Sunday, August 1, 2010. Morning breaks gently over the lush Lancasterian landscape. Birds being their morning song, the cattle are rousing from their slumber with gentle lowing, and, somewhere in the distance, a rooster is heard. …And what’s that other sound? …It’s the many Oasis Chorale members, beginning their morning routine. Humming, chewing, brushing, flossing, lip trills, sighing – all this and much more. It’s early, and they must arrive at the church all warmed up, ready to sing. This morning’s program was at Mine Road Mennonite Church – not a complete program, only about 30 minutes or so. It was enjoyable to see many friends, and refreshing to sit back and take in a worship service. After lunch, we headed over to Weaverland Mennonite Church for our final program. How should we feel about our last program? We weren’t quite sure. But we did know that most of these people would be hearing us for the first time. We wanted to be able to adequately convey the message, and to do this, we had to keep it fresh on our minds and in our hearts. God blessed us in this program, as with the others. Lives were touched, hearts were inspired, and God’s presence was felt. After the afternoon program, we went to Roman Stolzfus’s home to have supper and time to hang out and relax. This was splendidly accomplished by a taco salad, peach cobbler, coffee, bread, water, and other tasty treats. The relaxation time was amusing and satisfactory on a variety of levels – We discussed future plans for Oasis Chorale, congratulated some fellow choir members on their recently changed status (from “single” to “dating”) and enjoyed some rousing games of Chug-a-Lug and Ultimate Frisbee. This last activity, however, actually ended very badly for 2 of our star players; they crashed, in a head-to-shoulder type of way, causing the officials to call the game, and the festivities to be stopped. Well, while the physically demanding activities stopped, the chatting continued on, far into the night. We bade each other goodbye, and went our separate ways, looking forward to 2011. Looking back, we were blessed with a great tour, safe travelling, no major sickness, inspired, communicative audiences, and new insights into life. Thanks for your support of Oasis, and please keep in contact. We’d love to hear from you.
Saturday, July 31 We Are recording at The Church of The Good Samaritan in Paoli,Pennsylvania. The acoustics are splendid for a live; the ceiling is high, and the sanctuary has a stone floor. We have enjoyed recording here for the last 2 days, but are looking forward to finishing the project. While recording isn’t usually “fun”, this one has seemed to go exceedingly well. Today we have just 4 songs to record in the morning, and then we’re done! We do have a program there tonight, and then our final program in Lancaster tomorrow afternoon.
The last day of the bus tour has arrived. There will be more bus time, to and from the recording studio, but we’ll be basing that all from Faith Mennonite High School. We met at Dayton Mennonite Church, Dayton, Virginia, at 9 AM, and commenced down the road. With the exception of some traffic around Washington D.C. And Baltimore, Maryland, we had an uneventful trip. The ride around Baltimore port provided some interest and variation from the mountains with its ships and cranes. Arriving at Conowingo, Maryland, we were delighted to find another small church. Typifying “the country church”, the Conowingo church is a small white church, with simple designs inside and out. The congregation there is small, even for the building, but they were welcoming and accommodating. After the program, we drove back to Faith Mennonite High School, and then on to our places of abode.
The drive from South Boston, Virginia to Dayton, Virginia was very pleasant. We again had an hour long quiet time, which was helpful in reflecting, sleeping, studying, and reading. The landscape was gorgeous – much of the drive was on smaller roads, in and around the Blue Ridge Mountains – they are splendidly beautiful.
At Dayton Mennonite, we had plenty of time to rest and work on our music. There were several hours of extra time, but it seemed to go so quickly! The program, which was jointly hosted by Calvary Mennonite Fellowship and Dayton Mennonite Church, was well attended by many folks from many areas. This is generally the hometown of several choir members, and the previous hometown of several others.
Tonight we did some experimental audio and video recording, in the hope of being able to put together some videos to post online, and extend our ministry. If that was a success, you’ll be notified when they’re available.
