Upon meeting this dear lady, I was invited with my four children to her home nearby. As I entered into her home...(a farmhouse complete with milking house right in the same building) I was touched by the simplicity of their lifestyle. The kitchen was the center of her home with a large square table and a stove to the side used with wood to cook. She gently showed each of us where to sit at the table, as we sat in our language of "silence". She proceeded to prepare lunch. She first set small glasses in front of each of us and then poured a small amount of "syrop" into each glass. My children thinking this was American "koolade" proceeded to gulp it down...when Claudine gasped and yelled..."no, no" (we DID understand that!)...she then poured more and added water to show it needed to be mixed with water first! One of many "lessons" we would learn living in a foreign country!
While seated...a kindly gentleman with ruffled hair, peeked into the large picture window that was open and said "SALUT"...a greeting that would become so familiar and so heartwarming to us. This was her husband, he was coming in for his main meal of the day. As a farmer his days began at the crack-of-dawn and the main meal at midday was the most important of all, with a simpler meal in the evening of bread and cheese. A few moments later, an elderly woman walked in. I did not feel quite so comfortable with her. She looked us over and nodded with an unsure smile and then left. She had "heard" about the visiting American! I had just met Claudine's mother-in-law.
We would eventually meet MR. father-in-law as well...a quiet, dedicated farmer.
I am writing this account to introduce these people. Claudine's mother-in-law would eventually become a very dear lady to my heart. She would pop in to visit me from time to time and have a cup of tea. Chat?...in our own special way. Yes.
Claudine also had two children older than mine..but nonetheless, very kind and playful.
Claudine's husband, hardworking...he would take a moment here and there...to show the children his cows...to ride the tractor...and even give hugs. My eyes well with tears here as I think upon these dear dear people. Strangers GOD brought into our lives...to befriend us, to help us, to love us.
We would meet people of the village at different times in the course of our life in the village. The intro to the young dairy lady. The postman and his daughter who would play the piano for my children whenever I walked up the hill to the post. Their home just behind the building.
Whenever I would take walks with the children...people would be working in their gardens (beautiful gardens!) and stop midway..stand upright...and STARE!
I wondered what they thought? Why does she live here? Why does she have so many children? Of course they all knew each other in the village, so it didn't take long to find out!
Getting settled in was quick..with only trunks and a few suitcases! We had some money from our home that sold (albeit..not the normal way...one that gave us a bit of the equity on a yearly basis)..and with this we purchased a few needful items..BEDS!(see photo at top) The store, now in the U.S. was Ikea. Great furniture we could transport easily in our van and put together at home. It was perfect.
We were very fortunate for at that time (1982)..in most homes rented, you get the rooms with the walls. You supply the rest. Our duplex had built in cupboards in the kitchen! We did have to purchase a ceiling light for the living room. There are no closets...so most of our clothes were folded in a (neat) pile! (I am a neat person..so the PILE..well, it was neatly piled!). I did not know that there was a washer and dryer in the basement and for the first few weeks; I hand washed our clothes in a deep tub in the bathroom..and then hung the clothes on the radiators (not my style!) and my husband made me a clothesline across the tub.
You may ask..WHY? in the world are living like this? ...a mission(ary) vision.
After living like this for about a month, my husband called one day and said a gentleman he worked with was moving back to the U.S. and he left us the key to his place, and said we could have whatever we wanted in his apartment. I'm thinking...yard sale stuff...things most people don't want. When my husband arrived at the apt. he excitedly called to tell me...his apartment was full of furniture! kitchen things! lamps, rugs etc. Unbelievable! ..NO, GOD was providing. Within one month of our arrival, we had a house completely furnished..FREE. I was so touched by the little items that GOD sent our way. I love baskets..and what do I find..an array of different baskets. I would find a small item for the kitchen that was so needful. God had made our house now our HOME.
I then one day heard a knock at the door and there stood a sweet Christian young woman who spoke English, offering me some bags of clothing for the children. Winter clothes. Snowsuits in perfect condition...each the correct size for four children. Thank you, Claudine...thank you LORD. Provision again for a need I was not prepared for...SNOW. Claudine had told them about us at one of the farmer-wives meetings.
Just a small thing some would say...but for us...it was the LORD. He knew our needs before we did. He knew the encouragement it would bring to our hearts to be excepted as we were into this small Swiss village. But, most of all...the confirmation it gave us of being in his perfect will.
Philippians chpt. 1 verse 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ...