france · Switzerland · Uncategorized

France and the Swiss Farm

Originally posted 28 June 2010.

So! I think we left off after dinner at Pina’s Monday night. Tuesday, it was back to the farm! Jurg picked me up around 9:30 or so that morning, and we made a stop at the hardware store so he could get some stuff for the barn. Once we got home (I can feel totally secure in calling their place “home”!), Vreni gave me a huge hug and made sure I had the coveralls and work boots I needed. =) Back out to the barn! Today’s work: cutting rubber flooring for the cows to sleep on. =) The stuff was heavier and harder to cut than I expected! I was the official “oiler” so Jurg could make an easier cut. We had to fit them just right in the space we had to work with.

And then it was lunch time! We ate with Vreni’s parents, Bianca (another girl from church about my age), and two or three other neighbor’s who’d come to help Jurg with bigger stuff in the barn that afternoon. I will learn German by the time I go again… at least enough to have conversations! It’s fun just listening to them, though. 🙂

After lunch, Bianca and I went out to collect stoat traps. The stoat is like a big weasel, and it’s an invasive species for Switzerland. She’s studying them for her environmental engineering degree–pretty impressive! Basically, we found and replaced the preliminary traps around the area (we just did the last few–she had put out 100 all together!). When we came to each trap, we looked to see if there were any stoat footprints (pawprints?) or, um, droppings! She and I had a good time. We got to talk for a while, and she told me about her experiences being a Christian in Europe. She’s studied in Norway and been to New Zealand for work one summer. She’s a very interesting person! We have a lot in common, which is always a nice realization to have in a faraway place! =)

When we finished up with that, I took a much-needed shower and took a nap before supper! I think I briefly woke up to eat, then went right back to bed! I love being on vacation–I sleep a lot more and a lot better on vacation! Whew! Bianca had to take the train back to school (about 3 hours away, on the other side of Switzerland), but we became Facebook friends, so we never have to be out of touch. 😉 Haha.

And the next morning (Wednesday), I got up to do two of my favorite things: 1. Eat a Swiss breakfast of homemade bread with homemade jellys and honey and coffee; 2. Help Vreni cook! She had to cook double for Wednesday and Thursday to feed the men helping Jurg in the barn. She works in Basel on Thursdays, so she needed to cook for both days. It was so much fun! Not only did I get to help make bread, I chopped veggies and just did whatever might help. I love cooking with Vreni because we have to use so many hand motions and act things out. Her English is WAY more advanced than my German (at the moment!), but we communicated quite well actually! =) It was fun kneading the bread dough for pizza, and chopping garlic and onions was relaxing… even if I did small like garlic and onions the next few days!

That afternoon I spent time with Kathrin and her kids. She works at a library part-time, so I went with her while she did that. She cooked lasagne for supper, and her kids got to practice their English with me a little bit before Kathrin and I left for church. We picked up Vreni and Jurg and headed to Basel! The big buzz around town was that Switzerland won their match in the World Cup! Woohoo!

Once we got home from church that night (home as in the Steinhauers’ house this time!), I tried to help Mrs. Margrit get things done before she and Dan left to go see Kaleb in the States for a couple of weeks. She has a lot on her plate, but she’s so funny about it! There’s always a lot going on at the Steinhauers’ place I have learned, but I’m amazed at how it all gets done and they keep a good attitude about it all! They can laugh when things go wrong instead of get frustrated–which I firmly believe is a much better way of living! Anyway, they got everything packed and accomplished, and headed out with Chris and Ben to the Zurich airport early Thursday morning.

And that left Joyce and me at Grandma (Queen) Alice’s mercy! =) I miss them both already! Alice and I had so much fun beating up on each other. She’s stronger than she looks and more mischievious than she let’s on! She’s a fun little lady; the Steinhauers said she was never like this before she became a Christian. They said it’s a true testament to the way God can change a life. Amazing.

Moving on! Nicolas came over that day to cook lunch and dinner for Alice and Joyce–and help translate where needed! Simona and Nicki came over to pick me up and go to France for the day! It looked exactly the way I always imagine the French countryside would look! Chalets, vineyards, cute little towns, all of it! We even saw a castle on a hill! We stopped for lunch in Colmar, France, which is a super cute little town! All the towns there remind me of Old Town Alexandria. I love it! Cobblestone streets, ice cream vendors, chocolate shops, bakeries, shops, coffee places, all of it! We ate paninis at a sidewalk cafe and walked around taking pictures of everything. (Well, I was taking pictures of everything!) We also made sure to get some ice cream on our way back to the car (nugat for me! Amazing stuff!)

And then we were back on the road again. Our directions were a little confusing, so we stopped (about three times!) to ask directions. The French were quite nice to us actually! (Probably because Simona and Nicki both speak French and I let them do the talking!) It was so neat driving through French wine country and through the countryside. I love it! =)

Our last stop was Strutthoff, which is a concentration camp in what is now France. (It was Germany at the time of WWII.) Not a fun thing, especially not on an overcast day, but I felt like it was something I needed to see while I was there. It was small compared to what I had expected (I guess I think all the concentration camps are as big and complex as Auschwitz), but knowing what happened there and reading the details was sobering. Sobering is an understatement. It was sickening. It really happened, and it really happened there. And I walked around there.

We headed back to Leistal (where the Steinhauers live) and made it in time for supper! Simona and Nicki stayed to eat with us and helped with clean up, too. Everyone here is one big family. Everyone helps because it’s just what you do–not something you have to do. Nicolas is a fantastic cook, and he made sure we had PLENTY–with leftovers! Joyce and I were both pretty beat from our days, so I went to bed as soon as I could, and Joyce took some downtime for herself. =)

That’s all I have time for right now, folks! Tune in next time (hopefully today or tomorrow!) for the final installment! Love y’all.

 

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