Upcoming Adventures in Switzerland

Back in 2014, I introduced the Koch Family in Switzerland — Miriam, Marco, and Hadassah. They now have a new addition to their family. Little Michael David is almost six months old. The Kochs came to visit us in May 2015, which I also wrote about on my blog. That is when David and I adopted Hadassah as our grandchild. Now we have two adopted ones! We Skype with the Kochs every week, on Sunday afternoons for us, evenings for them.

For some time, the Kochs had been contemplating moving to the Canton Bern from the Canton Luzerne. They started making plans to do so, but they still had to find a place to live. One day, Hadassah drew a picture of a home and another picture of a barn with animals: a horse, cows, goats, chickens, turkeys, a dog, and a cat. Wouldn’t you know, they now live as tenants on a farm in Bärau, a tiny town above Langnau. And you guessed it — the barn has cows, a goat, chickens, turkeys, a dog, and five cats. And there is a horse on a farm nearby. Where does such a young child get such foresight, I wonder?

I have a theory about that. I think it comes from her mother, Miriam. Recently, Miriam told me how she had recurring dreams about people hiding in caves. She knew this was somewhere in Switzerland, and she knew these people were in danger. Then she would see the caves empty and she’d know that something had happened to those people. Children in Switzerland do not learn how people were persecuted during the reformation in Europe. So Miriam had no idea where her dreams were coming from. Then she learned about Amish people, and soon learned that their ancestors, the Anabaptists, would hide in caves in the mountains of Switzerland when they were being “hunted” by the authorities. Now her dreams made sense.

Wouldn’t you know, the Kochs are now living in the Emmenthal Valley, right in the heart of the place where Anabaptism was founded. We will be visiting the Trachsalwald Castle (make sure to look at Marco’s amazing photos) and other sites important to Anabaptist history during my visit there. I want to visit the site where there is a memorial plate for Felix Manz on the banks of the Limmat River in Zurich. He was the first known Anabaptist martyr and he was drowned in the Limmat River. The other day I was reading about him on Wikipedia, and I read about the song he wrote, and it was mentioned that it is printed in the Ausbund, the German songbook still used by the Amish today. I immediately took one of the copies of the Ausbund off my bookshelf to look it up. I realized it could take me a while to find that particular song because the book doesn’t have an index. I opened up the book randomly, and there in front of my eyes were the very words I was looking for, “Mit lust so will ich singen.” I got chills up my spine. It is moments like these when I feel God is confirming that I am doing the right thing.

I found a Mennonite rendition of the song online. It was translated, but the last stanza is in German.

I have one heartache about this trip. David will not be coming with me. He felt he needed to stay here for his job. I am going to miss him as my travel companion. He will be with me in spirit, I’m sure. I so love traveling with him.

I will be taking many photos, and I’ll write about my adventures. I plan to post blog entries while I’m with the Kochs, and again upon my return.

My suitcase is packed, and Hadassah and I are each counting the days to when she is going to show me around the farm, including her new companion, Leo, the dog. When she goes sledding, he grabs onto her foot and runs ahead of her, to make sure she doesn’t go too fast. When she throws snowballs in the air, he will jump up and catch them. Her life is like that of Heidi, living in the mountains of Switzerland.

I cannot wait to give my little granddaughter a hug… I may not even want to let her go!

Hadassah in 2015: Photo by Marco Koch

It has been quite a while since I last held an infant. I hope Michael David will allow me that pleasure.

I’ll be back soon.

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23 thoughts on “Upcoming Adventures in Switzerland”

  1. I wish you a safe trip. May God be with you. The Emmenthal is beautiful. My forefathers came from Switzerland and I always feel like I am coming home when I get to Switzerland.

  2. Oh so happy for YOU! Loved Switzerland when we were there, back a few years ago. We stayed at a “Menno Your Way B & B”, fairly near the castle. As it turned out, the lady worked outside her home, but had a side job as well, as a tour guide at The Castle!!! So,we had a private tour with her. She also directed us to a small Swiss Menno church, not too far from her home, on that Sunday morning! What a great adventure!!
    I am so happy that you have friends to stay with, and enjoy a bunch of memory makers for your cute little “adopted” friend!
    Wish we would have had more time to look up “my roots” there, but just thankful for the time we did have!
    Wish David would be able to go with you too….. maybe next time?
    A year or two ago, the PA. area had a fundraising event to help raise money for a Swiss group, to help buy the castle, for a Museum. Have you heard about that at all? A lady in PA. was selling calendars with the pictures all being of the castle, for the group in Switzerland. I had put a notice in our church bulletin, at that time, to see if anyone was interested.I probably still have her name and address/phone number somewhere here. Haven’t had any further contact, so have NO idea if enough money was ever raised! Such a beautiful area where the castle is located, with wonderful views. But, with such SAD stories!
    WE LOVED SWITZERLAND1 Have fun!!!
    Please email me IF you have any questions!
    Blessings and Prayers to you, as you travel ~ Carol

    1. Carol, thank you for your comments. I’ve answered some of your questions via email, but I wanted to add that I will be visiting that church in Langnau you mentioned. That is Marco and Miriam’s church now. I really look forward to it. We’ll also be visiting the Trachsalwald castle, the one that people were raising funds to preserve as a museum. I also never heard whether they met the challenge for that, but I was in touch with the same person as you, I believe. Her name is Joanne Siegrist.

