Due to the late hour of their arrival in Damascus (12:45AM) , the Day 10 blog will be posted later this morning - The bloggers are all asleep!
Thanks for staying up, Jackie!!!
Day 10 – DUMC Summer Youth Tour
Well, the late night faded into early morning and we gathered our belongings one last time, no longer certain which side of our suitcase was clean clothes and which was dirty. No matter, we donned our black dresses, white shirts and ties and rallied in the lobby at 7 a.m. for a light breakfast and check-out. Most of us rallied, that is – all but one room that forgot to set an alarm and came racing onto the bus, dresses half on and hair rather wild. No worries, they had a 10 minute bus ride to pull it together, as the Tall Friends spoke earnestly about the awesome privilege we were about to experience. We had passed by Trinity Church several times since our arrival in Boston, but we were not prepared for the magnificence of this Episcopal church, which is so rich with history. The current church complex was built under the direction of its rector, Phillips Brooks, a well known charismatic preacher in the late 1800’s [famous for many uplifting quotations, such as "Christianity helps us face the music even when we don't like the tune."] Trinity is the only church listed in the “10 Most Significant Buildings in the U.S.” (American Institute of Architects). Lovely gardens, dozens of stunning stained glass windows, a suspended cross and an extraordinary organ contribute to the grandeur. According to Stephen Kalnoske, our DUMC organ was built by the same man, 4 years later! We should note that Stephen traveled to Boston yesterday (Saturday) to participate with us in this morning’s worship service. Stephen was mentored at this very church, where his improvisational skills on the organ flourished - thanks be to God. This church normally features a paid choir, so the music directors are accustomed to professionals and treated our youth as they would the pros. They had high expectations and a no-nonsense approach. After a quick review of what the choir was to sing, when to sing it, where to stand, sit, process and recess – it was showtime. And goosebump time. The music lifted to the vaulted ceilings and seemed to return as angelic voices from heaven. It was a very formal service, during which we performed Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer; One Faith, One Hope, One Lord; and When I Survey the Wonderous Cross. After a quick bagel break and overview for the second service (which was similar but different from the early service), the choir reconvened. Invigorated by the majesty of the first worship hour, they delivered an inspired performance. The adults worried that the youth would not "get it," that they would not see what an incredible opportunity this was . . . that they would not be able to take it all in and absorb the moment. We sometimes need to have more faith in the depth of these "children" of ours, for the comments we heard from them showed they truly did get it, maybe even more than we did. They were awe struck, many of them expressing that they could not believe they were actually doing this. We were incredibly proud and hope you will be as well when they tell you their unique experience of this profound time. Thanks to the sweet talking of Beth Taylor, a few of the chaperones were given permission to watch the second service from the loft. Oh, my. We were next to the organ pipes (beautiful visually as well as for their sound), and we literally felt the music of Stephen Kalnoske. Please, if you have the chance, talk to Stephen about this magnificent organ and the historical significance of Trinity Church. He is a wealth of information. We also had a great vantage point from which to see our choir. It was something none of us will ever forget and actually difficult to put into words. To see these young people, whom we all love so much, singing so beautifully in this incredible setting, it touched us to our very souls. Last night was the height of our entertainment on tour, but this morning was the pinnacle of our spiritual journey. It was a vivid reminder of why we do this. We love the fun. We love the fellowship. We love the "white trash" and the fork stories. But it is really about enriching our personal faithfulness and witnessing to the glory of God, whether it is on the streets of Mystic, Connecticut, at the Boston Common, in the wonderous Trinity Church or, yes, even on the high seas in Maine. Our souls are anchored in the Lord. So, after a long but enjoyable bus ride home, typifying the tour's "we're running a little behind schedule" modus operandi, we return these wonderful young people to their parents. Thank you for allowing them and us this opportunity to touch the lives of other and, in the process, be enriched ourselves. We will see you all at tomorrow's Homecoming Concert!
Click here for photos from Day 10