December 21, 2008

Christmas Time..

By the time it was dark outside last night we had arrived at our camp in Laguna Park Texas and had loaded in enough groceries for a weeks worth of meals for 32 people! The groceries were brought in by an assembly line of about 8 of us- with the two kids in hysterics the whole time as they tried to catch bulk supplies of everything while giggling over how much we have for our Christmas holiday!

Laguna Park is a one stoplight town with the most generous and hilarious man (Uncle Brother Doug- the pastor of the church we're singing at tonight) without a doubt. Yesterday he paid for all our groceries for the week explaining that this was about giving to us how he could, and how not just everyone got the opportunity to bless us uniquely! This morning we were invited to the breakfast Uncle Brother Dough cooks for his congregation week after week. So upon getting the breakfast room I am met with the best smell of homemade jumbo sized cinnamon buns, french toast, AND homemade raisin and berry mix english muffins- talk about a servants heart!

Today is our last day of concerts before the holidays- and it's been so fun to have the Christmas music added to the program after finishing it in rehearsals! Little Racheal (the girl who plays Mary) was so nervous to come out on stage to do her part in acting out the manger scene, but after doing it once comes beaming and running into my arms after the concert announcing "I am not shy anymore!". Just for that moment every hour of rehearsal was definately worth it.

After tonight's concert we have no set schedule except for trying to fit in gift wrapping, lots of playing, movie watching, and making sugar cookies with the kids into our days! Our last church that we stayed at donated us all Toms shoes to all the kids- have you heard of them before? I hadn't till tour- for every shoe that is bought one is given to a child that needs shoes in Africa and South America. After hoping to give all the kids new shoes for Christmas this was such a generous blessing to fulfill that wish! As a suprise for the kids I am going to paint the ACC logo and their name on each of their shoes and am pretty excited to do it.

With all of my personal family traditions gone for this Christmas and in being away from home and family my hope is that my focus may be redirected to what this season is really all about. To imagine a life without my faith and be truly thankful for why we're celebrating. And then to find true joy in these kids- in their smiles that I'm so excited for as they figure out what a stocking is, attend a Christmas eve service together, and relax on Christmas day opening gifts and all baking a brunch and dinner together. And so I leave you here- at just the start of it all and as I don't have wireless at the camp wish you wonderful wishes for Christmas now!!

December 11, 2008

From Nelson...

Now THIS is Texas weather- a day with no coat and 16 degree weather of sunshine watching the kids run around outside. Today has been filled with hours of english lessons- one of the boys in grade 4, Nelson, was assigned a journaling activity today and after writing my blog a couple days ago I had to share it with you- the same story of the first snow through the eyes of a child...

" When we were in Dallas we saw snow. At frist Uncle Andrew said it is snowing but I said no that's not true- please do not joke, so he said touch my arms. So I caught his arms then I felt his arms so so so so so cold. Then I believe that it is snowing outside. Then my friends came out from the shower than they found us talking about snow they my friends did not believe so Uncle Andrew said Let's go outisde. We all went outside shout yes yes! So we went outside to see snow but before seeing when Patrick was holding the door people push Patrick away because they wanted to see snow. Auntie Angela was taking video I opened my mouth very wide and I was eating snow. I will write other when this journal book comes back."

