Swiss to Southern

I love being friend with Heather because when she finds out I haven’t done something she enjoys, she makes a trip for her to share something beautiful with me. This summer has had a monthly new thing with Heather, and yesterday her family joined as I went on a day trip to the Swiss Alps for the first time. This came as a shock to a lot of my friends who live here, but no one ever invited me along. To be fair, the Bryans did once say they could take me someday, but we never got around to it in our years of overlap here. Apart from that, most people don’t think to invite their disabled friend on a hiking trip or even a day trip in the steep hills of the Alpine villages. This wasn’t a deal breaker for Heather, though, as she could have her husband push me up the hills (full disclosure: she did some too, and he volunteered to help me).

This is something super special about this family: they love me enough to include me in what’s possible for me. They will make it happen for me to have an incredible experience with minor inconveniences of loading and unloading my wheelchair or pushing me up the steep places because – get this – they value me as a human person.

Disability aside, I find it odd sometimes when people love me so much. I’m unlearning a lot of insecurity, but having the Powers family open their home to me for a full week because they have an accessible shower and knew I needed to check out of my apartment in advance of leaving barely scratches the surface of how these people have shown me love and kindness. Body of Christ, right here. As I was saying goodbyes at church this morning, one friend came up with a specific reminder of God’s faithfulness, another had intentional words about God making a way for me as I’m leaving. At lunch after the service, a friend was reflecting on the beautiful rainbows that come from powerful storms. Yesterday in Gimmelwald, we had blue skies for wandering and photo ops and making fun of the instagram models getting their perfect reels walking up and down the street without pausing to really look at the mountains next to them, but once we sat down to enjoy a drink for a bit, a sudden thunderstorm rolled in. I didn’t get a photo of the storm happening (because I was enjoying every second of it live), but on the way home after there were cars lined up along the opposite side of the road taking pictures out their driver’s windows. I looked out mine and saw the glorious full rainbow through the rain covered window.

Pictures of the Alps hardly do them justice, and my story of the body of Christ coming around me will fall short of the impact, but I’ll do my best to tell you how significant it was to have nine church members gather around me to lay hands on me and send me out this morning. Seven of these people have attended ACB longer than I have which means they were a part of my church life in Europe for the entirety of my stay here. The two additional people are precious women who have stepped into my life as major encouragements in the past several years. What I loved most was the celebration that these people laid hands on me to send me out, to commission me. It reminded me of Shane Fookes praying over me at Westport before I left, and the multiple times members of ECBC have gathered around to send me out as their missionary. There is something unique and beautiful about a church gathering around and laying hands on someone to send them out to what God has called them to do. And after the service person after person came to affirm my movement of obedience towards God in this transition. Lots of them also commented about how much I will be missed. It was a blessing and a gift to be so loved and encouraged.

I make a lot of comments about exchanging my Alps, and while Heather’s daughter and I were laughing at the ladies posing over and over for a hundred pictures, we snapped a couple ourselves while I said peace out to the Swiss Alps and get ready to see the Southern Alps again.

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