Zurich, Switzerland

Kuhns-Kennel Agreement in the Alps

Yesterday we traveled from the Bernese Oberland, over the SustenPass on our way to Zurich. The weather has been wonderful throughout this tour. We have not had rain and the clouds seemed to move from the mountain peaks when needed to ensure wonderful photos.

There were many expressions of amazement as JP drove the coach around the hairpin corners as we wound our way up the mountain. Ross had made everyone cousins on the Ross Kennel Family and Friends Tour. Since there were 4 Kuhns relatives on the trip, they had a photo taken sealing the relationship.

Loren & Julie Roth Sustan Glacier

We stopped for a photo at the glacier. JP showed us where the glacier was in 1998 and we were all amazed to see how much has melted in the past 20 years. The Glacier is still huge; however, John Ruth pointed out the huge rocks now exposed that had been buried under the ice and snow for thousands of years.

Kappeler Peace Marker

In the afternoon we stopped at the Kappeler Peace Marker on the north side of Lake Zug. In June 1529 soldiers from Zurich, accompanied by Zwingli, met the soldiers from Schweitz. It was a religious conflict as Schweitz was Catholic and Zurich was Reformed (Protestant).

The soldiers meet at Kappel on the hill overlooking Lake Zug. They were hungry and decided to share their food. The soldiers from Schweitz had milk soup while the soldiers from Zurich had bread. So they shared a meal and packed up their guns and went home. The Marker tells the moving story.

Heidi Farmstead, Hirzil

At Hirzel we remembered the story of Heidi the Swiss girl written by Johana Spyri. We saw the farmhouse that Johana could see from her home in the village. This house became the model she used for her Heidi stories. The Spyri house is today a museum dedicated to Spyri and her books about Heidi.

Students from Weimar College joined our walking tour

On our Anabaptist walking tour in Zurich we met students from California who attend the Weimar Institute and are Baptist Adventist. Their group was led by two professors who were thrilled that they were meeting a group of flesh and blood Anabaptist Mennonites. John interpreted the Felix Mantz Marker and we sang and prayed along the Limmat River.

Grossmünster, Zurich

Wilmer invited them to walk with us to the Grossmünster (the Great Minster) and to the home of Felix Mantz’s mother, the site of the first baptisms, forming the first church of the Radical Reformation. John interpreted as our groups walked together.

As we gathered around the fountain John encouraged everyone to dip their hands in this water. He explained that the house is no longer standing but water would have flowed here in 1525 as it does today. This was the source of the water used for that first baptism. Here is the beginning of our church and the tradition of believers baptism.

We sang together Faith of our Fathers and shared a prayer before we separated. With nearly 50 voices singing together, neighbors were attracted and listened from their windows.

John Talking with farmer Wilfried at Anabaptist Gathering place near Schleitheim

This morning we drove to Hemmental where our friend, and local farmer, Wilfred met us with his tractor and wagon. He drove us through the Forrest to the monument on the grounds. The monument was erected in remembrance of the Anabaptist who lost their lives when they gathered here for worship, nurture and encouragement.

5 of us hiked up the trail . Those who climbed realized the cost and commitment these local believers paid to follow their conscience. They were going against the culture that demanded certain loyalty and had the power of the government and police to control it citizens.

John outlined the principles of the Schleitheim Confession of Faith. We use it today guiding our church life. It came from meetings in this Forrest. John asked what is absolute for us? This Marker portrays the life of people who gave us a foundation for our faith. Ross responded that this is a hard question and it is hard for him to list.

Richard with Petra and a journalist friend talking at the marker in Tauferhutten im Wald

The Rhine Falls at Neuhausen were wonderful to visit, especially for Nancy since it was her birthday. We took an hour to walk and take photos. Ray and Elizabeth enjoyed feeding the fish in the river as it flowed from the falls.

This afternoon is free time in Zurich for last minute shopping and for us packing our suitcases for our flight home tomorrow. At our farewell dinner this evening John will give a quiz. It will be a great reminder of all that we have seen on this tour. Will Ross Kennel win the prize for getting most correct answers? Or will he yield the prize to his cousins?

Wilmer Martin

Hasliberg / Reuti, Switzerland 

Richard Kennel studying the map with Wilmer at Frankfurt Airport

The Custom Tour organized with Ross Kennel Family & Friends is already in its 5th day. The weather is awesome and we are travelling in some of the most scenic areas of Western Europe.

