Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 10th, Tour Day 19 - Cambridge to ?

And so we go our separate ways. I was up early this morning to catch a coach to Nottingham, where I am now visiting with friends.

Ja' red had already left before me (on his way to catch an earlier plane to Toronto) and many of the singers were just starting to get up as I was leaving the guest house. It is unbelievable to think that in a matter of hours, people from this group became scattered across Europe and North America.

Because I did not return to Canada with the group, I am now also awaiting news of the final journey. And even though the tour has ended, the blog is not going to end here. I have invited the students to send me some highlights from the trip. So as I get submissions I will post them.

It has been a fabulous journey.
Thank you to all who have hosted us.
Thank-you to all who have prayed for us.
Thank-you to all who have supported us.

We sang the following to each of the churches that provided for us, and I think it is appropriate here:
(I wasn't familiar with the song before the tour...I think I have the words right. I know the tune is correct!)

For food and hospitality, we thank-you now dear friend
For kindness we will not forget, where e'er our journey ends
We thank-you, we thank-you
May God be good to you.
For food and hospitality, we thank-you now dear friend.

And as a final blessing, I can't resist adding the following (The clergy often said this to us at the end of a prayer after a performance):

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all evermore.

Thank You Rob!

From Brenda:

When we left Canada on April 21st we had a team/family of 36 individuals. When we arrived in London, England, and unknown member joined our family. We knew nothing about this individual other than he was to chauffeur us around England and Scotland on a rather impressive large white and green “Lakeside Coach.” When we first walked onto the coach we were greeted by 2 rather adorable stuffed sheep from Wales that traveled with Rob wherever his coach went. Our Welsh driver informed us that his friends called him “Baa Baa!” Rob’s job was, as Randall put it, “Get us from Point A to Point B.” But we soon realized that he did so much more than that. Rob has gone above and beyond the call of duty of a coach driver. He has clearly become a dedicated member of our family. He has treated each one of us with great care and respect and gone out of his way to help us in any way that he can. To the point that even on his days off when he could have gone off on his own and enjoyed the sights and gotten a break from a coach load of, at times rather rambunctious people, he stayed with us and actually followed us in the car that his replacement driver drove in. Another day off he stayed on the coach with us and traveled with us to our destination. He was so committed to us that he just wanted to make sure we were alright. He has sat in on most of our concerts and we’ve even caught him singing along with us from his seat in the congregation. Rob has most definitely become a beloved member of our family.

The team recently had an evening together where we were able to share highlights and encouragements from the tour. Rob was mentioned several times by students and staff of how much he is loved and appreciated and how we all noticed that he went way beyond the expectations of a coach driver. One thing that stuck out for me during this sharing time was when he shared with the group that he was quick to become quite attached to our group soon after we arrived in England and he knew that he was not going to leave us on his days off cause he instantly felt like one of our own and embraced by the team. There is a mutual attachment with this precious and very humble man from Wales. He has been our tour guide, has made us laugh, has even entertained us with song and has jumped to help out anyone in need even willingly helping out when he was woken up late in the night to get Megan and Nicole’s belongs off the coach the night before they flew back home to Canada.

Thank-you Rob for your kindness, graciousness, humour, for going above and beyond the call of duty and keeping us safe and taking care of us. You have been a gift to our family.

We will miss you our dear family member.


Rob at one of the castles!

Rob and his sheep! We gave him the one in the middle:

Rob and the Singers:

May 9th, Tour Day 18 – Cambridge

Finally, a day without hours spent on the coach. We all love Rob, our driver, however many of us were getting tired of sitting on the coach so much! We had a free morning and then met at the Round Church to perform a 45 minute recital. The recital went fairly well and then we loaded onto the coach for a 20 minute ride to a town close by where we had, tea and then our final performance of the tour.

This was truly one of the best performances of the tour.

