Today we spent much of the day within the city of Bern where we’ve been for the last two nights. In the morning, despite the possible threat of rain, we went on a walking tour of the city centre with focus, of course, on the Anabaptist story there. Many Anabaptists were imprisoned there, both Amish and Mennonites. Some were executed and some were deported: sent by ship on the river Aare to Amsterdam. We were mildly thwarted in our plans by the set-up currently taking over Bern, for some sort of event to do with car racing. So we could not go out on the bridge to get a view of the landing from which the ships departed with the exiled Anabaptists. But we were still well satisfied with what we were able to see.
Then after checking out of the hotel and packing our luggage away into the bus, we had several hours of free time. I know some in the group were excited to use the time to shop, while others relaxed in cafés. For myself, after sharing lunch with a few others in the group, I was plenty entertained with walking up and down the main streets, looking in the shop windows and watching the passersby. I also found some delicious ice cream.
When we all boarded the bus again, Tina was very excited to share her purchases. She had found a seller of antique books, and bought four old German Bibles and an Ausbund (Amish songbook). The Ausbund dates back to 1622! I was very impressed.
For once we actually approached our next destination early, so we made an unplanned stop at a cafe that had a walking trail leading to a tower. Much of the group was happy to sit in the cafe, and a few of us walked into the lovely forest to climb the tall wooden stairs leading to a viewing platform 10 stories up.
Then we arrived at the Reformed church in Würzbrunnen to meet our hosts for our homestays this evening. First, the pastor of a nearby church spoke to us and answered some of our questions. And then we each found our host families and headed off for the night. I’ve spent a lovely evening with my generous hosts, getting to know them as we talked over traditional Swiss food. I look forward to hearing from others tomorrow about their homestay experiences!
– Morgan Regehr