Tour 2014- Thursday, August 14

Today was the first day of recording. We have a lovely place to record this year. We are at a Baptist Seminary that is way back in the woods so we don’t have as much outside noise to worry about.


After our eight o’clock breakfast of hot dogs, hard boiled eggs, vegetables, cheese, and bread, we headed over to the chapel for devotions and personal warm up. Recording always brings to light so many discrepancies in our music. So maybe the people that get to hear our last two programs will have the best ones.


Our lunch today was amazing! Chicken and rice…What more could you ask for, right? =)  Then about mid-afternoon a bag of peanut butter m&m’s appeared, which we started pigging out on until we got bawled out for having food in the chapel. Oops!


We have about twenty-three songs to record with all the ones that we have to do in both English and Polish. We managed to do thirteen of them today, thankfully. We only had to go back after supper to do one song. Different people mentioned that this recording has been the most relaxed and fun recording they’ve ever helped with. We feel very blessed.


Speaking of supper, when you have sandwiches twice in one day, you also tend to have chocolate milk if given the chance. =) Ok, so really, I just ate cocoa puffs twice today, for breakfast AND supper. It was rather good except for the lukewarm chocolate milk at the end.


We finished recording for the day about 7:30 PM, which was glorious. We felt quite spoiled to have the evening free to do whatever we wanted. There were many games happening…V-ball, Catchphrase, Rook with lots of candy, Black 7, Ninja, ect. It was a wonderful way to relax for the evening.

-Regina Schrock

Tour 2014- Wednesday, August 13

“Roses. Pizza. Rain.” 

This morning found us departing Nowey Dwor for Warsaw with a good half-day of driving head of us. For the first several hours there was admirable quiet, and a good bit of snoozing and drooling on the bus.  🙂
Lunch was a picnic in a parking lot, and I believe we brought some joy to several truck drivers and a fruit vendor as we munched and scampered about for 45 minutes.
Our evening program was at a Baptist church in the area that was once part of the Warsaw Ghetto.  We prefaced our program by singing a few songs on the steps outside, to draw in passersby.
At the end of our concert, a gentleman handed out bouquets of roses to EACH ONE of us!  We felt rather awkward and fancy standing in a big “U” at the front of the church, receiving our flowers and listening to the pastor thanking us.
If the roses made us feel fancy, the pizza the church provided for our supper afterward quickly changed all that; we put our roses aside and turned into a stampeding herd of American buffalo. It was a little embarrassing how quickly that large table of pizza disappeared, not to mention the cakes and candy!
Well, we needed every bit of energy we could gather to make our trek in the rain to the bus after supper. And our drive to the Baptist seminary on the outskirts of Warsaw (where we’ll be recording for the next 2 days) found on a rutted dirt road in the woods after some wrong turns. The bus was like a snake trying to crawl into an apple, pretending to be a worm. Somehow we made it to our destination safely, and as the rain intensified the guys jogged back and forth with all our worldly possessions (for which we were so grateful). We were also grateful to crash into our quarters for the night, and were lulled to sleep by the most lovely thunderstorm.
     -Roy, Arlene, & Charity Gingrich

Tour 2014- Tuesday, August 12

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Early arrivals to breakfast were able to watch JD, the stork, unabashedly preen itself on the rooftop of our lodging. After breakfast we headed to the Stutthof concentration camp. Though smaller than some other camps, Stutthof is significant for being the longest operating concentration camp in Poland. It opened the day after World War II began and continued until the spring of 1945. About half who entered this camp died from starvation, disease, physical exhaustion, or murder. The gate to the camp was infamously called the “death gate.” It was said that the only way to leave the camp after passing this gate was through the chimney of the crematorium.

The site of the camp is now peaceful. It is hard to imagine the cruelty and suffering that happened in the buildings and on the ground where we were walking less than 70 years ago. Yet being in that place did help me imagine the sights, sounds, and smells which must have accompanied that awful place. Many innocent people must have prayed, “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me home, help me stand.”

Our guide did a great job of highlighting important points without getting bogged down in details. As a result, we left the camp an hour early than planned. We decided to use the time to drive to the nearby Baltic Sea and get our feet wet. After drying and cleaning our feet of sand, we headed back to our lodging. We made a planned stop at a 200 year old refurbished house which was similar in style to those Mennonite lived in during the 1800’s. The stop included a snack and a chance to watch firemen exterminate a bee’s nest in a tree.

Our evening program was held in a cultural center near our lodging. The lighting in the center was a problem. Only 20% of the bulbs in the room worked. The stage was lit with blinding spotlights. Prep time was used trying to decide where to stand and how bright to make the spotlights so we could read our music but not be blinded. The situation was not ideal. Nevertheless, the program went exceptionally well! Though we could not see them well, the audience seemed very engaged. The audience included some folks we got to know such as our hosts from the farmstead where we lodged and our guide at the concentration camp. Seconds after singing “Shalom,” the audience broke into synchronized applause. We ended by singing both of our prepared encores.

