Sunday, June 8, 2008
I had a wonderful first week at Bienenberg, which means Bee Mountain in German. I have attached both a photo of where I am staying and the view from my room and the restaurant where I eat here. This was once a resort and is now a retreat center owned by the Mennonites of France, Switzerland, and Germany. Since Basel is located where these three countries meet it is a great location. In general the staff is trilingual, as far as I can tell. Or at least they speak great English along with German. From my window I can see the Black Forest of Germany. I didn't realize that this area was as moutainous, or at least as hilly, as it is.
I had a surprise my first week here in that a group of Swiss Mennonite senior citizens were here on retreat all week long. There are also two German Mennonite volunteers, two brothers from the Palatinate. All of them are very friendly, in that way that older people are so good at being.
A man who once taught at Bienenberg (it is both a training center and retreat center) came up to me and introduced himself. He was very patient with me, like some others have been. And in the gentle way that an older gentleman can do this, he corrected my German. In Switzerland, he told me, we don't use "Sie" with each other, it is "du." Which is to say, they aren't formal with each other, but informal. For those who know Spanish Sie is like Usted and du is of course like tu. I also met a former pastor of the Langnau Mennonite Church, who speaks great English, and the former administrator of a children's home in France. She of course knew the Meyer family. A number of the folks here were in the US as Mennonite Central Committee trainees.
The last night when both they and I were still here, they invited me to a slide show of Switzerland. A man who had died some years ago had taken some great shots of different locations in Switzerland. They were great. Now that I am back from my weekend away, I miss all the people around here. It is now just a few of us.