June 26, 2014: Winding Down

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People are getting back to routine, but this Music Mission will never be forgotten.

From Jessie Adams:

There is a whisper of warmth, a hush of the Spirit, and exuberant joy, which all energize the recognition of the nature and love of God.  One could feel it and know it.  However, to articulate such an experience for me is beyond words.

There may be stories…mine, as for what I saw and heard and felt, my memories are all to give thanks for the ever presence of the Holy God of love.
 
From Jeannine Graham:

[H]ere’s something you can append to any picture of Archibald, our “dancing Dutchman.”  He was struggling to find the right English word for what they call “”Pingst.”  “Pentecost?” I asked, since that is the translation in Swedish.  “YES,” he responded exuberantly. “Music is like Pentecost!”  Might his spontaneous dancing be sort of like the kinesthetic equivalent of speaking in tongues as the outward expression of the outpouring of the Spirit?

Also from Jeannine, in response to Jeff’s post:

Jeff, thanks for your reflective thoughts.  You are a rare find and a true gift to all of us.  I for one feel honored that you have joined our ranks.  So glad to hear you feel so embraced by the congregation and esp. by all of us choristers.  Thanks for your immense contribution to our mission.
 
I’ve put a couple dozen more pics of the Brugges concert here, and as I did it occurred to me:  Dear Father, we’ve sung in some beautiful places!

Back with a few more pictures and some closing thoughts soon.

June 26, 2014: Jeff Woods

Jeff 2

From Jeff the Younger:
 
The last few days, as my jet lagged brain awoke at 4am each day to strains of “Mighty Good God,” I’ve had time to reflect on our choir mission trip. Wendy mentioned feeling grateful, and I can’t help but echo her thoughts. Here at the end of my first choir season at Lake Grove, I’m grateful for so much: for an organist search committee willing to talk to someone who lived 3,000 miles away; for a choir and congregation who immediately made him feel like part of the family; for a director who creates a musical atmosphere that reminds him why he started playing in the first place; and for the opportunity to tag along to Europe and witness this focused, driven choir change lives.

I’ve been on several choir tours in Europe, but never a mission trip, and yes, there was a difference. This time, I saw a choir of a single mind, whether gathered at the breakfast table, awaiting a fix for a flat bus tire, or singing for an overflow crowd in a 1,000 year old cathedral. I saw a family reaching out to support one another through fatigue, illness, stress, and the occasional unexpectedly long walk. I saw a director devoting every spare moment to making the trip as successful as possible, constantly reviewing and adjusting the program before and after each performance. This is an amazing group of people, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be here with them. Where to next, Wendy?!
 
Organist pics here.

June 24, 2014: From Wendy

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From Wendy:

I am so grateful for all of the prayers that covered us on our Music Mission trip.  Our prayers were answered in so many ways.  Below is the list of our prayer requests and how these prayers were answered:
 
1) Prayers for the health and safety of all travelers.
There was some sickness but this was followed by miraculous healing!  Everyone made it home safe and sound!  Thanks be to God!
 
2) Prayers that we would be worthy ambassadors of Jesus Christ and LGPC. 
This group was exceptional in every way.  I have no doubt that you, LGPC would be proud of the way this group loved one another and showed Christ’s love to the world through action and song. There was so much laughter, kindness, caring, flexibility, and helpfulness.   New friendships were made and the entire group was so cohesive.  This unity of Spirit was heard in the unity of song.  The singing was always superb and powerful with such focus!  It was such a joy and honor to conduct this group.  As my daughter would say, this choir “rocked!”.
 
3) Prayers that music would go where words can not. 
Every time we sang we witnessed music breaking down barriers.  We saw faces and postures change.  We witnessed the unexpected in response to our music – clapping, ovations, tears, so many smiles and even dancing!   We all sensed and were in awe of the movement of the Holy Spirit in us and through us.
We knew music could and would break down barriers but none of us expected to palpably witness this transformation so blatantly in so many every time we sang.
What “Amazing Grace” – what a gift!
 
 +++

Just uploaded are 33 more pics of the Paris concert, including the pickup gig with Pam and Anonymous Piano Guy after the concert was over.  Go through, look closely:  Don’t the faces, ours and those of the audience, reflect exactly what Wendy wrote?

We are blessed.  Really, REALLY, blessed!

June 24, 2014: A Doctor in the House

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I asked if he’d mind if I wrote this post; he said it’s really not about him.  

Which is why the post has to be written: that humility is representative of everyone on the trip, the reason we came back better people than when we left:

Less than an hour out of Portland, Dr. Larry Langsdorf was asked to assist a passenger who’d collapsed, passed out cold.  He tended to him, the man recovered.  While he was still filling out the paperwork (!), another passenger had a reaction to her medicine; he tended her as well.

That was a prelude to ten days of room calls:  Colds, aching joints, strep throat.  The most dramatic and indicative:

After the Paris concert Mary Ann Foy’s throat began to swell, an abscess. She was in tears due to absolutely horrific pain.  Talking was an effort, singing at a concert the next day – she’s our soloist! – nearly out of the question.

Larry got the appropriate meds from a pharmacy, but then did what Larry does:  Came along side as a friend, offering hope, comfort and, most importantly, prayer.  Later he said Mary Ann was even sicker than she thought.

Which makes one of the best moments of the trip a miracle:  At the rehearsal in Bayeaux the next day we anxiously waited for the first notes of Mary Ann’s Sanctus solo:  It was the voice we’ve come to love, the soaring soprano reverberating in the perfect acoustics of a nearly thousand year old cathedral. That night Mary Ann was, as always, impeccable.

