Monday, June 24, 2019

2019 Tour - Day 7 THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

It’s our final day of tour. Kids are bringing their luggage to the bus, searching for misplaced wallets and phone chargers, lost room keys and water bottles. Kind of a typical morning. Once again, I can’t say enough good things about our dedicated luggage crew. They are climbing inside of the hatch below the bus to get all of the suitcases stacked inside. They remind me of cave dwellers. I love those boys!

Our choir is singing in the Sunday morning worship service at Cross Lanes UMC. After our rocking concert last night, they wanted us back for the morning service too. I took my spot in the balcony where I could take birds-eye group photos. One of the audiovisual helpers approached me. He told me how impressed he was with our youth choir last night and how awesome they were. When he asked me to send him all of my photos, I had to smile. (He doesn’t know that I take hundreds of pictures!) Instead I directed him to our Blog where there are plenty to choose from. He wants to post them, along with some videos of our group singing. He was ready, cell phone in hand, to record them.

They didn’t disappoint. In spite of many of them being up late last night (of their own doing), they rose to the occasion and sang their hearts out. If that wasn’t enough, we found out that their church organist had broken her foot and they asked our own organ genius Steve Kalnoske if he would substitute. It was his turn to shine too, with his own style of hymn-sing ruffles and flourishes. The best of both worlds! Do you know how proud we are of our youth? These are some of the comments we have heard throughout the week:

You don’t see youth choirs like this anymore!
I can’t believe the large number of boys with fabulous voices who are singing in a choir!
I am amazed at the sound quality and harmony of their singing!
This group has given me hope for the future of our country!
My faith has been renewed just listening to them!
Their singing brought tears to my eyes.
My heart has been so touched. I believe that God directed me here tonight, so I would be encouraged by the words in these songs.

Yes, we are very proud of our youth.

The ladies in the kitchen had a nice lunch waiting for us after the service. Connor Shifflett’s grandmother was there at the church and so was Connor Dennie’s parents.  After they ate, the kids changed into their traveling clothes and we headed home. We had two sets of Greeters this morning because Tom and Polly wanted everyone to have a chance to greet on this last day. The Greeters were Taylor Cappeluti & Troy Moskowitz and Charlie Bratburd & Maxwell Donaldson. Our large group of boys have jokingly called themselves the Frat Tour Team this week. They actually DO seem like a fraternity to me.

Yesterday we didn’t have time to present Matt Miante his fork award, so we had the presentation ceremony today. His fork had purple ribbons and said “peace” on it. I’d like to think it is because he has such a peaceful spirit about him. Or perhaps he can now have peace in the bathroom when he goes home without someone switching the sign on him?  Karalee taught us our new rural word for the day: skedaddle, which means to depart quickly as in, "The concert is about to start so you’d better skedaddle!”

During our bus ride home, Helena Colborn of the Sunshine Committee gave out Tour Awards. She spent a lot of thoughtful time coming up with the perfect award to match the personality and character of the recipient. I’m not going to list them all, but here are a few of them: Loveliest Smile Award; the Strong & Silent Award; Having the Warmest Heart Award; Hoopster Award; the Brother We All Love Award; the Living Sitcom Award and Best Bromance Award. You can see pictures of the awards on the blog.

We stopped for a break when we reached Maryland. Most kids made a beeline for a Cinnabon stand that was there and the bus had a delicious cinnamon smell the rest of the way home. Our final Greeters of the 2019 CWS Tour was Arthur Hulcher and Stephanie Greer. I’ll have to tell you that Arthur’s award was the Living Encyclopedia award because he is so knowledgeable about so many different things and always has fun facts to share. Stephanie’s award was Everyone’s Best Friend Award because she is so friendly to everyone.

The last leg of our drive home was spent watching Teen Titans on the bus monitor, courtesy of Calista Kibak. The best thing about pulling up into the DUMC parking lot were the happy faces of parents and siblings (even dogs) and Mama (Deborah) Bowe standing there with a large poster that said, “Welcome Home Charles Wesley Singers!”  She doesn’t even have any kids who were on tour this year! How awesome and supportive is that?!!!

Tomorrow night is the Welcome Home Concert. It is always the best of all to be singing for the home crowd. Be prepared to be amazed and blessed! Give them the best reception they have had all week, because YOU are the ones that really matter to them!

I’m going to leave you with these words from Karalee:

 Since we’re fixn’ to return home, we will recall a few trip highlights:
·         Lollygagging around Audra State Park
·         Being fearful of drawing back a nub if we visited that insane asylum in Buckhannon
·         Vigorously mashing the elevator buttons at DePauw and various hotels, in between concerts and the Slugger Museum
Good Lord Willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we will see everyone at the Welcome Home concert before we skedaddle on over to the pool party!


Sunday, June 23, 2019

2019 Tour - Day 6 - On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again...... in the rain!

Day 6 – Saturday, June 22, 2019 

 Yes, it was another soggy morning as we prepared to leave DePauw while searching for misplaced/ lost keys or missing articles of clothing. We have a lost and found bag on the bus that can sometimes become quite full. Today is a long bus ride. We will be crossing four states – Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. Our morning Greeters to start us off for the day were Jack Hembrough and Calista Kibak. It's so nice to start our day with encouraging words and friendship for one another. Next was sharing time. David Hembrough gave his famous weather report (which has a 50/50 chance of being correct.) Maxwell Donaldson read a text from his Dad, who had his last chemo treatment yesterday, thanking everyone for their well wishes. He received a round of applause for the good news of being cancer free. Go Team Mike! Brian LaRosa shared a thought about the coincidence of names.  The pastor at DePauw yesterday had the same name as Brian, as well as his high school chorus teacher also being named Brian. It brought back good memories for him. 

Karalee’s rural word of the day was reckn’.  It means “I suppose.” For example: “I reckn’ we’re going to hear a good concert tonight!” The only fork story we had today was from Matt Miante. Coincidentally, the exact same thing that happened earlier in the week to Gregory Vanderham happened to Matt last night. He went into the Men’s Room to use the bathroom, and when he came out the sign had been changed and it said Ladies Room. It was the old sign switcheroo!  After our sharing time, almost everyone on the bus snuggled into their seats for a mid-morning nap. Being asleep helps the time to go by so much quicker! 
We stopped for a bathroom break in Ohio. Our second morning Greeters were Ben Fritts and Admiral AyehDatey. 

We stopped for lunch on the outskirts of Dayton, Ohio. Everyone broke up into small groups and walked to their nearby restaurant of choice. Favorite restaurants included Chick-fil-A, Smash Burger, Chipotle and Golden Corral. Troy Moskowitz went to Wal-Mart and purchased a hairbrush to present to Matthew Baldridge, who lost his. (It gently detangles.) 

Our final destination was Cross Lanes, West Virginia. As we left Dayton, we were shocked to see a swath of devastation in part of the town. There were mangled steel beams, roofs blown away or destroyed, crumbled foundations, total loss of houses and shattered trees. We found out that a tornado had recently blown through that area. It was unbelievably violent. The Ohio River had risen almost to flood stage and the current was swiftly flowing. We could hardly believe our eyes.  We turned our attention to the afternoon Greeters: Jonathan Works and Cole Taylor. Spoon Greets Tasty!! (If you don’t get the joke, read our earlier blog.)  The rest of the afternoon was spent playing cards, listening to music, sleeping or watching the movie, ”Goonies” on the bus monitors.  

We pulled into Cross Lanes, WVA with just enough time to take our luggage up to our hotel rooms, change clothes and drive over to our concert venue at Cross Lanes UMC.  The church members had a tasty spaghetti dinner with salad waiting for us.   There were some familiar faces at our concert tonight. Brienna Ryders’s Dad and sister Morgan were there, as well as Connor Dennie’s parents and Connor Shiflett’s grandparents. The people in the congregation were amazed at the sound quality of our youth and at how well their voices blend. We were so proud of them.  Back at the hotel, our group met for an evening sharing time. The youth and adults took turns sharing about what Tour meant to them, which songs have special meaning, what they have enjoyed most this week, what challenges they encountered and what their favorite moments of the week were. It was heart-warming to hear them open up and talk about their feelings. What I realized was that this trip has touched many lives. It has touched the hearts of the participants and It has touched the hearts of those who attended. It’s an experience that will stay with everyone for a long, long time. It’s hard to understand if you haven’t experienced it, but I hope your children will able to express some of it to you when they return.  Day 6 Even if they can’t put it into words, know that this trip was very worthwhile.  

reckn’ we will be seeing you soon! Sue 

Click Here for Photos from Day 6

Saturday, June 22, 2019

2019 Tour - Day 5 (The Longest Day of the Year)

June 21, 2019 – Day 5 

Good morning everyone! It's not raining! Host families were dropping the youth off at the church, our awesome luggage crew were loading up the bus and sleepy kids were finding their favorite spot on the bus to sit and snooze. We have traveled as far west as we are going to travel on our tour. It is also the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. We are approaching the last few days of our trip and it is usually the time on tour when the weariness begins to set in. The first timers are starting to realize that if you stay up late every night and don’t go to bed in a timely manner, your body will pay the price. If you don’t eat a well-balanced meal and consume sugary drinks and  junk food every day, you won’t feel well. You will also be tired and irritable. They are also realizing that traveling on tour expends a tremendous amount of energy every day between traveling, walking, singing and performing. It's something that everyone has to learn, even the adults – being responsible for yourself. Some are learning it faster than others, but never fear - there is plenty of time and it's never too late. 

Our morning Greeters today were Scott Hembrough and Matthew BaldridgeSince this was the first time we have stayed in host homes, it was an opportunity to share breakfast reports. Breakfast in host homes can be hit or miss. Some hosts provide a simple self-service box of cereal or donuts. Others provide a hot cooked breakfast. The reports this morning were very positive, ranging from egg and potato casserole, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, biscuits, chocolate chip waffles, poppy seed bread and butter braids. Everyone seemed full and satisfied.

