Sunday, March 16, 2014

Day 9

Dear Gospel Choir followers,  

What a bittersweet day it has been. We finished up our tour today and we are headed back to chilly Illinois tomorrow.
            Today was our last morning at La Jolla Presbyterian. We awoke from our slumber, gathered together all of our smelly luggage (what do you expect after 10 days of lots of use and very little washing?), and wandered downstairs to grab some breakfast. We were expecting to just clean up and hop on the bus, when—in typical Gospel Choir fashion—we agreed to sing Days of Elijah with the church choir at the last minute. We learned the new version of the song in about 10 minutes and sang it successfully in the service. Woo! All of those people were very welcoming and kind and CUTE! This was just another testament of how God has blessed us with encountering some amazing people on this trip.
            We scooted on out of the service after we were finished and loaded the new bus. Yes, it was a new bus. For the whole trip, Pastor Salter had been our faithful driver, but unfortunately he had to leave us last night. So I would like to take just a moment to explain just how great of a human being Pastor Salter is. You need to understand that he came to every single one of our concerts, camera in hand. He was not only a bus driver, he was also a friend and a huge support to all of us. We though he was great, and we miss him!
            So anyways, we boarded our new bus and headed for Total Deliverance Worship Center for our penultimate concert. We were greeted with some nice snacks and bustled into the sanctuary. It was a very upbeat and an all-around good worship time. We sang well and according to one of the lovely people there, this was the first time that a guest choir had sung during the service in 15 years. What a privilege! They served us a delicious lunch of fried chicken and fish and sweet potato pie, among other goodies. They were so gracious and hospitable, it was so good to sing there and meet all of those wonderful people!
            We boarded the bus once again and began our two hour trek to LA, where we would give our last concert at South Bay Church of God. We were all sleepy and warm, since it was almost 90 that day…not that we were really complaining. But we unpacked our stuff from the bus and shuffled inside. The concert was good. There were lots of alumni there who really contributed to the mood of the concert. I believe that considering how exhausted we were, we still had a good time of worship. The good times just continued to roll on into dinner time, and man oh man was it delicious! The conversation was also very good and it was a joy to be able to talk with some of the lovely congregation. Overall, it was a great night, and an especially great way to end tour.
            After dinner we were driven to the hotel where we are staying tonight. Tour has been both rejuvenating and exhausting, a time of bonding and a time of personal reflection. I wish we could stay longer, but at the same time I’m ready to go home and share my experiences with everyone. It truly is a bittersweet time. Tomorrow morning we are heading to the airport and eventually leaving beautiful California behind, hopefully not for long though. It has been such an amazing experience and my eyes have been opened to the beauty of California. I praise God for all of the absolutely amazing opportunities, experience, and people that we have encountered. I think I can speak for the choir when I say that this precious time will not soon be forgotten.
            So, I hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventures! Thank you so much for the continued support, love, and prayers. It is so comforting to know that we have such a strong support group. We love you with the love of the Lord!

Laura and Lucy Rose, on behalf of the Wheaton College Gospel Choir


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Day 6


Today was another amazing day of tour. I have said that for just about every other day, but it’s the truth. 
If you have been keeping up with the blog, then you will know that the day did not start in an ideal way. After most of us went to bed around 2 that morning due to a late night concert the night before, we all got up at 6 preparing to get on the bus by 7. However, some prayers were literally answered when we got a call at 6:45ish informing us that the bus had broken down. We would not be driving to San Diego this morning after all. From what I gathered from the rest of the choir, most of us went back to sleep for two more glorious hours. At nine then we got another call: be on the bus in five minutes. So we scrambled aboard a new bus and started our trek to San Diego to sing at a chapel service at St. Margret’s Episcopal School. 
The chapel service was filled to the brim with energy. The school was absolutely beautiful and we had a sense of awe as we entered the grounds. During chapel some of the students started warming up to the music and by the time we were singing No More Burdens at the end, they were cheering and praising and dancing along with us. Honestly, I cannot even describe how much fun it was to sing for them. After the service was over we spent another 20 minutes with a couple of the students having a Jesus party with the band. It was incredibly uplifting, especially considering the less than ideal morning we had.
After we finished singing the Director of Performing Arts gave us a tour of their brand-spanking new Performing Arts center on campus. It was absolutely gorgeous and we were very warmly welcomed by everyone we encountered. In the end, it was a wonderful morning and we all left especially grateful for the chance to worship with these students and see this beautiful campus.
Our next stop: lunch. We drove through some winding neighborhoods until we arrived at the Campbell’s beautiful house. Greg Campbell is an alumni of Wheaton College and Gospel Choir. He and his wife were gracious enough to open their home to us and feed us some delicious food. It was a very relaxing lunch. We lounged out by the pool and garden and talked with Greg and Antje about Wheaton and got a tour of her art studio, among other things. After singing for them and thanking them, we were back on the road.
This time, we were headed to Moreno Valley College to do a choir exchange. A choir exchange is basically when we got together with another choir—a gospel choir in this case—and sing for each other. When we arrived, they were so incredibly welcoming and friendly and chatty that we felt right at home. They were also an amazingly talented group of students. We really enjoyed listening to them, and from what we heard, they enjoyed listening to us to. Afterword was dinner, an exchange of special ‘thank yous’ and piling back on the bus to drive to La Jolla where we would be sleeping that night.
In the end, it was amazing to see how God turned the day around—from a crummy morning to an amazing day as a whole. God is so good!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Day 7

Dear Friends of the Choir,

Today was a beautiful day of rest. We sang at the high school of our beloved fellow-choir-member Catherine Anne. We had fun leading the kids in upbeat worship. We know they had fun too, because they insisted we continue singing and even joined us on stage to sing and dance with us.

