Thank goodness last night’s host families were from the community of the well-traveled Amici Singers. They have been on international tours themselves and understand the rude awakening demanded for an early flight. The birds were chirping and there was daylight here around 3:45 AM local time in England. We know because that’s when many of us were up and getting our day started. Our wonderfully supportive hosts managed to drop us off at one of seven designated locations where the buses began doing pick-ups at 4:35 AM. Several hosts had thoughtfully packed a meal for us. It was sad to leave them, knowing this would be the end to a dream come true!
People settled on the buses for our final trek together in England. Rachel Sadtler was bursting to announce she had searched and found the holy grail of candy last night as a gift for loved ones – the purchase of 16 large packs of Kit Kat chocolate bars in rare flavors of mint and orange. Chaperone Cathy Waters was carrying a dozen glass jars of Bovril for her beloved husband. What we do for love! With our last bus stop completed and our return well underway, the bus became quiet with sleeping passengers.
Our 7:00 AM arrival at Heathrow Airport was good timing for the youth musicians to collect their instruments, chaperones Nick Erdle and Doug Marshall to return the instrument rental van and chase car, and for everyone to get ticketed and go through security. There were relatively no mishaps and all smoothly boarded our single flight back to Dulles Airport in Virginia. The flight was comfortable, even peaceful, with passengers able to view their own movie selections and snooze under a British Airways blanket. Besides the blanket, the airline gave everyone a pillow and toothbrush. We arrived in Virginia late in the afternoon and took the scenic drive back over the Potomac River at Point of Rocks to return to Damascus United Methodist Church. There we had a reunion with family and friends, sharing hugs and stories. Praise God for a glorious trip and our safe return!
We look forward to the Welcome Home Concert tomorrow evening on Thursday, June 30. This will be the finale to an incredible journey!