Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘Friendships’

Our Trip to Switzerland – Part Four


Extended Family and Friends

What makes Switzerland so special? Besides the scenery, the cows, cheese, chocolate, watches and banks, Switzerland is special for the same reason ANYplace is special to me: the people! We have made many friends during these twenty-one years of traveling there every other year. Each time we go, we have the opportunity to make new friends! What a blessing it is to enjoy the country as family members … rather than simply being tourists!

Our daughter, DeAna, her husband, Andre’, and our three grandsons are the nucleus of our family there, but the relationship didn’t start with them. It began with Andre’s first cousin, Christian Zufferey, who was our AFS exchange student in 1981-82 in central California. AFS has a symbol… a heart-shaped world globe. It’s motto has something to do with changing the shape of our world, one person at a time. That’s what student exchange programs are all about. I am so glad that we were inspired to bring foreign students into our home when our kids were high-school aged. What a difference it has made in our family!


Andre’ wasn’t the first one who got the ball rolling, however. My mom’s oldest sister, Evelyn, married a Swiss way back in the early 1930s. It was Uncle Hans who caused us to want to invite a Swiss kid to come and live with us. Even though Christian was not the German-Swiss yodler that I anticipated, he captured our hearts and gave us an appreciation of the French-Swiss culture that has lasted a life-time.

100_1446Swiss Fondue – Mmmm

After his return to Sierre, we were invited to go there and spend a Christmas with his family. As an impressionable, romantic high school freshman, DeAna fell in love with their suave and humorous first cousin, Andre’. At the same time, we fell in love with Christian’s sister, Sylviane (Syli), and invited her to live with us in California for a year when she finished school. After DeAna graduated from high school, she lived for a year with the Zufferey family. Not surprising, the romance between her and Andre’ picked up where it left off. At the year’s end, Andre’ Solioz returned to California with DeDe. The rest is history. What a fairytale!

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De and Andre’

Now, when we visit the Solioz family, of course we spend time also with the Zuffereys. Christian’s mom (Marcelle) and Andre’s mother (Denise) are sisters. Denise and her husband, Marin, are wonderful friends who always welcome us to their home when we visit. Marin is suffering this year with emphezyma, so we had to limit our talking time with him. How I wish we could speak French to communicate more easily with him! I imagine that working to understand Bob’s pantomiming is exhausting.

IMG_2064Denise and Marin Solioz – De’s angelic in-laws
(Our prayers are with Marin during this difficult time in his life)

Marcelle’s husband, Antoine, died tragically of a blood clot that traveled to his heart several years ago. Marcelle is a gracious hostess – and we always enjoy seeing her in her lovely home.

IMG_2059Marcelle and me in her living room

 Christian has three children (aged 18 to 22) and Sylviane has five children ranging in age from 15 to 23. We were able to spend a Friday afternoon with Syli in her apartment in Sion and a weekend with Christian in the chalet in Arnouvaz that has been in his partner’s family for three generations. It was built by Celia’s grandfather and great-uncle in 1892.

IMG_2384Bob, Syli, and Jan in her Sion apartment

IMG_2398ZuZu and Celia’s chalet above Crans-Montana, Valais in Arnouvaz

The extended family also includes several cousins. One very special one is Chantal Fornier who lived with us as a recent high school graduate in the early 1990s. She was such a blessing in our lives at that time because she has the gift of love and compassion for the elderly. I am eternally grateful to her. My dad was not well at that time, and she was so very kind to him. And she is grateful to us – because through that experience, she found her calling. Chantal works in the Nursing Home in Sierre and continues to spread her gentle kindness to the elderly.

IMG_2395Marie and Chantal Fornier with Bob and me

Our circle of Swiss friends spread to include a couple of De’s girlfriends this year. Perky and fit, a soul-sister for sure, Kad Giromini invited us to her home for dinner one night.

IMG_2057DeDe and her Swiss soul-sister, Kad

Another Chantal (a new friend of De’s) and her husband, Pierre-Andre’, invited us to their home when we returned from a week-long trip to Spain. We had a delicious barbecue in their backyard with this phenomenal view:

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The view from Chantal’s backyard

Our two oldest grandsons, Mike and Nick, made it possible to add their girlfriends to the circle of our new Swiss friends. They treated us to lunch in Sierre on our second day there. I posted their photos on Parts One and Two of these blog stories. After lunch, Nick walked through the fountains in the street display. He is such a character!  Yes, it is the people of Switzerland that make it so special…

IMG_2040Nick – walking through the water fountains in Sierre

Stay tuned for Part Four, “A Time to Celebrate” and Part Five – “A Week in Spain”

Stuck on Stupid


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A friend sent me an e-mail with a collection of church marquees and billboard signs. This one caught my attention because my husband, Bob, and I had just spent a few days with dear, long-time friends who laughed with us as they shared a story of about an occasion when some mutual friends were “Stuck on Stupid.”  Their story soon was overshadowed by the event that occurred around the next bend.

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Yup, that’s us! We were headed up a narrow, one-way mountain road. It was posted with a sign at the bottom that said, “Road Crew at Work.” My friend and I, sitting in the back seat, tried to convince our driver (my dear husband of 50+ years) NOT to go up that road. But did he and my friend’s husband listen to us? No, they took a vote.

Results? No surprise!

Two to two! Carolyn and I said, “No way! Stay off!”

Bob and Jerry said, “Heck, the road crew has had time to fix the problem by now. This is a scenic route. Let’s go for it!” That was about 2:45 on a smokey Montana afternoon. Forest fires in Idaho were sending billows of smoke into our usually pristine, scenic valley. I was as anxious as they were to climb the Gravelley Range and get above the polluted level. But, not that way! 

Sure enough, about two miles up the road, we encountered a Forest Service gravel truck coming down the road toward us. In that situation, someone has to give the right of way. Yup, it’s the one going uphill. So, we began to back down, looking for that wide spot where we might turn around – or tuck in to allow the truck to pass. The river was down a ravine to our right. The mountainside was to our left. Hug the left, of course. Don’t chance that drop into the river! A bend in the road – – – hug the hillside. Ooops! A slimy, slippery, black mud ditch on the left grabbed our truck tires and pulled it in. Clunk!

The Forest service driver was assured that we needed his help – and we’d certainly not hold him liable if his efforts failed to get us out. He complied (dear man) and hooked up a chain, trying to pull us out. We ended up farther in the mud with the back of the truck jack-knifing into the hillside and the back fender and tail light crushed against a rock.

Jerry and Carolyn’s story came back to me loud and clear. “Stuck on Stupid!” Yes, this was the perfect example. Our friends headed on foot down the mountainside to see if they could find help at the main road junction – about two and a half miles of rocks and dirt on a pretty steep decline. We were outside of cell phone coverage. A storm was brewing. The driver of the gravel truck was able to reach his Forest Service headquarters on his radio system. They called the Forest Service in Ennis (our home town – more than an hour away). A call to the local auto repair and tow service sent them on their way to the rescue. It was after 5:00 PM by the time the tow truck arrived.

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Pulling us back in the direction from which we were already pulled was just going to bury us deeper. I couldn’t stand to watch! I prayed for divine guidance – for Bob and Paul, the driver of the tow truck. I prayed for safety for our friends who had walked down the mountain. I prayed for a miracle. I began to walk down the mountain, too, but the thunder and lightening sent me back to Bob and the stuck truck. As I rounded the corner, the scene startled me! The right rear tire was air-bound!

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That had to represent progress, right? More see-sawing back and forth for what seemed like hours. Bob encouraged Paul to connect the chain from the back of the truck rather than the one closer to the cab. Also, back the tow truck up closer and connect to the pick-up in a place that would allow the greatest angle. I held my breath for an eternity! Clunk! It bounced out almost as sharply as it had slid in! Nearly 6:00 PM by now. Lightening and thunder drawing nearer. We thanked Paul profusely as he dug muck out from the wheel wells and tire crevices to prevent brake damage. Then we followed the tow truck – down to find our guests. Just as the large Montana raindrops began to pound the windshield, we rescued them from the roadside. Our guys weren’t taking a vote on which direction to go from there. No artificial intelligence needed. We headed to the nearest restaurant with a bar. Three cheers for answered prayer, for Paul, for the Forest Service, and for being Unstuck on Stupid!

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If you’re on a one-way mountain road and the sign says “Road Crew at Work,” I don’t think you need a vote to decide to take another route. You’re not Stuck on Stupid!

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