Originally published 10 June 2010.
Would you like your water with or without gas?
The first time someone asked me that, I almost cracked up! (They mean carbonated water or non-carbonated water, by the way!) The Swiss never offer ice, and the cups are very small. I love new and different cultures!!!!! =) By the way, I don’t know if I would have been able to keep my composure regarding the gas question if someone hadn’t told me just before I ordered that they have water “with little bubbles in it”. I got a better mental picture with that!
Since I wrote last, the adventures haven’t stopped! I’ll just hit the highlights again…
Monday, we ate breakfast together out on the back deck, which is just beautiful! I don’t remember if I said before or not there are 5 of us here: Dan and Margaret Steinhauer, Margaret’s mother (who is just a pistol–she hits people when she likes them, and she’s been relentlessly “beating” me since the first day!), Joyce (an American friend of the Steinhauers), and me. We’re quite a lively and interesting bunch! I have to tell you that this family is wonderful. They apparently know no strangers. They study their Bible and enjoy doing God’s work. Despite the difficulties of spreading the gospel here, they are doing a marvelous work. They’re just an amazing family.
I talked to Dan and Margaret Monday morning about mission work and the reasons why I want to be a missionary. They are so supportive and encouraging! They told me a little about their story and the 25-year history of their church, and they asked me what I wanted to do or not do while I’m here. They said lots of people from the congregation would like to have me to their homes, but only if I’m comfortable with that. Well I said OF COURSE! So the next thing I knew, I was packed again and headed out to Jürg and Vreni Marti’s farm!
First things first… they fed us ice cream! (Dan, Joyce, and grandma dropped me off there and visited with them for a little while.) Jürg, the husband, speaks quite a bit of English, and Vreni speaks some, but not a whole lot. I love it! It’s so much fun! They have a very large farm with hay, cows, and a garden, and lots of flowers! And the most astounding thing about the whole ordeal was their house–it was built in 1791!!!!!! It looks new and VERY well-taken care of inside, and the outside is just exactly as I always imagined a Swiss house would look!
Jürg and I cleaned out the barn that afternoon because they’re about to build a new one. They used to milk their cows, but Jürg had an accident a few years ago and can’t do that anymore; now he raises young dairy cows for other dairy farmers, which he seems to enjoy doing. =)
After that, Vreni and I went to a neighbor’s house to get some sveebon (I guess that’s how you spell it!), which are chives! We planted a few in Vreni’s garden, then went in to fix supper–cheese fondue with homemade bread! It was delicious, but I haven’t had that much cheese in my entire life, I don’t think! After supper I took my shower and got ready for bed, then the three of us prayed together. And then I got a real treat… Vreni made Jürg play his accordion for me! And they let me try it, too! I LOVE CULTURES!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s so wonderful getting to know brothers and sisters in Christ from different places. They have different struggles, but it’s all an effort to accomplish the same goal–get to Heaven with as many others as possible. I feel so at home here, like the whole church really is a family!
Tuesday! We ate the traditional Swiss breakfast: home made bread with jam, jelly, and honey! The honey they had was thick and light-colored. I’ve see that kind before, and it’s very gut (good)! The strawberry jam was made by Jürg’s mother, and Vreni and Jürg made the quince jelly. This is quince: http://greekfood.about.com/od/greekcookingbasics/p/prof_quince.htm
It was all delicious! And we had real cow milk with our coffee, too. =)
Next up: Vreni and I picked up Katrin, another woman from the church, who went with us to clean the church building. I love getting to know new people! Katrin speaks quite a bit of English, so she was able to help Vreni and me. It was so much fun talking with her about how she became a Christian and about her kids. =)
After that we went home for lunch (and I took a short nap–still recovering from jetlag!). There was a pretty big thunderstorm, which was cool to see against the huge hills of Swiss countryside! Since the ground was wet after that, Katrin said she’d take me to a nearby museum–all about music boxes! I had no idea they originated in Switzerland! It was so interesting to learn about the history of them and see all kids of different music players: traditional music boxes, big ones, small ones, HUGE ones, player pianos, early predecessors to juke boxes, etc., etc., etc.! I love it all!
That night, after supper when the ground was dryer than it had been, Jürg and Vreni took me to a very “ordinary” place… Castle ruins! This castle was built in the 1300s, and I was just amazed by it! They said now it’s often used for outdoor movies. =) We could see so much from the top! It’s up on a huge hillside, and when we looked down at the and farmland and village below, it was exactly as I always picture old Switzerland in my mind!
I was also in for another treat that night… I got to see Jürg and Vreni’s wedding pictures! They had a very traditional Swiss wedding, which I found to be incredibly fascinating! These people are amazing. They’re just like people everywhere else, but the things that make them different are astounding. Does that make sense? If not, no worries. =)
Wednesday! We took the cows from the barn to a new pasture so builders can start on the new barn! Then Vreni and I cooked in the kitchen. She needed to cook some things for Thursday, when the builders come, so we did that and got that day’s lunch ready, too. I love cooking! She and I had a good time and learned a lot about each other, despite the language barrier. =) Her English is WAY better than my German! I had fun learning some of the language, though!
And after lunch, they took me to another special place… we drove to a large hill (mountain to me!), hiked to the top, and on one side we could see France, Germany, and the village of Basel. On the other side, looking off in the distance, mingling with the clouds… there were the snow-covered Alps! Amazing. Awesome. Majestic. All that and more. They’re just so BIG! I can,t hardly describe it. The towns and villages in the valley and on hillsides were so cute and quaint. I love it! (Did I mention that already?) We could hear birds singing, the breeze in the trees, and cow bells everywhere. Cow bells! Amazing. It’s all just incredible.
And after marveling at God’s creation and the beauty of the Swiss countryside, Jürg went back home to work a little before church, and Vreni took me hiking! It’s beautiful. I’ll try to upload pictures soon. (We’re having a little trouble finding a converter for the plug on my computer!) And at the end of the hike, we took the cable car (sky lift, tram, whatever you want to call it) down the side of the mountain! We saw sheep, alpacas, goats, horses, cows, and some of the greenest fields I’ve ever seen! It was a real treat for me!
And then… after missing the bus by three minutes (it happens here, too–not just in DC!), Jürg came to our rescue and brought us back to the house! Quick shower, quick supper, quick clean up, and we were on our way to church!
We sang from an international songbook last night, which was great because Joyce and I could sing in English what they all sang in German! I love hearing songs in different languages, but I thoroughly enjoyed being able to sing with them, too! Ben had to translate the service for me again, which I greatly appreciated. It’s so incredible to me how much I can get out of a lesson in a different language, you know it? Everything here is amazing. =)
And after church, we came home to have a party for Mrs. Steinhauer! It was her birthday, so the boys (men–Chris and Ben) came over and the seven of us all had two different kinds of cake! We sat around talking for a long while, and we were able to get ahold of Kaleb back in the States, too. It’s interesting to me how their family can be so close (and so alike!) even though Kaleb lives in America and hasnät been back to Switzerland since he was 15. I think it’s great!
And today I’m off to meet up with Holger and talk about mission work. He preaches with Dan at the church here, and he’s also a foreigner–from Germany! I can’t wait to learn more!