December 9, 2008


Tonight is our final night staying at a college in Dallas- the kids sung yesterday morning for probably (well, not probably- they were on their feet the whole time) audience to date which was both exciting and encouraging to see after rehearsing so often and watching so many shows. This week marks the final week of preparing Christmas music so that we can add it into the program by the start of next week. I had my day off today and when I got back the kids were so excited to tell me that they had learned the verse to the song I taught them last (Silent Night) in their language. I have come to know the contagious effects of happiness- feeling it first hand through these kids and getting excited and energized to continue working hard for and with them.
Just as we finished showers tonight Rachel grabbed Peace and told her to put her coat over her short p.j's to run outside so she could see the hail- explaining it would be the closest thing to snow she would see on tour. Not 5 minutes later as all the kids are out of the shower does it start to snow! Really snow! Not just freezing rain or slush but huge flakes of snow that fell in clumps- dotting everyone's p.j's. The kids ran around screeming and hugging each other- trying frantically to catch it before the snow hit the ground or catch it on their tongue- it was so fun! I know I have said this whole time that I am so glad to spend Christmas without winter, but it was so exciting for me to see snow- for it to feel like a touch of home so far south and to see the kids eagerly trying to catch in, carry it inside, and then later to have them come running to you wanting hugs to try and warm up their shivering little bodies and cold toes!
But now- it is time to go back to the residence we're staying in to watch White Christmas (for my first time I might add!)- ready to brave the cold with my spring jacket and hot chocolate in hand.

November 24, 2008

tonight's feature...MADAGASCAR!!

Staying at a church for a couple nights after we flew in from our total of 24 hours in Boston was suprisingly relaxing- it was fun to have everyone together and not feel rushed in our daily schedule for a change. After all the kids hard work prepping for Boston, and after doing such a great job we suprised them with a movie night. The church that we were staying in even had a movie room too- it could not have been more perfect!

We let the kids eat their dinner infront of the movie (but half of them were so excited and entranced with their first movie in America that they forgot about the food!)- it took me back to the days of being allowed to eat a t.v dinners infront of the t.v...that's one of the other great things about this job- it has refreshened so many childhood memories, and the simplest of times that at the age of 8 were such a treat and an exciement.

Halfway through the movie we stopped to hand out popcorn to the kids, and their first soda as a treat- followed by a dance party and cheering they were so happy.

We ended up watching Madagascar- the movie was really funny, but I think that the kids hysterical laughter was what really made me laugh the hardest- at points it was hard to hear the movie anymore because they were laughing so hard. Scovia (the same girl who sits with me on the bus) sat just ahead of me- and every couple lines of the movie kept saying "Ma ye! Ma ye!" which translates to "Wow! Oh my!" and then would burst out laughing. A host the other day asked one of the girls, Lydia, what her favourite part of America was to which she quickly answers "Madagascar!"

Greenbuild 2008 with Desmund Tutu

It is amazing to step back and look at just where life takes you- from singing for 30,000 people in Boston, to unloading bays of sound equiptment once again to set up for a concert and sleep over at a church for a couple nights on parts of a couch the next evening. A few days ago the choir was in Boston to open and close for a speech made by Desmund Tutu at an environmental conference. The morning that we sang I had to remove myself from that moment- from the hundreds of cable wires of sound equiptment, people a buzz in every direction escorting Desmund Tutu, and just think how amazing it is really that these children who walked confidently behind me to the dressing rooms were being treated as celebrities- given the nicest hotel on the waterfront, privately catered meals and snacks were now being beamed over by crowds of people wanting to have their picture with them and media cameras and crew teams praising them for how beautiful and talented they are. Women were crying when they found out that these kids- the ones they were so taken by, are some of the neediest in Africa - and in that moment to step back and see just how much bigger this experience is than I could ever imagine.
The children behaved very professionally and pushed aside weary eyes from our red eye flight to Boston and didn't complain as they poured out all their energy into soundcheck and the performance the following day. The couple of songs the choir performed was not only performed for 30,000 people, but as we found out when we arrived- broadcasted to 80 countires as well! There is also a clip of our kids (well one of the screens our kids were video streamed onto at the conference that is) on you tube- check this out!:

...or if that doesn't work then just search Greenbuild 2008 and you'll see them!

I wish that I could have heard Desmund Tutu speak but unfortunately we had to be backstage and the echo of the room made it sound as though there were 10 Tutu's speaking- I know Steve caught more of the speech though- so I encourage you to check it out on his blog site if you want more than I could hear his voice backstage and walked by him...I'd say came close to brushing shoulders really:)

November 10, 2008

Happy 22nd...