Afterwards we were driven to Mission Beach in San Diego. We spent the afternoon lying on the beach. We talked, slept and tanned. We grit our teeth and ran squealing  like wild things into the ocean and let the waves toss our bodies around.

Many of us built a huge sand volcano together with seaweed lace spilling out of the top. It was really ugly. We also buried David (nicknamed Thor) in the sand and entitled the piece "Thor's Day at the Beach" as we had sculpted the sand covering him into the shape of the bulky Norse superhero.

Now we are having dinner together. We are crispy and sunburned with sand in our ears and clinging to our arm hair. We thank the Lord for a day of rest after a week of traveling and aerobic praise (actually I think Aerobic Praise could be the next big workout fad after Zumba).

Goodnight Gentlefolk,

P.S. Day 6 is coming soon. We have not had internet access.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

We Need Your Prayers

Calling all prayer warriors!

This morning we got the call: our bus broke down. This news was especially unfortunate considering the fact that we were supposed to drive to San Diego today and arrive in time for a 9:45 gig.
As you can imagine, this changes our schedule quite a bit and adds a lot of stress to these next coupel days.
We have currently found a new bus and are on our way, but there is still a lot to pray for!
Please pray for our leaders of the choir: that God would give them peace, patience, and trust that all things will work together for His good. That God would go before them and work in them to make the best decisions for this choir according to His plan.
Pray for the choir as a whole: that we will continue to have patience for our leaders and that we will be especially encouraging and accepting of everything that God sets before us for the remainder of the tour.
Also just continue praying for the mission of this tour and that we could continue to spread the love of God to whoever he sends us to.

Thank you!

Day 5

Dear Friends,

It is almost 12 o'clock at night and I am sitting in a restaurant on Manhattan Beach Boulevard with my fellow choir members. We just finished our concert at the 47th annual Gospel Music Workshop of America. We had a blast performing three songs for a roomful of other choirs and gospel music enthusiasts. Before we went up, our director and musicians emphasized the need to give it our best performance thus far, because, in the words of one of the choir members,"This is legit".

We really felt the need to prove ourselves. I'm just going to say it: We killed. The crowd loved us. One man said,"You were off the
chain. You were off the Jesus chain!"

They responded immediately to the familiar 'O Lord We Praise You'. I think they loved the complex choreography of 'No More Burdens'.
Our pies de resistance is always 'Psalm 150'. The operatic and intense vocals coupled with
the intensity of the choreography had the audience really engaged. They gave us a standing ovation.

We also had tons of fun praising the Lord with the other groups. We danced and cheered with them all night and finally left at 11 o'clock. So now we are celebrating here at the restaurant. We are joking and laughing as we wait for our food, waving aside the thought that we will be waking up at six tomorrow.

Thank you, Jesus, for this day!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day 4

Dear Friends,

            Today was another incredible day of worship and praise, meeting new people, and seeing some LA sights.
            After our first night with our new host families, we gathered together in the morning at the Olson’s house and loaded the bus to begin another day of touring SoCal and spreading the love of God. We started by driving an hour or so to Heritage Christian School in Northridge where we sang  and worshiped with the schools concert choir.  Not only did we get to sing and have a good time performing for them, but they also sang for us, which was truly a blessing. They are an amazingly talented group of high schoolers, so a big Thank You to all of them for sharing that with us! At the end of the concert we got the chance to sing some gospel music with them, and from what I heard from other members of our GC choir, it was the highlight of the day.
            After the concert, we were headed to Hollywood for some lunch and sightseeing. We got to see Hollywood Blvd and the famous sidewalk stars, the Chinese Theatre with the cement hand and footprints of some of our favorite celebrities, and a glimpse of the iconic Hollywood sign in the hills. Unfortunately, most of us are poor college students, so we couldn’t afford to tour the wax museum, which—let’s be honest—would have been amazing. But we did get to see the red carpet for the world premiere of the Muppets Movie, so I guess that was pretty cool.
            After boarding the bus again we were off to West Angeles COGIC church; about a 30 minute drive. We had some dinner and then prepared to sing at their Tuesday night bible study. The night was very emotionally and spiritually intense and I feel like we really gave our best energy and performance. Everyone was having a good time and, but more importantly, we were fully engaged in praising God, which definitely showed in our singing. The congregation was very involved and it looked like they were having a great time. It’s an amazing blessing to see how our music affects other people, and to think that we are helping to bring them closer to Christ and to worship the Lord is very rewarding. Overall, out time at the church was very memorable. Minister Donnie Briggs and Elder Thomas were very inspiring, encouraging, and welcoming, and I truly hope that we will be able to come back and worship with them again.
            There’s not much to say about after the concert. The drive back was, for the most part, uneventful. Although it was late, the bus was still lively. I guess that’s just the effect that worship has on people: it rejuvenates and gives life, rather than draining and tiring the spirit. We may have been physically tired from the long day, but our spirits were alive and thriving. What a blessing.

