Switzerland 2001 - Page 1
During the winter of 2000-01, we were volunteering as Sowers at the Mercy Ships base in Garden Valley, Texas. Mercy Ships (www.mercyships.org) at the time was a sister organization to Youth With A Mission, YWAM (www.ywam.org), and had a number of hospital ships offering free medical aid in various economically disadvantaged or war-torn parts of the world
We have volunteered at the Texas Mercy Ships operation for many months. At the time, as best as we can remember, Ed was working in the maintenance department on a building in the RV park; Patty was helping in the hospitality department, cooking and cleaning. We were approached by personnel and asked if we knew of any couple that might be interested in spending some time in Lausanne, Switzerland, helping at the Mercy Ships European office there. Apparently, the building had “some outside woodwork that needed repair.”
The mention of Lausanne brought back some happy memories. We had been there for 3 months in 1996 during our Discipleship Training School (DTS) with YWAM, and had actually spent an evening at the Mercy Ships building for a concert! Without having to think twice about the opportunity to return to Lausanne, we felt the Spirit say we should go!
Ed had spent some time searching for the best travel fares, and we were able to secure good seats on Lufthansa to Geneva through Frankfurt. This was the first time Ed had used Priceline.com and he was able to get both of our return flights for about $1200 with open returns. But with Priceline, you don't get to choose what hour of the day you arrive, and we got to Geneva very early (and very tired: many of our young travel passengers were awake and even singing most of the trip). Nonetheless, we were met by a young lady who escorted us to a parked Mercedes for the ride to Lausanne. We found out soon that she was a volunteer, just like us, and was working with her husband at the Mercy Ships chateau.
Did we mention chateau? The address was: Mercy Ships Switzerland, Maison de Rovereaz, Chemin de la Fauvette 98, 1012 Lausanne, Switzerland. The building we would be working on was built in about 1815 and is three stories with an attic (that's where our room was) and a big basement they called the cave. We soon found out that there were 10 of us plus two children (3 yrs and 3 mo.) living there. We would be there until May 24, about 8 weeks.
Interesting history about Maison de Rovereaz. This is what we understand had happened. It had been a private residence, but it and the property of considerable acreage were donated to the city several decades ago, after having been vacant for some time. Lausanne had never found a good use for it, and was not willing to start on the extensive repairs it needed to make it habitable. The city decided to offer it, on a 99-year, one franc per year (about 60 cents) lease, to the group that could make best use of it, on the condition that it would be rebuilt. Mercy Ships got the bid, and over time, was able to completely redo the interior. We saw pictures of the extensive work when the roof had been removed, and the interior gutted.
That had been a few years ago. Now the shutters were showing signs of wear, and Mercy Ships offered to replace the wooden shutters with new aluminum ones. But the city refused: the shutters had to be made of Norwegian Spruce, just like the ones that were being replaced. After some searching, they were able to find a firm that would make the shutters for about 60,000 francs ($40,000.?). No mission organization should have to spend some $40,000. on cosmetic trim. That's why we were here: to see how much we could save by repairing the existing shutters.
There were stairs, of course: our room was on the fourth floor.
We had to share bathrooms, but look at the view from the girls' bathroom window!
And these were the challenges. The shutters were in need of some work. First, we had to see what was available. The storage area in the "cave" was so unorganized, we couldn't see what was available to work with. Trevor, the director, asked Ed to spend some time cleaning, organizing, and inventorying what was there. It was fun seeing the different tools, paints and other items which were different from the American counterparts. Ed enjoyed going to the hardware store and practicing his French to purchase some needed tools and supplies.
The weather is great here - about 60 degrees during the day with cool evenings. We have a dairy across the street and can hear the cow bells. On the other side, we can see the French Alps just across Lake Geneva.
Ed is now taking down shutters (over 50 windows!), and went right to work on repairing them - sanding, filling cracks, putting on primer and the paint. These shutters are big...some taller than 8 ft high and solid wood. They are very heavy. Last week, two men arrived with 8 new shutters to replace some that weren't fixable. Ed will prime and paint those also....Patty hopes to help, too. The weather has been very rainy, so he's had to work on the porch or in the basement but when he gets to work outside it is beautiful.
This is the view that Ed has when he works outside. Don't you feel sorry for him? Those mountains in the back are the French alps behind Lake Geneva.
Patty is spending most of her time putting linseed oil on all of the woodwork in the house....and there's a lot!. She's done some general cleaning also. So nothing exciting but it's enjoyable to see the dry walls, doors and fireplaces come back to life with a new luster.
We get to eat real French bread and real Swiss cheese. That makes us very happy. Now, if we can stay away from the Swiss chocolate, we can get away without gaining too much weight.
Then there's the milk! Remember the dairy across the street? One neat thing we get to do is walk across the street to the dairy and dip our milk out of the tank where it has just come from the cows. It's warm about 5 pm. We bring our own one-liter container and leave a franc in the box on the shelf - that's about 60 cents a quart. The milk is very rich and creamy. When it sits until morning, there is a nice layer of cream on top. That's goes great with the different Swiss muesli cereals. When the weather dries up some so that the ground isn't so soft and easy to tear up, they say that the farmer drives his cows across the street to the fields around our house. There's even a traffic light to stop the cars while he drives them over and then back in the evening for milking. We can't wait to see it!
We soon got used to our surroundings in Lausanne, and had the weekend to reacquaint ourselves with the town. Here are some of the things we enjoyed:
Food, of course (that's easy to understand if you know Ed). That picture above is the Riponne, a place where there was a farmer's market every Saturday morning. Look at the fruit and vegetables. There were also vendors selling fresh baked bread, bakery items, cheeses and meats of all kinds, and various clothing and miscellaneous items. We especially liked to get fresh crusty French bread and Gruyere cheese for our breakfast.
Old Buildings. Lausanne is a very old town - goes back to Roman days. The pictures here from the left are the bishop's castle, and a view down one of the older streets.
Lac Sauvebelin, Palud and Riponne
Then, there's the Smart car. Mercedes makes it. Quite an innovation, making a car that small.
Then we went to Martigny one day. The yellow and gray Smart car is electric, and is parked on the sidewalk. Anyone can walk up to it, insert their Postcard (like a credit card in Switzerland, except you are debited from your account at the Post Office!) and pay for the minutes you use it. So, anyone can come into Martigny by bus or train, find an available Smart car, use it for errands, then park it for another's use.
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