After the performance we spent some time sharing on the bus. There were many teary eyes as we approach the end of our adventure together. We are all heading in different directions now. Some are returning to Winnipeg or other places in Canada. Some are staying in England for a few days. And others are backpacking to different places in Europe. It has been a fantastic tour.

Here are a few pictures from this day:

Performing at the Round Church in Cambridge

Practicing at St. Andrew's Church, Oakington:

A final picture of us all, taken in the church gardens (but we are missing Jocelyne, Nicole, Megan, Randall, Olive and Chris):

Saturday, May 9, 2009

May 8th, Tour Day 17 – Cambridge

Another day where we traveled for the morning and then explored the new city in the afternoon. We arrived in Cambridge at around 2pm.

Most of the choir met at Kings College where we attending Evensong. It was heavenly. Here are a few pictures:

The tour really is winding down. We have two performances tomorrow (Saturday), but people have slowly been leaving us. Today was Chris’ last day with us as he was leaving early Saturday morning to go to Bern, Switzerland for the World Hockey Championships.

Chris, Brenda and I have spent a lot of time together. This had been a gift. After a long, and often difficult, school year having a chance to wind down with people who are supportive, truthful and incredibly fun was amazing. We must have laughed more than we talked and this was amazing for me. I will miss them both as we begin to go our separate ways for the summer and transition to a time when Chris is no longer working for Providence. Here are a few pictures of the three of us:

May 7th, Tour Day 16 – York

We had to say goodbye to Randall and Olive this morning. They have to make their way to Brussels for a wedding on Saturday May 9th. Randall gave a short devotion and then we had a teary goodbye. We miss them.

Here’s a picture of them that Brenda took when we were in Oxford!

We also still miss Nicole and Megan…and so we put together this picture for them this morning:

"We love and miss you Nicky and Megan!"

We miss all those who have now left us: Jocelyne, Nicole, Megan, Randall and Olive.

After a 3-4 hour drive we arrived in York under beautiful sunshine. We were able to check into our hotel first and then we had some free time. Some stayed at the Hostel and rested. Some walked around York and some took in Evensong at Yorkminster.

Here are a few pictures:

May 6th, Tour Day 15 - Edinburgh

We drove for the morning and arrived in Edinburgh in the early afternoon. It was a rainy day, and even tough the views of the ocean were incredible, many of us slept for much of the trip.

Here are some pictures of choir members on the coach during this leg of the trip:

We went directly to the centre of Edinburgh where we spent the afternoon and early evening exploring different parts of this beautiful city. It was cold, windy and rainy! Here area few pictures:

Brenda's newly purchased umbrella didn't survive the wind and rain:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Some highlights From the Students:

Kathy Kallis
We have had a good Parrot experience and a bad parrot experience at two different billets. One parrot only squawks and occasionally whistles, but the other parrot can sing ‘Jesus Loves me’, say his name and likes chocolate covered biscuits!

Tracy Doerksen
A huge highlight was singing in Buckfast abbey. When we sang I felt a spiritual connection to the past and to us. As our voices echoed off of the stones, it felt like the stones also absorbed our harmonies and we became part of the Abbey. After we sang I discovered that the abbey was built by four men. It reminded me that we can do so much if we never give up. I was humbled and reminded of my unwillingness to write a 10-page paper, yet these four men built an entire cathedral. After discovering this it gave me a deeper connection and I felt that we became part of the chorus of the past through the stones. It felt Holy.

Janelle Thiessen
We went on a tour of the Globe (in London). I loved that. It was opening night of Romeo and Juliet and we just made it in time for the last tour before their first performance. We got to see the stage set-up it was really cool.

Candace Unrau
You always hear about how big the pipe organs are in Cathedrals. And then to actually see them was incredible. The pipes ARE actually big enough for people to crawl into. Hearing the organ voluntaries and at times being able to see the organists hands because of mirrors was wonderful. They just learn an incredible amount of music each week. I’ll work on a piece for months and these people are playing something different each week!