Originally posted 19 June 2010.
Hoi! (Swiss-German for “Hey!” Still playing catch up…
Saturday! We went out to eat for Margrit’s birthday, and let me tell you, the Swiss know how to do it right! We went to a beautiful, historic restaurant (with quite a past!) and had the most amazing meal! Curry-coconut soup, fresh bread, turkey with some kind of astounding sauce, rice pilaf, and DESSERT! =) I got the best vanilla ice cream I’ve ever tasted (three scoops!), fruit compote, and some kind of interesting orange berry fruit I’d never seen, but it tasted good! Topped off with fresh whipped cream–not from a can or a bag!
Impressive, and that was only mine! Grandmother took us all out, and we enjoyed the time together so much. The meal was just a major added bonus. =)
Church time! They had a special class for the kids and for the ladies, and I got to help with the kids activities. Chris (the oldest Steinhauer son) told the story of Dorcas from Acts, and he asked our three students (all girls) some questions–all this was in German, so I followed along in my English Bible as best I could. =) And after our short lesson (I thought I’d be more help than I actually was!) we took a field trip… to the Doll House Museum! (Puppenhaus museum) It was great! There were thousands, possibly millions of dolls, teddy bears, doll houses, itty bitty outfits, etc. from all over the world out on display. I took lots of pictures, of course, but those will have to come later! Not to worry, I’ll weed through them as best I can and post the best ones when I get home.
Whew! After that, we went back to the church to have a singing lesson. The church here is small, and none of the men have singing training. While that doesn’t stop Americans from butchering up songs a cappella-style (with the best intentions!), the Swiss are a bit more particular. So, they have a singing instructor come in every couple of weeks and have singing lessons where they learn how to sing songs in their songbooks. He’s not a Christian, but one never knows what planted seeds will begin to grow. He’s a very nice man, and the church here is very grateful that he can come teach them how to sing “correctly”. It was a great experience for me to be there, even though I couldn’t understand the words. It’s encouraging to me to hear them singing in their own language. They want to do it right because it’s for God–it’s not a show of musical ability, nor is it rote or something they do only because they have to; it’s something they are commanded to do and enjoy doing for their Creator.
Another observation from the music lesson… because we sang them slowly, it was easy for me to follow along and try to pronounce the words along with them. I kept thinking how fun it would be to learn Swiss-German through singing praises to God like this. So I pretty much decided to learn German when I get home. =) I want to be able to talk to these people in their own language when I come back!!!!! I was never good at language classes in school (probably because the school part implied too much pressure and stress), but with a real reason to learn it, I am so excited! I’ve always been interested in traveling and learning about other cultures, but I stunk at language classes for some reason. I think going at my own pace will prove to be much more effective. =) I love it!
And so that was the big revelation of the weekend! Next up: The biggest circus in Switzerland! It just so happened to be in Basel last weekend, and so the young people (about 6 of us) grabbed a quick bite at a Turkish place (like Moby Dick’s for you DC folks!), and went to the circus! Everything was in French, Italian, German, or Swiss, but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it! I was able to understand a couple of things, and the cat trainer spoke English (hehe), so I understood a minimal amount. =) Despite the language barrier, it was so funny! The Simona explained some of the jokes to me, and while I already thought it was funny (I love non-verbal communication!), the explanations made it even funnier!
Afterward–still going on Saturday!–Simona and the other two girls went back home, but since I was stuck with Chris and Ben Steinhauer, I had to stop with them and get ice cream. =D Yes, two huge ice cream desserts in one day! I’m going crazy over here folks, and I love every minute of it!
So we got home late again–second night in a row for me!–and got up for church the next morning! Simona translated class and the service for me, thank goodness. I have so enjoyed the lessons here. This church is truly trying to do right and go with what the Bible says. I am so thankful for the opportunity to meet and worship with these people. They have humbled and encouraged me, and I keep thinking about Paul’s writing in his letters of the New Testament, about thanking God every time he remembers the brethren and being encouraged by their faith. These people have a strong, sincere faith. If they are in the church, they WANT to be. Many of the members are the only Christian in their biological family. Some don’t have contact with their family members, others have disapproval, everyone is seen as an outsider to the vast majority of Switzerland and Europe. It’s amazing to hear their stories and see their faith being lived out. We complain about America losing its faith, but it’s still considered ok to be a Christian. We have no state church, each person can choose their own. Here, if you belong to the state church, you have to pay a tax for that. It’s normal to live immorally and widely accepted to have no religion at all. I am encouraged and humbled be the commitment of these people to our God.
