Bolzano, Italy

The Christmas Markets, also known as “Christkindlmarkt” are a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. They portray the culture of each individual region of Europe. Janet and my favourite were the markets held in the Bavarian and Tyrolean Regions.

View from the balcony of the Hubertushof, our hotel for our first night, in Anif-Salzburg.
View from the balcony of the Hubertushof, our hotel for our first night, in Anif-Salzburg.
Janet and I loved coming to Europe for the Christmas Markets. I don’t know how many years we came; however, I know we both loved doing it. Some times we came with tour groups. Other times we came by ourselves. This year I told Janelle I want to go to the Christmas Markets and she said I will go with you. We decided this year to experience the markets of the Tyrolean region as Janelle has not seen these before. We are here and it is wonderful. However, we can’t do this trip without ending in Bavarian and visiting our friends in Oberammergau.

I stopped at the Erb Street Mennonite Cemetery before I came to Europe and visited Janet’s grave. I told her, “well Janet, Janelle and I are flying to Munich today to visit the Christmas Markets.” As I drove away I heard her say “Have Fun and enjoy your daughter.” The pictures show we are fulfilling Janet’s words of encouragement.

I enjoy sharing Anabaptist history with Janelle as we visit the cities.
The first Christmas Market we visited was in Innsbruck, along the swift flowing Inn River. Jacob Huter is attributed with the founding of the Hutterite movement. He was martyred on the Maria-Theresien-Straße in Innsbruck. Today, his commemorative plaque was hidden behind a market vendor selling Bratwurst but we still managed to duck behind it and read the plaque.

~ Wilmer

We stopped for a morning coffee at Cafe Katzung before exploring Innsbruck's Christmas Market.
We stopped for a morning coffee at Cafe Katzung before exploring Innsbruck’s Christmas Market.
Our welcome to the Innsbuck ChristKindel Market, a beautiful mural of The Ascencion of Christ.
Our welcome to the Innsbuck ChristKindel Market, a beautiful mural of The Ascension of Jesus.
Castle at Guifidaun, important due to George Blaurock's imprisonment in this castle. He was whipped out of Zurich as one of the three Swiss Brethren captured and imprisoned in this region, before being burned at the stake in nearby Klausen.
Castle at Guifidaun, important due to George Blaurock’s imprisonment in this castle. He was whipped out of Zurich as one of the three Swiss Brethren captured and imprisoned in this region, before being burned at the stake in nearby Klausen.
Village church in Guifidaun.
Village church in Guifidaun. We were blessed when the sun came out for our stop here.
Wilmer with the Saint of Guifidaun.
Wilmer with the Saint of Guifidaun.
Ötzi the Iceman at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
We visited Ötzi the Iceman at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology first thing this morning. Over 5300 years ago, Ötzi was crossing Tisenjoch/Giogo di Tisa in the Schnalstal/Val Senales Valley, South Tyrol, where he was murdered and preserved naturally in the ice. As you can see from this chart, he lived long before Jesus and is over 1,000 years older than the Egyptian mummies.
View of the Dolomites
The Dolomites in Northern Italian Alps, numbering 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 meters. They are some of the most spectular in beauty and are also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Christmas market in Trento, Italy.
Christmas market in Trento – our first Christmas market in Italy. We arrived in time for the lunch rush as many locals enjoyed the market.
Old city wall, Verona, Italy
Return from dinner along the old city wall, Wilmer pauses to reflect on his trip to Verona with Janet, many years ago.
The Lower Church of Chiesa di San Fermo Maggiore, Verona, Italy. Excavations in the floor show the original church foundations from the 8th century.
Fresco showing the baptism of Christ, dated to approximately 1250.
Juliet's balcony in Verona, Italy.
Juliet’s balcony in Verona, Italy.
Wilmer "hanging out" with poet Berto Barbarani
Wilmer “hanging out” with poet Berto Barbarani.
Christmas market in Piazza dei Signori, Verona, Italy.
Christmas market in Piazza dei Signori, Verona, Italy.
Janelle enjoying "chocolat chaud" at the Christmas market.
Janelle enjoying “chocolat chaud” at the Christmas market. She said she had never had a more delicious cup of hot chocolate.
Beautiful Christmas flowers at Flover Christmas Village.
Beautiful Christmas flowers at Flover Christmas Village. It made me want to buy my Christmas flowers for my condo.
Basilica of Saint Anthony, Padova (Padua)
Lynn, Wilmer and Lisa in front of Basilica of Saint Anthony, Padova (Padua)
Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento
The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, Basilica of Saint Anthony
Botanical Garden at the University of Padova
View of the Hortus Cinctus (1545), Botanical Garden of Padova, with the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua in the background.
Wilmer at the US Army African Headquaters in Vicenza, Italy. The base has been in continuous use since 1942.
The happy couple, Lynn and Lisa. We were walking in Vicenza, talking and enjoying the church bells ringing all around us. We timed our visit just right, they return to the US in a few weeks.
Van Gogh. Tra il grano e il cielo
Lynn, Lisa, Janelle and Wilmer at the ‘Between Wheat and Sky’ exhibit of Van Gogh’s work at the Basilica Palladiana, Vicenza. Featuring over 120 works among paintings and drawings. Janelle helped interpret the exhibit for me as, during the year she lived in the Netherlands she visited the Van Gogh Museum more than 50 times!
After a coffee, we bumped into Lynn and Lisa’s daughter Laura who gave us the history of the Teatro Olimpico and of her neighborhood in Vicenza.
The Martin clan enjoying a family meal (from left to right) – Jake, Laura, Janelle, Wilmer, Lynn, Lisa and Alex
Wilmer was pleased that proud Grandpa Georg allowed him to hold 11 week-old Annalena, the newest member of the Glas family.
Wilmer back at home in Oberammergau, in front of Pilatushaus – home to the Oberammergau Museum’s collection of paintings.
Today Wilmer finally got to eat his favourite type of bratwurst as we visited our final Christmas market in Bad Tölz. Doesn’t he look like he’s enjoying it?
Etta and Georg Glas with Carola’s Daughter Annalena – the 5th generation at Hotel Turmwirt. Time for one last cuddle before dinner.

