Sunday, August 5

After the umpteenth time of someone telling me that I should include a cool happening in my writing for the day, Titus commented that my report will be eighteen years long .  Herein is my attempt to record the culturally rich, thought provoking, F.U.N.  second day of tour for Hope Singers  2012 in less than eighteen years.

After singing half a dozen choir songs, we arranged ourselves throughout the congregation or on the risers, for the duration of the sermon. While the pastor rattled away in Polish, the rich history of the room/building we sat in overtook my imagination, and transported me to another era – not so long ago. A huge Nazi swastika, appropriate for the headquarters of Krakow, dominated the room, sending a chilling dread through the house.  The tread of tall, powerful officers beat against the hard surfaces, crushing the beautiful song of the birds.  Under the rough treatment of its occupants, the gracious dignity of the house seemed to flicker – barely surviving on the memories of better days/and the hope of a better future.    Suddenly an American voice broke into the continuous stream of Polish.  Glancing toward the speaker the swastika faded with the memories, and the cross came into focus .  After three unsuccessful coats of paint the owners desperately applied plaster over the swastika, finally succeeding to provide a clean background for the cross.  I cannot help but feel  honored to be given the delight of singing life to this dear congregation.  As a token of their appreciation they delightedly took the entire group out to a bar for a smashingly delicious meal.  Although, it was all very charming we soon were on our way to our next program –not knowing what to expect.

The “Singing Dolphin” (information in the foot notes)wove its way between cars as we drove up the cobblestone road.  To our left a wall leading up to the monestary drew our eyes in awe to the monument we would soon be entering.  Bless Lloyd’s heart! – instead of a 4:30 program as he had been informed, we were scheduled to sing at 4:00.  We scurried!  At least as well as you can when you’re in a MONESTARY that started in 1044 A.D.!   Massive archways/corridors, lush lawns, impressive masonry…we couldn’t help but indulge in our fair share of gawking.  And then the monks!  According to Manu, they look like knights – without armor of course.

Father John Paul pulsed with delight as he welcomed us, then turning, he swiftly undid a barrier rope and led us up a flight of ancient stairs.  At the top he handed us over to Monk Titus, who delighted the entire group with his humor.  After getting us situated he left us for a little while with the promise of a tour of the monestary after the program.   And how was the program? Beautiful.  There was an aching hunger and openness in the listeners and an interesting connection with the spirit of the songs,  – I found myself falling in love with the random group of villagers.  They responded with grateful applause to every song.   When intermission surprised us we discovered that the door to our room was locked.  John Paul strode through the group cheerfully telling us it simply needs to be pulled back.  Getting to the doorway he spun around, dramatically swooping his arms in a sweeping circle he proclaimed, ”Abbra, Cadabra, Hocus, Pocus”   with a drool tone.  Turning towards the door he gallantly attempted to pull it open.  It was LOCKED?!?!!  A fountain of shocked, flustered Polish directions poured from him.  Realizing we didn’t know a single word of the Polish he had just said he apologized profusely and scurried down the hall –  got the drift and waited, till he came back with the key.

The rest of our time we spent touring the monestary.  Monk Titus took us into the actual sanctuary, back to where the choir sings and requested we sing an American song that was kinda lively.  We happily proceeded with “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”  and “Holy God We Praise Thy Name.  Much to his disappointment, Titus had to go to Mass, but he invited us for Vespers later in the evening.  In the meantime we took a group picture.  If you’ve ever taken a picture with 33 people you’ll understand why we pretty much did just that then went to vespers.  Plus we not only provided entertainment for the steady stream of tourists, but also a piece of our culture, you would’ve thought they came to see us for how many pictures they took.

Titus eagerly waved us up the steps after Mass instructing us that he had reserved some song books for us.  In the middle of vespers we quietly slipped out and returned to the our lovely “Singing Dolphin” for the ride back to our Hostel.  At the end of the ride we said good-bye to our bus, for tomorrow a new one is scheduled for our group.

Everyone agreed that though it was a long and full day it was a wonderfully GOOD day, full of history, different cultures, and plain ole laughter and comaderie.   And I believe that if we could, we would all snatch up the chance to be able to take the monks up on their wholehearted invitation to host us on the next Hope Singers choir tour.   On behalf of the Hope Singers 2012, this is Elaine Stoltzfus, signing off.

·         Name compliments of Gideon Yutsy – the official name giver of our daily change of buses.