There is something uniquely special about birthdays- it is a funny thing I find- to stop and think that it is really just another day of the year, but only because people go out of their way to think of you and remind you of that, does it become something special.

This couldn't be more true of my birthday last week- Angela had a really generous host who offered her the car for the night, and so I got a call from Sarah saying that the girls from the team wanted to take me out for my birthday once the kids were in bed and would pick me up before 8! They had planned to take me to historic St. Charles- something that they knew would be just my kind of place to visit- so still a suprise to me where we were going, we drove down cobblestone streets to a cutely lit restaurant for desserts. It was the first time that we'd been out together after the kids were asleep since tour started and it was just such a genuinely fun night out- I haven't lauged so hard that I was crying through half the night in awhile- I left that night thinking that it was one of those times where you feel like you couldn't get happier. You know that feeling? There are few things better than that.

On the actual day of my birthday I was greeted in the morning by Andrew with an eggnog chai- I think that Christmas lights and everything Christmas in the malls already is still slightly premature but the Christmas drink menu at starbucks? Not at all- I would not object if the christmas cups and menu appeared mid October.

It was a busy day for me full of teaching english and running rehearsals, but at the end of the day the team brought of cupcakes from the cooler in the bus that they'd been keeping a secret from me- I was definately suprised by the gesture and all the cards the kids had made for me. Here are a couple of my favourite quotes from the kids cards:

" Happy Birthday Auntie Laura! I love you love love love you sooooo much! I am very excited for your birthday and am going to buy you a car. Byeeeeeee" -Julius (age 9)

"Dear Auntie Laura, Happy Birthday to you! When I first met you I thought I saw an angel, but then I realized it was the beautiful Auntie Laura! You are so beautiful. I love you. Please buy enough cake for us to celebrate. When we are done celebrating we will spill water on you (this is an ACC tradition for the person celebrating) You are like gold. Gold Auntie Laura. God's love, -Nelson (a charmer at age 10)

My host found out it was my birthday and stopped on the way home to treat me to a chai latte and cinnamon crunch bread from a delicious chain here in the states called Panera bread. That made for two chai's in one day! That night the girls made me a cake with the host and served it to me hot out of the oven and sang as Gladys dished out big scoops of vanilla ice cream on each piece.

There will be a time when each special day, holiday, and traditions made with family must be celebrated at a distance and with others- but this new little family of mine- of 22 kids, 6 North Americans, and three Africans made that day very memorable- and thank you all from home for all the ways that you thought of me and for your well wishes!

St. Louis, St. Peters, St. Charles???...and now Columbia!!

I have just finished my last sip of tea here- I would get up to make some more and then settle in to write this entry but you see I am already quite cozy under four big blankets in a huge king sized bed...and to top it off if I made more tea it would mean that I have used up this family's whole supply! What can I say? It's just that the British in me is so relieved and excited to see a kettle for making hot water instead of a microwave!

This past stay has found us at "The Crossing"- a church in Columbia Missouri. We had our largest audience attendence to date at our concert here- it was really fun to see the kids so happy by a crowd that was so excited to see them perform. We had to delay the start of the concert by almost 20 minutes because there were so many additional people that still needed seats so the entrances to the show wouldn't be completely blocked and the kids unable to even enter to where the performance was- it was awesome.

The morning after the concert the kids slid down to devotions- I kid you not, there was actually a slide in this church that took you from the top floor to the bottom...and naturally all the chaperones took this route downstairs during the day too!

That night the church planned a Thanksgiving dinner for us- turkey, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, rolls, and two tables full of desserts that all the host families had done.

Before dinner the church had planned a craft for our kids and the childrens department to decorate and stamp their own canvas bags- I think half the paint ended up on the kids hands and half to the bags but they had a great time. This is Gilbert showing his new colour scheme for US Airways- I agree, grey was never too exciting. It is always nice to have the opportunity to all come together to share dinner as that doesn't happen often. Over dinner the children's director presented us with a book all the kids in their classes had made- each page highlighted a different things that start with a certain letter and the pages were all illustrated by the kids. They had worked on it for months- and it will great for the kids to have to read through on the bus now, and to remember these people by.