Fork stories were next. We had two contestants today. Angela Nardone told a funny story about dragging her suitcase across a carpet in her host home, but when the carpet ended and turned into tile, she slipped and accidentally knocked her suitcase into the wall. The wheels of her suitcase punched a hole in the wall. She was going to tell her host but they went swimming in nearby lake and she forgot. (She eventually fessed up later on and all was well.) The next story was experienced by Anna Mae Black, Ali Shipe, and Anja Grossberger. 
They stayed in a bedroom that had a life-sized, real looking doll named Jenny. The people would dress it and change her clothes. They thought it was creepy at first but then they grew fond of Jenny and didn’t mind sleeping in the same room with her. The woman also had 2 pet dogs and 3 cats. One of the cats had been bitten in the head by a snake and has been “mentally challenged” ever since. That evening, one of the girls accidentally knocked a shelf in the bathroom sideways and couldn’t fix it. Before she could confess to her hostess, she heard the woman go into the bathroom and mutter under her breath about the darn cat breaking the shelf. At that point, she decided not to confess! This story brought so many laughs that it won the coveted fork prize. Be sure to check out the picture of Jenny on the blog! 

Our first stop today was in Louisville. Doug and Beth Taylor taught us how to pronounce it like the locals do (Loo-uh- vill.) Louisville is Kentucky’s largest city, situated along the Ohio River. We were headed for the Louisville Slugger Museum and factory, where baseball is celebrated and Major League baseball bats are produced. Outside of the museum was a giant Louisville Slugger, where we stopped to pose for a picture. Our tour of the factory began with a movie about the forests and mills where the selection process begins for making the bats. I was shocked to realize how many trees are continually being cut down to produce these bats! We saw maple, ash and birch trees that were selected because of the grain of the wood and the durability. Then we were able to walk through the factory production line to see each step in the bat-making process. At the end of the tour, each person was given a mini-bat to keep as a souvenir.  Inside the museum were galleries of memorabilia and exhibits; a Bat Vault with 3,000 original bat models created by legendary players (like Babe Ruth and Ted Williams)a signature wall with thousands of signatures from players who signed contracts with Louisville Slugger; an opportunity to hold bats that were actually used by great players (Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, Derek Jeter, David "Big Papi" Ortiz, etc.) and a batting cage. Several of our youth took advantage of the batting cage. The entire museum was a very interesting look into the world of baseball. 

Afterward, we broke up into small groups to have lunch in the city before getting back on the bus. Our afternoon Greeters were Aiden Cappeluti and Amber Johnson. Our destination was Greencastle, Indiana. 
Karalee Turner-Little has been teaching us “rural” words each day. She grew up in a rural area in Tennessee and is an expert. So far we have learned:  
  • lollygag  Ex: If it's time to go, don't lollygag!  
  • Mash – Ex: Mash that button on the elevator for me. 
  • Fixn' – Ex: I've been fixnto go welcome that new neighbor.  
  • Nub- Ex: If you touch my chocolate cake, you'll draw back a nub! 
  • (And my favorite): Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I'll see you next week. 
Speaking of rising creeks, as we were driving along we saw signs  of the same rainy weather we have seen for the past several days. Many cornfields we passed were flooded and looked like swamp land. The river levels have risen and the ground is saturated everywhere we go. I feel sorry for the farmers. 

We reached DePauw University late afternoon. Doug and Beth Taylor graduated (and fell in love) here. Their daughter Alli  graduated from here and now Bryce just completed his first year here too. Bryce is majoring in Music Education with an emphasis in voice. 
DePauw has a Methodist heritage and has a renowned School of Music, thanks to a series of large donations from Washington C. DePauw, for whom the school is named after.  Bryce took our group on a tour of the campus, which was beautifully landscaped with historic structures and unique architecture. The tour was cut short because of rain, but Bryce was still able to show me the awesome School of MusicIt has a theater, an auditorium, a recital hall, soundproof practice rooms, a music library, teaching studios and recording studios. Basically, anything a music major could possibly want is there. 

Our performance tonight was being held at Gobin Memorial UMC, located right on campus. Bryce has a job there as their music director! He was very excited that some of his choir members would be there tonight. The church graciously provided us with a taco dinner and then our group met in the sanctuary to rehearse.   Polly helped to guide the students into the right frame of mind for their performance, encouraging them to close their eyes and let go of anything that might be troubling them. We all sat there soaking in the quiet, slowing our breath and calming our minds. Sometimes we all need to slow down and remember that God should be in control, not us. Polly quoted something Matthew Sleeth said this week  When you work, you work. When you pray, God works. We ended with a prayer, ready for the performance.   And what a performance! The high energy was felt by everyone and the singing was superb. Bryce invited his choir members to join the CWS for one of our songs and they were happy to do so. I have heard these songs all week long and I never get tired of it. I don’t think I ever will.   

After the concert, Tom and Polly bought everyone ice cream and the kids had free time to wind down. Curfew is 11:00 tonight. We have an early morning and a long drive, so I ’m hoping everyone goes right to bed.  I'd like to leave you with a scripture verse from Psalm 113:3: From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” We have been doing that every single day this week. I think that God is smiling down on us. I hope you are too. 

Peace out!  Sue