Monday, June 22, 2015


It was a slow moving morning. Youth were dragging themselves into the breakfast room, almost sleep walking. We are paying the price for staying up too late and having fun. One room of young boys completely slept through their alarm and had to ride in the van to the church. Others were yawning and looking bleary-eyed. Some boys forgot to comb their hair. Others had to run back to their room to get things that were forgotten. On the bus, Tom reminded everyone that they would be sitting in the front of the congregation, where everyone can see them. “Friends don’t let friends fall asleep” is our motto this morning. He told a story from a choir tour years ago about a boy who had stayed up half the night talking (and who will remain unnamed) and fell asleep during the pastor’s sermon. That is bad enough on its own, but the CWS were sitting on elevated pews right behind the pastor and the service was being televised! The boy fell into such a deep sleep that his head fell back and his mouth was hanging open. Everyone in the congregation saw him. (Ryan Celli has the video as proof.) We did not want another repeat of that episode. It was suggested to pat the sunburn of anyone who was starting to fall asleep!

Edenton United Methodist Church of Raleigh was founded in 1811 and is a beautiful brick building with a steeple that reaches high into the sky. The sanctuary is large and spacious with beautiful stained glass windows. Near the entrance, my eye was drawn to a beautiful framed picture. The entire piece was created by traditional Jewish paper cutting and was mounted in front of colored mirrors, allowing the observer to see themselves through the images and text. In the center was the burning bush with a dove above and the hands of God below. It was surrounded by Jewish and English text. It was magnificent. One of the verses said, “Surely God is in this place and I did not know.” It made me think about this week and all of the places we have visited. God was with us underground in the mine. He was with us as we walked the paths through the woods. He was with us as we sang to the fishermen on the beach. He was with us as we sang at the Governors Palace. He was with us in the Catholic church, the Baptist church and the Methodist church. If our youth did not know it before, I hope they know now that God has been with us every step of this tour. The picture in front of me spoke all of those thoughts to my mind and made me feel so blessed.

 Our group participated in both services. They sang, “He Never Failed Me Yet,” “One Faith, One Hope, One Lord” and “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” It was beautiful and I only saw one or two heads starting to nod.  There were some familiar faces in the audience too. Mr. Dennie arrived to pick up Connor, who had to leave early. Liz and Dean Elliott also had to take Katie home early. We will miss both of them. The Bratburd family was there, Doug and Lisa Marshall were there and Audrey Weeks (also now known as Mrs. Bullock) was there with her husband. She was beaming as she told us that she is expecting a baby in October! Meg Kalnoske and baby Maya also arrived at the church! Of course she received much love from the girls in the choir room. She has started walking and is so adorable as she takes her wobbly first steps.

Back on the bus, we headed toward Crabtree Valley Mall for lunch. Our first Greeters of the morning had been Charlotte Bowe and Matthew Baldridge. Now that we were re-boarding, the second set of Greeters were chosen: Helena Colborn and William Baldridge. Tom gave us a bit of trivia by informing us that at 12:38 today it will be the longest day of the year; otherwise known as the summer solstice. David Hembrough came forward and told us that an exciting thing had happened at the church this morning. He lost a tooth! Everyone applauded for him.

Connie Morella gave out another set of superlative awards. “Most athletic” went to Annie Elliott.  Bethany Maczka won the “Best Hugs” award. Julia Beall won “The Rock of the Alto Section” award and Jack Hembrough won “Class Clown.” Polly and Tom were awarded the OTP (One True Pairing.)  Lucas Sicard received “Avid Bottlecap Collector.”  William Baldridge received “Best Hairline.” Sean Carrier received “Most Active.” An award for wearing muscle shirts went to Jordan Anderson. It took me awhile to realize that “Suns Out, Guns Out” referred to muscles, not weapons.

There were three fork stories tonight. Annie, the “Tasmanian Devil” had a story that involved a broken hook and window. Don’t worry. She fixed it. Nuff said. Mama Bowe fell asleep in the lobby last night and was awakened by a bewildered bus driver at 5 a.m. The fork prize went to Cecelia Hembrough. She was leaning over the bathtub to turn on the water. Unfortunately, her roommate had accidentally left the shower nozzle turned on and a blast of cold water shot out, soaking her head. Brrrrr!

When we arrived at the mall, everyone broke into groups and scattered. We had several hours to get lunch and shop. I saw many souvenir bags as kids loaded back onto the bus.
Our evening concert was at Croasdaile Village retirement community. The chapel was small and cozy with a very warm feel to it. A dinner of subs and chips was served and the kids had a short rehearsal before the concert.  Our host explained to the group that even though these residents were senior citizens, they had led a very active life at one time and contributed to society in many productive ways, with many holding very important jobs.  She encouraged the kids to smile, talk to the residents and treat them respectfully. The kids did a great job interacting and talking to them. During the concert, faces were smiling, toes were tapping and it was obvious how much they were enjoying it. One elderly lady told Callista that she now knows what angels look and sound like. Another lady said that she used to sing the same songs when she was in her choir at church years ago. Another lady said that we were the best choir she had ever heard in all of her 80 years of life. High praise and high compliments. We were so proud of everyone. We were joined by two alumni during our closing song, “River in Judea.” Audrey Weeks came back to hear tonight’s concert and Laura Kassler  (Gaines) also joined us. Laura used to go on choir tours years ago with Taylor’s dad, Nathan Cappeluti  and with Lucas’s dad, Ben Sicard. She told us about some fine memories of choir tours years ago.

On the way home, our third set of Greeters for the evening was Autumn Johnson and Taylor Cappeluti. The kids were so pumped up from the evening concert that there was a spontaneous dance party on the bus. Fun, fun, fun!  Back at the hotel, the kids had some time to swim, go to the workout room, play cards and eat snacks before curfew time. We have another busy day tomorrow and hopefully they will be well rested. Sweet dreams and be proud of your witnessing!

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