Sunday, June 26, 2016


Saturday, June 25, 2016 

Today has been a very subdued one. The college had a nice breakfast of eggs, bacon, fruit and baked goods but the kids still did not seem awake as they loaded the bus. Many of them immediately fell asleep as soon as they hit the seat. Even the tired staff members were silly and punch happy as Tom chose names from the “Bag of Fire” to be morning Greeters. The chosen ones were Maddie Marshall and Jonathan Works, who probably had to shake some of their fellow tour members awake as they greeted them.

Our activity of the day was to visit the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and National  Lakeshore in Glen
Harbor, Michigan. The area includes 35 miles of sand, 26 fresh water inlet lakes, 2 islands, and even some shipwrecks in the vicinity. It is located on the northwest coast of the lower peninsula of Michigan. It was named after a Chippewa legend that tells the story of a sleeping mother bear under the sand dunes. Today however, blowing sand and erosion have eroded the bump that used to look like a sleeping bear. It is still beautiful and breathtaking though. We drove around a 3-mile loop scenic drive, stopping at strategic points to admire the views. The culminating activity was at an overlook 450 feet  above Lake Michigan and  a massive sand dune.

The more adventurous members of our group decided to climb down to the bottom, which took about 6 minutes.  They forgot that what goes down must also come back  up. It took most of them an hour to get back up to the top! Phil Hulcher discovered that the “orangutan walk” worked the best while trying to get back to the top, using a hand and foot combination to push yourself forward while sinking into the sand.   Most had forgotten to take water with them and a few were struggling to get back to the top. Good natured Ben Con made it to the top, retrieved bottles of water for those who were struggling and went back down again to help them out. We can always depend on Ben to lend a helping hand.

  After the strenuous climb, everyone was ready for a picnic lunch in a nearby rest area. Turkey and ham sandwiches with fixings, chips and fruit perked everyone up a bit. However, there was a lot of sleeping going on during the 3-hour bus ride to Midland UMC. The afternoon Greeters were Celia Hembrough and Christian Murray. Nick Works tried to teach the kids another German word for the day: Heilsgeschichte. He learned it in graduate school and it means an interpretation of history emphasizing Gods saving acts. Impressive, but don’t ask him to pronounce it!  Beth Taylor became very excited when we passed the turnoff road for Interlochen. She attended this world-wide renowned music camp for 3 years when she was in 9th, 10th and 11th grade. We almost had to stop her from jumping out of the window, that’s how badly she wanted to stop by and visit it. Another one of our church members have also attended Interlochen recently – our own Robert Williams, Marin’s big brother. Ask both of them about their experiences there the next time you see them.
The town of Midland is a lovely place. As we drove down the road, both sides of the street were lined with thousands of marigolds. On the other side of town, the streets were lined with day lilies. Store fronts had large pots of beautiful flowers. Everywhere you looked, there was color. We arrived at Midland UMC just in time for a short rehearsal before dinner was served. This church is massive and beautiful. There is a beautiful reflection pool in their courtyard surrounded with pots of flowers. Glass windows with unique hand-made tiny sculptures adorn all of the windows. The high ceilings were beautiful (but not the best for acoustics.) The youth rooms downstairs had a foosball table, a ping pong tables and a pool table. A great gathering place. We had a nice surprise when Cathy Dobrzanski and her cousin showed up for the concert! Cathy will be shadowing us for the next couple of days. It will be great to have our old tour buddy joining us again.

I think that I can end today’s blog by saying that today was our Hump Day. We are halfway through the tour and the weariness is beginning to show. This is very typical. Tour is a learning experience where kids push the limits of how much sleep they are getting or what type of foods they eat. They pay for it later when poor choices have been made. As they mature they begin to realize that they will not have enough energy if they only eat chips, candy or snacks. They begin to realize that if they stay up all night talking, they will be exhausted the next day and don’t understand why they suddenly break into tears or are grumpy. They begin to realize that if they yell and scream while having fun during free time, their voices will be strained and they will have difficulty singing in the evening. If you combine all three things together, it’s a recipe for an upset stomach and feeling sick. It’s kind of like on-the-job training. It’s how they learn what their limits are. My experience of attending 12 years of choir tours assures me that they will pull themselves together before the end of the week and they will pull through.   

It’s very appropriate that we are MIDway through the tour and we are singing in the town of MIDland.
 Polly reminded the kids of their trip to the sand dunes today. Their goal was to run down the hill and be near the cool waters of Lake Michigan. But after they reached the bottom, they realized that they had a much harder task in front of them. The upward climb was strenuous and difficult. Some of them almost didn’t make it. But it took the support of their friends, cheering them on, clapping for them, bringing them water and encouraging them to make it to the top that helped. This tour is like that. We need to support one another and lift each other up when we are losing our strength. During  rehearsal when the kids were singing “Come, Come Unto Me,” Polly urged them to take strength from the words that were coming out of their mouths: 

“Come, come unto Me, all you who are weary
All who are weak, tired and lonely.
Come, come unto Me,     
Strong arms will enfold and lift you up.”

She reminded them that God will help them push through their discomfort and that they needed to rise above their weariness to be witnesses to the people who have come to listen to their singing. And they did. They stood up there and sang their hearts out. You will be so proud of them when you see them at the Welcome Home concert. We already are.

This is your friendly neighborhood blogger Sue, signing out. See you in a few days!
P.S. We added more beach pictures to yesterday's blog on Day 3. Be sure to check them out.     


  1. Sue, I love reading your daily post.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Me too, me too! and just realized that I haven't told you for 3 entire days now: I love you thiiiis much!