(Before the concert at Heritage Christian School)

(The choir during the sound check at West Angles COGIC) 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Day 3

Dear Gospel Choir Devotees,

Today was packed with experiences. We all woke up in the homes of the gracious families who hosted us. We congregated at 9 in the morning and eagerly exchanged stories of soft beds and kind people. Our host families were amazing. They'd never met us and they had no reason to be so generous to us, but they prepared beds and food of us as if we were their own relatives. 

We bused straight over to a small Christian school called New Covenant Academy. We got to interact with the kids, playing volleyball and joking with them. The concert we gave them was full of energy, because the kids themselves were energetic and passed it on to us. The first grade girls in the front row danced with us and melted our hearts with their cuteness. Miss Tanya managed to convince one brave young man to lead us in the song "How Great is Our God". 

After our time with the students we drove to a park. We swarmed onto the playground and returned to our little-kid selves. Some people swang on the swing set and others spun each other on a merry-go-round until they couldn't walk straight. Others, like me, lay on the soft grass and revelled in the sunlight. 

Our bus next took us to the house of choir member Kaley's home. Her lovely parents fed us a great meal. We then gave a concert at their church. We squished together on risers and tried not to hit each other during choreographed songs. We improvised a rendition of Amazing Grace and I personally was touched by the sweetness of the small crowd who came. 

Today I was also really excited about being a part of this choir. We praise the Lord and spend hours on buses together. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ and I am blessed to be a part of this group.

Lucy Rose
(Hanging out with some kids at New Covenant Academy)

(David and Nate before the concert!)


Day 2

Hi everyone,  

Today was another beautiful day in California! After our night at Ecclesia Christian Fellowship Church in San Bernardino we had the privilege of singing at the morning church service and being welcomed by the wonderful congregation there. I think I can speak for the whole choir when I say that we were blessed by the congregation!

            After saying goodbye San Bernardino, we made our way to Manhattan Beach, and let me just say: it was stunning. This was our first glimpse of the ocean! We had a couple hours to walk around the beautiful, touristy beach town and grab something to eat. Considering that it was 80 degrees (compared to the 15 degree Illinois weather when we left) it was nice to get to spend time on the beach and in the ocean and in the salty air. Finally, though, it was time to travel on to Rock Covenant Church...not before gracing the pedestrians of Manhattan Beach with an impromptu street concert, though J

Rock Covenant Church: another amazing, hospitable church that we had the pleasure of worshiping with. Before we sang, we got to rest a little bit in the preschool playground area that the church is connected to. It was nice to put our feet up in the shade and enjoy the beautiful day.

            The concert/time of worship was full of energy and I believe that a good time was had by the choir and the audience. We were definitely blessed by their participation (and potluck dinner!) and I hope that they were blessed by us. Meeting some of the people after the service during dinner was incredibly enjoyable. The couple people that I got to talk to were very king and welcoming, especially when they welcomed us into their homes for the night. I cannot speak for the experience of the other members of the choir, but my home-stay experience was incredible. Our gracious host, Heather, was sweet and was nice enough to open her home to us. We are so thankful for her beautiful home and the chance to take showers!

            God is so good, and I am excited to see what he has in store for the rest of the tour. Goodnight, California!  





Saturday, March 8, 2014

Day 1

Dear Friends,

Greetings from California! We arrived in this land four hours ago. First thing off the plane one of the guys (Joel) burst out, "Look! Trees with leaves on them!" All of us were so pleased to come away from the harsh Illinois winter for a time. 

We got on our bus and spent our ride ogling the mountains and palm trees. I have never seen mountains so huge or a sunset so orange and golden. 

We unloaded at our first destination: Ecclesia Christian Fellowship Church in San Bernardino. We practiced some songs with our directors Miss Tanya and Uncle Jeff. We were tired from travel, but so joyful to be safe and in California that our praise was energised and fun. 

Tonight after a meal of pizza we shall sleep on the floor of the church. Tomorrow morning we will sing at an eight o'clock church service and at a concert in the evening. 

Thanks for following along. Thanks for your love and prayers.

-LucyRose (Gospel Choir Log Keeper)

Gospel Choir Tour 2014 Begins!

Greetings from the Wheaton College Gospel Choir!

We are packed and ready to embark on our 2014 Spring Break Tour to California. In a few minutes we will board a bus here in Wheaton, which will take us to the airport. We will spend a week there singing at churches, schools, on buses and hopefully on beaches.

We plan to document our journey here on this blog so follow along to check our progress! Laura and I (LucyRose) are Freshmen members of the choir and we will be blogging every day if we can manage it.

Please pray for our safe travels and provision throughout the trip. We will post more when we get to California!

LucyRose on behalf of Wheaton College Gospel Choir