Wednesday, September 16, 2009

he has arrived...

A milestone birthday calls for a special celebration...and so we hear of many unique ways that people mark the occasion. Some have big parties...some take a trip...but how many can say they completed a twenty-six day pilgrimage from Switzerland to Santiago de Compostelle, bicycle?

Let me introduce you to Pierre...who did just that! He turns fifty today. To mark his milestone birthday he went on a solo bike trip this summer...covering 1800 kilometers in 26 days. It sounds like a rather grueling way to spend one's summer vacation. But Pierre is always up to a challenge!

We met Pierre in the summer of 1981...when he arrived on our farm through an MCC trainee program. He was from the French part of Switzerland and lived with us for six months as part of our family...working on our farm. It was a wonderful experience for all of us!

For him...the first challenge was the language. He spoke French, Swiss German, German...some Italian and a little English. He never spoke much those first few he searched for the right words. But he was a quick learner...and we conversed freely in no time. We enjoyed many great conversations that winter...from our shared faith to our political views. We still use a few 'Pierre expressions' to this day. One of his favorites was 'oopla'...we think it means 'oh, dear!'

If we are forced to run...we say, "I make a little jogging". That always brings a smile as we remember the night Pierre 'made a little jogging' along the banks of the Fraser River...while in hot pursuit of a thief. As I recall...he made his jogging in clogs...but he never backed down from a challenge.

He also made a little skating...on the ice-rink that covered a good portion of our farm that particular winter. And he made a little skiing...spending time at Whistler with friends when Whistler was an unknown. He made a lot of travelling...and managed to see much of North America before he returned to his homeland.

He spent time with our children...passing along tips for skiing, soccer and motorbiking...and being a role model to them. His friends became our they passed through our lives. We met Ute from Germany...Annie from the Netherlands...Robert and Philippe from France...and others from South America and Africa. As it turned out...Pierre brought Ute back for a visit some five years his wife. We have enjoyed a continued friendship through the years...despite the miles that lie between.

When we said our farewells to Pierre in 1982...we had no idea if our paths would ever cross in the future. What a privilege it has been to meet our home and theirs...on several occasions throughout these years. We became friends by accident...we remain friends by choice.

So Pierre...on this your big day...we wish you many blessings! Congratulations on conquering your incredible pilgrimage this summer. May the road ahead be smooth for you...and may God continue to give you the strength to meet every challenge that comes your way.

Have a wonderful day...


  1. What a gift that accidental friendship has been to you and your family. I recall reading about a trip to Switzerland and the Rosti!
    Happy Birthday to Pierre - I stand in awe of his choice of birthday celebration!

  2. Being over fifty myself, I am so impressed with Pierre and his accomplishment on his birthday celebration. Isn't it amazing how people come into our lives, and end up being real blessings in our journey of life. Thank you for sharing this interesting story with us.

    Happy Birthday to Pierre!

  3. What a nice tribute to your friend, Pierre! He sounds like a man who is a treasure among friends.

    Happy 50th birthday Pierre! Congratulations on achieving your pilgrimage!

  4. Happy Birthday Pierre. I do still remember you from way back. It is wonderful to see that you have kept these connections with J & E.
    Congratulations on your accomplishment. That's a gruelling test, but you are obviously in fantastic shape.
    Marg (we are part of Judy's farming friends.)

  5. Wow .. .amazing ..Happy Birthday to Pierre. What a way to celebrate.

  6. Happy Birthday to Pierre - he sounds like a special man!! :-) How wonderful that you have remained friends.

  7. Cool! I never really knew the full story. I always wonder who, if anyone, will end up being that in my life (I have met a few exchange students recently)...

  8. This is such a neat post. Happy Birthday, Pierre! He sounds like such a neat guy that gets the most out of life. Aren't friends wonderful! No matter where they are.


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson