Hello to all of our loyal supporters, faithful update-followers, prayer warriors, and anyone else who might just happen to be reading this! Hope Singers 2014 is definitely on the roll…with our fourth program now tucked carefully under our belts. Today’s program was a very unique one though! We were privileged to be allowed to sing in a Polish prison in Wronki, thanks …to the pastor of a Pentecostal church in Poznan who arranged it for us. He said he goes to that prison once every week and spends most of the day there. It was obvious, by the reactions of the inmates, that he has established good relationships with them and has quite a ministry there.
We had about an hour’s drive from our hostel to the prison, and upon arriving there were greeted by the pastor. After turning in our passports and a few introductory words from the pastor, we entered the prison as they called our names. (Good practice understanding our names pronounced Polish-style.) We were led thru several metal doors and a lovely courtyard to where we would be singing. We only sang about half of our program repertoire, but, to borrow words from our director, the program “seemed to be a strong connection”. Beings this was a new thing for the mission and Hope Singers, we didn’t really know what to expect. As usual, there seemed to be a definite interest and connection when we tried out our Polish tongues. After our songs, the pastor suggested that the inmates sing several songs for us, which they did…followed by his request that we ALL sing “Amazing Grace” together (in Polish, of course). Previous years of singing that song are definitely helpful in times like that! It was a lovely time of worship though…even if we couldn’t always understand everything that was sung.
After leaving the prison, we traveled about another hour to Poznan, where someone had prepared quite a spread for lunch. Pierogis being the main course was cause for excitement! This was served in the pastor’s church. Interestingly, it and several surrounding buildings were built during WWII for recovering German soldiers.
Following lunch, the bus dropped us off near the town square. We only had about 2 hours to tour around the town of Poznan, but we got glimpses of its history and beauty. (And many of us found souvenirs to buy also.) It was lovely to walk down the cobblestone streets and gaze at all the unique European-style buildings including a few communist-looking ones here and there as well.
Once we were loaded on the bus again, we headed the 1+ hour(s) back to our hostel for the evening. The evening consisted of floats and a time of sharing and overall getting to know each other better. We appreciate your interest; please keep praying for us!
Flexibility–that was the name of the game for Hope Singers today. We left for Nowy Tomyśl at 8:00 AM for our first service at 10:00 AM. We arrived at a beautiful church to prepare to sing. Plans kept changing and by the time we reached “Plan F” we were ready! The congregation of 140 was welcoming and ready to worship. One of their elders was an awesome translator. The hot …muggy weather continued today and we dripped while we sang. After the service, we had a time of fellowship and were served “coffee and cakes” . . . wonderful “real” coffee and beautiful yummy pastries. We still had room for a delicious lunch served back at our home base at 2:00 PM. Lloyd was flexible enough to give us some time off after lunch. Sleep? Shower? Practice music outside someone’s window? launder sweaty clothes? Quick decisions were made because we needed to be back on the bus at 3:30 for an hour’s drive to Gorzów Wlkp. We drove through a storm of pouring rain and hail. the temperature was 31.5 C. Our awesome bus driver manoeuvered us close to the door of the community building so we wouldn’t get wet. We prepared for the service by walking on and off the stage (the ladies really got their excercise!). Plans for the flow of the service kept changing and Lloyd kept his cool and flexibility. About 50 people were in the audience. As we headed back for supper, the temperature dropped 17.5 C. Praise the Lord! Singing “Amazing grace with Polish believers this morning and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” with the congregation this evening was the highlight for me today.
Today was the first day of our tour in Western Poland. We left our home base of Gustav’s at 8:30 this morning, and after a picnic lunch we arrived in Września. After pulling up to a gorgeous Catholic church we quickly unpacked the bus and began to practice in the few remaining hours before our first concert. This practice included standing formations, prob…lem spots as well as Lloyd teaching Titus how to properly blow a pitch pipe.
Despite limited time in the Catholic sanctuary due to mass and a wedding, the moment finally arrived that all the choir members had worked so hard for and eagerly anticipated. As the opening notes of “Ojcze Nasz” echoed through the church, there was an instant connection with the audience. Throughout the remainder of the concert (even with some noticeable areas of improvemen needed) the connection with the audience was unmistakeable, especially when faces would light up whenever Polish was sung.
Overall, it was a strong start to our tour. The excitement it has brought to all choir members is sure to propel and motivate us to keep improving all aspects of the program we have prepared. Our next program is tomorrow morning and after tonight everyone can’t wait for it.
Hi, I’m John Mark and here’s a quick run down on what happened today. This was our third and final rehearsal day, so ready or not, we will be leaving tomorrow morning on tour. Our day started with some personal experiences and encouragement shared by our ever interesting conductor Lloyd. This was followed by an outdoor session where we individually searched for the center of our voices. I’m still looking for mine. J
Our rehearsal sections focused first of all on some pieces we hadn’t spent much time on yet, and trying to work completely through some pieces. After lunch we spent some time working on standing arrangements. Also we practiced walking in for our opening piece while singing. Of course I ended up in the front and matching the pulse and the rhythm to my footsteps, while singing Polish that I hadn’t memorized well enough, created a major multi-tasking dilemma for me. The rest of our afternoon was spent working on our Polish with the help of a lady from the community.
It does feel good that we will finally get to share our program after all this work. To quote Lloyd, “If there’s not much work involved, it’s usually not worth it.” Do pray for us as we go out, and especially for our first program!
John Mark Beiler
Thursday was our second day of practice in Poland. Our tongues got a workout with unfamiliar blends of /sh/ch/ and /v/sh/r/ and /t/k/ny/. With patient, precise, and persistent coaching, our pronunciation is gradually improving. Lloyd’s gentle rebukes simultaneously humor and motivate us to not hear the same comments again – comments such as…
Following are some statistics of the group and our music.
We have assembled from various places:
New York: 1
North Carolina: 1
West Virginia: 1
Those who have sung with Hope Singers previous years: 4 men and 8 ladies. For 2 ladies, this is the 5th time on tour.
Number of women: 19
Average age of women: 32
Median age of women: 28
Number of men: 18
Average age of men: 26
Median age of men: 24
Age range of singers: 15 to 75
Variety of languages to sing:
Thank you for your interest in Hope Singers.~ Esther Bean