On Thursday, June 30 on our way to Boppard to board the Rhine River cruise, we stopped at Remagen, the site where General Eisenhower and the US Army crossed the Rhine which changed the course of WWII. The bridge was destroyed and today a Peace Museum stands here with a profound peace message from the Mayor of Remagen, as well as a sculpture of the Madonna.
The Rhine River is 12 feet higher than normal due to all the rain. This time we walked up the gangplank to board the ship; we normally go down the plank. Before boarding the boat Wilmer took us to his favorite butcher shop in Boppard and most of us enjoyed a Bratwurst for lunch. However we saved room for Apple strudel and coffee on the ship.
On our way to visit the library and archives at the Weierhof, we stopped in Wolfsheim to visit the Kulp homestead. Tour members with Kulp background were pleased that the lady from the Kulphof came out with the guest book for us to record our visit.
Friday, July 1 was our day to visit the east side of Rhine River. We stopped first in Worms to visit the Luther Monument. We noticed that it is refurbished to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Luther in 2017. Wilmer reminded tour members to watch for the TourMagination tour in May which features this event. Check the website for details.
In Steinsfurt in the Kraichgau where 53 persons were arrested as they began to sing a hymn in the cellar of one of the friendly local residents who invited them to use her home, we sang, “Heart with Loving Heart United,” in memory of this event. John Ruth read the list of family names (such as Landes, Groff, Miller and many other familiar names.)
We enjoyed the drive through the Black Forest. The density of the trees create the darkness. At the Herr House of Clocks everyone enjoyed eating Black Forest cake with a cup of coffee. Many souvenirs were bought. When Mr. Herr came on the coach to say goodbye, he reminded those who bought a cuckoo clock to remember to feed it every day so it stays healthy. He told us the cuckoo bird lives in the Black Forest.
Yesterday John Ruth explained to us as we traveled through the Alsace the origins of the Amish. This afternoon we visited the church in Erlenbach where Jacob Amman, the founder of the Amish was baptized as an infant.
This morning we worshipped with the Mennonite Church at Langnau in the heart of the Emmental. We shared communion with the oldest Mennonite church which has had continuous worship since the year 1530. This was especially meaningful for the Shenks since they were invited to stay with friends at the Longenacker farm. Following the service we were invited to visit the farm and share a delicious soup lunch and were offered wonderful hospitality.
This afternoon we drove to the Yoder Hill in the Emmental where we walked on the hiking path through the hillside to one of the caves where we know our ancestors worshiped in secrecy as they searched the scriptures for religious freedom. This cave is known as the robbers’ cave as this earlier group used it for a different purpose.
Tomorrow we will drive over the Sustenpass on our way to Zurich. We look forward to seeing the snow-capped Swiss Alps in the sunshine.
— Wilmer Martin