I am writing this blog from Wilderswil, Switzerland. Yes, Switzerland, not Swaziland. I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend the Breathe Conference for missionaries serving in hard places around the world. It is ten days long and we are being totally pampered by the volunteer staff of the Breathe Conference. We are truly given the opportunity to take a break from our ministries to rest, renew, refresh and breathe. We spend a couple hours each day in worship of our Lord and Savior. We are fed three wonderful meals a day and we also are blessed with massages, counselors to talk with each day, and an opportunity to talk with a medical doctor about any medical concerns we have. In between those times we are free to do whatever we want, including going for a walk or hiking in the beautiful countryside around this area or just being still in the presence of our God and his magnificent creation.
Switzerland is everything I thought it would be and more. Beautiful and awesome doesn’t begin to describe this setting. From our hotel, Credo Schloss Unspunnen, a Christian Retreat/Conference Center, we can view the “three sisters” of the Alps which are three glaciers including the infamous (if you’re a James Bond fan) Mt. Eiger (of the Clint Eastwood movie, Eiger Sanction), Monch and Jungfrau which boast having the highest train station in Europe at 11,333 feet. If I look in the opposite direction I have a view of beautiful smaller mountains and a lake. And of course in between there are beautiful forests and green fields dotted with chalets. It is breathtaking. The air is so clean and so is the country side. There’s no dust, little dirt, no smoke or ashes that blow into your house even with the windows shut. I can walk absolutely anywhere by myself and know that I will be safe and easily find my way back to Credo, even though I can’t understand a word of Swiss German. The cows must be the fattest and most content cows in the world. And of course, I must mention the water. It is clear, clean, cold and wonderful. And the shower is such a luxury. I think I must be in heaven and yet I haven’t even mentioned the chocolate!
It is truly a blessing to be here. I find myself finally letting go and letting myself breathe. There is a lot in my life and relating to what I do in Swaziland that I need to turn over to God and this conference is helping me do just that. And for that I am thankful.
View from train from Zurich to Wilderswil. This picture was taken near Interlaken West. The lake in the background is the Thunersee Lake.
The View of the "Three Sisters" from Credo in Wilderswil.
Switzerland has water fountains all over the countryside and along the streets in the towns. The water is always crystal clear and cold. After coming from an environment where clean water is so hard to come by it is such a blessing to just stop along the street and get a drink or fill up your water bottle.
The cows drinking out of their little dripless, clean water fountains!
Credo. I have a tiny little room off on the main circular stairway. When I enter it I feel like I am walking into a special room in the castle and I open my windows to listen for my Prince Charming. OK, so I grew up near Disneyland and still believe that dreams can come true. About a 5 minute walk to the right of Credo is the ruins of a castle (Burgruine Unspunnen) built in the 1200's. How cool is that?
The little church in Wilderswil. The town is in the background.
Yes, there is a McDonald's in Switzerland. One afternoon I walked to Interlaken West, about 20 minutes from Credo. I just couldn't resist taking a picture, but I didn't buy anything. The food at Credo is too good to spoil it with McDonalds.
One of the many walking paths around Wilderswill and Interlaken.
A view of the glaciers from out day of hiking. I kept wanting to break out in song: The hills are alive, with the sound of music.....
More of the glaciers.
One of the little towns scattered through the mountains.
Look at the size of the bell on the cow; not to mention the size of the cow! All of the cows and goats wear bells so there is always a sweet bell choir in the mountains.
There are waterfalls everywhere. Some big and long, some not so big or long, but all beautiful.
Another mountain top view.
These next three pictures are of a series of 10 waterfalls inside the mountain. The force of the water was unbelievable.
The falls are called the Trummelbach. They drain from Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau.
Walking up the steps (at least 600 one way) and viewing the 10 different chutes reminded me of Schlitterbahn in Texas. I can see where Schlitterbahn got it's inspiration for the waterpark.
A view of the countryside on the way up to the "top of Europe", the trainstation near the top of Jungfrau.
More of the awesome country. We took 4 different trains up to Jungfraujoch the Swiss-German name for"Top of Europe" and 3 different trains down.
View of the Jungfrau Glacier
This is so close to heaven.
The peak of Jungfrau. 13,642 feet.
My 2010 Chuy's picture!
The observation building is at the top of the rocks. A friend and I walked an hour away from that peak trying to make it to a view of the other side of the glacier. But we finally gave up so we could make the next train back down the mountain. Hiking in the snow for an hour up a slight incline was hard, especially now that I'm starting yet another decade of life.
As we were out walking, clouds came in. If we had been any later, we wouldn't have had a view. When the clouds blotted out the sun, it was cold.
We're on the train down the mountain taking another route.
The face of Eiger.
This little herd of goats were right next to the train tracks. We could hear their little bells tinkling as they ran to get away from the train. It was like a scene right out of Heidi.
A picturesque little town.
The view of Eiger from the little town of Grindelwald. We walked around Grindelwald for about an hour in between trains. We could have taken an earlier train and not explored Grindelwald, but what fun is that?
A church in Grindelwald. Right after I took this picture it started pouring down rain. It was a 10 or 15 minute summer shower but it didn't interfere with our journey because it was time to catch the next train down the last leg of our journey back to Wilderswil.
Thank you for being patient. It was hard to narrow my pictures down to only 30!