Tour 2014- Saturday, August 9

Hello all,

Saturday evening finds all the hopers firmly lodged at the beautiful, old farmhouse with many rooms, a lovely pond, a huge yard, and, well the list of beauty goes on….  Anyway, we get to stay at this great place for four nights and I don’t believe we shall get bored quickly.  It was a most lovely day to travel during which time (for me anyway) was made to fly in the following ways.  First of all I teamed up with Joel in a “professional, thorough” critique of last night’s concert- well maybe not so thorough seeing as how my laptop has a terrible habit of running out of battery every once in a while.  Anyway after that tragedy I became thoroughly engaged in a deep discussion on the differences between black licorice and black rubber, and honestly there really aren’t many! J  After a brief lunch stop we split into two groups for some sightseeing- some going to Malborough castle and some to an old Mennonite Cemetary, for a bit of history for the day.  We arrived at our host place around 4:30, took a little tour of the place, and then we had the lovely experience of kielbasa roasting over an open fire (just like hot dogs, only tons better)!  A few games of Kan-Jam topped off the day, and speaking of topping off a day, this hope singer is getting ready to do just that seeing as how last night had a bit of time and sleep deficiency.  Energy is needed tomorrow with two concerts coming up, one in a tent and one a lovely, lively Pentecostal church.  Thanks for your interest and prayers!

-Kenny Stoltzfus signing off for the hopers.

PS. Correct spelling of Polish towns and words guaranteed! J

Tour 2014- Friday, August 8

August 8, 2014: SIGHTSEEING!!!!!
Hello family and friends,
I hope your day is going well.
Today’s post is entitled Sight Seeing, not to be confused with sight singing.

After a hard previous day of scrubbing our fingers to the bone doing laundry, we shot out of bed and brushed our toothies in anticipation of a day on the town. After a delicious early breakfast we trotted out the door at 8:45, leaving our wonderful hosts alone and “Hopeless”. (heh heh) We walked to the train station and with precision and exceptional hand-eye coordination, caught the 9:30 train into Warsaw. We tootled our way down the tracks, as happy as blue jays, never minding the rain dripping down the train windows.  We were undaunted by the weather, knowing that we had an entire five hours of museum time, street foods, coffee shops and architecture ahead of us to enjoy.

Upon disembarking, we split into three groups. One group headed towards the palace and another to the Fredric Chopin Museum. My group went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum. Around noon our group staggered out of the museum in a daze, overwhelmed with information and very hungry. Thankfully a Kabob shop was close by, and I was not disappointed by the wonderful hot juiciness.

We caught a bus to E. Wedels for delightful chocolate drinks, and rendezvoused with the rest of the choir to walk to our evening concert. We arrived at the church parish and changed into our concert clothes which Lavern had kindly ferried into Warsaw.  The Reformed Church of Warsaw was a beautiful cathedral. We felt privileged to sing in this church for such a kind and gracious audience.

Thus we ended the long day at Pizza Hut, and a bus ride back home.

-John Sommers

Tour 2014- Thursday, August 7

Today’s update is brought to you by Carita Keim (Millersburg, Ohio). Today is “Sag Day”, Lloyd’s words. It definitely was sagging, whether it was people sleeping in later, or laundry, laundry sagging on tree limbs, clothes lines, chairs, and fences.

But it was a good day, like a Sunday for a choir who gives two programs on the real Sunday, even if it is a Sunday replete with a lawn game named Kan-Jam (played with Frisbees), volleyball, and the aforementioned laundry. Even laundry feels a bit recreational compared to what we have been doing.

Kan-Jam! Friends and family will be proud to know that Eric and Austin were the winners of a serious tournament!

But what was the heart of the day, the best thing? I don’t think it was Kan-Jam, despite how pleasant that is.

After lunch, I walked outside to see two men using the buddy system to wring out t-shirts beside two big tubs of soapy water and rinse water. It was interesting to see different personalities coming through, with some conscientiously wringing every spare droplet and others generously allowing their excess to water the inconsistent grass. There were laundry cowboys, swinging towels like lariats, and laundry bodybuilders, wringing.

