This morning we said goodbye to our driver Mark and welcomed JP, who will be our driver for the rest of the tour. This is JP’s 101st tour driving for TourMagination!
Then we headed towards the Rhine River to take a river cruise. We arrived just in time to catch our ship, then we relaxed on board to appreciate the beautiful scenery. I was amazed to see how wide the river is–it felt like it could almost be a lake, if it didn’t keep going and going! The hills on the riverbanks were variously covered in vineyards, forests, rocks, castles, and small villages. The overall effect was picturesque. And the weather was perfect for a cruise!
We found lunch on the road then continued to the Weierhof, a small semi-communal Mennonite village that hosts a large Mennonite archive. Gary Waltner, the archivist, met us and introduced us to some of the archival collection and patiently answered our many questions. We saw early Bibles, church records, hymnals, and Martyrs Mirrors. We even got to see some of the original copper plates with engraved pictures used to print the first Martyrs Mirror. Getting to hold one of those plates felt really special to me.
Gary then showed us the community’s church, where LaMar Wyse asked if he could play the organ. Gary assented, so LaMar accompanied us on organ as we sang two hymns. We’ve been singing every morning on the bus so it was fun to be able to sing with LaMar’s capable accompaniment for a change.
At the Weierhof graveyard, some of us were captivated by the graves while some of us (me included) were a little more interested in the nearby cherry tree! The huge tree was absolutely covered in delicious sweet cherries, a real treat.
We said goodbye to Gary and headed to Worms where we’re staying for the night. Our dinners so far have all been excellent but tonight’s dinner was particularly fun as we had the opportunity to choose some more traditional German food from the menu if we wanted.
On our walk back to the hotel we stopped at the Reformers Monument which was raised to honor Martin Luther. John told us the story. I was interested that even though Luther was terribly anti-Semitic and thought all Jewish people should die, there was one Jewish scholar whom he respected. I wondered what that scholar must have felt about being liked by someone who wished all his people dead; I have trouble believing the respect would have been returned, and with good reason.
Although John was full of seemingly inexhaustible details about Luther’s history, eventually the mosquitoes drove me back to our hotel just around the corner. My legs are itchy but I’m glad to have stayed to learn what I did.
– Morgan Regehr