Certain places are starting to blur together- I believe we covered four differnt towns that started with St. in the past week, and I am thankful to finally be somewhere distinctive like Columbia! Beyond that I will remember this place for their generosity and willingness to serve us in every way we could- it has been a great stay. But now- whether this is good morning to you or mid afternoon it is goodnight and time for this king sized bed for me!

October 31, 2008

OneXOne in San Fransisco...

Finally! I now have both a good wireless connection and some free time before dinner to tell you about San Fransisco! Last week 6 chaperones and 22 very jet lagged children landed in California- here's a glimpse as to what our drive to the hotel looked like after landing as I frantically tried to capture all the palm trees on camera!

We left the hotel in Illinois at 3:30 am (this picture is obviously taken while the kids were still happy and awake before their 2.5 hours of sleep) for a 6:00 a.m flight where half of the group flew to Pheonix while the rest of us took the next flight to Philidelphia. From there we caught a connecting flight to California and after almost 10 hours of travel we landed only to find out that what felt like it should be 4:00 p.m was only 12! Needless to say that was to date the longest morning of my life. We were escorted to our hotel in the sleekest bus I have seen- cup holders and black leather of the kids exclaims "Auntie- this is A LOT nicer than our this our busy now?"
There is not much to tell of the time where we were at the hotel as we all pretty much just slept so I will spare you that part of the adventure and skip ahead to the following morning!

The next day was really exciting- after lunch we arrived at the event centre for the gala just as people were setting up for the silent auction protion of the evening and dinner. Soon after I lead the kids through vocal warm ups I met with Josh Groban's producer who introduced me to Josh's pianist(that's right- we're on a first name basis now). I then proceeded to conduct the kids through a couple practice runs of the song with Josh's pianist in his dressing room! It feels just as surreal to type that as it felt to be there that day. I was so excited- they were really happy with the prep work I had done with the kids and after running thorugh the song twice said that they sounded great and were well prepared and needed no further run throughs! From there we went to sound check with Josh who worked really well with the kids, and the run through with him ran just as smoothly as our earlier practice. Afterwards we met with Nikki Yanofsky, a jazz artist from Montreal who is only 17- for such a young girl she has one amazing voice! If you haven't heard of her I encourage you to google her myspace- if you like Ella Fitzgerald she covers a lot of her music. For having such a short amount of time to learn the music the children sang really well with her too and were confident with their entries, and really I couldn't have been happier.

That night they sang really well- I think the pressure of such a big event and nerves only caught up with me as they sang that evening with Josh Groban for such a high profile audience- I felt as though my poor little heart would beat itself right out of my chest! However, I left that evening feeling very happy and proud for the kids- they sang beautifully and smiled big. All the proceeds from the evening went to aids- and the live auction (hosted by Matt Damon) made $600, 000 on one item alone!! And here's a picture of the kids with him later that night on the red carpet!
....and now we are back into the regular routine of tour- I feel very lucky after just finishing my degree in music to have had an opportunity as big as this! It looks like we will continue to travel to more big events as in a couple weeks we are scheduled to sing at a conference in Boston for 300, 000 people! I'll keep you posted... :)

October 22, 2008

On the way to OneXOne...

