March 21, 2009

Looking back...

I know it has been awhile since I've been able to blog- when I've had the time or the days off I haven't had the internet access to write. I've had to pull up my March folder of pictures to jog my memory of all that's happened this past month and what exactly I want to highlight. Sometimes I want to rush ahead too fast- everything seems so exciting and I think ahead to the next great thing before I have even lived in the moment I'm in. Sometimes it is easy to think that April is half over already as I look forward to camp, or that Easter is almost here as I try and plan out teaching new music for the Easter service, with new music for summer festivals to learn, and a vacation to think of planning I find that mentally I've already reached September sometimes and am already wishing for my time with these precious kids. And then I go to write a blog update and need to pull of a folder of pictures to remember March? It's then that I realize that in tour life I am not as good as living in the moment as I ought to be, or as I have been in the past. I should go through memories more often, recount good days more frequently, love them and learn from them, and be excited about looking back- not only in looking ahead.

Over the past couple weeks I've stayed in so many homes and have heard and shared in so many stories of people who have been affected by the hurricanes that swipe out these areas of the deep south. Sometimes it is too easy to be quite honest to judge the family you've met too soon, or wonder if you'll have your own space, bed, and internet. Staying in homes where the families have not been able to get their heating systems restored, where half of their homes are missing, and where the wall to the guestroom is half collapsed and messy can upon first impression seem inconvenient and uncomfortable. It is humbling then to realize that the woman who gave up her bedroom with the half collapsed wall is sleeping on the living room couch for you so that you may have privacy and comfort. That the unfurnished bathroom has proper plumbing again just done in time for your arrival. That the people at the house with no heating yet has 10 children sleeping on the floor so you would be comfortable in a bedroom. I think of myself and how I would react in this kind of situation, and I doubt that if my house wasn't in perfect shape to host that I would- but these people have shamelessy and warmy welcomed me into their homes. It is a humbling experience to realize that I may not have even offered my home in that case in the first place.

I am so thankful to come from a place where hurricanes leave no devestation to my home town. The faith of the people in this area to rebuild with faith for a good standing home is incredible- I have enjoyed seeing the different homes that have been constructed, and hearing the hearts behind the building plans, and the joy in sharing the success of their well standing homes now with me.

Visiting New Orleans was also a big eye opener to the devistation and ruins that Hurricane Katrina left behind. It came as a suprise to me to still see so many areas being rebuilt. The city itself however is still vibrant and exuberant in its culture. I love the big city! Ang, Steve, Patrick and I all took the ferry into the city for the day off. I had only one desire in New Orelans and that was to hear live jazz music- I got to hear so many different street bands and we ate lunch over listening to a group where the lead singer's voice sounded just like Louis Armstrong's himself. To top it off we wandered around the French Quarter and ate a morning snack of french beignets-1/2 doughnut, 1/2 powdered sugar.

Tomorrow night we don't have an evening concert like we usually do on Sundays so we have the afternoon free to spend with our hosts! I am already excited to make homemade hamburgers together and walk down to the local icecream shop that is apparently to die for in the evening. However, I am trying not to get ahead of myself again-being thankful for the rest of this evening and a morning concert and open afternoon still to enjoy.

March 3, 2009

Speed cars and Sundaes

Angela and I were talking today over a delicious slice of tirimasu at an old oak tree garden on the lake about how the timing of the weather we get on tour could not be more perfect. From starting in Chicago we watched the leaves change and slowly fall over nine states until we reached Christmas camp. Since heading south from there it has only become warmer and continues to feel more like spring- today at lunch Angela and I ducked under sprinklers as we wandered around blooming flowers and inbetween shoots of bamboo. And then coming home tonight to the house it reminded me of late spring- when the weather is so sunny that it bridges on summertime and the memories of family and friends crowding the kitchen- fixing dinner with the windows and doors open to let in the breeze and the sun. What a wonderful day.

Tonight the boys and I were raced around town in "the speed car" as Mo called it. Nelson said that "the wind blew so fast in my hair that I lost small small amount when we were flying in the street". On my ride with Patrick he says: "Wow wow! Auntie Laura we are going so fast you are going to loose all your hair! I love to go fast fast never slow slow." It was honestly a lot of fun.

Time is going by so fast- it's been a three night stay here and now I am frantically finishing laundry as I realize I need to pack again for tomorrow...I feel like I have only been here a night. Andrew left this morning to go home for his two weeks of vacation- and so from now until July we will have an incomplete team for several months as people take turns going away from their break! It feels like only a month ago that when sitting in Makindye for one of the mornings reading our manual that the chapter on the logistics of vacations seemed too far away to talk about...Sometimes I get ahead of myself and think of everything there is to do, happen, and look forward to before the end of tour and then, in my mind, it's already over! I need to slow down and take the moments like tonight for every memory that it leaves me with and grab hold of it.

Even this past Sunday morning marked our 100th concert since starting tour- I always take notes on what there is to improve on, but it is good also sometimes to sit back and just reflect on how far the children have come since their first time singing in an American church- when they were distracted by every decoration in a church, and not sure of themselves.

In celebration of the kids performing their best concert this past week, before arriving at this church stay we stopped to treat them to icecream sundaes.

There will never be more time in a day, a week, a month- but as we almost finish another week I realize I need to stop more often, and make more time. The words of Uncle Abraham from Africa ring true tonight- "In America people have clocks and watches everywhere- but ironically they never seem to have enough time- but here in Africa we don't race against minutes- we just enjoy the company of others first- and we always have the time to enjoy it."

Wherever this finds you- and tonight as I go to bed- may that be a good, simple, reminder to us all.