August, 1989 – Wengen, Switzerland
A couple months ago, I asked the Lord to help me meet other Christians for fellowship, especially other single women. I am now 34 years old and the only single lady attending the small Bible church where I worship, so it has become quite lonely. I heard about a Christian tour group and reviewed their catalog. The trip to Switzerland for two weeks in August led by a British group called the Hildenborough Ministries sounded delightful, so I signed up. It seems hard to believe that after 11 years, God has let me return to Switzerland which I passed through on the train on my way to France in 1978.
I flew from JFK to Zurich with the group where we were met by the tour leaders who escorted us on a chartered bus to Lauterbrunen. From there, we took the train up the mountain to the charming alpine village of Wengen at 4500 feet elevation. We walked several blocks from the station up a steep hill to the Jungfraublick (translation: View of Jungfrau Mountain) which is a Christian hostel. The hotel employees are such precious Christians who really love the Lord. There are no motor vehicles allowed in the village which makes it very clean and quiet. The overflowing beautiful flower boxes are mesmerizing!
I feel so pampered in my private room with a cozy feather-bed and breathtaking mountain views from my balcony. There are 35 people in the group from all over the USA of varying ages. Peter and Dorothy Letchford are the leaders with assistance from their daughter, Anne, who is married to Pastor Jeff. Peter was a missionary in Zambia for 21 years before he married Dorothy, who is a nurse also! A single lady, Elizabeth, and a widow, Joanie, are also involved in the ministry and are assisting. The Letchfords’ son, Steven, and his wife and adorable 8 month old daughter are also here. Steven is a pediatrician and Anne is a dietician so we have all enjoyed talking “shop” on occasion.
We all gather in the dining room for breakfast and dinner which are included with the tour. Then Peter teaches the Bible for 45 minutes, and we sing a few hymns together while Peter accompanies us on the hotel’s grand piano which is tremendous. I have learned several new hymns. One of my favorites is called “As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after Thee” based on Psalm 42:1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARF2xXeFs54 Peter is teaching us about the ten gates in Jerusalem in Nehemiah 3 which God used Nehemiah to rebuild. It is good to be taking a closer look at this wonderful little Old Testament book and learning how they built the gates and wall despite so many obstacles.
The fellowship has been so rich at meal time and during the various day trips. After the Bible lesson, they offer three choices for day trips and one of the leaders goes with each group. Or one can stay at the hotel or take their own private hike if they feel like some solitude. We each bought a Swiss rail pass for 2 weeks which is also good on buses and boats on the lakes as well the trains. We pay extra for a cable car straight up into the mountains. After getting to the top, the views are spectacular. They have wonderful paths along the ridge with red benches when you feel like resting and just absorbing the beauty. The Swiss are so neat and clean. The comical mountain goats climb right up on the house roof to sleep! The Jersey cows with their klinkly bells remind me of Heidi. One day, I heard a lady play the Alpen horn and it really echoed through the mountains. I feel like singing songs from the Sound of Music when I hike along the mountain tops! I was thrilled when I saw real Edelweiss growing in the alpine garden near Schynegge Plata.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Psalm 19:1
I met an Italian couple on the train two days in a row and was chatting with them, so gave them a gospel tract the second day. Peter laughs at the difference between the English and Americans. He says the English won’t talk to anyone until they’re introduced, but the Americans are always talking to strangers on trains and have a much more interesting time!
It was so kind of the Lord to give me this wonderful time of relaxation and fellowship with other believers in one of the most beautiful spots in the world when I was so lonely. There were a number of single women on the trip who were a blessing and encouragement to me. I still exchange Christmas cards yearly with one of them! I was able to meet Joanie again the following year near my home in the Midwest. Switzerland is still my favorite country of the 26 countries I have visited over the years!
Little did I dream that I would ever get to visit Jerusalem in 2013 and view the old city with a portion of the wall still standing. Although neither Nehemiah’s gates nor the temple are standing today, I could picture them laboring fervently rebuilding the gates and wall. I recently discovered a wonderful series of messages on Nehemiah by Dr John Whitcomb at the Bible Institute of Bible Broadcasting Network. You can sign in free as a student and then search in the Book studies.