Thursday-August 9

Most people began the day in the best way possible- sleeping in. After waking up, most people began doing their laundry. After a week of accumulating, everyone had far more laundry than they desired. Because there is only one washer, most of the washing had to be done by hand. The majority of the day was spent was then spent trying to make the wet clothes become dry. This was complicated by the fact that it rained off and on throughout the day. Although there were only several displays of temper, there was undeniably a large amount of frustration because of the situation. As a result, much of the clothes are still wet as I write( after curfew).


While the majority of the choir stressed out over getting all their laundry done, this writer sneaked quietly off to his sister’s house to use the washer and let her take care of the drying. Although this was undoubtedly an unfair advantage in comparison to the rest of the choir, very few people found out about this crime. The secrecy involved undoubtedly saved a riot.


While people waited for their laundry to dry, they played games, slept, or otherwise amused themselves. Meanwhile, this writer had a blast hanging out with his sister and her husband, ate pizza, and otherwise had a great time.


For the evening, the entire choir sat together and listened to stories and enjoyed music as small groups displayed their considerable talent. The honorable director and his wife entertained many people by numerous stories from their lives. The entire evening was enjoyed by all.


Jacob Zimmerman

Wednesday-August 8

We started out from our hostel this morning at the early hour of 6:10. The church at Wola Piotrova was very generous and gave us breakfast (as well as two meals yesterday).  There was a lot a bus time today. We stopped for a picnic lunch at a restaurant/gas station, and arrived in Pulawy around 3:00. The concert was hosted by a small Baptist church who hosted us at a Community Culture Center. The audience seemed very appreciative of the music. I am looking forward to being back “home” at Gustav’s tonight. We don’t have any schedule tomorrow 🙂 Yes, that means sleeping in!! And washing!!- MaryBeth


Aug. 7

9:00 a.m. We head out of Krakow sharp on the hour. Projected bus time – 4 hours. I help Smike lose a game of Rook to Heather and Titus, and we finally break into the hoard of snack mixes for our first official Snak Mix Time!

2:20 p.m. Arrival in the beautiful mountain village of Wola Piotrowa. Rehearsal after dinner goes as well as can be expected for those of us who are directionally impaired. I slap my right leg hard a few times in hopes that physical pain will make some kind of brain connection for later. I don’t like to be the one choir member wobbling out of sync in the right-left, right-left “Alleluia” march.

6:52 p.m. There are approximately 15 people sitting in the auditorium built for 200. Oh well, if we’re double the size of our audience, it’s no matter.

6:55 p.m. People stream in and pack the church to the balcony. I remember that in Poland it’s  considered rude to be early.

7:00 p.m. I think nobody notices that I switch stride from left-right to right-left 4 steps into “Alleluia”.

8:40 p.m. The audience is warm in the applause and I feel a oneness in Spirit with these brothers and sisters and am glad I am here.

9:30 p.m. I eat 6 slices of bread topped with ham and cheese and hardboiled egg.

10:15 p.m. Dervin enjoys effectively shorting his fellow choir members’ circuits as they get on the bus by asking them, “Can you count?” and watching gleefully as they struggle to find the hidden point behind this dark riddle. There is none, we discover later. Perhaps someone slipped something in his water bottle.

10:45 p.m. We get to our hostel and find our rooms through a black haze of fatigue. Unless it’s just our black-uniformed fellows.

11:15 p.m. Projected waking time – 5:20

~Maria Wadel

Monday, August 6

Today was a very fine day with the option to tour Auschwitz, a salt mine, or stay in Kracow.  The Auschwitz experience was sobering.  The salt mine, my choice, was quite interesting and also quite fun having the opportunity to sing a few songs in the mine.  And yes, the wall tasted salty!  The ones who stayed in Kracow toured the historical sites of the town.  Everyone enjoyed the day and met in the center square of Kracow for the afternoon and evening.  And now to Wola Piotrowa in the early morning for a concert tomorrow evening. -Phil Yoder

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.