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

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.

Rothenburg on der Tauber, Germany

 

Bob Kelly sharing with the Group in Worms at Luther momument
Bob Kelly lecturing at Reformers Monument

 

Visiting the section of the Heidleberg Castle destroyed by the French during the occupation
Janet Walther, Carol and Lorne Smith visiting the Heidleberg Castle

 

Nancy & Robert Mann ; Judy & Bruce Wilson inside the Walled City- Rothenburg
Nancy & Robert Mann ; Judy & Bruce Wilson inside the Walled City- Rothenburg

 

Lorne & Carol Smith in Rothenburg
Lorne & Carol Smith in Rothenburg

 

Group at the Steinsfurt cellar
Group at the Steinsfurt cellar

 

Wilmer and driver JP Weber
Wilmer and driver JP Weber

 

William Berczy Historic plaque, Wallerstein, Germany
William Berczy Historic plaque, Wallerstein, Germany

Prior to the tour group members arriving, Lorne and Carol Smith and I were able to fit a visit in a with our long-time friend and historian Aksel Rink, who recently celebrated his 96th birthday.  We had a wonderful visit with him in his gardens, as you can see from the photo at the top of the post.

Meeting in Nordlingen, Germany with Mayor Herman and Peter, Staff and Historian Aksel Rink
Meeting in Nordlingen, Germany with Mayor Herman and Peter, Staff and Historian Aksel Rink

Read the blog on Tourmagination’s website.

~ Wilmer Martin

Oberammergau, Germany

After saying goodbye to my nephew Lynn and his family in Vicenza, Italy we began our journey North.

Gufidaun Castle, Italy
Gufidaun Castle, Italy

We decided to stop in Gufidaun, Italy. You can see by the photo it was a beautiful day in this quite community . As Anabaptist (Mennonites) we have an important connection to the castle in the photo. George Blaurock one of the three Swiss brothers was beaten out of the city of Zurich. He was made to promise never to return to Zurich. He was latter captured and held in the Castle prison in Guifdaun in 1527 before being taken taken to Klassen where he was tried and died a martyrs death.

We had a coffee and a nice conversation with the operator of Hotel Sonn who remember us since we on occasion stayed in her Hotel with TourMagination Tour groups.

Dolomite Alps, Italy
Dolomite Alps, Italy

The Italian Alps (Dolomites) were covered in the clouds today. Yet there rugged peak outline shone through the clouds. The drive was spectacular and gave JP and me time to talk and reflect on the tours we have had in this community and our work together over the past 26 years. We enjoy each other friendship.

Late afternoon we arrived at Hotel Turmwirt in Oberammergau. I have many times referred to this as my home away from home. Janet and I love Georg, Eta and Corla Glas the owners and operators of this fine Hotel.They always provide a warm welcome to us and our TourMagination tour groups.

Dinner with Georg, Eta & Carola Glas at Hotel Turmwirt
Dinner with Georg, Eta & Carola Glas

Over dinner we shared together. They wanted to hear about Janet’s passing and how the Martin family is dealing with our loss. I thank God for friends who care for me and my family. The Glas family provide wonderful hospitality. I knew they were praying for me since Georg had called me on the phone. Yet being together in person was a wonderful gift to me. Thank you for your love and Care!

Of course we discussed many issues we are facing in our countries and the world today. Carola shared with us that one of the refugees from Afghanistan living in Oberammergau has been working at the Hotel. Ahmad who is 18 years old has been accepted to study to become a construction worker. She is happy for him but is disappointed to lose a good worker she was training. He couldn’t understand why he couldn’t keep working at the hotel on the weekends. He wanted to keep working. Carola explained that even though it doesn’t make sense to her or him it is against the German Law and she can’t have him continue to work.

There are many issues that are complex that we face as business people and Christians. We want to make a difference in our work and lives , yet it is not always easy doing the right thing. I commended Carola for her working with Ahmad.

I return home on Friday thankful for the privilege of visiting family and friends in Europe.

~ Wilmer

Additional photos from the Amish Heritage Tour with John Ruth

Last week I received some wonderful photos taken on the Amish Heritage Tour with John Ruth by tour member Se Yim.  I asked him if he was willing to have these photos shared on my blog and he agreed. Thank you Se Yim for allowing us to share these fantastic memories.

Historic Peace Tree planted by Mennonites in the 18th century as thank you to God for being exempt from military service. Salm, France
Historic Peace Tree planted by Mennonites in the 18th century as thank you to God for being exempt from military service. Salm, France
Wilmer and Eva reviewing a wooden plaque of familiar names on the wall of the Reformed Church in Steffisburg, Switzerland.
Wilmer and Eva reviewing a wooden plaque of familiar names on the wall of the Reformed Church in Steffisburg, Switzerland.
D060
The wonderful view at the Sustenpass, Swiss Alps
Wilmer and Peter with the Amish women at Wurzbrunnen
Wilmer and Peter with the Amish women at Wurzbrunnen
Wilmer at the Chapel Bridge in Luzern, Switzerland
Wilmer at the Chapel Bridge in Luzern, Switzerland
The Rainbow over the Chapel at Wurzbrunnen
A Rainbow over the Chapel at Wurzbrunnen

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Photo Blog: London, England

Porta Nigra (Black Gate) in Trier, Germany
Porta Nigra (Black Gate) in Trier, Germany
John Ruth was all smiles as JP reunited him with his camera
John was all smiles as JP reunited him with his camera
Lion Mound, Waterloo, Belgium
Lion Mound, Waterloo, Belgium
Quaker Meetinghouse at Old Jordans
Quaker Meetinghouse at Old Jordans
Old Jordans Cemetery where William Penn is buried
Old Jordans Cemetery where William Penn is buried
Windsor Castle rose garden
Windsor Castle rose garden
Caleb Miller in conversation with Wilmer at Stonehenge
Caleb Miller in conversation with Wilmer at Stonehenge
Queen Mary 2 in Port Southampton
Queen Mary 2 in Port Southampton

Interested in the stories behind the photos?  Click here.

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Photo Blog: Meringen, Switzerland

Sam Stoltzfus and Peter Showalter at Ringweilerhof
Sam Stoltzfus and Peter Showalter at Ringweilerhof
Theophil welcomes us to Seinsfurt
Theophil welcomes us to Seinsfurt
Jay Lehman viewing the Kraichgau from Steinsberg Tower
Jay Lehman viewing the Kraichgau from Steinsberg Tower
Larry and Linda Bardel at Colmar-Ingersheim Mennonite Church
Larry and Linda Bardel at Colmar-Ingersheim Mennonite Church
Site where the Amish Church made the decision to go out on their own.
John Ruth and Sam Stoltzfus viewing Ohenheim, the site where the Amish Church made the decision to go out on their own.
Aare River where the Anabaptists departed as prisoners
Aare River where the Anabaptists departed as prisoners
Sam and John reading Haslibach song at Trachselwald Castle
Sam and John reading Haslibach song at Trachselwald Castle
Can you see the rainbow over Wurzbrunnen Chapel?
Can you see the rainbow over Wurzbrunnen Chapel?

Read the stories behind the pictures here.

Photo blog: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

JP, Wilmer, Markus and John at Emil Weber Coach Terminal
JP, Wilmer, Markus and John at Emil Weber Coach Terminal
Cherry Vendor enjoying the sales and visit
English Cherry Vendor enjoying a visit with the tour members and, of course, the sales
White Cliffs of Dover
White Cliffs of Dover
Corrie Ten Boom’s bedroom with hiding place
Hiding place in Corrie Ten Boom’s bedroom

Read the stories behind the pictures here.

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