September 26, 2009

friends and canoes

No one can quite imagine what it is like to stay in so many different host homes in one year- just this past week with more concerts I’ve slept in 6 different beds. Julius just asked me if Ohio and Michigan are close to our stays in Texas…as I tried to help him visualize how far south Texas is from where we are right now, it was just a reminder to me of how far we’ve come- how many people we’ve met since then…how to each of them it is an opportunity uniquely theirs, and although the memories I have because of each host is different, being in someone’s home has become very routine by now.

Months and months ago now I stayed with an elderly widowed woman for an evening after a Friday night concert. She was the most insightful host to what the hard parts and realities of tour must really be like. I remember her hugging me before bed and asking “Excuse me dear, can I tell you something? I hope I am not being too personal, but I have just been thinking that tour could be a very lonely experience for someone. You are welcomed into someone’s home four times a week, answering the same questions, and never fully having someone get to know you. I can imagine that without good friends on your team that could be a very hallow experience, as much as it is a wonderful one and a blessing. I am sorry if I’ve said to much of what I’ve been thinking about and observing, but I just wanted to say that I hope you really form close relationships- hold them close, and may they be strong for you. I think what you’re doing is wonderful, but I couldn’t imagine it without the close friends to come back to after staying in my home.”

That woman had a wonderful sense of hindsight and insight about her. She is also very true- I remember talking about this at welcome weekend….just talking over life on the road when the initial glamour of it and spark so to say has dimmed. We talked about spiritual health- how to make sure you are being poured into when you will rarely attend church as you are always the main event on a Sunday morning.

To be honest I have always felt abundantly and deeply blessed with the friendships I have. There is a card at home that I want to frame someday that has 3 friends holding each other close out of the rain under a small umbrella. The quote on top says “it doesn’t matter where you are and what you do, it is your friends that make your world.” On tour, it could be very lonely- there is no one else that can quite understand what makes tour so wonderful and joyous and difficult all at the same time. As you travel with such a close knit team the people who you draw strength and energy from are the same people that may hurt you and frustrate you, and the same children that may sometimes make you want to pull your hair out, are the same ones you love so deeply and have given you a childlike spirit and utter joy.

I reassured that dear woman that morning that I left her place that indeed I am blessed by some wonderful friends as we travel. I thought that again as I enjoyed one of the best days off with two of my closest friends Ang and Patrick. In Mt. Pleasant for the day, we walked the morning through the park- I love that fall is finally here to change the leaves and cool off the weather! We found a farmers market and enjoyed the morning picking up multiple loaves of pumpkin bread for an afternoon picnic, and picked a quart of fresh raspberries for the picnic…but they got eaten on a picnic table instead. That afternoon we packed up all the pumpkin loaves for a canoe ride down the Chippewa River. It was beautiful- I love being on the water- so peaceful, and having the whole day to just enjoy and share in the company of my two dear friends.

p.s- we only bottomed out in the shallow water a couple times….and about 20 minutes in I’d say were a lot better at avoiding crashes into the trees!!

September 8, 2009

Before bedtime thoughts...

Tonight I don't know how many thoughts of mine I will be able to weave together...I must admit that my second wind of the evening seems to be fading and I am feeling quite tired. It has also been awhile since I wrote and I do want to. Sometimes I look back on the notes I jot down on the small saying and memories that bless my day and I am so thankful that I kept a record of them to remind me of all the simple joys in life. Angela wrote me the sweetest card today and recounted so many fun memories of our times shared together over this past year. She had written of both the simple life and the adventurous life we journey on together. Tour is full of change, new people, new places, lots of seeing, doing, and much more feeling than I ever have felt before. I believe we both said this past week that we have never loved more deeply or hurt so deeply all within the span of one year. But amidst all the excitement of such an opportunity as this it really is the simple life that brings me the most wonderful memories to recount later on nights like tonight where I don't have the energy to do much else but scroll through pictures, think, and just be remembering...

A couple jot notes from this week that I don't want to forget:

- The kids got new backpacks from our Friday night church in Detroit. The next day when the kids brought them onto the bus I was explaining to Mo what the circular part of the backpack is that holds headphones. He is so excited by the fact that his great new bag can hold a CD player and earbuds that he says "I will never take my eyes off my great new bag for the rest of the ride!" He was so excited- smiles all around and many "this is my best day ever!" and more "I love my big! This is my best bag ever!" it made me think back to my back to school shopping and my generous parents who would help me out with the nice new binders and fun looking colourful notebooks I felt I just had to have. I remember excited but guiltily walking out of Staples around $100 later on new school things...that's just the way it went for school shopping. Seeing the kids just fit with the idea of "the simple life" Really, a reminder that it doesn't take much.

- The kids also got new Sunday shoes (Being a Mum for a couple kids is going to seem so simple after fitting 22 children for new dress shoes in under an hour!) especially for the girl who despises shoes shopping! But our kids are now decked out and looking smart in their new Sunday clothes. Saturday night looked like this: 1. Girls get into the host home 2. take off shoes and are shown their room 3. Take out their bags to find their new Sunday clothes and set them all out for the next morning all within 3 minutes of being there! (I'll have to take some pics soon...they are super cute)

We had our African manager, Abraham, and Andrew visit within the past couple weeks too- it is always so great to have people visit. Andrew's parents were able to come which was particularly special- the children have prayed for his father's health all this past year fervently.

Abraham challenged the children and our team to really persevere to the end and keep the big picture in mind the whole way. "To be an Auntie or Uncle to these children is for life" he said. "it isn't just for this one year, this one chapter of their lives, it is forever. Your love and involvement, interest, and prayer and guidance over and commitment to their lives, although in a different shape and form, continue on after tour. You were brought into each others lives for this year and from here on, to carry on that relationship for always.

What's been on my mind most lately is the word 'perseverance'. In a just a moment I am sure September will slip away from me just like August did and I'll just be left wondering how it is even posssible. And so for the mere months left I want to never give up trying, loving, disciplining, discipling...Today reminded me of that. As poor Christopher sturggled so much in school. In the morning working with him seemed hopeless, but then after having him sit out and encouraging him later when he was less frustrated with himself he did so well for the rest day and it was the most productive and focused I have ever seen him. Pour out all your energy and it will never be in vein. And when it seems so have patience and persevere. That's what I've been learning lately.

And now I must be off to bed, I am surprised the contacts even made it this long! I guess that it is only when you start to really dig through your thoughts and sift through emotions that you begin to see just how much can collect there over time to think over...