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Sunday, June 17, 2007
Choir Tour is Over, but.....

Mission trip begins.....


Let Lester know if you want to be an author....

Posted at 01:16 pm by Lester Bangs
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Friday, June 15, 2007
method behind the madness...???!!!

Hey all!

   So, the trip was wonderful! There was a lil drama here and there, but we all got over it!  I was so excited that we got to sing for the troops. I enjoyed the random singing more than the scheduled singing, probably because people were *asking* us to sing, instead of expecting.  Harry-you are a wonderful percussionist! dont judge yourself so much! it takes talent to keep tempo and add rhythm.  Wow, so I'm not really sure what to write...I had so much to say...and I kinda blanked just now...

Random Thank You's:...

Jennie-for walking the rim with me!!! and being there... DO YOU FONDUE???I FONDUE YOU!!!! and Nick, for being funny and sharing your iPod...                                                                                 and Chris...for being...Chris...:]                                                                                                                    and Harry for the awesome percussion! you pwn!!!! :]                                                                              and basically everyone!!!

<3 kaitlyn

Posted at 09:19 pm by wakethedawn
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Saturday, June 09, 2007
Never Forget

I would like to start out by saying that when I thought about this entry, my first thought was to title it "Family."  I then logged on to find that Jordan named the one she wrote on the bus earlier today "Family."  Just another example of Thing 1 and Thing 2.  :)

Anyway . . .

I've been waiting for tonight for two whole years.  Tonight was my night in the middle of the circle.  I can remember when this tradition was first begun, and I've wondered since then what it would be like when it was me.  As I've said before, huge important events like this are never what you expect them to be.  I expected that I would cry the entire time, and that I would be almost too choked up to talk at the end like I wanted to.  Once again, I was wrong.

Yes, it was sad.  But I smiled the entire time, just like KK did last night.  To be honest, I knew how she was feeling, and I had an idea that I would be the same.  By the time I went to sit down in the middle of everyone, I wasn't expecting to cry.  And I didn't.  I teared up a bit at times, but I never got all worked up.  I was actually pretty proud of myself.  I think I shocked everyone.

I have to say, it's pretty cool when something you expected to be so perfect turns out even better than you thought it would.  I was thinking how amazing it was the entire time.  I couldn't believe it was happening, and I couldn't believe that it was exactly as I had always wanted it to be.

I have never been as touched by everyone as I was tonight.  I want to take a moment to say thank you for everything that this choir has done for me.  Each and every one of the people involved has meant a great deal to me.  Even if we don't talk every day, I know who you are, and I love you because you are you.  I hope all of you know that I meant that from the bottom of my heart.

Tonight, as I sit here in my hotel room with three of the best friends I've ever had, with beautiful music playing in my ears, I am filled with that wonderful sense of comradery that people always say that the youth of CCPC have.  You know, we always know it's there, but there are times when I feel it more than others.  Tonight was definitely one of them.  I couldn't believe that every single person had a story to tell and something wonderful to say.  I, too, had one for everybody, and I wish I could have said something to each and every one of you.

When I addressed the group after everyone was finished, I meant what I said from the very essence of my soul, with every fiber in my body.  Remember who your friends are.  Don't take anything for granted.  Keep your church family close to your heart as long as you live.  And above all, never forget what this love feels like.  I mean it.  Never forget.


Posted at 01:11 am by Madam President
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Friday, June 08, 2007

We go home tomorrow. It’s actually very surreal. I hate to sound cliché but this trip was absolutely nothing that I expected. It’s been so full of laughter and tears and joy and fears. Sorry for rhyming, that’s even more cliché.


I feel like that family down the street. The huge squabbling, messy, ever running late, family. They’re that family who you are constantly like, “How on earth are they keeping it together?” They seem so lost and like such a mess. It’s a wonder how they make it through the day.


But when you meet that family, say at a block party or just out on the street, you learn a little more about them and you realize how it is that they survive.


Love. That crazy complex family has more love then anyone you’ve ever seen.


 I feel like we are that family. We have our difficulties and our dramas, but at the same time we love each other more fiercely then anything else in the world. We can tease each other and make each other cry, but if anyone else hurts us, then it’s a throw down. We take care of each other. I think that other people see that love in us and it makes them want that same warm fuzzy feeling. They want that type of love.


Today we pulled up at a gas station to refuel the bus. As soon as we pulled in we were accosted by tons of US Army officers. So immediately, being the over friendly hyper-sweet group we are, everyone thinks, “How cool would it be to sing for them?” So sweet little Hannah takes it upon herself to ask David if we could sing for them (she actually begged, and did so, a lot). At first many of us were wary. Well, uh, they look like they’re doing important stuff, we should maybe uh, not bother them. Things like that…


So we all get out, go to the bathroom, wander around for a bit. I end up as the last one in line for the bathroom. So by the time I get out of the gas station the whole choir is over mingling with the armed forces. David calls everyone to our spots and we just start singing Shut De Do. At first it seemed that they were kind of indifferent, maybe just ready to get back onto their buses. Then Tess started her solo.


Let me preface this by saying that every time Tess gets prepped to sing her solo I cross my fingers for good luck. Today, as usual I crossed my fingers, but today a guy standing near the front of the troops looked at me and sort of laughed. I smiled back and just waited for her to begin. We Tessie hit that high note I swear heads just turned. It was so impressive. The troops applauded and cheered and they took pictures with us. It was just so surreal. I have never felt such a collective outpouring of love from us. The thing that got me the most was the love they showed right back. One man told me, “This has been the highlight of my day. Thank you so much.”


 I feel like that messy family because after we sang we got back onto the bus our usual, sleepy, rag tag mess. But we were all so overcome with the feelings of love and appreciation from us and from the soldiers. So right now, we’re all sitting on the bus, laughing and talking. We’re making lanyards and smiling. I haven’t heard a single insult or seen a single upset face.


It’s been nice to have this moment of unconditional love. I truly believe that, we love each other no matter what. It may not always be easy, but like that messy family, we are a part of each other, always.

Posted at 09:04 pm by moroccodreams
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Larry Dean

On Wednesday, we took a two hour train ride from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon.  To keep the passengers entertained, the train provided cowboy minstrels that wandered from car to car.

I assume our minstrel’s name was Larry Dean, since that was the name printed on his guitar.  He was wearing a button that said “ask me about my new CD.”

He started singing and Katie was right in front of him still wearing her iPod headset.  He, of course, said something to the effect of, “what doctor ordered you to wear that ugly contraption in your ears?”  She took them out.

He proceeded to play Folsom Prison Blues while explaining that Johnny Cash was totally geographically challenged – Folsom Prison is in northern California, not in Texas near “San Antone.”

He asked where we were from, and of course we all replied “Texas!”  He then explained that there were varieties of yodeling – and of course attempted to teach us how to do “Texas yodeling”.  Katie was his first attempted victim, since she is so easy to pick on.  And of course, she would not fall for it.  Matthew was the only one who made a valiant attempt. 

After two songs, he rested his arms on his guitar and asked “so what brings y’all to the Grand Canyon?”  I was sitting directly in front of him, so I blurted out “they’re a church choir”.  He reared his head back and said enthusiastically “Well sing sumthin’!” 

David was not around.  I am not sure who said “let’s do ‘doo doo doo”.   I think Marsha and Matthew agreed on a key between themselves and Marsha got everyone started.  Ellen, Marsha and I provided “synthetic percussion.”

It sounded REALLY, REALLY good.  When the song ended, applause EXPLODED from the mostly senior aged folks in the back of the train.  I looked up at Larry and his expression was such that he had just looked upon the countenance of God himself.  I believe he said something like “y’all are really good!”   He moved on to entertain the back of the train. 

Some members of our group were saying “Let’s sing something else!”   But we decided we should wait.  We did not want to upstage Larry – again.

Lou, our conductor, was not present for the first song.  Maybe he takes a break while Larry is doing his thing.    Lou returned and I asked him what must have seemed and absurd question: “Do you mind if we sing?”   As I expected, he leaned down and asked “Can you say that again?”

I explained who we were and that we had already done so in his car, hoping he would not disapprove.   He beamed and said “Sure!”

So after Larry disappeared into the dining car, David was back and tuned everyone for “Shut de Do.”  Ellen and Marsha once again provided synthetic percussion.

Once again, it sounded REALLY good and once again the back of the train exploded in applause.

On my way to the bathroom at the back of the car, I passed Lou.  He said that they had tried allowing their paid "minstrels" to do religious music, but there had been complaints.  Then he added "but folks like you can sing whatever you want, and it's great!"

It was a perhaps a strange way to share our faith, but very meaningful.  We should let Pastor Andy know that we are still “on the move and singing”.

Posted at 08:37 am by Lester Bangs
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Our second retirement home concert was Tuesday.  It’s to be expected that the music will improve as the week progresses.  I must say that it was more than just the music that came together in the Loyalton concert.  It seemed that everyone’s hearts were really in the music. 

As the choir looked out over the audience, they could see that many people were being touched by what they are hearing.  Normally, that sort of thing feeds on itself.  As you see people touched, you yourself are touched and you transition from merely singing to feeling the music and actually communicating through song. 

When we talked about it at devotions on Tuesday night, one person said that they choked up during “Be Not Afraid”.  One after the other, many people said “so did I.”  I know that I was standing at the back and I was wiping tears from my cheeks at that point. 

Many of the youth have learned to interact with the elderly through their own family experiences.  More than one of the singers said that to them, every face was a grandmother or grandfather.  They really wanted to minister to the residents through their songs.  I think it is safe to say that many a life was touched.

Something special happened that day.  God was in that place. 

Posted at 08:36 am by Lester Bangs
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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

It's always interesting to see what connections take place on a trip like this. 

I am not talking about "romantic" connections.  In fact, I am specifically NOT speaking of such things. 

I am talking about people that would never have known each other outside of the youth group.  People from different schools and backgrounds. 

I have seen some take place that are simply heartwarming.  Such connections may or may not last.  It doesn't matter, I don't think.  It just matters that they happen. 

Posted at 09:26 pm by Lester Bangs
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Never What I Expected

I woke up yesterday thinking about how I had to hurry up and get ready so I could decorate the bus for Hannah's birthday.  I had no idea how wonderfully bittersweet the day would end up being.

Yesterday was just an all-around good day.  We proved exactly how flexible we could be when we sang our 2pm concert wihout having lunch first.  We had to rearrange our entire schedule to accommodate our new lunchtime, and everything was just a tiny bit crazy.  However, we made it through the day with flying colors and very little complaint.

After our very late lunch, we had a few hours of free time at the hotel to relax before our evening activities.  After that, we ate dinner at Chili's before going to the Lowell Observatory.  That place will be one of my favorite parts about this trip, as well as one of the most memorable.  At the end of the visit, several of us just lay on our backs outside, looking up at the stars against the black velvet sky.  We lay in silence for several minutes, and then we began to sing some of the praise songs we all know so well.  It was one of those few times when faith is so strong it is almost tangible.

Back at the hotel, I was overcome with a sense of peace.  I knew I would probably be in tears by the end of devotionals, but I also knew that at least some of them would be tears of joy.  I first teared up when I talked about how one of the songs fro our concert had taken me way back to the first tours I went on, and how it made me think about how far I had come in just a few short years.  I hadn't expected to be choked up so soon, but it was sweet in a way.  Normally I don't get that sentimental in a large group like that, but I guess these are just people that I feel safe with.

Soon after, we began the hard part.  We have a tour tradition of putting our seniors into the middle of the devotional circle one by one, turning off all of the lights, and passing around a candle as we tell that person how much he or she has meant to us.  Tonight was Chelsea's turn.  It was so hard for me to get my words out, but I managed.  I knew that it would be hard to say goodbye to my class, but I didn't realize exactly how hard it would be.

Even though it was tough, I wouldn't miss a second of it.  I know that this is just part of God's plan for us.  We are meant to let go and to move on.  We are meant to show how much we love each other.  The fact that it is harder than I thought is just another example of one of God's suprises.  That's what I love about this trip.  We laugh together, we cry together, and we sing our hearts out together.  Each day brings new ideas and a new purpose.  Yesterday morning, I never would have thought that the day would have been as moving as it was.  I guess you never really know those things, because God doesn't work that way.  He leads without always telling His plan.

And it's never what I expected.  It's better.

Posted at 10:21 am by Madam President
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Monday, June 04, 2007
Welcome to Flagstaff

We made the long climb from Tucson to Flagstaff this morning.  I don't think we factored in the reduced speed of the bus while climbing to 7,000 feet.  We were behind schedule in arriving at the Peaks Retirement Center.  Chris Hartman's grandparents met us there with juice and foodbars for a snack just before the 2 PM concert. 

There were around 50 people at the concert.  I could tell that they really appreciated our being there. 

Posted at 07:52 pm by Lester Bangs
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Our Lady of Sorrows

On Sunday night, after a very long and tiring day, we sang at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Tucson.  We were singing at a "teen mass".

I must admit I was a bit anxious about participating in worship at a Catholic Church.  But it's a teen mass, so how uptight can they be.  My biggest question is:  what do we do during the Eucharist itself.  We got there a bit late and no one seemed to be really sure what we were supposed to do. 

The mass was quite laid back.  Mostly teens performed the liturgy under the direction of a very nice hispanic priest.  Since they don't have bulletins in the Catholic church, it was not always clear what was going to be happening when.  We had some confusion about what was supposed to happen when, but they seemed to be cool with it.

It turned out that the whole Eucharist challenge contained it's own solution - we sang two songs during the actual celebration, so it was a non-issue. 

The youth had a pizza dinner for us after mass.  They were a bit quiet, but very nice nonetheless. 

After we ate, some of the youth and sponsors started leading some singing.  They did not really know what we knew, so I filled them in on a few.  Katie wanted to teach them "Pure and Holy Passion", which we did with some success. 

Despite the awkwardness, it was still a very good evening.  It was kind of like trying a new food, and pronouncing it "interesting".  Not something that you would eat everyday, but something that you enjoyed trying - if for no other reason than experiencing something different. 

Posted at 07:28 pm by Lester Bangs
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