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Encounter on a Train
The conductor was obviously agitated and we were in danger. But why? And from whom?

It was three o'clock in the morning. My 20-year-old daughter, Kenda, and I were on the night train from Warsaw, Poland, to Prague, Czech Republic.

Kenda asleep on her berth

I'd worried about us traveling that stretch of our vacation route alone, but earlier that day, I'd taken my concerns to God.

Don't fear," I heard Him say. "I'll protect you." Relieved, I prepared for the trip.

Urgent message

Exhausted from our travels, we were drifting off to sleep when an urgent knock startled us. I stood quickly and pushed aside the soiled curtain that hung limply across the doorway. A conductor entered and launched into rapid Polish. Obviously agitated, she gestured with her hands in both directions along the car's corridor as she spoke.

Kenda glanced at me. Her wide eyes indicated she understood nothing, but she sensed the conductor's urgency and desperation to communicate.

"Yes, yes!" I nodded energetically to the conductor. "I know! I know!" She steadied her gaze on me and asked a question. "Yes, Yes!" I repeated, nodding. The woman's expression relaxed.

"Ah!" she sighed and smiled. "Dobrze!" She left, closing the door.

Message received

"Kenda," I said breathlessly. "Two thieves are loose on the train. They just robbed some people at the other end of the car. They were sleeping with the door locked, but the thieves jimmied the lock, snuck in and took everything of value - cameras, passports, wallets - everything. She said we have to lock our door too, and tie a piece of rope from the doorknob to the luggage rack so they can't pull it open."

We searched our suitcases, but we had nothing like a rope. What to do?

"How about we sleep in shifts?" Kenda suggested. "I'll sleep now and you stay awake."

"Good idea," I answered, assuming my post. Instead I quickly drifted off to sleep.

Suddenly, I was awakened by Kenda's alarmed voice: "Mom!"

I sat bolt upright at the sight of two pairs of men's dress shoes entering our cabin. The curtain had billowed forward and obscured our view of the men who wore them.

"Hey!" I yelled.

The shoes turned, the curtain fell back against the entrance, and the door slammed. By the time we jumped up, they were gone.

The rest of the trip passed uneventfully, but the wonder was this: I'd never spoken a word of Polish, but that night I'd been given the ability to understand what we needed to know.

God had promised to protect us, and He did.

Daina Doucet is a writer and editor based in Hamilton, Ontario. She is the online editor for

Originally published in a condensed version in Faith & Friends, November 2010. 

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