After one very short hotel sleep, a time zone change, one plane ride, a layover in Arizona, and hopefully some caffine from starbucks I will be in San Fransisco California! This past week I have felt quite out of touch with you all and for that I am sorry- the days have been packed full of leading rehearsals, and we devoted what would usually be time for school or just a chance to play to more practice. I am really proud if the kids though- they all have picked up on the music so quickly, and considering the tight time line to learn the music have done really well. I have had so much fun teaching them the new songs, and it is easy to just feed off of their excitement for the event and learning new music. I find that I just walk away from a practice just smiling- I can't believe some days that this is actually my job! Today Immaculate wrote me a note on the bus ride that said "Dear Auntie Laura, I love you so much. Thank you for teaching us new songs- I am so excited for tomorrow." They sing the songs as they brush their teeth, and while they eat...I find myself thinking I've heard the songs playing even when they haven't been...I'm going crazy! Tomorrow will be a day of rest once we reach the hotel in California, and then on Thursday we rehearse with Josh Groban's producers, Josh (we are already on a first name basis) himself, and Nikki before singing on the red carpet that evening. I've been so lucky to have this chance- to teach music for such a high profile event and a good cause! What a chance- I will tell you all about it in a couple days!

October 11, 2008

over the state line...

Today's drive took us out of West Chicago and across the state line into Appleton Wisconsin. The kids were really excited about all the windmills we saw today, and how the leaves were starting to change colour. I so easily forget sometimes just all the little differences they experience all the time, and seeing their excitement is just such a fun reminder of that. Tonight the host family I am with live almost next door to their brother and sister who are also hosting kids from the choir. So there's half the choir staying in just one block! We got together with some of the other kids to watch fireworks that the Dad I'm staying with put on for the kids. The girls had never seen fireworks before- it was so fun to watch them! I think half the neighbourhood could hear them screaming for fear that some of them would "drop fire on my head!" On Monday night we have planned to make smores with the kids over their first bonfire, and before that go paddle boating on the pond behind the house here- it is going to be such a fun stay. The breakfast menu has already been planned too- pancakes for tomorrow, and then homemade waffles the next morning- I've never been treated to so many nice warm breakfasts before- what an upgrade from my usual panic to catch the bus with some toast. I like taking time to just sit and talk over breakfast- it's usually the meal in the day that you don't get together for so it's a nice change to take the time for that. It looks as though this job might turn me into a morning person!

This past week has been a busy one for the kids- we've done more shows during the week than is normal, and so we're going to suprise them as a treat with a stop for icecream on Tuesday when we make our next long drive back to Illinois. This week the kids are performing live for a news show on Wednesday afternoon- but the most exciting news is that I will have the very lucky chance to go with the kids to San Fransisco on October 22nd! The kids have been invited to sing at a fancy gala and fundraiser there- and will be singing "You Raise Me Up" with Josh Groban. I have the lucky job of preparing them musically for this- and even getting to meet and work with the kids and his producers once we're there! Guests include Matt Damon and Brad Pitt too- I am not even one who follows celebs at all- but I must say I am feeling pretty darn excited- who knew that life would ever see me here!

No matter how busy the days get one host family put it well last week- "what a blessing your job must be- you get to hear these children sing each day"- and really, she couldn't have been more right.

October 7, 2008

A note from Yorkville IL...

As I sit down to write the clock already reads 10pm- and once again I feel as though the day has slipped away, and the moments I have to spend with my hosts and kids have gone all too quickly. Somehow hours of the evening full of playdough creations, enjoying dinner, and colouring giant sized colouring pages has felt like only a couple minutes.
There is something so heartwarming about having the opportunity to be apart of someone's family- if only for a mere couple days. This past stay, I have truly experienced how quickly you can feel at home somewhere, and just how much you can share with someone in such a short while- and now I must say it is a bittersweet feeling to move on from here after having the chance to more deeply get to know these people. The family I have stayed with has hosted the African Children's Choir before- they bought playdough for the 2 girls I am staying with, and jumbo sized colouring pages. It was the first time the girls had played with playdough- and tonight we all spent an hour making tons of playdough animal creations, and one of the girls made 5 pancakes out of playdough for the animals to eat.....I believe this girl was just feeling really hungry at the time. All those years of studying art have come in handy I guess- the girls were delighted with my cat and hen creations- and because of that now "Auntie Laura is very bright".
Yesterday I taught my second english lesson and am having fun as I try to incorporate creative ways to explain and practice concepts. It is nice that our team has so many chaperones too- it means that the teacher to child ratio is quite small- in my grade 2 english classes I work with only 4 girls. As I continue to work with them and get a better feel for where they are at in school I can begin to use some of our longer bus rides to help them with any concepts they may need more practice with. After seeing how high the standards of the schools in Africa are, I really want to be committed to helping these kids do well in their schooling so that they can succeed in their classes once they are back home.
Today I had my day off- and last night (over good tea I might add!) I made plans with the woman I am staying with for a day out together. She offered for my friend Sarah (who is also a chaperone) to join us- and then the three of us started the day off right at Starbucks. We did some shopping, and then found a thai restaurant for lunch before I had my first experience at Target. It was such a wonderful day together- I am just continually blessed by the generosity and warm hospitality of the people I meet- and I believe that I will walk away from this experience rich in the blessings of friendship.

