Her moving spotted legs kept my attention. Eleven years old and too young to wander the museum alone, I continued to monitor her location literally every few seconds.
Two weeks ago, we were in Munich, Germany, at the Dauchau concentration camp.
As grey a day as they come, rain drizzled depression on this dark place in history.
And two hours into our visit, after carefully knowing where my daughter was the entire time…
So I walked ahead, to the next room in the museum.
She wasn’t there.
And I started praying.
I turned and ran back to the two rooms before.
My heart began to pound.
Out the window, the barracks stood alone. As if in agreement with the underlying and growing tension, the sky opened up and rain poured down.
Where was my daughter?
I saw my husband and two teen boys. “Have you seen her?”
They had not.
Oh. My. God. Help.
We spread out to search for her. We’d meet back in fifteen minutes.
The time came. Nothing.
I’d run the entire museum four times.
“Taking every thought captive,” had never been more difficult. We were in a foreign country, she is a beautiful young girl – and the fear of her being abducted grew with each passing minute.
She’d been gone for over half an hour.
I started texting a few friends in the states to pray. I failed to notice it was 6am there.
And in eight minutes we found her.
She felt awful for scaring us – and we were all grateful and relieved.
Thankfully, she had gone back to the front of the museum, sat down on a bench in the small information room, and waited. I had checked in there three times, but she was sitting so I would have had to walk all the way in the room, and then turn completely around to see her. Obviously, I did not.
After all of us were settled, I thanked my friends for praying and realized I had wakened them. I also knew it was okay. We spent another hour and a half in the museum. The gaunt, empty and skeleton-like faces stared back at us from the black and white photographs. We read the stories about the American soldiers who found the camp, and the raw horror which greeted these young men. We learned about the people of Dauchau, many of whom actually saw the workers from the camp in their town, and who, while living in a place where the smell of death infiltrated their homes when the wind blew, insisted they knew nothing about the horrors of the place.
We left after walking through the barracks. We were soaked and cold. The 50 degree air and pouring rain had my joints screaming, but I did not complain. Instead, I was thankful. I thought of the inhabitants of the camps who spent months in worse conditions, never feeling warm at all on an average day. I had medicine to take, a warm place to go to, and would dry off eventually.
I was thankful my family was intact. I wept for the fathers and mothers who survived the packed cattle-car train ride to the camp, only to be separated forever from their children. I would not suffer this way, and neither would my kids.
I wondered about how poor economic conditions could leave a country so angry, hungry, and desperate for change that they could believe lies at this level and try to exterminate an entire people.
And I wondered about the residents of Dauchau. I wondered about those who know of evil and did nothing to stop it. I thanked God for the German soldiers who tried, and who refused to swear allegiance to Hitler. Many of them were killed in concentration camps, but they held to their convictions.
Dare you today to be thankful for the small things and to find contentment in your own circumstances. If you know where your kids are, if you have heat or air-conditioning, if you can speak out about what is right without being beaten or thrown in jail, if you have a friend or more you can call no matter what time it is, if you have bread in your pantry, if you know you will eat tomorrow. If you have medicine, shoes, and a way to get to work – and a job, no matter how small, that pays in blessings or actual money – be thankful. And be thankful if you have a husband, regardless of how imperfect your marriage might be, be thankful for the positive attributes of the man you married.
Dare you to thank God for all these things today.
Glad to be back. Please bear with me as my pushing-50 brain struggles with overcoming serious jet lag!
Love to you,