We ended the day with pickle pizza back at the farmstead.

-Nolan Martin

Tour 2014- Monday, August 11

Today was our day to tour Gdansk, a lovely old city on the Baltic coast!  As we set off on the hour’s bus trip to the city, Jonathan encouraged us to find a good place to enjoy authentic Polish food.  Adam promised a chocolate bar to anyone who could locate the home of Fahrenheit. And Kenny learned some useful Spanish vocabulary.

We walked through the beautiful old town on cobblestone streets to St. Mary’s, the largest brick cathedral in the world, where we sang our two Rachmaninov songs there.  What a wonderful experience to sing such music in a large beautiful space!  Tourists in the building soon found a place to sit and enjoy the sound.  One lady was in tears and thanked us for making their day.  Most of the group then climbed the 400 steps to the tower to see the panoramic view of Gdansk and the North Sea in the distance, from the air.

We split into groups for riding the ferris wheel, seeing old town, and shopping. Mimes and musicians entertained us in old town.  Carolyn offered a fresh raspberry to a silver statue mime. (He refused)  A bungee jumper showed his bravery (or foolishness) by being pushed off of a platform high over the river.

How do you find the best restaurant in town?  Some discussed checking out 5 or 6 and rating them before making a decision.   Some looked on Tripadvisor and went to the highest rated place.  Bigos, fresh fish, liver, shashlik, etc. were consumed in beautiful surroundings.  At 3:30 we met again at the bus, and just as we all got inside, rain began pelting down.  Thank You, Lord, for the perfect timing!

Because of the rain it was decided to not have a picnic on the beach as planned.  Instead we headed back to the lovely farm/hotel where we’ve been staying for the last 3 days.  Soon there was volleyball (in rain for a while) ping pong, the ever-popular KanJam, Black 7 (in which the famous Ted and his Black 7 rules were hotly debated many times)  and Quarkle.

We ate our “picnic” supper in the dining room, after which the food and laundry ladies were awarded with a formal speech and chocolates—yay!  The sunset over the wheat fields—amazing!  Then there was time for more games, boating on the pond, but actually the most popular pastime was just sitting around and chattering.  The stork family and their huge messy nest on the barn roof continue to entertain us.  Riddle:  How do storks come in for a landing on the roof on only one foot?  Ivan and Marlin have the answers.

It was another good day with Hope Singers 2014.  We are so blessed!

Tour 2014- Sunday, August 10

What a lovely, cool morning we awoke to! Praise the Lord!

Our hosts served us an attractive breakfast, complete with eggs, cucumbers, bread, cheese, and the occasional bee.
We had two concerts today in Gdansk. Since there were far too many wonderful happenings today for me alone to report on, I am pleased to share with you some of the highlights from fellow choir members. My apologies for not being able to interview each member…
~A comfortable bed this morning- Marcus P.
~ The concert tonight- especially singing Blazhen Muzh- Hadassah
~ Feeling the connection with Mennonites many years before as we sang in German at the Mennonite Church – Esther
~ Meeting exuberant Pentecostal women- Carita
~ The coffee at lunch was outstanding! Michael
~ Great cake- Ivan
~ The red-berry jello cake- John Mark
~ Enjoying two good concerts- Benjamin
~ The soup at lunch was phenomenal- Crystal
~ The sun was shining- Titus
~ My yummy, scrummy jello raspberry cake with custard at the bottom- Kristen
~ Watching the moon rise- Sarah B.
~ Hearing that people could understand our Polish- Austin
~ Recognizing a pastor that had hosted us two years ago- Kendric
~ Snapping a picture of Kristen when she was devouring her sandwich- Karl
~ Eating jello three times in one day- Jewel
~ Going to the Mennonite Church- Daven
~ The unique one-armed backrub/embrace with Carolyn- Victoria
~ Meeting a pastor who knew my area at home- Joel
~ Reconnecting with the family which had hosted some of us last week- Lyndon
~ Hitting the E flat on the end of ‘Children Keep in the Middle of the Road’– Ernest
~ Making a new friend- Dervin
~ Lunch! Amazing soup and cake! Gina
~ Reconnecting with two ladies I had talked to last tour- Rebekah
So, it was quite a day with great food, wonderful fellowship, and many treasured memories! It is amazing that no one reported that their highlight was the photo sessions at different places around the Mennonite Church. Some people are still complaining about sore muscles in their legs from strange and unusual poses! No doubt a free day tomorrow is exactly what is needed for everyone to feel spry again.
And my highlight? I was again amazed today at the ways God surprised me with His love. New friendships were formed, older friendships were encouraged as we talked, worshiped, sang, and prayed together. Thank you, Father, for being So Good!!
Carolyn Good
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