Before I head off to bed, I have a couple quotes from the kids that I want to share:

Gilbert pulls out carrots from his bagged lunch: "Auntie look! These are my enemy!"

Rose: "Auntie Laura- if your hair is not straight tomorrow I will not smile in the concert."
...and "In tomorrow's concert when we tell the everyone what we want to be I am going to say Hello! My name is Rose. When I grow up I want to be Auntie Laura."

Gilbert: "When I first came to America someone offered me a hot dog. I did not want to eat it because I thought it was made from a dog. But, I know that is not true and it is okay to eat."

...and finally,

Nelson: "Before I came to America I did not have many clothes. But now I have nice clothes and ay-yi-ay! I look smart!!"

October 2, 2008

A Day in the City...

Tonight I write to you from just outside of Chicago after spending my day in the city! Today was my first day off- and I took the train into Chicago with my friend Angela to see Seurat!! Now my trip is complete. So I guess that's it- thanks for all your support!

....just kidding.

It was a wonderful day though- I have looked forward to this chance to see the art gallery since I knew we would be touring in this area- unfortunately half of the impressionist exhibit and the entire modern art exhibit was under construction and not available for viewing, but I was able to see the American art section and the famous painting "America Gothic" which I didn't know was even in this collection! In the afternoon I had a my first Caribou Coffee experience, and left with Angela and her friend to walk around Millenium park chai latte and lemon loaf in hand. We saw the bean, and then I got to see Moody Bible Institute where Angela went to school.

The weather has now become quite cool- but I am resisting it with my spring jacket! I was glad for some warm stew at my host family's home tonight when I got back though. Tomorrow we have a short ride to our next concert- and this upcoming week we are performing at two colleges- it is not a normal schedule so we won't have another day off for a couple weeks so I was really happy today worked out!

September 29, 2008

I have cozied up to write from a cozy home in Freeport Illinois with brownie and apple cider close at hand. This weekend the choir did four concerts within the past 2 days and we were greatly rewarded by Sunday afternoon off! It is what I have always wished Sundays could be like- just taking the afternoon after church to relax and then later have everyone together for dinner. After singing in the 2 morning services the church had booked the pool at the YMCA for us and the kids got to experience their first swimming pool & I quickly gave up taking pictures to just jump in and play with them. Afterwards, we went to the apple orchard to play in the hay bails and mazes- and for the best part really- to eat the warm freshly made apple doughnuts. Mmmmm....speaking of which I believe there are still some in this house left over...maybe for breakfast tomorrow morning?? (here's hoping) The family I am with has tried to bless the boys with many 'first experiences'- and apple orchard and pool aside we have been to a park that has a castle playground and have been to McDonalds for happy meals and much fun in the place place. During the day we have continued to rehearse, and tomorrow we start school! I am teaching P2 English...which is the same as our grade 2, and really looking forward to it. The kids are eager to start school again after weeks of rehearsing in both the mornings and afternoons. It has been really interesting for me to watch their individual personalities shine through more in rehersals, and it will be neat for me to continue to get to know them in a different light again during school. Rehersals have been going well though- it is a privelage to work with the children and have a hand in ensuring the musical concerts are at their best. That being said, I must be off to plan some things for tomorrow!

p.s- one funny note- the novely of blonde hair and white skin has not worn off- today I was told "Auntie! Your forehead is very good." Not a day goes by where I haven't laughed with every coming hour.