Monday, July 26 The drive from Abbeville, South Carolina to South Boston, Virgina was our longest bus ride. Quiet time on the bus this morning was an hour, instead of the usual half hour. Most of us welcomed the extra time to slepep, read, have our personal devotions, or jus thave some quiet chill-time. There was plenty of time for bus activities – Rook, Black 13, Indiana Jones, some for seemingly made-up rhythm game that sounded more like a primitive tribal ritual than a group game. 🙂 It was interesting to watch, though. Some people played with and entertained the children (or was it the other way around?), some had discussions of varying depths and intensities, and others contented themselves with simply watching and listening from the sidelines. Arriving in South Boston, we were thrilled to see our evening program location – The Prizery. The building was a tobacco processing facility, which has recently been repurposed as a community center, with a banquet hall, an art gallery, and a performing arts theater. Ebeneezer Mennonite Church, our hosting congregation, was too small, so The Prizery generously donated the use of their facility. The building is gorgeous, and the theater very nice. We weren’t accustomed to the acoustic type, but were thrilled with the opportunity to sing there. We were also very happy to be able to sing in the community – the local church is very involved in reaching out to their community, especially wih music. The program was well attended, with people from the local Mennonite churches, as well as the community at large. We were very blessed to be able to converse with them, and hopefully bless their lives with the music.
Sunday, July 25 The day began earlier than normal. This morning we met at 7:45 at the Foothills Christian Fellowship in Landrum, South Carolina, and began purr morning warm-up exercises – humming and chewing, stretching, back rubs, range-builders, and vowel practice. Morning programs require a bit more warmup time than do evening programs, so we were at it for a while. We were welcomed to the church by a very friendly crowd. In the middle of the service we were priveledged to sing an impromptu song with the local choir; an enjoyable experience for all of us. It’s always enjoyable to interact with other choirs, and to be able to connect on another level.
After an extended lunch and while preparing to leave, we were informed that the bus wouldn’t start. There were several “mechanic-types” present, and were soon able to diagnose the problem, and identify a solution. I think that there was a bad switch, obviously something very integral to the ignition. We were able to depart on time, and I think that the problem is fixed. We’ve been very thankful for safe traveling, and no other problems. The drive to Abbeville was relatively short; we arrived in the mid-afternoon, and had time to rest, eat supper, and warmup before the program. Again, we met family and friends from afar – Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Georgia, and perhaps a few other places, in addition to the locals. Familiar faces in foreign places are always a welcome sight!
Saturday, July 24 When we arrived at the bus his morning, we noticed that it was bedecked with streamers and signs. Someone was apparently having a birthday! Yes, today is Martha’s birthday. There were gifts and presentations, singing both fun (the choir’s “most original efforts” – per Rosie), and cute (the bus driver’s 4 year old daughter. The birthday activities were definitely enjoyed throughout the day! When we opened the bus doors into South Carolina, we were greeted by a wall of heat – it was 100+ degrees! It is times like these, especially, when we are thankful for air conditioning. After a brief rest period, we dug into our music, and spent several hours practicing. The music is beginning to lock in, but there are trouble spots that need some attention. There were also several hours scheduled for “recreational activities”. This included, but was not limited to, volleyball, email, facebook, personal music practice, sleeping, walking, playing with the bus driver’s children, and playing piano. It was very nice to relax – we hadn’t had very much extended relaxation time.
The program tonight was hosted by the Island Creek congregation, but we held the program in The First Baptist Church of Hillsville, Virginia. Before the programs we typically have about a half hour to meet the congregation, and tonight we were honored to meet folks from a variety of churches in the area. We enjoy the meet & greet time as a way to become acquainted with them, and to break the ice. I enjoy it as a way to create rapport, and to break down the barrier between “us” (the choir) and “them” (the congregation). It feels less like a performance, and more like a time of sharing.
Today we met at Faith Mennonite High School, near Lancaster Pennsylvania, and spent most of the day rehearsing for the 2010 tour. In addition to the music practice, we spent some time studying the song texts. The day was full, but we made a lot of progress. Thanks for your prayers and support!
We sang to a very large audience at Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. It was a highlight for us to be able to sing with them – their congregational singing is delightful! We were blessed by singing to them and with them.
We gave a program at Blandon Mennonite Church in Blandon, Pennsylvania. The ride there was interesting; we narrowly avoided a head-on collision with a car traveling the wrong way down the highway. With the help of God, our bus driver was able to swerve out of the way without hitting anyone. I do hope that the little old lady was ok. The congregation there was very warm and receptive. We felt welcome, and were treated with utmost kindness.