Friday, 13 Dec 1985

Dear Mom and Dad,

This will probably be a very long letter. I am attempting to write several people at the same time. So, first I will tell about our trip.

On Thanksgiving day the church had a big feast at Bob and Annette Jefferson's house. We stayed there from about 12:30 to 6 PM. We ate till we were stuffed. We then played Trivial Pursuit. Jeannie and I had to pack after we got home.

On Friday, 29 Nov, we got up about 6 AM. We drove as far north as Bolzano, Italy, where we had reservations at a hotel that was a bit difficult to find. We couldn't believe that there was a McDonald's in Bolzano. (We didn't find it; we only saw a sign for it.) We ate supper at a pizzeria. The waiter spoke German better than Italian. In Bolzano most people speak German and Italian.

We had run in to snow on the ground just north of Florence. We started being a bit concerned about the trip at that point. The kids were going crazy to play in the snow. We all were quite excited that we would experience snow this year before Christmas.

view from crystal factory at Innsbruck, Austria - 30 Nov 1985 We stopped just north of Innsbruck, Austria, the next morning at the crystal factory of Swarovski. They had a really good selection of crystal and other things like Anri, Goebel, Hummel, etc. Jeannie had forgotten to pack (or even wear) any jewelry, so she bought some earrings and two necklaces. The kids played in the snow in the parking lot there. It was also here that I discovered that our windshield washer fluid container had frozen the night before. We couldn't clean the windshield and it was a big problem because it was sprinkling a lot that day.

We got off the Autobahn in Rosenheim, West Germany, to find something for lunch. We just happened to find a McDonald's. The kids went absolutely crazy, of course. The McDonald's was having their grand opening that day. Even Ronald McDonald was there (in German). I just happened to pick the cashier who spoke excellent English. (Before we left Germany we were able to order anything we wanted in German.) The snow was a few inches deep here and the kids played for a long time after we ate.

When we got back in the car it wouldn't start. I went back to the McDonald's and found the girl who spoke the best English again. She sent me to a Porsche dealership next door. Everything closes at noon on Saturdays in Germany, but this place was open because they were getting lots of business from so many people being at McDonald's grand opening. Anyway, one of the salesmen there helped me push the car and we got it started. He said he didn't know where we would be able to get a Fiat fixed in town. (If it is so hard to fix a Fiat in southern Germany, I certainly don't want to take this car to the States.)

We got to Berchtesgaden about 4 PM. It took us an hour to find the hotel where Vernon Weathers had made reservations for us. It was closed! We then were able to find "U.S. Accommodations." It was this office that had given the reservations to Vernon. Naturally, they had no idea why our hotel was closed. They finally found a room for the four of us and made a sign that I took to hang on the door of the closed hotel to tell the others (3 families) where to find a room. We finally had a room for the night after 2 hours in this small town. We kept the motor running this whole time. I parked in a spot that I could roll down hill the next day.

Two other families from Naples went to Berchtesgaden: Weathers and Jeffersons. They drove up together, leaving very early Saturday morning. They got to Berchtesgaden just before the accommodations office closed and didn't have the trouble we had, since they found the office as soon as they got into town.

The Krumreis from Holland also had reservations with us. They had the same troubles we did in finding the hotel. They got into the same hotel we were in about 9 PM. We didn't know they were there till the next morning. They had tried to find us, but the hotel said we weren't there.

We will pay for Phil and Susan Krumrei's trip to Berchtesgaden. That was the arrangement we agreed to a long time ago. They have been doing mission work in Holland for 3 or 4 years and hadn't taken anything like a vacation. We knew they wouldn't go to Berchtesgaden unless someone sponsored them. It was really nice to have them with us for the week. We took them some Christmas presents. We also took them some Oreos and peanut butter. They brought us some chocolates and a 3 1/2 pound ball of cheese from Holland.

Sunday morning we went to the General Walker Hotel way up a mountain for church. There were several inches of snow there. Over 200 were there and the retreat hadn't even officially started yet. We stood in line after church for over an hour to get a room. Since we were close to the front of the line we got a BIG room with a bath at the end of a hallway. The Krumrei's had a room just as big across the hall. The rooms were only $24 a day. Most everyone at the retreat stayed in this hotel.

