My daughter Janelle has been encouraging me to set up my own blog. She enjoys hearing my stories of Bridge Building as I travel around the world. Therefore, I am excited to introduce to you my new blog “Continuing Bridge Building.” I trust the blogs will be inspiring to you as you read them.
Here is a bit about four of my favorite areas where I like to travel. Several weeks ago we traveled to Pennsylvania to visit family and friends. I was privileged to preach at my brother Eugene’s Assembly of God congregation. Eugene serves as pastor of this community church. We were pleased that many family members attended and that my Aunt Sarah who is 92 years of age was able to attend. When you travel back in your home area where you were born after living in another community or culture for a long time, they often say you talk funny. This is the beauty of travel. You experience new foods, customs and religious experiences. Bridges are built that develop lasting friendships and understanding between persons.
Janet and I love to travel to Australia where they really talk funny! Our dear friend and folk singer ‘Lazy Harry’ interprets this wonderful culture and the traditions of his beautiful country. We have been in Mark and Wendy’s lovely home in Beechworth many times. We have also enjoyed hosting them in our home in Waterloo. We two couples wish the distance wasn’t so great between our homes as we enjoy each other. Mark, who is also a lay reader and steward in the Anglican Church in Beechworth, always wants our groups to first gather for singing and prayers when we arrive in Beechworth. We gather in the church as the bell tolls inviting the community for worship.
The Lake District in England is a favorite area to visit. Dove Cottage was the home of poet William Wordsworth. When the volunteer guide talks with us we learn that many of the phrases we use such as crossing the threshold, stopgap, turning the tables, etc. come from the British culture. It is delightful walking the trails along the lake and reading some of Wordsworth’s poems. Along the path you are sure to see in your mind’s eye the “Daffodils” waving in the wind. Another highlight in England is enjoying a boys’ choir singing at evensong in the Yorkminster or Westminster cathedrals. It is delightful to pause for a 35-minute time of worship and reflection at 4:00 on a busy afternoon.
Bavaria, Germany ranks high in the top areas of the world where we like to travel. Perhaps it is because our Mennonite food is similar or is it our work ethic? We certainly have many similarities. However, our favorite places to travel always relate to friendships. Georg, Eta and Carola Glas operate Hotel Turmwirt and we have worked together for many years, developing a deep friendship. TourMagination tour groups stay here every year and many nights during the year of the Oberammergau Passion Play. It is just a short walk from the hotel to the theatre. It is delightful to talk to the village people who play different roles as they tell the Passion Story, keeping the promise made by town fathers during the time of the Black Plague in 1634.
In October when I was in the hospital in Jerusalem I was touched by Georg’s email saying that he and his family were praying for me when I had open heart surgery. This happened while I was on tour in Jerusalem.
This is true Bridge Building. Friendships are developed which give opportunity for encouragement and prayers during our challenges.
Check in occasionally to read my latest musings.
~ Wilmer Martin