Monday, July 23, 2007

Europe: Switzerland in the Lauterbrunnen Valley

When I woke up yesterday, I had no idea that today I would do one of the three life goals I set out to do.


And I got to do it in Switzerland.

Off a cliff.

Well, actually, we ran down a steep slope and gently lifted off. There was no jumping off, there was no falling. There were no stomach flipflops. I flew tandem with an experienced professional who does up to 4 tandem flights each day in the summer. He was clear, encouraging, funny and very capable. We were harnessed together and I was able to sit in a flexible chair after running with him to do the liftoff - we both had to run full speed down a very steep slope but there was no way I coud have fallen. It was absolutely unbelievable!!!!!!!

We are in the Laterbrunnen Valley, with Interlachen at the head and Stechelberg at the very end. From there you can hike up to Schilthorn (and Piz Gloria) from the movie "In Her Majesty's Secret Service" James Bond movie (circa 1972). Or, you could do it our way and take the gondola, switching lines twice: first at Grimmelweld, then Murren.

It was from Murren that we launched. Nine people from our group, including myself, Andrew, Katie and Tim. I went in the second group, the young people went in the first, and Andrew went first of all. He had a false start and had to be reset. The wind died just as they were trying to lift off. I was able to calmly sit by and watch him launch, videotaping and snapping digital pics all the while.

When I had my turn, the wind was in the wrong direction - 180 degrees wrong. We waited a bit and I prayed like crazy... it turned within a couple minutes and we all launched... seven in a row. My pilot was Bernie. He let me steer. He did some tricks with Andrew. He took pictures. I took pictures and video. It was 2100 metres in elevation and we flew over the village and then the cliff dropped away, and waterfalls we flew by were sparkling and accented with rainbows in the morning sun.

It was the most thrilling recreational activity of my life.

The night before had been a little different. The idea had been proposed on the bus and turned out it peaked my interest. When I found out another person was going I said I'd like to go. Andrew wanted to go too - Brent's suggestion! Brent doesn't do this kind of thing and he was happy to let us do it. I was game to go, but woke with a racing heart in the middle of the night. I got up and read scripture, asking God for a confirming word from him as to whether I was being foolish and should reconsider going.

I went to my PDA, where I store my electronic Bible. I opened it to the last verse I had read a few weeks back (I have been reading a devotional instead on vacation), and the very next verse was Psalm 148:1 - "Praise the Lord in the heavens. Praise the Lord in the heights above."

Seems like an okay there!

But I had to

Deuteronomy 33:26-27 "There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

Okay, that sealed it, I thought with a smile, and got ready to go to bed in peace. However, my friends were a bit concerned about sending their 12 year old, so I asked for a word from the Lord for them and this is where I was led:

Deuteronomy 33:12 About Benjamin he said: "Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders."

This was amazingly like a wink from the Lord, because their name is Shields and the picture of the paragliding promo shows a young boy cradled in front of the instructor, cradled between his shoulders. And then my instructor was Bennie! As in "Benjamin"?!

If you are not a believer, this perhaps seems insignificant or coincidental. I know it is a dialogue between God and I. It was so reassuring to know God cares and answers when we ask. Then he takes us up to the heavens with him and gives us his view of beauty:

There's so much more, but my time is limited - I really miss my own internet connection.

France tomorrow....

Wish you were here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joyce, I just finished my quiet time with the Lord and you've been on my mind, wondering about your wonderful trip...finally got a chance to 'catch up' with all you've been doing, What a wonderful time. Praise the Lord! Isn't He awesome in how He takes care of His children? Praying for you and your family and now for your new friends. Love you, miss you, thought of you yesterday as we did a spectacular hike, Dolomite Pass, incredible wild flowers and incredibly cute cheeky marmots. See you when you get home. Love, Pam