The total registration for the lectureship was over 420. It was really nice to "be served" rather than doing all the serving. The time spent there was really spiritually uplifting. Every lesson for 3 1/2 days was from Ephesians. Most of the speakers were really good. I stayed up late every night, once till 12:30. That night Phil stayed up till 4. It was so encouraging to talk to so many other Christians. The kids had vacation Bible school every morning.

Several people talked to Vernon and me about a missionary in Naples. They all thought they knew people who would be interested in coming. I hope they are right.

I took a box of diskettes to Dale Morris. We met his family in Athens at the lectureship in 1984. He is from Mountain Home, AR. John Sigle had asked me to take him the KJV Bible (7 diskettes). I found 3 other disks that I thought he would like.

I took 10 diskettes with my Bible programs on them (i.e., "Plan of Salvation," etc.). I sold them for $1 each. I had every one sold before Tuesday morning. It seemed that every other person had a Commodore 64. One person even had his Commodore at the retreat.

Our kids really enjoyed playing with James (5) and Elizabeth (3) Krumrei.

Monday morning I got my car started by rolling it down the mountain. Bob Jefferson followed me to a Fiat place. He took me back the next morning to pick it up. The problem was in the ignition switch. They thought they had fixed my windshield washer problem as well, but by the time we left Berchtesgaden it was empty again. We have not had any problem with starting the car since.

Hohensalzburg Castle - 2 Dec 1985
Hohensalzburg Castle in Salzburg, Austria

St. Peter's Cemetery, oldest cemetery in Austria that is still in use - 2 Dec 1985 On Monday afternoon we went to Salzburg, Austria, on a bus tour with others from the retreat. We saw enough that we chose not to go back after the retreat. We did not get to go on the Sound of Music tour, but we didn't mind. We saw many of the places shown in the movie. We went to Mozart's birthplace. We went into the catacombs which Jeannie and I thought were pathetic compared with Italy's, but everyone else was really impressed. We even had time to shop a little.

Tuesday afternoon we went by bus to the salt mines. We really enjoyed the slides. It was fascinating to see this place. They said there is still enough salt there to mine for 300 years. The kids were really cute in their mining suits. But we couldn't tell our kids from anyone else's. A baby from Naples screamed nearly the whole trip through there, even on the boat.

Their claim that the salt deposits have been there 250 million years and were created by the sea is nonsense. Even the evolutionists won't claim that the sea would have been very salty thousands of years ago.

(I recently purchased for myself the book The Genesis Flood and its sequel The World That Perished.)

Wednesday afternoon Jeannie and Susan went shopping on a bus tour. Phil and I took care of the kids. They played outside on the playground at the hotel for a while. Then Phil went to a class for an hour and I kept all the kids in our room. Steven went to sleep. Bob came by and talked for a long time. (Annette went on the shopping trip, too.)

We met a German Christian (Gottfried Reichel of the German Radio Ministry) who told us that President Ganus from Harding is coming to Naples in April. We certainly want him to stay with us, but are a bit anxious about someone so "important" staying here. I will write him soon and let him know he is welcome to stay with us. Two of the elders from Pleasant Valley in Little Rock are coming with him.

The retreat ended Wednesday night. Jeannie was sick and throwing up on Thursday morning. We were planning on going to Neuschweinstein castle with the Krumreis that day. We drove as far as Rosenheim with them and ate lunch at McDonald's. We hated to leave the Krumreis so soon.

We drove into Munich and found a room at the hotel where Jeannie had stayed on a shopping trip last year. We even stayed in the same room that she had. We got there early enough in the afternoon to rest. She felt better and went shopping while I stayed in the room so Steven could take a nap. Angelique worked on her school work that we took with us.

There is a very big "Christkindl" market in Munich. We shopped all day on Friday. It was difficult to buy things for Jeannie for Christmas with her close by. The kids really enjoyed the "glockenspiel" which is above the market.

Saturday, 7 Dec, we went to Dachau to see the concentration camp. It was a bit disappointing to us. We expected too much, I guess.

Neuschweinstein castle - 7 Dec 1985 Neuschweinstein castle from a great distance - 7 Dec 1985 Neuschweinstein castle - 7 Dec 1985
Then we drove to Füssen, Germany, where we ate lunch. Afterward we found the Neuschweinstein castle, but we didn't go inside. The only way to it was to walk up a steep hill for 30 minutes. It was too cold. In the summer there is a bus. This is the castle that inspired Walt Disney to build Cinderella's castle at Disneyland. We enjoyed just looking at the outside from a distance.