Upon our arrival in Luxembourg we visited an American World War 2 military cemetery near the airport. We were touched by the solemn calmness and the vivid reminder of the human tragedy of war.

Traveling by coach gives the opportunity for conversation and the large windows are great for photo taking.  Ross, Richard and Ray like the back of the bus where they can move quickly from side to side for better pictures.

Ross & Richard Kennel at the Belgrad sign.

The first main stop of the tour was to visit the Jantzi Homestead at Belgrad, near St Avold. The area is very prosperous. Ross and Richard’s mother was a Jantzi. Ross shared some of the stories he has heard from family members who have visited this area in Lorraine, France.

This past Friday we enjoyed traveling to Salm. Beautiful fields and vineyards growing straight up the side of the mountain, indicated that agriculture is a significant part of life in this region. The Rouge Mountains were in the foreground as the sign welcoming us to the Alsace appeared.

We enjoyed seeing the narrow streets as we drove through Molsheim. Flowers were in bloom everywhere in the window boxes and in the gardens.

Group at Augsburger Homestead

We all were impressed with JP’s driving through the Forrest. The Oak tree we visited was planted by the Amish in appreciation of the fact that they were given a military service exception from fighting by the French government. We also noticed the Augsburger name over the door of one of the homesteads.

We enjoyed listening to the stories of John Ruth as we traveled through Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, the birth place of the Amish Church under Jacob Amman leadership.

Group eating Scucurt in Riquewhir

At Riquewhir we enjoyed the traditional meal of the Alsace- Scucurt – 4 cuts of pork cooked with sauerkraut and potatoes.  Delicious!

Yesterday we entered Switzerland at Basal and immediately went to the city of Bern for our walking tour. We noticed the wealth of the citizens, displayed by the cars. We walked from the National Government plaza down to the bear pits.

This city was very cruel to the Anabaptist. John Ruth said that many of them felt the claws of the government as symbolized by the bear claws on the statues. The Bear is the symbol of the city of Bern. In the afternoon we walked the beautiful Aareschlucht.

Esther Lewis & Muriel Coultes walking the Aareschlucht

This morning we enjoyed worship at the oldest Mennonite Church in the world.  We were impressed with the young population in the meetinghouse. The church was filled and many youth were also involved in the leadership.

This is cherry season.  John Ruth found a cherry tree near the Tracheswald castle.  He said “Roma will not be happy with the juice stain on his new shirt and slacks, but they tasted good.”

Wilmer was enjoying the sweet wild strawberries. Nancy, Phyllis and others agreed they are delicious.

~ Wilmer Martin

Oberammergau 2020

Oberammergau’s Passion Play theatre, photo by Robin Zebrowski cc-by-nc 2.0

The World Famous Oberammergau Passion Play is next performing in 2020. This play, performed every 10 years, is fulfilling the village’s promise to God made in 1634.

Many of my friends are asking if I plan to take any tours to see the play. Currently I have 2 tours planned:

May 21-31, 2020: Explore the Alps Tour: Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany including Oberammergau

My friend Lorne Smith will be joining me and serving as storyteller on this tour. The focus will be on history and culture. Some of the experiences on this tour include:

  • the fantastic scenery of the Swiss Alps as we travel the Cable car at Erlenbach, Switzerland
  • visit South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology to visit Otzi the Ice Man in Italy
  • an evening Tyrolean Folk Cultural show in Innsbruck, Austria
  • visit Sound of Music country and the church in Mondsee, Austria where the wedding scene was filmed

September 15-28: Holy Land Tour including Oberammergau

My friend Pastor Henry Detweiler will be joining me in tour leadership. The first two days of the tour will be spent in Oberammergau. Can you imagine how meaningful the tour will be after experiencing Jesus’ story so vividly? We will experience the Passion Play and then travel to the Holy Land where we will walk the Jesus Trail in Galilee, visit the Mount of the Beautitudes, as well as visit other cities central to Jesus’s life (Nazareth, Caesarea, Bethlehem and Jerusalem).

Our home away from home in Oberammergau, Hotel Turmwirt

Both tours include two nights at beautiful Hotel Turmwirt where we will be hosted by the Glas Family as we deepen our faith by observing the Passion Play.

For more information and tour details, including pricing, please write to wilmerraymartin-(at)-outlook.com  A $500 deposit per person will reserve your place on a tour.  Make your check/cheque payable to W.J.Martin Developments Inc. and mail to 1501-144 Park St. Waterloo, Ont N2L 0B6

I hope you are able to join me one of these exciting tours.

~ Wilmer