Here it is, the FINAL Tour Schedule – 2014 Tour Schedule. There’s always a chance minor details could change, but this is what Byron has declared as “FINAL”.
And mark July 26th on your calendar for Homecoming at 7:00 p.m. (we arrive at the church at 5:00 p.m. sharp) at Wyatt Park Baptist Church.
Here’s a map of our route for Tour. Click here for the map. Thanks to John Nichols at Heartland Motor Coach for providing the map.
Most recent updates will always be at the top
After Tour – Homecoming
“The Final Pictures”
Here are pictures from the last day of tour, including the morning activities back in What Cheer, Iowa, as well as arrival back in St. Joe and of course, Homecoming. Thanks for following along.
Day 15 – July 26th – St. Joseph, Mo.
After successfully traveling over 3,100 miles, performing 11 times in nine churches, New G returned home for their most emotionally charged performance of the summer.
The day started in What Cheer, Iowa, where we held a final worship service. It was also the time when secret pals revealed themselves and handed out a final gift. The social committee started things off by presenting tour awards for things like best seat partner, tour clown, camera bug and of course the tour klutz (Sophie and Brent).
Then it was back to the buses for the trip home. After a relaxed lunch and a few stalling techniques, the buses and truck – escorted by the Sheriff’s department – arrived at Wyatt Park Baptist Church.
Since I had returned a couple of hours early, I was able to see everyone getting ready for the arrival. I’m always impressed with the enthusiasm of the family and friends ready and waiting, as well as a few pets. It was easily the warmest day we experienced on tour, but at least it wasn’t raining.
I also want to thank many of you who had kind words and thanks for this blog – as I told most of you, I’m just glad someone was watching! I know many of you basically had to rely on this to know what your Singer was doing, but as I have seen in other youth programs, if you aren’t hearing from them much, they are apparently having a good time. By now, you’ve had a chance to confirm that for yourselves (assuming they’ve been awake sometime).
Pictures will come soon – I did quite a bit of sleeping too and everything is a mess. I’ll also be looking into the best way to handle the audio CD we have as well as provide information on the DVD that is being produced.
Again, thank you for your support of the New Generation Singers, not only individually, but as an organization. You can be proud of what they accomplished on this tour.
Day 14 – July 25th – What Cheer, Iowa
“Day 14 – The one before Homecoming”
I’m watching “Friends”, so that title seemed kind of appropriate. It was pretty much another standard tour day, although lunch was at the “world’s largest truck stop”. And they aren’t kidding. It’s along I-80 east of Iowa City. It has a huge convenience store, at least six fast-food places as well as a sit-down buffet and multiple gift shops. You know it’s a big store when there is a real, full-size semi (with trailer) IN the store as well as another tractor. And they sell everything from parts to clothes to CDs, and for some reason – guitars. It really is huge. Ironically, the parking lot wasn’t very big, or at least it didn’t seem so.
A relaxed schedule allowed time for a break at a road-side rest stop to stretch and get ready to arrive in What Cheer, Iowa. The town is of course a nice, small farming community; and like many, a strong church heritage. Three churches combined to feed the group (including donated pizza from Casey’s). One of the best quotes was from a pastor from one of the other churches…”Wonderful, we had a great time with you all. Thank you for coming all the way to What Cheer; not many people have that privilege”. This makes the third visit over the life of New G and it was our privilege to be a part of a great evening.
We again had many family members in the audience, some were surprises (I think); Garrett’s parents, Jackson and Baeleigh Conners’ mom and grand parents as well as younger brother Colton, and one of our groupies – Barb Bielby and her daughter. (Sorry if I missed others.)
Emotions ran high among the Singers in their final performance outside of St. Joseph. So I hope you’re ready for Homecoming. It’s gonna be great!
p.s. We’ve had great questions the last couple of nights, some that have never been asked before. One of them tonight was directed to any of the Singers “what inspires YOU about being in New G”. Sophie talked about her growth in faith and then Kelby asked for a turn. Kelby joined the group towards the end of high school, and has become a hard-working, dedicated member. He mentioned that after getting a degree in engineering, he will go into military service. “…so, needless to say, they inspire me to be able to go on to really try to make a difference. And I hope that everybody here, standing on these risers, would hope to do the same thing…to try and make that difference no matter what it is”. Plenty of other hands went up among the Singers to answer the question, but Sophie invited the audience to talk to individual Singers after the service. Perhaps you will have time to do that too, it’s worth it.