All that laundry, some of it done alone, much of it done together, seems so appropriate to our group as a choir. Again, we’re attempting to clean, to make the world a bit better by working together, sometimes alone, all in our own style, all toward the same goal.


Tour 2014- Wednesday, August 6

Someone has already said that the eleventh commandment, if there were one, would be, “Be thou flexible.” While it is necessary for any group to have a schedule, circumstances often arise, altering the best of plans. Yesterday, we as a group had a chance to be flexible. How did this happen and what does it mean to be flexible? Read on.

Flexibility: capable of being bent, usually without breaking; susceptible of modification or adaptation, adaptable; willing or disposed to yield

After experiencing a warm and hospitable evening by our host church in Lubsko, we assembled at 6:00AM for an expected eleven hour drive back to Minsk. We were soon under way. An hour and a half later, we were beside the road. Most of us were sleeping at the time and groggily came back to the realm of consciousness. My seatmate and I attempted to continue in the blissful realm of snooze. However the chattering of those around us was the source for one or two dark looks. After about ten minutes we were moving again and sleep overcame us. About an hour later we found ourselves beside the road again. By now groggy prayers from the newly awakened were being sent heavenward: either healing for the bus so that our journey could be resumed or healing of the loose tongues which again broke all around us. Even with ear plugs inserted in my ears, the chatter was significant. By now different diagnoses were voiced, all curing the bus of its ailment. Me, I was offering a different sort of diagnosis; one which guessing by his look, was similar to the one being offered by my seatmate. Mentally our mutual mental chorus was this: “Just shush people, the bus will be fixed or we will be told what to do. Until then exaggerated exertions of attempted diagnoses are overrated.” Ten minutes later we were again moving. By now a public announcement was made telling us in more detail what we were beginning to suspect. The bus was not fit for further travel and we were getting another bus. Pulling off at a fuel station, we disembarked and waited…..and waited……and waited.

After an hour and a half, our bus appeared! Yay! We loaded in a flash and settled in for the ride. I, being in a pursuit of sleep, drifted into the realm of unconsciousness once again. It was not to be. A short while later, someone shook me awake. I heard Lloyd making another public announcement informing us of the need to change to a different bus. This time, there was some error message which made the driver uneasy about taking us further. So we pulled off into another fuel station. After a ten minute wait, our third bus arrived. Wow! We had the best for last. This bus was newer and made better time. By this time a significant part of our pre-concert rehearsal time had slipped away and we thought that we were arriving at the venue about the time that the concert was supposed to begin. And yet, after a tumultuous morning, we settled into a relaxing (lazy) day of travel. We even arrived at the concert in time, praise Jesus!

Post-concert, we ate a hearty supper at the English school and unloaded at our base here at Gustavs. Tomorrow promises to be a relaxing day after the mountain of laundry is conquered; however, that is for another person to tell about.

After the events of today, I had to think of a quote by Robert Burns. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  So be FLEXIBLE!


Tour 2014- Tuesday, August 5

Aug. 5, 2014

The day began with a more relaxed schedule. Around 8:00, some of us went to see a church and graveyard near to where we were staying. Others we’re were very kind in helping clean up our rooms. At 9:00 we had a breakfast of bread, meat, cheese, and tomatoes. And of course, there was tea and coffee. We met together after breakfast for a Mennonite history class by Lloyd. Then we finished packing, took a group picture, sang a song for our hosts, and loaded up on the bus in order to leave by 11:00. We enjoyed a small devotional about acknowledging God as an active part in our lives.  at least 15 min. in quiet time, the bus was bubbling with conversation, laughter, and lots of fun. Soon after arriving at the hosting church, they fed us a wonderful lunch. We practiced a while, then they served cake, coffee, and tea. It was delicious. After changing for the program and loading onto the bus, the bus wouldn’t stay running so we walked to the center where the program was held. We warmed up and prepared lineups then had a prayer time. The program went well. Afterwards we went back to the church and divided up into homes for the night. Maybe tomorrow you’ll hear more about that. God bless you all and keep praying.  ~Benjamin Barnhart
Quote for the day: Don’t say that you can’t, you are a looser as soon as you do. ~Arlene Gingerich
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