On the same day the Exeter drug squad raided my house, I arrived in the Swiss Alps at L’Abri. I checked in at the office and then found my way to my assigned chalet four kilometers down the mountain from the main cluster of buildings. I knocked on the Dutch door and interrupted the house mother who was busy baking bread. She gave a disapproving look at my huge suitcases, not knowing they held a year’s worth of clothes, and pointed me up a ladder leading to the loft where she said my roommate was making my bed.
As I stood in the doorway of the bedroom, my roommate turned around and I gasped. “Peter!” I couldn’t believe that one of the girls from my Colorado Outward Bound patrol the year before was my roommate in a tiny town in Switzerland.
“I’m Barbara now,” she said.
I was exhausted after my encounter with the police in England, then a train and a plane, and another train, and a bus to Huemoz-Sur-Ollon, so I slept through dinner. When I awoke later that night I went to the kitchen to find something to eat. The other students living in the chalet were gathered around the dining room table. I stood at a distance and eavesdropped. They were tossing around unfamiliar terms like “I-V” and “Campus Crusade.” I listened for awhile, then suddenly got the gist of their conversation and couldn’t restrain myself. “You mean you don’t believe in evolution?”
They turned toward me in one concerted movement like a flock of birds and said in a collective voice, “You mean, you do?”
I hurried back to my room, puzzled and afraid that I’d landed in another strange and irrational corner of the universe.
The following morning I headed off to the study center to meet my assigned tutor, Udo Middelmann, who was married to one of the Schaeffers’ daughters. Clutching my I Ching under my arm, I stopped to ask directions from the housemother who was -working in the garden. She spied the I Ching and screamed, “That book should be burned!”
Now I was really confused. Why would I burn the book that directed me to L’Abri instead of San Diego? Why did these strangers reject evolution and the I Ching? A sliver of curiosity slid into my depressed mind and when I confided in Udo, he set up a course of study to help me examine these questions.