Day 13 – July 24th – Clarendon Hills, Illinois (basically Chicago)
“Just Day 13”
If there is such a thing as a “standard New G tour day”, this was one of them. Load the bus, drive a while, eat, drive more, take a rest stop, drive one more time and get to the church about 4:30. Then the typical set up, eat, change into costumes, perform, tear down and head out for host homes. And thanks to a local New G connection, everyone has a host home.
Wow, that’s it. I really don’t have many good stories about the day other than I found another city – Chicago – that I will never live in, thanks to the traffic.
We’re obviously close to the end of tour, there are some sore throats and some watery eyes (probably from last night’s pool chlorine), but everyone is excited to do our last performance and then bring it home! Get your tickets, they’re only $2.00, it’s going to be a great night at Homecoming.
Day 12 – July 23rd – Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky, Ohio
The day started with a pretty heavy rain in Huntingdon, which ended right AFTER the suitcases and sleeping bags were loaded into the buses. All this after a night of the girls in host homes and the guys in the church. But I’m told they had a pretty good time – jamming on a bunch of musical instruments, hanging out on the outdoor balcony, and probably various other activities!
Then off to Cedar Point, which was only about a two hour drive. The rain/mist had spread to Sandusky, but not the “get soaking wet” kind, just a keep you cool version. Eventually, that went away and it turned into a very nice, if not cool day. Ride operators told us the temp had been near 100 degrees just the day before. It was nice to be comfortable, many even wore jackets. It also kept the crowds very low, so many of the Singers were able to hit many, if not all the major rides. (Cedar Point has 41 roller coasters, so the Singers had to be efficient!)
Of course there were many choices for lunch on the grounds plus New G had purchased wrist bands to allow everyone free drinks all day long. While this was very nice, it would have been even more brilliant if it had been hot. Since the drinks were about $4.50, it only took a couple to make it worthwhile.
I’m sure there are probably many good stories about the rides, etc., but the best – albeit unconfirmed – story was from two of our girls who had to climb down a ladder in the middle of a broken down ride; with help from the fire department. It will be hard to beat that one.
Our hotel for the night is a fairly new Best Western, in fact when we asked the desk clerk if there is an elevator, her answer was “yes, but it’s in the parking lot waiting to be installed”. Luckily it’s only a two-story hotel. There are several fast-food restaurants in the area as well as a Bob Evans and a nice Mexican place for dinner. There’s also a Dollar General which seems to have served as a quasi-Walmart run.
As you’ll see by the pictures, the hotel has a pool… ‘nuf said.
Tomorrow we head toward our final two performances before returning home. Hard to believe it’s almost over. Bittersweet.
Day 11 – July 22nd – Mansfield, Ohio
The bad news there aren’t a lot of pictures from today simply because it was a pretty basic day – breakfast at the Oasis of Love Church campground, travel and return to Mansfield, Ohio to the church we stayed at last week. Toby is the resident dog – you’ll see him in pictures. And be sure to read Day 3 notes about this interesting church. It was a little challenging to set up risers, etc., but the crews made it work, as always, and the crowd was very appreciative of another heartfelt performance.
The good news is I have time to work on some videos from the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. I should be able to post more links in the morning – it takes Youtube a while to process them.
Also, here are a couple of quotes from the pastors at Oasis of Love and St. Luke’s Point of Grace…
“Sing out loudly and boldly proclaim His love to a needy world.”
“The Lord has given you something that you can take with you throughout the rest of your life”. Referring to the music and message of the Sermon in Song as well as Tour itself.
“…just to encourage you, that when your tour ends, your ministry isn’t going to end. When you go to school, or college or work, your ministry continues.”
“Happy” literally had them dancing in the aisles!
Traditionally, the congregation waves their bulletins as a sign of appreciation, but “He’s Alive” always brings out more than waving – watch their reaction!
The video is the last New G sang that morning – “Shout My Praise”. Be sure to watch the reaction from the audience after the song! 🙂
Day 10 – July 21st – Huntingdon, PA
“Back to the Oasis”
One last quick driving tour of Washington D.C. and then we were off for a return trip to Huntingdon and the Oasis of Love Church. Lunch was somewhere in between with choices of Cracker Barrel or Waffle House. I had not been to a Waffle House in many years, and I guess I get it why some will never go there but there is a certain “quaint ambiance” (others apparently call it terrible conditions). But great waffles!