So thank you, Larry, for your doctor stuff, but more importantly for your love, humility and grace.  You set the standard, reflected in the rest of us the whole trip.

 

June 23, 2014: Pics of Singelkerk

Dancing man and Pammy.

Great, great trip; but sooooo nice to be home!  Direct, uneventful, sleepy flight from Amsterdam, families waiting when we arrived.  Love you all!

The best thing?  REAL INTERNET!

I’ve just uploaded nearly 800 more pics to the computer, with several hundred more already processed and ready to go on site.  Eventually all will be uploaded chronologically, in separate galleries according to event; right now just working backward.

[Reminders:  Pictures are free, downloadable and sharable via tweet or email. If anyone on the trip – or anyone – wants to comment on a picture, please do!]

Singelkerk pics here

June 22, 2014: Singelkerk Worship

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The church itself is austere, the facade nondescript, intended to blend in to the houses around it. When it was built worship outside the orthodox was allowed, but only if done covertly.  The only decorative piece was just below the organ pipes:  A bible, pages flapping and cascading outward to the ceiling, a perfect metaphor for our trip.


The Mennonite congregation – around 90 – seemed equally austere, though, like LGPC, a variety of ages, from children through the elderly.  We sang four of our pieces as a prelude, ending with Total Praise;  that brought smiles, but no applause.

Nor was there applause during the service.  The first hint of reaction came from Pammy’sAmazing Grace: real tears, and singing on the last verse.

Linda Brugh was asked to explain why we were in Europe.  Through her own tears she explained it brilliantly:  To bring people back in to the churches and expose them, through music, to God’s grace.  (Sorry Linda; that was a poor paraphrase.)

Many nods, and more than a few more tears.

The postlude was Mighty Good God, and we all had the same thoughts:  Do we clap?  Wave?  Is it allowed?

We clapped.

One verse in, an elderly gentleman – Archibald, we later found out – got up and started to dance, with Pam.  And dance and dance and dance!

One by one everyone else was on his or her feet, clapping, waving, stomping and dancing, with wild applause at the end, as if a tension spring had finally been released.  Wendy was presented a bouquet, each of the rest of us a single flower of The Netherlands.  We talked, mingled and enjoyed the Brotherhood of Christ, even across the boundaries of language.

What a perfect end to a perfect trip.

Blessed be the Lord our God!!

Tonight, our farewell dinner, then tomorrow direct to PDX.

Thank you, thank you for your prayers; they made the difference.

See you all soon!

June 22, 2014: Errata

Oh, the vagaries of technology!  We’re in Amsterdam where our hotel wi-fi could be out run by a 2800 baud modem.  Loading a web site is torture; trying to upload a few hundred megs of pictures is out of the question.

Pictures are still being taken and saved; it may just take a few days to get them out.  Sorry!

We still have a service at Singelkerk this morning, but a few random thoughts:

1.  The consensus is universal: This has been a magnificent trip.  That the trip to Amsterdam yesterday – after our last concert – was more subdued than others suggests that our collective focus has been on our mission, not on the next tour of a beautiful city.

2.  If only a small percentage of Europeans go to church regularly, we probably have met all of them.  A common lament:  “We so seldom get to worship like that!”

3.  Personal anecdotes are coming, and we’ll post them as we get them.

4.  Can’t tell you how much work Wendy, Jeff, Troy, Connie, Julie, Linda B. and Melinda have put into this trip to make it the success it’s been.  Conceived over a year ago, every day, even as we travel, there’s fine tuning.  From all of us:  Thank you.

5.  Encore Tours is used to setting up tours for choirs, very unused to dealing with a Mission.  The coordinators have bent over backwards to accommodate our unique needs, again a big contribution to our success.

6.  Apropos of (5), our guide, Ian, and our driver Johann are unflappable, affable and remarkably competent (try maneuvering a tour bus through 6′ wide European streets!). The trip would have been less without them.

Most importantly, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind:

7.  We. Have.  Changed.  Lives.

Off to worship!

June 21, 2014: Brugges Concert

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So far, the only sad part of the trip:  Last night was the last time we’ll perform Come to the Light in its entirety.

Another gift from God.  Not as many people, but the same enthusiasm, delight, hand raising, clapping, tears and standing ovation.  As in Bayeaux, when Pam sang Amazing Grace the audience sang – prayed – with her. Lives have been changed.

But if there had been a perfect camera angle, it would have been on Wendy’s face and directing.  We know the music, the acoustics were even better than the last two venues, and she had the capability to pull every dynamic and nuance out of us she wanted; a director’s nirvana, and she reflected it.

Now on our way to Amsterdam, worship service in the morning, then:  home!

Pics here.

June 21, 2014: Honfleur

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Almost six hours on a bus and we still love each other!

A great time:  Back-of-the-bus laughter, excruciating puns from Ian (guide), and touring quaint, picturesque towns.  Hard to take bad pictures.

But we’re not done:  A concert tonight, this in partnership with Serve the City, many of whose members we’re bussing in from Brussels for the occasion; and a worship service in Amsterdam on Sunday Wendy won’t let us lose our focus.  Pam Baker wrote this on our Facebook page last night:

I am thankful to God for such wonderful care and the fellowship is tremendous! Tomorrow will be another concert in Brugge, Belgium. It is humbling to recognize how God is using us to carry such a powerful message of love, hope and grace. Jeanine spoke to us today about light and I really do pray that our light will shine so bright as to give way for the Holy Spirit to draw someone. Will you please pray with us for our concert to be impactful for the cause of Christ!! Thanks in advance my dear sisters and brothers.

Amen, amen and amen.

Pics here.  We hope.

Lake Oswego, Oregon