We drove to Garmisch and spent the night in a military hotel. By the time we left Berchtesgaden, most of the snow had melted, even on the tops of the mountains. But there was lots of snow in Garmisch. We ate supper at a McDonald's in Garmisch. We took the kids to see the movie "Santa Claus" which was showing in English downtown.

Verona amphitheater - 8 Dec 1985
The ancient Roman amphitheather in Verona, Italy.

We ate lunch Sunday in Verona (city of Romeo and Juliet). Jeannie liked the plates that were hanging on the wall in the restaurant and talked them into selling her one.

Jeannie and Steven in Verona - 8 Dec 1985
Jeannie and Steven in Verona.

in a gondola near the Realto Bridge - 9 Dec 1985 We spent Sunday night in Venice. That city is a really strange place. By all means of reason it shouldn't even exist. Monday morning we rode on a gondola. I nearly froze to death. We saw the inside of the Doge Palace and St. Mark's Basilica. We shopped a lot, but Jeannie had already bought everything in town that she wanted on her last shopping trip. It was a little foggy the whole time we were in Venice. Angelique found a Wendy's for lunch. (We suppose that Italy will have fast food places all over the country in a few years.)

Grand Canal of Venice - 9 Dec 1985 St. Mark's Square in Venice - 9 Dec 1985

Piazza San Marco - 9 Dec 1985
Feeding the pigeons in St. Mark's Square in Venice.

On Tuesday we went to Ravenna. We visited San Vitale, a church built in 526 A.D. The mosaics there are fantastic. This church has a huge baptistry. We also saw a large tomb nearby that was built a century before. It had even more impressive mosaics. The city has a few very old Byzantine style churches.

We ate lunch in the Republic of San Marino. It was so foggy there that we can't say we really saw the country.

It was at lunch that we decided to drive all the way back home before bedtime. We went through a big area of fog around dusk. In places the visibility was only about 20 feet. That lasted nearly an hour. We ate supper at a Pavese in Rome. We got home about 10:30.

We drove about 1800 miles total.

We did not take the video camera on our trip because there just wasn't room for it.

Jeannie bought a cuckoo clock at a factory in Berchtesgaden. After we packed the car to leave Berchtesgaden, we decided we had to mail the clock home to ourselves or we could buy nothing more on the trip. It took up nearly a third of the space in the trunk which was full before we bought it. One of the reasons we came home early was that the trunk was so full it practically required a shoehorn to pack it. The clock arrived on Wednesday, the day after we got back. I put it together that night. It is a fun thing to have. The kids think it is a show.

We did not let Angelique go to school Wednesday, the day after we returned. I did not check in off leave until today. There has been plenty to do to keep busy.

Wednesday morning I discovered that the carpet in the living room was quite wet. It took two days and two dehumidifiers and a fan to get it dry. We still are not sure how it got wet, but it must have been from rain leaking in under the window. It could have been a leaking radiator, but it isn't leaking now.

We got a Christmas tree on Wednesday. It was about 9 feet tall. First we were told it would cost 30,000 lire, but later the man said we could have it for 25,000, because he was tired of standing in the rain. Jeannie is really picky about a tree and wanted to look at every tree on the lot. We let it dry out in the garage before putting it up last night.

Tomorrow we plan to go to Christmas alley in downtown Naples. The girl next door wants to go with us.

We have received packages from everyone but Becky already. Actually I don't know if Becky is sending anything. She called before we went on our trip to say they were buying a Commodore 128. They said they would send some diskettes soon for me to copy programs for them.

We got cards from you today.

I realize it has been a long time since I last wrote.

I have not heard anything else about going to Texas. I will be happy either way.

There is no Italian missionary here now.

Griseofulvin is not the best drug on the market for fungus, but it works and it is the cheapest.

This oil well stuff in Wichita sounds like they are trying to get rich quick.

Did you ever find anyone at church with a Commodore 64 or 128?

There is little else to tell about. If this gets there before Christmas, then "Merry Christmas." Otherwise, "Happy New Year."

Lots of Love,

Michael, Jeannie,
Angelique, and Steven

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