Next up… Lunch at Nicolas and Anita’s, then on to the Jodel Festival in Laufen! That’s right, they spell it with a J. =) Lunch was a special Alpine dish–like macaroni and cheese, but with bacon and cheese from the Alps! Nicolas is a great cook. He’s a stay-at-home husband, and he and Anita are two of the sweetest people I think I have ever met. Right along with everyone else here at the church. =)
Alice (grandma) also joined Joyce and me for lunch, along with Katharin, German (not pronounced like the country!), and their two kids. They all had limited English, and Joyce and I have exceptionally limited Swiss-German, but with the help of a German-English dictionary and a good sense of humor, we made it work! It’s so fun to be with these people. The language barrier only adds another element of enjoyment!
On to the Jodel (Yodel) festival! Despite the drizzle, we all made the trip to Laufen and secured our spots for the parade! They gave out candies and things like we would do in America, but they also gave out cheese, apple cider, wine, bread, Swiss cookies, etc., etc., etc.! There were, of course, Yodelers of all ages, cows, goats, Swiss dogs, horses, flag throwers, Cow bellers, tractors, old-style farmers, Swiss “cowboys”, Alphorn players, and more! (Riiiiiiiiiiicolaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!) Oh, and yes, there is Ricola everywhere around here. =)
People both in the parade and spectators wore traditional clothes, and each area of Switzerland had its own representation in the parade. I loved it! Joyce and I had a great time, and I think the Swiss folk enjoyed it as well! After the parade, we went around the cute little town of Laufen. Everything here is so old! The streets are cobblestone in lots of places, and the buildings are all just beautiful and well-maintained. I wish everyone could see this!
And after that… of course we had to go back to Nicolas and Anita’s for dessert! Ice cream with meringue cookies and fresh whipped cream. Oh my goodness, these people know how to do it right! Again with the limited conversation yet unending laughter. These people are wonderful.
Whew! And that was just the weekend!
Next up… Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken! I have probably spelled both of those incorrectly, but they were truly amazing sights to see! Lauterbrunnen is a beautiful area close to the Alps with these gorgeous cliffs and mountainsides with waterfalls inside them! Dan took Joyce and me there, and she and I were both in awe of God’s creation. He has made so many beautiful things, and every place is different. I wish I had words to explain it, or that pictures could do it justice. There’s this one waterfall that starts way up high inside this mountain, and over the thousands of years it’s been here, the water has twisted and flowed through the mountain to make this miraculous sight. Dan and I were able to hike into the mountain and out all around it. It’s just amazing. Waterfalls are my favorite God-made wonder, I believe. They’re beautiful and powerful and do so many things. Nature is amazing. God made it all work just right for us. Pictures to come soon. =)
Onward to Interlaken! On the way there, Dan took us to this cute little picnic place on a hillside for lunch. Mrs. Margrit had packed us some sandwiches, bread, and cookies, hot tea! What a woman! The picnic area was covered with a log roof, and our table was made of a huge old tree stump!
Once we got to this cute little town of Interlaken, we got some coffee for a quick pick-me-up (the Swiss have their priorities right–coffee after every meal!) and headed to what Margrit rightly claimed is the least expensive souvenir shop in Switzerland. Hooray! The town is called Interlaken because it’s between two huge lakes, neither of which I remember the names! Pretty touristy, but the buildings are gorgeous, the views of the mountains around are astounding, and it was a beautiful day! I could sit and look at this country forever and never get tired of it.
Last stop of the day… we picked up Margrit and grandmother and headed over to Urs and Pina’s for supper! Simona and Nikki were both there as well–I already love these people and it had been less than two weeks! Supper was amazing. Pina is Italian, and she’s a fabulous cook! I’m so thankful I’ve gotten to know her and her family. It’s incredible to think that I didn’t know these people just a few weeks ago. They are already like family. They have to be each other’s family because most of their biological families don’t want to understand or hear about Jesus and God’s grace. Amazing. These people are incredible.
Whew! That’s all I’ll write about for now. Next up… back to the farm! Read next time for the great stoat poop search; yet another new friend and sister in Christ; Struthof concentration camp; Colmar, France; and adventures in Swiss-Italian cooking! Love you all and will write again soon!