We arrived back at the church with plenty of time to move back in, set up and have a nice turkey dinner. As I have mentioned other places, this church has been SO gracious and accommodating, it was a pleasure returning the favor with a performance. They have a nice gymnasium type of setup, but it’s NOT your basic gym – a nice big stage with plenty of space and lighting, a wrap-around balcony with many rooms, a pool table and foosball table under the balcony, nice big lobby area and a kitchen. I’m sure this is a busy place all the time.
The evening ended with the traditional “Tour Worship”. Only past Singers and sponsors will truly understand the emotion and impact of the evening, but it is something that really brings the purpose of tour and New G into perspective. If you have a Singer in your family, they may be able to describe it on some levels, but I can assure you they were given plenty of things to think about to help them be better Christians and better people. (Although as I’ve mentioned before, they’re pretty good young people already!)
A couple of stories from the day: First, the desk manager at the hotel – where we stayed for three nights – told Phyllis this was the best behaved group of young people he had ever worked with; and he made special mention that they host a lot of young groups. (By the way, the bill was $14,000 so you can see why we really appreciate your financial support!)
The second story came from Pastor Art. He had helped arrange for the boat trip last week. The director of that company is a former member of the Oasis and passed word back that he too was very impressed with New G. Art feels like this was a first step in mending some bridges.
Day 9 – July 20th – Washington, D.C.
“Hakuna Matata” or “No Worries”
Even though it was a full day, pictures are a bit limited because of rules at the Holocaust Museum and the Lion King performance. But there’s still plenty to look at.
We started at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, thanks to a connection between St. Joe/Byron and the pastor. It’s a historic church because THE bench Abraham Lincoln sat in while attending this church is still there. And unlike most historic items, they encourage you to sit in it. The church itself isn’t that old – the congregation is, but this building was built in the ’50s on the site of the original building. Also, in the basement, there is an original draft of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln.
The service itself was also interesting. We were essentially special music scattered throughout the ceremony. But the best part was the reaction to the New G songs. We didn’t set up much of our equipment (no drums or sound system), but that didn’t stop the group from impressing the congregation. As noted in their bulletin, the tradition is to wave your bulletin instead of applauding. Well, the Singers managed to get plenty of bulletin waving AND enthusiastic applause. They also received many compliments from the new Associate Pastor who did the children’s sermon.
But the best was yet to come. As a postlude, designed to entertain the congregation as they left, New G sang three of our “biggies” – He’s Alive, Happy and Shout My Praise. (By the way, no one left until after the final song). DURING “Happy” a member of the congregation came down the aisle and started dancing to the music, then he was followed by two others. The looks on everyone’s faces, including the Singers’ was priceless. (I need some time to process them, but I did get some video – check back tomorrow, or so).
After the service, there were fan photos, we gave out a couple of CDs by request and loaded up the buses. We had a quick stop at the hotel to change out of costume into nice clothes for the rest of the day. But first, lunch at Union Station – plenty of food court options.
Next stop – the Holocaust Museum. Like everything else in DC, the museum was very well done, albeit a little crowded. I’m sure each of us focused on different aspects of the displays, but suffice it to say, it’s an important event in history to remember so that we will never allow it to be repeated again.
Last stop – the Kennedy Center. Bemo had arranged for a catered pasta dinner, which made it nice to get off the buses once for the evening. And our early arrival gave everyone plenty of time to look around and as usual, hit the gift shop. (There are several stuffed Lions headed for St. Joe).
So as I mentioned earlier, a busy day with memorable events. At the same time, we’re ready to head home and continue the performances (and a fun stop Cedar Point).
I also wanted to mention again that this group is doing so well at staying on schedule; when they need to be at a place by a certain time, they are there on time or early. They also did a great job of dressing up for the day, as you’ll see in the Kennedy Center group photo.
Day 8 – July 19th – Washington, D.C.
“Tourists for a Day”
A simple day of being tourists at the other end of the Mall area, mainly focusing on the Smithsonian museums. We used the Air and Space Museum as our base; the doors open at 10:00 and we were ready to go. Many spent time in that museum, but in general, everyone scattered. As I asked around, it seemed most went to the American History, Natural History or Art museums.
