August 1989 – Wengen, Switzerland
Several months ago, I asked the Lord to help me meet other Christians for fellowship, especially other single women. I’m now in my thirties and the only single lady attending the small Bible church where I worship. Sometimes I 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 sounded delightful, so I registered. Ever since I passed through Switzerland on the train on my way to France, I have wanted to return.
After the JFK group arrived in Zurich, our tour leaders escorted us on a chartered bus to Lauterbrunnen. 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 (View of Jungfrau Mountain), a Christian hostel. The hotel employees greeted us warmly, precious Christians who love the Lord. With no motor vehicles permitted, the clean tranquil village reminded me of fairy tales I read as a child. The spectacular flower boxes mesmerized me.
I feel pampered in my private room with a cozy feather-bed and breathtaking mountain views from my balcony. The 35 people in our group of varying ages come from all over the USA. A retired missionary couple, a single lady, and a widow lead us.
Following breakfast and dinner, Peter led us in singing hymns while he accompanied us on the hotel’s grand piano. A new favorite hymn I learned is called As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after Thee based on Psalm 42:1. He then taught us about the ten gates in Jerusalem Nehemiah rebuilt. I enjoyed taking a closer look at this wonderful little Old Testament book to learn how the people completed the gates and wall despite so many obstacles.
After the Bible lesson, the leaders offered three choices for day trips. One could stay at the hotel or take their own private hike if they felt like some solitude. We each bought a Swiss rail pass for two weeks, also good for buses and boats. We paid extra for a cable car straight up into the mountains for stunning views. They have wonderful paths along the ridge with red benches when you feel like resting and just absorbing the beauty. The comical mountain goats sleeping on the rooftops and the Jersey cows with their clinking bells reminded me of Heidi. One day, I heard a lady play the Alpenhorn echoing through the mountains. I felt like singing songs from the Sound of Music when I hiked along the mountain tops. I was thrilled when I saw Edelweiss growing in the alpine garden near Schynegge Plata. The sweet fellowship at mealtimes and during the day trips has refreshed my soul.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Psalm 19:1
I had fun chatting with an Italian couple on the train two days in a row so I gave them a gospel tract the second day. Peter laughed at the difference between the English and Americans. He said the English won’t talk to anyone until they’re introduced, but the Americans talk to strangers on trains and have a much more interesting time.
It was 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. The numerous single women on the trip blessed and encouraged me in my walk with God. I still exchange Christmas cards yearly with one of them and met anther lady the following year near my home in Ohio. Switzerland is still my favorite country of all the 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 stands today, I could picture the people laboring fervently to rebuild the city.