Remembrance Day

On Friday, at Empire Public School, they held a Remembrance Day assembly. My Grandson Matthew wrote and read his poem “Brave knights in Shining Armor.” On Thursday evening Matthew and Miriam were at my home for supper. Matthew gave me the poem to read and we talked about it. He said “I am personifying the earth.”

Brave knights in Shining Armor by Matthew T. Martin, age 10.
Brave knights in Shining Armor by Matthew T. Martin, age 10.

I am very touched by his understanding and his compassion.

MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) has pins which say “To remember is to work for peace.” Matthew, at age 10, has already captured this message in his soul. This Remembrance Day let’s all work to make our world a kinder, more gentle place to live. We do this by loving and forgiving our neighbours.

Please join Matthew and I as we live his poem, “But for now I still pray…For now peace”

~ Wilmer

Brave knights in Shining Armor
by Matthew T. Martin

At the beginning I was flattered, but now it hurts.
For so many screams and so many knights in shining armor.
Thump they land right on my face,
Blood stains everywhere.
My scars, my struggles,
I pray and pray that it will end.
I have seen lots of civilizations go,
Destroyed
But for now I still pray
For now peace
This century will be my last
If this keeps up
For now I close my eyes
And Say Good Bye…bye…bye…

Vancouver, British Columbia

Every year Janet and I would look forward to the first weekend in November when we would attend the Annual MEDA Convention. It is the occasion when Business Leaders gather to worship, hear Keynote speakers ,attend workshops and nurture one another. This year I invited Phil Baker, the president of Learning For Humanity to join me.

Phil Baker, Wilmer and Sanford Stauffer
At The Thursday night Plenary session Wally Kroeker spoke on, “Girders of Faith: Hope that Lasts.” He reminded us that MEDA is an acronym for Mennonite Economic Business Associates. We have a Anabaptist view of what it means to be Christian. He is grateful to MEDA for serving as a spiritual /professional home for transforming integration of faith, business and economic develop. He told stories helping us to understand how lives are being transformed in the more than 60 countries he traveled visiting MEDA work over the last 32 years.

Wally reminded us that we are Anabaptist Christians. He has observed as he has traveled to more than 60 countries visiting our programs that we put into practice Jesus teaching that we call the Golden Rule” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” Matthew 7:12 in our work all around the world.

Albert Hildebrand, Ferdinando Rempel, Wilmer and Phil Baker
He continued, “I learned a new insight recently that this teaching is not unique to The Christian faith. The Jews have a similar teaching in their writings , so does the Muslim faith in the Koran, as do the Hindu and the Buddhist. Not how would the world change if all of these Faiths would put this teaching into practice?” A powerful message moment for reflection.

Yesterday at the Plenary Lunch, “Building Bridges to New Lives for Refugees” we were challenged by the Panel members. You may want to follow this link to read about Peace by Chocolate. Tareq Hadhad, a Syrian refugee, shared his story and how he and his family are giving back in Nova Scotia by providing work at their chocolate Factory.

Tonight we look forward to hearing Dr. Samantha Nutt speak about “Justice, not Charity.” Her work has benefited hundreds of thousands of war-affected children.

~ Wilmer