      I know what you mean… if there is a more beautiful country on this earth than Switzerland, I would not know where it is. You mention the beauty of the area around the castle, and the sadness those walls hold. I felt the same way when I visited the Castle Thun: https://salomafurlong.com/aboutamish/2009/12/more-on-amish-ancestors/. The beauty of nature versus the evil that took place within those walls was hard to reconcile.

      Thank you, Carol, for your blessings. Blessings to you as well.

        1. Hi Miriam,
          Do you know if it is an “on going” effort, to raise money for the purchase, or if $$$$ had to be raised by a certain deadline?
          We too, live in the U.S. but on the West Coast, rather than the East side where Saloma lives.
          I would love to visit Saloma’s B & B, sometime!
          Blessings to you in your beautiful country, the former home of my ancestors ~ We so enjoyed our visit there!

    1. Katie, I probably missed saying when. I leave this Saturday and return on February 12. I wish we could experience this together! You would be such a wonderful travel companion!

      Blessings to you, Katie.

  3. Wow! What a powerful song. Do you know on what page the song is in the Ausbund? We can’t wait to see you on Sunday. :-) Liebe Grüsse

  4. Have a happy trip, Saloma! Anticipation, destination, pictures, stories, completion, memories… Ya can’t beat it!

  5. Wow am I ever jealous right now. Next to Israel, Switzerland is top of the list for my pilgrimage in the future.

    Please give my warmest Mennonite greetings in Christ to Marco and Miriam when you arrive and thank them for the beautiful photos online.

    Trachselwald Castle is where my ancestor Christian Martin aka Marti 1669-1748 was imprisoned for “anabaptism” some 15-17 years (until July 1732) when he was “fortunate” enough to be BANISHED and he immigrated to America to Weaverland Pennsylvania and joined his children who had escaped many years earlier.

    https://elmiramennonitemartin.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/my-elmira-mennonite-heritage-and-mennonite-church-history/

    Check out this webpage http://mennoworld.org/2014/08/18/news/swiss-castle-envisioned-as-anabaptist-museum/

    Paul Veraguth a Modern day Swiss Reformed Minister was involved in promoting a reconciliation of some sort…and encouraging investment in this historic Castle.

    The article in The Mennonite World Review states; To donate directly to the project, checks can be made to Anabaptist Reconciliation, memo: “for Trachselwald.” Mail to Light of Hope CSO, 426 South Queen St., Lancaster, PA 17603. Light of Hope is a 501(c3) organization, and receipts will be mailed to donors. By Dec. 31, Light of Hope will wire the donations to the Swiss Mennonite account for the Trachselwald project.

    1. Delmar, thank you for your comments and information. I am enjoying this pilgramage so very much. Being in the Bernese mountains (here they call them hills) and being able to envision what life was like for our ancestors is so good for my soul. It is moving to walk the same paths, breath the mountain air, and see the farms in the valleys and on the hillsides like our ancestors did is so moving! It is like an early spring day here, so I have the window open, breathing in the mountain air mixed with the smell of cows and the birds are singing sweetly! The snowman Hadassah and I built is melting in the pasture below the barn. This is one of those times when I feel I can barely take in all the goodness.

      Thank you for your blessings to the Koch family. They are truly blessed.

  6. Saloma, just saw your latest blog. I know you are leaving today and I wish you God’s Speed!!! I am so excited and happy for you. It’s sad that you wont have your favorite companion by your side. Though I suspect that once you get there a certain little girl will happily take his place. I have never had the opportunity to travel overseas so I look forward to future bogs complete with lots of pictures and your beautifully descriptive words. I wish you well, my friend!!!

    1. Pamela, as always, thank you for kindness. Hadassah and I are having a great time together, but she longs to have David here too. We were talking about him as we were building a snowman today.

      I’ll be writing a blog post soon.

  7. Saloma, this is so exciting. May you go back to the home of our ancestors open to new messages of love, joy, and peace through your relationship with Hadasseh and the whole Koch family. I was touched by Miriam’s dreams. And also by the Felix Manz hymn. Thank you for finding it and sharing it. We need all the brave stories and songs for such a time as this.

    1. Thank you, Shirley. Being here is just amazing. Yes, hearing the stories here in Switzerland from the Bernese farmers are really amazing. It is like a door has opened to our ancestoral past. Just so moving!

      1. Saloma,
        SO HAPPY for you to be there, taking in all the sights, sounds, smells, and then taking the time to journal/blog some of these back to us, along with pictures. Such breath taking views! It almost makes me feel like I am back there with you, walking the same land that my ancestors walked. (Wish I could have fit in your suitcase! lol)
        When we were in Zurich and other areas, I had to wonder if at one time, long before, my “great greats” had walked the same areas?! And after that Sunday service, at the Menno church, we walked through their cemetery across from the church, and saw many headstones with my Grandparents’ last name.
        If you have never been to “Top of the World” (as they call the Jungfrau) over near Interlakken (spell?) that is worth the trip!
        ENJOY that sweet little “Granddaughter”…. safe travels ~ <3 Carol

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