September 25, 2008

A note from the mansion...

Right now I am writing to you from a mansion sized house in the suburbs of Chicago. I'm not kidding when I say this house is huge- I fear that with my sense of direction (or lack there of) that I may be at risk of getting lost in all these rooms! Right now this is my third stay with a host family- I was looking forward to this aspect of tour so much, and am so happy to be meeting all of these different families! Myself and the children I have stayed with have been richly blessed with such warm hospitality. These two pictures are from my second stay with a host family- their kids taught Galdys and Immaculate (in the far right picture) how to ride the tire swing, and later that day the whole family took us to Indian caves and walking trails behind their home. The mother sent me off with a bag full of my favourite kind of cookies freshly baked from the morning- and when we opened our lunches myself and the girls all found goodbye cards tucked in between our sandwiches. It has been such a joy to experience so many firsts with these children as they visit different homes- everything from learning what a laundry machine to seeing a garbage disposal in action- it is all exciting. Pooh Bear once told Piglet "My very favourite things are the smallest things", and although Pooh wasn't the brightest stuffy I must agree with him on this one. The everyday activities like sidewalk chalk, or going through a DQ drive thru have become all exciting treats. At my first host family I enjoyed the evening just talking with the husband and wife out on their patio- and some of the neighbours joined us and we just sat and talked for a couple hours. It was so nice to have the chance in the day to just have good conversation together. They were very curious about the work of the choir and I was able to share a lot about my time in Africa. As I travel I am even more grateful for my time there with the children. I am able to better understand where they are coming from and relate and try to understand and work with our cultural differences. I also believe it validates my position in working with these children and being their chaperone and parental figure, especially in the homes of different families. I can better understand why the children are shocked at the concept of a walk in closet, and am better able to understand how different parents and children act in their families and ours here in North America. I have been able to answer many questions so far on where they are from, and have been blessed to watch so many families be humbled by our stay with them. It has been so neat to watch kids patiently interact with our children, and encourage them in their dancing and singing by wanting to learn their favourtie songs and dance moves from the show. A couple days ago some of the neighbourhood girls came over to the house I was at for a dance party- pretty fun. I have been blessed by the praise of many adults for our work, and listened to them speak of how this experience of hosting these children- if only for a mere couple days- has changed their faith and humbled them as they become more aware of how we are so richly blessed by all we have. I have heard many testimonies of how after seeing the concert and meeting the kids parents have wanted to complain less as they see, in comparison to the kids, just how much they have and how easy and peaceful and safe our lives are.

So I am loving the time with host families- the next couple days of our travels we will only be staying with people for one night stays, but once the weekend is over we will settle down again for a three night stay closer to the heart of Chicago. Art Gallery here I come! (oh dear...I feel my real motives for tour are beginning to show....just kidding!)

Our concerts have been going well- I have been proud of the kids for all their hard work and efforts to improve each concert- and that they have been. I look forward to continually reherasing and continuing to improve on the quality of this show so that it can better impact and touch the people we meet as we travel.
Dear friends,
After feeling overwhelmed in excitement with everything there is to share with you from my experience in Africa, and as we travel the America I have decided to create a blog to keep everyone more up to date on the everyday! I hadn't initially wanted to make a blog as I thought it would make our communication less personal, but I am discovering as we tour that one must grab hold of the moments to communicate whenever they come- as they are precious but few. So I believe that making a more regular account of my travels, and lessons learned in this space will allow me to be a more personal communicator in my e-mail if I can update you on the daily excitements here! I hope you will check in often- I wish you could be here if only for a short while to experience some of this along side me- but may these entries and pictures be a means of taking you there...