A couple of years ago, my sisters, parents, and I planned a trip to visit Egypt and the Holy Land. While booking flights from Honolulu to Cairo, I noticed some awesome flights to Germany where I lived as an au pair during 1996-1997. The Meyers said I could visit for a few days, so the trip expanded into a visit with them and temple hopping to the temples I hadn’t been to in Western Europe.
Because of the hopping I planned, I couldn’t leave baggage control to chance so I carried one awesome backpack and another small bag. European baggage requirements are even smaller than the US requirements, so I bought an appropriately sized bag. I left Hawaii in March, anticipating a warm experience in Cairo and a warm-ish one in Israel. I knew Europe would be chilly, but only had room for a hoodie, which I planned to just wear on me. Besides, I don’t own a coat anymore. For extra warmth, I took an old airplane blanket and the one long-sleeved shirt I owned and just hoped for the best. Besides, it was just a couple of days, right?
After a wonderful reunion with my beloved German family, I boarded a train and headed towards Sweden. This section of the trip was the longest, including a ferry crossing and riding an overnight train through Sweden to Stockholm.
On the German trains, I traveled in warmth and comfort. But the train options to Stockholm, in the middle of the night, proved to be quite drafty and tankish. I found an inside seat and leaned against the wall using my bag as an extra blanket as I slowly froze. With frequent stops, the doors opened and Arctic air blasted the car.
But it was only one night. I’ve learned I can endure anything if I know the endpoint.
At 2:00 AM, I prepared to disembark to catch the final train to Stockholm. The train came to a stop. I looked at my fellow passengers totally bundled up. I figured I’d desperately underestimated what I was about to walk out into. Immediately, I knew I was right about that.
After two steps into the cold, my eyelashes and nose hairs froze. I followed the crowd towards the station, eagerly expecting some respite. To my horror, the station had closed for the night, so we had to stand outside for the next train scheduled to arrive around 2:30 AM.
I found an enclosed staircase from the station to the platform I needed and huddled there with other passengers. Several shook their heads at me and asked, “American?” I just laughed. Yes, of course. I definitely stood out. Compared to their winter apparel, I might as well have been naked. I kind of felt like I was. And just like in the parable of the ten virgins, the wise virgins provided no respite.
After a frigid eternity, the half an hour wait passed. The train arrived and I ordered my body to move towards a train car. I literally stumbled in, found a seat, and pulled my appendages in as close as possible to stimulate circulation and body heat. Half sitting, half laying in that fetal position, I half slept for the last few hours to Stockholm.
It took me a bit to get my bearings in the bustling Stockholm train station. Each moment and connection mattered in order for me to see all the temples and catch my plane to Cairo in two days. I nearly got on the wrong train but felt a quiet prompting to recheck the route to Västerhaninge.
The public transit train was warmer. I melted into a seat hoping I’d interpreted Swedish correctly.
I soaked in the sunshine peeking through a cloudy sky as we rattled along suburban Stockholm. The residual cold reminded me I’d been foolish. But I knew the temple would be a warm haven that I’d relish.
I hopped off at my stop to begin my walk to the temple, knowing I’d arrive about a half hour before the temple opened and bracing for cold. My phone told me the morning sun had warmed the temperature to 2 Centigrade (35.6 Fahrenheit) so I had hope for survival.
The Västerhaninge sky was perfectly clear. Soon into the walk, Moroni burst into view, the sun setting him ablaze. I felt warm delight and hurried along the path. Before long, I found myself at the temple grounds. Gratefully, they were open.
I stepped into the garden and sat on a bench. The sunlight embraced me. I felt chilly but not cold. I felt fine enough for a husband check-in call. As I related my near-death adventures (which he’s never super happy to know about), I felt warmer and brighter. After our quick call, I noticed that when I arrived at the temple, while still outside in near-freezing temperatures, the chill of the night thawed and I felt physically bathed in the light of the sun. What a difference in waiting for a half hour!
That Swedish trip segment became such a meaningful metaphor for me. While wandering in an unknown land’s dark and bitter chill, I felt alone while fighting for survival. But the very moment I saw the temple of God in that same unknown land, it bathed my soul in light, warmth, and rejoicing. I’d found home again at the house of the Son.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.