Thursday, June 5, 2008

Finally Basel

I guess you could understand the word "finally" in the title in two ways. The first is that I have finally arrived in Basel. But the other is that here I am, on Thursday, and I am finally getting around to writing about last weekend. Since coming to Switzerland I have been flooded with thoughts and feelings and I guess I am not sure where to start. Also I am going to be at Bienenberg for about a month, and so I figure I can take my time in explaining what is going on.

So let me begin with my weekend. As I said, Irene's relative met me at the Basel Bahnhof (train station). He helped me with my luggage as we went onto two different trams to his home. Basel is an extremely pedestrian friendly city, and he does not own a car, though he is part of a car coop so that he can use one when he needs one to go out into the country.

Andy is married with one small daughter. She is such a cutie, under a year old. She smiles all the time. They were a very friendly and welcoming family. For my meal there, we had curry. He noted that curry is not particularly Swiss, but he made it with fruit, which is. It was delicious.

Andy lived in the US for several years and speaks great English. It was fun to talk to him about some of the differences and what we appreciate in both countries. On one of their doors they have affixed two photographs of the prairie. For him the prairie is so beautiful because you can see for miles; he is accustomed to being hemmed in by the mountains. I found this hard to believe and we realized that you can more easily appreciate what you do not have in ample supply.

On the other hand he did not miss American plumbing. He said that American water faucets are too close to the bottom of the sink. There's no room for your hands. And certainly a visitor to Switzerland is immediately impressed with all the smart technology. The plumbing really is impressive. Some toilets have two buttons depending on how much water is needed. All the showers vary both the pressure and the temperature in a very easy to use way.

The windows also astound me. You turn the handle one way and they open as vents at the top, the other way and the swing wide open. And get this, they don't use screens. I was just waiting to be invaded by a horde of insects. But really it was no problem. It's nice for the view but I'm guessing that they get away with it only because their summertime temperatures are not nearly as high as in Indiana. So far it has been in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit.

And finally the electrical lights are also amazing. They use motion sensors so that as you go from room to room the lights turn on. Eventually they go off.

I went with the family to the Schaenzli Mennonite Church in Muttenz. They were having a joint service with the local Reformed Church and the Reformed preacher spoke. He was more formal, wearing a robe and special things around his neck. He spoke about reaching out across boundaries.

The church is alive and well and very active. It is a young church with many young families. Apparently Swiss Mennonites have experienced some decline some years ago, but at least recently it appears they are alive and well and reaching out. It has been exciting to see how strong Christian faith is in Europe since I more easily hear about how weak it is becoming. From Taize and my experience here, it is clear to me that there is still many strong Christians in Europe.

My photo is of the church "parking lot." It is mostly bikes. And you see this kind of thing everywhere. Even at the Rathause, which would be like the Indiana State Legislature, you see men in business suits riding bikes and then parking them in the long line of bicycles in front of the building. What's not to love about a country like this?

No comments: