No words can express how wonderful our weekend in the Waldensian Valley and mountains was!!! I felt so close to God there. What beauty, peace, joy, discovery and refreshment we experienced!!!!
Yesterday , our day started with a little walk up the hill behind the campground. We found some wild mushrooms, an old stone house, some flowers, a creek and a view of the village below. After that we headed over to Forte Roc where FV was staying to take part in the casual church service they were having together. We broke apart into small discussion groups to find verses that reminded us of the life the Waldenses lived. It was an inspiration to hear all the ideas each group had come up with. The one that stood out most to me was Psalm 138:7, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will sretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me.” They literally believed those words and lived by them for many generations—a thousand years—while they lived simple lives in nature away from the distractions and over stimulation of the cities and God used them to preserve the precious scriptures through those years when forces were against them to destroy both the Bible and their lives.
After church, we decided to do some exploring in nature. In the process, we happened upon a trail that led up into the most picturesque and fairytale beautiful area I’ve seen yet on this trip! Bryan had run up the road toward what we thought was the end of the valley where the road ended for several miles. He wanted to show us where he went and so we began driving.
The road was classically narrow for European village and mountain driving with hairpin turns and drop offs. Around every bend were more and more breathtaking views! Soon, we ended up in a parking lot where we thought the road ended. We parked and wondered through a little village with stone houses. There was a crystal clear stream bubbling over beautiful rocks which had veins of multi-colored quartz in them. We had to stop and put our feet in the water and it ended up being VERY frigid glacier water coming from the snow melt off up above us—how refreshing!! We found a trail head near the creek and decided to explore. We could see a waterfall off in the distance and thought we’d go check it out.
As we hiked steeply up the rocky trail, we saw many varieties of flowers and insects that were new to us. The river was rushing nearby and there many interesting rock formations. Soon we came to one waterfall viewpoint where we took pictures. Then glancing across the river to the other side, we noticed a vehicle making it’s way up on a narrow road (a road up here??!! We felt as though we were way out in the wilderness). We met some people who spoke English along the way (but mostly those who did not) who told us that that road ultimately went to a castle. So we decided to keep going up further to see if we could find it. Our time was a bit limited because Tiffany needed to get back to rehearse for the evening concert but we thought we’d give it a shot. Soon we noticed there were some people crossing the river up ahead on a rope. “Could that be the way to the castle over there?” we wondered. Grant immediately got excited about trying the rope crossing. But rope crossings are not my thing so I decided to find the most shallow part and wade across in my Keens—so glad to have those! They’re great for wearing in the water and hiking in the summer with!
Once all four of us made it to the other side, we noticed a GIANT waterfall across the meadow. It was about triple the height of the huge waterfalls we have in the Columbia Gorge with water cascading down over giant boulders which were also laced with multi-colored quartz. Can you imagine?!!! What a sight that was! We all scrambled up as close as we could get to feel the spray and welcome the majesty of it all!! After soaking in the moment, I began climbing the boulders back down to the bottom. As I did so, a pitch black, shiny salamander scurried across a rock in front of me. He was so cute J I called out to Bryan who got there just in time to snap a picture of him but not without catching him before he scurried under a rock to hide.
Looking at our watch we realized that time was short and we needed to head back down so Tiffany could make it to her rehearsal. “But….! We didn’t get to the castle yet!” my heart sang out in anguish. As the thought gave way to voice, I was reminded of two things as I felt my bottom lip start into a state of pouting. The first was that we needed to remain true to the purpose and commitment which we came to accomplish which meant Tiffany needed to report to duty. The second was that gratitude is the best therapy! I began to relive the last hour and a half of hiking and relishing all that we had already experienced. The cloud of gratitude soon moved in to extinguish the fire of disappointment and we were bounding down the trail on the other side of the river discovering new views that we hadn’t seen on the way up!!! Thank you Lord for the treasure of such majesty and grandeur that You arranged for us yesterday! It will never be forgotten.
Once we reached the village at the bottom of the trail, we all noticed our stomachs growling. It was past lunch time and that hike was a hunger generator, no doubt! Thankfully, there just happened to be a cute little guest house café/kitchen right there near where we had parked. They didn’t speak any English, nor did they have a menu. But using the few words of Italian we have learned and Spanish and sign language we were able to get across to them what we would like. The food was delicious and served family style. We felt honered to be a part of such cultural authenticity J
We dropped off Tiffany so she could get to her rehearsal and since we hadn’t seen the ancient “college” where the Waldenses trained their pastors and Bible workers, which FV had filmed at the day before, we decided to drive up into the hills and have a look. Wow! It was such a special place and well preserved by many generations of Waldensian descendants! Took some pictures of it for you to enjoy—the buildings were all made of stone and were very small. They seemed to blend in with the landscape which was probably planned so as not to attract a lot of attention from the outside world.
On the way back down to Torre Pellice with the concert was being held in an old church, we looked for the caves that the Waldenses hid in when they were being hunted. But couldn’t find it by the time we needed to be back for the concert. So we decided to get a bit more information about how to get there from a local person who would know at the concert and then go there before getting on the road to Eisenach, Germany this morning.
To our delight, that goal was fulfilled and it was fun going down into the cave where the Waldenses lived for sometimes weeks at a time in hiding away from their enemies. The mixed chorus members of the FV singers had been there on Thursday to film some songs inside the cave. Can’t wait to hear/see that when the DVD comes out!!! It will be unique and filled with deep meaning!
We didn’t make it all the way to Eisenach today because of several delays BUT we did drive through the best scenery yet!!! The Swiss Alps are almost unbelievable! Peaks, green meadows, waterfalls, lakes, little Alpine houses and great roads were all part of the adventure! Took lots of pictures out the windows of the van as we were driving by the views and even stopped for a few of them. Just to drive through Switzerland cost 35 Euros! But it was worth it J The beauty that is right by the roads we drove on today is unmatched by anywhere else in the world!
The little country of Lichtenstein was so magical! We stopped to drive up the hill to the castle where the royal family still lives in Valduz which is the capital city. No one is allowed to enter inside except on Aug. 15—once a year. But we took some pictures of the outside of it and the view from the bluff that it sits on. Such a piece of architecture!!!
After Lichtenstein we drove through Austria briefly and then into Deutschland!!! Yay!! My heart skipped a bit when we arrived here—the land where I was born!! I’m so happy to be able to understand the language and speak enough to get along!!! The culture is so much more familiar to me than the others we have been a part of so far on this trip. I like new things and uncharted territory. But I am so ready for something familiar! So excited to have finally arrived here! We get to be in Germany for 3 days until we head into Prague, Czech Republic for FV to do more filming and a concert. Tomorrow they will film at the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach. Then on Tuesday they head up to Wittenburg (where Martin Luther nailed the thesis to the wall) to film there.
We are camping tonight about 3 hours away from Eisenach in farmland where corn and cows abound among very cute little villages with churches whose bells ring regularly. We hope to make it there to the castle in the morning in time to help out some with the filming at the Wartburg castle. Will post pictures for 2 days here and then will try to post again tomorrow. Guten nacht!!!