Saturday, August 4

First day of tour!! We left Gustavs at 7:30. Trip went well till the bus started smoking and we all had to bail out. Sat there for about 2 and a half hrs. till another bus came. Felt bad for the poor driver cause he actually bought the bus so that he could take us. Got to Bochnia round 4 and had a partial program in the town square starting at 5. So all 32 of us choir members changed in about 15 min.!!! AMAZING for a bunch a Mennonites!!! Program went well for as little prep time as we had. Ate supper at a little restaurant there in town, then drove about an hour to o our hostel. Arrived soon after 10 all pretty much exhausted. Please keep praying for us as we travel. Nate Stoltzfus

Friday, August 3

Ready or not- here we go! Our 3rd and final day of rehearsal is finally over.  The rust is slowly giving way to areas of Polish and wonder(Thanks to Lloyd)!  Departure tomorrow is an early 7:30.  It’sbeen great to work together as a group- getting to know each other, balancing our strengths and weaknesses, finding ways to serve each other-just generally living in a communinty.  We trust God’s spirit to continue to develope that in the next weeks.  As a side note, Elaine Stoltzfus injured her foot playing a game of soccer late last evening.  The swelling and pain were still considerable this morning so Laverne arranged for x-rays.  Thankfully nothing is broken and it should heal, but pray for Elaine as she struggles with the pain and the restraintof her usually energetic style.  Pray for the whole group as well, that we would allow God to empower us and enable us to serve.  All for now- Titus Barnhart

Thursday, August 2

Well, today we did what you’re supposed to do at rehearsal- sing! Those of us who thought yesterday we might avoid the effects of jet lag found out otherwise today. But we pulled through with the help of prayer and coffee (and chocolate covered coffee beans.)
We were privileged to have Marcin come for about 2 hours in the afternoon and critique our Polish. He was honest about our mistakes, but he had a good sense of humor about it all. We learned how to say “zh” like a vacuum cleaner and how to put our tongues in the “downstairs” part of our mouths, plus a lot more. J
Since Hope Singers is made up of a bunch of different people, I thought I’d let the populace speak for themselves about their experiences in Poland so far. The results of my poll are as follows…. P.S. Not all choir members were a part of this poll. (Sorry to those of you who missed the opportunity to let your voice be heard.)
Q- What was one of your first impressions of Poland?
– Light switches are outside the door. Dervin
– It’s beautiful and colorful- the houses, flowers, and people’s clothes. Jessica
– Different ways of construction- Kenny
– It’s a quaint. I like the sheep and cows and the homemade cheese. Melissa
– It’s my first time in Europe. I like the long license plates on the cars. Briana
– It’s fun to watch and see how many things are different than what I’m used to. Light switches flip the wrong way. Ketchup is thicker. Taxi drivers push their cars forward to the next space instead of turning them on and driving them forward. Nate W.
Q- What is your favorite Polish food?
– Pickle soup- Jewel, Gideon
– Chocolate spread- Elaine
– Kabobs- S.Mike
– Crepe things- Nate W., Phil
– Cabbage rolls- Nate
– Soups- Titus, Carolyn
– Pierogi- Matt
Now from our songs…..
Q- What’s your favorite song from our repertoire? (Subject to change at any time)
– Alleluia- Briana
– Cantate Domino- Crystal
– Nearer My God to Thee- Kenny, Melissa, Dervin, Maria
– Otche Nash- S.Mike
– Like a River Glorious- Anita
– Glory to God- Elaine, Carolyn
– Wana Baraka- Jessica
– Akanamandla- Jewel, Gideon
– Nie W Wymowie Slow- Heather, Esther
– If We Ever Needed the Lord Before- Titus, Janek
– An Instrument of Your Peace- Phil, Nate S.
– Barka- Tim, Candace
– Down in the River- Jacob, Dorcas
– Grace Be Unto You- Matt, Nate W.
Q- What’s your favorite Polish word? (Correct spelling not guaranteed)
– Oczywiscie- Jewel
– Bzhmial- Dervin, S.Mike, Phil
– Wzwyz- Kenny, Briana, Matt, Tim, Titus
– Wciaz- Heather
– Zbudz- Melissa
– Spojzalwes- Candace
– Wysmienita- Gideon
Q- How are you feeling about Polish diction by now?
– Discouraging. Anonymous
– It’s about to “break my tongue!” Monica
– I’m feeling nervous about diction, but it’s exciting because I’m getting there. Dervin
– Cool and fun. Candace
– It’s hard to get right, but once you get it, it’s fun. Kenny
– It is very difficult. Phil
– It’s coming. It actually can be done. Nate S.
– It’s tough, but it’s fun. Briana
– Dead easy. Janek Kleczkowski
Charity Nolt

Wednesday, August 1

Wednesday August 1 – To Poland to Poland jiggety jet lag! We’ve arrived safe and sound. Today we were busy making melodious sounds in English and tomorrow plan to practice our Polish. Tonight was a free evening. Some of us enjoyed walking the country side listening to the bleating of sheep and basking in the beauty of the day. Others of us had great fun playing ultimate Frisbee in the yard outback. The polish food is delightful! We’ve been savoring soup, chowing on cheese and sipping fruit tea. -Melissa Weaver