(more info coming soon)
After exactly 8 years of enjoying the privilege of living in Switzerland, we will be moving back to Canada – Daneille & the kids fly November 20, I fly Dec. 3. Most importantly, we’ll be using this as a solid excuse to party. And you are absolutely expected to come: Saturday November 7, 2015, 2pm til midnight.
The decision to go back has not been an easy one, and it’s almost entirely because we miss our families. Any immigrant (with the option of returning to a safe & civilized country) will tell you that the “go back” discussion occurs with regularity. I think that’s a healthy thing, but it sure gets tiring after a while…
Leaving will be hardest for me for 2 big reasons: our friends and our church. We have awesome friends here, and I know exactly how painful it will be to leave them, because this is exactly what I did to my Canadian friends when I left Canada. It sucks, especially around the 6-12 month mark when the todo list shrinks to a manageable size, you start to settle, and you realize you don’t know who to go have a decent Bavarian beer with. Or if there is any Bavarian beer for that matter!
Switzerland has been 8 years of blessing: 2 kids, 3 jobs, and 1 church.
Some of my favorite memories are of our church, ICF: right after we joined, ICF International was started. This was the first time that services were offered in English directly on the stage. I distinctly remember Leo’s messages at the beginning: I paid so much more attention, because he kept inadvertently adding fun swear-words into his preaching (“shit!”) which was. Just. Awesome. Never laughed so hard. Nowadays his English has improved so much he’s beyond fluent — I sure wish my German had improved that fast.
I remember starting ICF Rappi & Winti, about 4 months after we arrived. I had a fun little audition with Simon (a man who I greatly respect for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that he manages to keep a sane outwardly appearance while having more than twice as many children as me), in the back of what felt like a giant abandoned factory (the old Maag office). I was nervous: i’d been playing drums for a long time at that point already, but I could see that ICF worship was in a whole other class and the “learn these 20 songs” about two weeks beforehand was also not typical of church experiences for me. Nevertheless, he smiled and said I did fine — and less than a few months later, I was getting into a small black car with Sam & Nicole and hurtling down a new (to me) autobahn at 150 km/h. These people that I met, especially Leon & Steph, would turn out to be some of my best & longest-lasting friends here, in part because we worked hard together at ICF Rappi & Winti, and had a lot of fun.
Favorite memory of ICF Rappi / Winti: in the very early days of ICF Winti before we had any fixed location, we were at this weird bar/restaurant/house thing with a mezzanine. Steph and I were by the coffee machine having one, and we watched in silence as Leon met his future wife for the first time: she was coming down the stairs (she knows how to do that really well), he was walking across the floor towards the stage. As he spotted her, everything changed: his gait, his expression — it was just classic. I had no idea I’d be at their wedding just a few years later. Well okay, a hint of an idea.
Favorite memory behind the drumkit at ICF Winti where I played for about 7 years: nearing the end of an intense worship session, playing full out (this means my arms are above my head most of the time), loving it, when the worship leader (Sara, might have been you?) turns around and asks for more. Crap, seriously?! That was the moment when I realized that I was surrounded by people just like me, which has infinite value.
Our 2 kids were born here, at Zollikerberg spital. They took such good care of Daneille — the birth of Noah was exceptionally difficult and had some complications. It was a rocky time but the nurses were great and we knew we were in good hands; plus she could stay in the hospital bed for ages — a week! What a luxury.
I take the train to work, which is where i’m writing most of this from. The efficient trains of Switzerland are nothing short of a continuous every-day miracle to any Canadian, who spends on average more than 2 hours every day stuck in traffic jams (called “commuting”). I remember being shocked at the common-sense and communication required, when an intercity train I was on was running a bit late, and they told us 10 minutes before arriving at my stopover that my next train was waiting for us. Trains waiting for trains! What a brilliant idea. Icing on the cake: drinking a friday afternoon beer on the train. Heavenly.
Swiss beaurocracy is a bit alien if you’re a foreigner, but spectacularly efficient. I had a question about taxes. I asked my friends. They asked me why I didn’t just go ask the tax department. I said, what, there’s someone you can actually talk to?! They looked at me confused — why wouldn’t there be someone you can go and talk to for any government department? Man, that right there is Swiss luxury. I walked in, and sure enough there was a counter at the tax department where I could talk to someone and ask questions. Better: they knew the answers without any delay. Best: they were even smiling! Once I had to renew my driver’s license, because I had made a mistake when converting my American license, and as a result my Swiss license had expired. I was hugely worried: if they made me do the license again, it would cost a fortune and take years! The man behind the counter assured me, don’t worry, just show us the correct documentation that you should have shown us years ago, and we will fix it. Oh and by the way, next time you can just email us, you don’t have to come into the office. Wow — and the whole thing was fixed 180 seconds after I walked through the door. Unbelievably awesome.
Before we had kids, we did extensive exploring on the motorcycle and a lot of hiking. It was wonderful: I remember long evening sunshine (which only exists in Switzerland if you’re high enough up a mountain!) as we walked down the grassy slopes of some beautiful place in Glarnerland, with blue pools, glaciers, and Steinbock all in one glance. Or the way the suuremoscht tastes after a full day of hiking. Or the amazing mountain huts that have warm food, cold beer, and a nicely organized system that keeps smelly shoes out of the way — at the top of a glacier-capped mountain. We saw a fair amount of every canton, perhaps less of Jura and Vaud. My favorite hike was really the first proper hike we ever did, when our good friends Jonas and Marianne accidentally tried to kill us. They had great intentions and i’ll never forget the thrill of victory in those last 500 meters, loping to the Oberaletschihütte through falling snow in the gathering darkness of an August evening. Or the sound of the Aletsch glacier waking up as the sun hit it, while walking beside it in the morning. That has been my only conversation with a glacier so far (although talking to someone from Bern is comparable).
There’s no job and no home (of our own) waiting for us in Canada — we still have to sort all of that out. You can expect that we’ll be a little stressed in the coming months, but don’t let that stop you from hanging out with us! We’d love to spend time with our friends before we go. Also we have a lot of stuff to get rid of, like BBQs, beds etc, because we’re not taking our furniture with us. Shout if you want something.
Looking forward to the party…