Monday, April 14, 2008

The ‘ten’ list from our journey…

So, I was talking to my beloved sister yesterday, who also proved to be a genius.. As I was lamenting about how I don’t have time to write a whole long blog post about our trip to the Continent (I mean, come on, I have two jobs now – yessssss!), she said, “well why don’t you just list the top ten things about your trip?” But first, I want to explain where exactly we went on this trip because I have encountered many confused people.. We flew to Zurich from Edinburgh via London. Stayed in Zurich for one night and left the next afternoon for Geneva. We stayed in a hotel in France (Geneva is super close to the French border, though it is in Switzerland) and spent 3 ½ days visiting places within walking distance in France, and Geneva. We then took a morning train to Kandern, Germany where we visited our friends for one week before flying back home (During that week we also ventured to France and Switzerland again, but on different ends of the countries than we had been previously). So, here it is! In chronological order, a top ten list…

1. Zurich. Period. We LOVED Zurich. It is an easily navigated city (important with us) with amazing things to see. We checked out some m√ľnsters (including St. Peter’s which had stained glass windows by Giacometti.. Oh man!), had a yummy lunch (and so did some pigeons), and enjoyed beautiful weather all day.

2. The train ride from Zurich to Geneva. As far as he can remember, we saw the most beautiful scenery Ian has ever seen. It was absolutely breathtaking – the Swiss Alps shooting up above hills covered with vineyards leading down to Lake Geneva.

3. The rich and well cared for history of the Reformation in Geneva. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing things like: many streets named after reformers, the church Calvin preached in (and the chair he sat on), the college he started, the auditorium he lectured in, The Reformation wall (kind of like a smaller, full-body Mount Rushmore) and park, and the Reformation Museum (SO worth the 20 Francs we spent to get in! – we got to see a real Luther Bible – whoa..). Not to mention, finding Calvinus beer…

4. The Best French sandwich shop ever!!! Seriously, best bread, best ingredients, amazing pastries. We grabbed sandwiches there every morning to eat for lunch.

5. The birth of our first nephew!! Charles Benjamin Parsons was born Sunday, March 30 while we were hanging out in France.

6. Getting to see Becky and Alyssa for a whole week! Becky, Alyssa, and I were in the same class and studied Art at Taylor, so it was fabulous to catch up and see them in action putting all those filled up brain cells to use (they are both Art teachers at Black Forest Academy).

7. Getting to share various A-mazing! cuisines with Becky, Alyssa, and friends. (including of course – puppy chow!! Hooray!)

8. Meeting the rest of Alyssa’s family, that I had not yet met, when they came to visit for a few days, and spending a whole day with them touring some wine country in France.

9. Hooray for being with artists!!! It was wonderful to spend so much time with artists again, I gave artist talks in Alyssa’s classes one day, and we spent an afternoon at a Modern Art museum in Basel, Switzerland. (deep breath) aaaaaaaaahhh. That was nice. :)

10. My Hubby. Ok, I know that seems funny, but seriously, I love that guy. It was amazing to travel with him (this was essentially our first vacation just the two of us, aside from our honeymoon to Ohio :) ) and just enjoy his company and watch him interact with people as he practiced his German in Zurich and Kandern, butchered French in Geneva and France (an UNBELIEVABLY funny story, but only when he tells it), and demonstrated his seemingly never-ending patience and kindness as he enjoyed our friends, old and new. When we weren’t being captivated by the views on the trains or in the airports, he was making me laugh as he learned how to do a ‘bridge’ when shuffling cards, and his ceaseless amazement at how well I could do it (makes me laugh just thinking about it). And I taught him how to play ‘war’ (I kind of couldn’t believe he had never played that game…) and ‘spit’ with the cards.

We had a wonderful, refreshing trip and are SO thankful that the Lord provided for us the means and safe travel to make it a wonderful trip. We realize that we are very blessed to have these experiences and pray that our eyes are opened further to our world, the needs therein, and the ways we can make an impact as we explore the Lord’s creative works on this Earth and in these people.

I haven’t gotten the pictures together, but be on the lookout for a good ol’ slideshow in the next few days so you can see the sights as well!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Up From the Grave He Arose!!

In all of the things that were going on, I totally forgot to acknowledge Easter. This first year away from our normal holiday activities with family and friends has been difficult, but it’s also been kind of fun to figure out what these holidays really mean to us and how we want to celebrate them (especially looking forward to our own family someday).

I had hoped to make some Easter bread to celebrate the holiday, but alas, I couldn’t work it in.. Maybe next year, or maybe in a few weeks :) Now this bread has no specific tie to the real reason that we celebrate Easter – namely Christ’s resurrection! But, with some creative thinking, I think I can come up with some good ways to tie it in to help our family focus on our Savior. I’m open for suggestions as well.

After Easter, I also found this recipe for resurrection cookies, which I am very excited about. I think that sounds like a very fun, and visual (which, of course, I am a fan of) way to remind ourselves of what Christ went through for us, especially to make it more personal since we are acting it out with our own hands.

As for us, our Easter was kind of odd. We decided to go to the sunrise service out by the ocean, but after a few minutes of it, decided to leave and go for a walk instead. I think we’ve decided that rather than a sunrise service, we will just have sunrise devotions together on the beach from now on (or at least as long as we live by a beach) to prepare ourselves for church on Easter Sunday. I did get some beautiful morning pictures though…

Our church actually doesn’t celebrate any of the Christian holidays (Free Church of Scotland). I haven’t really looked into it, but I’m assuming it’s for the same reason that many theologians in years passed have done this – because of the fact that the Christian life shouldn’t be crammed into a few days a year, but it should be a consistent mindset, a true daily living in which we remember these things and treasure them in our hearts. Now I do believe that is true, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with setting aside special days to celebrate these things as the Body of Christ either.

Fortunately, we have an amazing pastor whom the Lord is using mightily in our church, and he does acknowledge the importance of these days. We even got to sing a hymn!! (after the service was over, of course :) ) Then we went over to some friends’ house for lunch and conversation for the afternoon. We concluded our day with evening church and ‘opening’ our ‘Easter basket’, which Mom and Dad got for us before they left. It was a pile really, including a big chocolate egg, some chocolate bunnies, jelly bellies, and chocolate sheep just for me :).

We have so much to be thankful for every day. May the Truth of Christ be on our hearts and in our minds daily as we strive to live our lives for Him.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Traveling is often surreal...

I have always thought so. Ian and I were commenting on that last night after we got home (16 hours after we started yesterday morning). We left Germany to go to Switzerland, to fly to London, to fly to Edinburgh, to catch a couple buses to St Andrews. I don't think I'll ever get over the fact that you can start your day in one country and end it in another that is so far away. Surreal.

We had an amazing time, and even with the extent that we had to rely on public transportation, had no trouble getting there and back. I'm planning on doing a full post about the trip this weekend (it will be abbreviated though, I promise.. It was a long trip).

Praise the Lord for His goodness to us and these amazing opportunities to broaden our minds and take in more of his creation - especially the people.