Personally, I spent a lot time walking; in fact, from one (the Capitol) to the other (Vietnam Veterans Memorial) is about two miles, and I did it twice. But I got many of the pictures I wanted as well as a good sunburn and tired legs/feet.
Although we had seven hours of free-time, you can still only see a tiny fraction of the many museums. And I can’t imagine how much time it would take to read all of the displays. Any museum takes awhile, but with the Smithsonian, you multiply it by all the buildings they have. Then there’s the National Archives and dozens of other sites.
It’s also interesting how many “locals” simply use this area as a typical park – lots of runners, people just sitting around, bikers and even a kickball tournament. Also surprising to me was that the traffic wasn’t horrible around the actual Mall; now, get outside of that area and it’s typical city stuff.
Again, compliments to the Singers for being on time for everything – we didn’t have to wait for anyone to get back for the 5:00 gathering time, even considering the 10-15 minute wait to get through the security checkpoints.
Tomorrow we get back to singing, albeit an abbreviated list of songs, as well as the Holocaust Museum and then Lion King at the Kennedy Center.
Day 7 – July 18th – Washington, D.C.
“A ‘Monumental’ Day”
A casual start to the day with breakfast at the hotel and a traffic-filled trip to D.C. through Baltimore. We went through a tunnel that was apparently Baltimore Harbor (Sam is sitting next to me and says it was created in 1957, and mainly used for people traveling to the Army/Navy game. He knows more, but you need to ask him!)
Lunch was somewhere in between at Chik-Fil-A and the slowest Wendy’s I’ve ever seen. But we made it out of there almost on time.
Next stop was Arlington National Cemetery. Wow. I’ve been there one other time, but it’s hard to fully appreciate or remember the magnitude of Arlington. There are over 400,000 (!) graves and monuments; and our tour guide said there were 30 funerals just today. They use trams to move you to three key places; first, John F. Kennedy’s gravesite with the eternal flame. A very solemn place in a very picturesque spot facing the Capitol. Then just about 100 feet away, is a single white cross marking Robert Kennedy’s grave (I hope I have that right) – apparently, he wanted a simple grave. There were many other significant and interesting places and people, but I would miss many of them if I tried to list them here.
The second tram stop was the “Tomb of the Unknowns”. Wow, again! I was in a group that couldn’t fit on the first tram, and we barely made it to the 3:00 ‘changing of the guard’, but it worked out great – we were able to see where the next guard and their commander come out of the basement of the monument. They walk in a very distinct way to the front for the actual ceremony. I can’t begin to describe the precision and accuracy of the procedure, but it is amazing and extremely reverent. When the change is made, the guard marches 21 steps, turns, waits 21 seconds and repeats. The change is made every 30 minutes. This has been going on every minute of every day since 1948 – no matter what the weather! And to be in the “Old Guard” is considered one of the highest honors in the Army. By the way, it turns out one of the three “unknown” soldiers has been identified through DNA, but I think the family has requested to remain anonymous.
We skipped the final tram stop, which is a historic building at the highest point of the cemetery.
Next, it was off the see the monuments (hence the title of today’s entry). We used my car to make a Walgreen’s clinic run so I missed the walk, but the group toured many of the monuments along the Mall. Thanks to Ashley Porter, we have pictures.
Lastly, we headed to Union Station for dinner. Everyone scattered and found their own place to to eat in this massive facility. To me, it felt like an airport, but it’s actually a hub for bus and Amtrak trains. The main hall is under renovation so it was hard to see the full scope of the area, but it’s all another impressive sight.
Now we’re “home” at a Fairfield Inn right next to China Town. We’ll be here for three nights; I’m sure the kids enjoy being in a hotel for a few nights (even though there’s no pool).
By the way, two quick stories. 1. The desk clerk at the hotel last night made a point to compliment the kids on how well they behaved during our stay. You can be proud. 2. A funny story: Joseph Howell and I were sitting in the lobby and a couple of the girls asked where we are going tomorrow. I told them “the Mall”. They asked “which one?” We laughed. I tried to reference the movie “Forrest Gump” but that didn’t work either. Tomorrow, they’ll know a lot more about THE Mall.
Day 6 – July 17th – Philadelphia
“Birthplace of a Nation”
Today was a relatively short bus-drive day although lunch was interesting. We got off the turnpike but ended up going north instead of south; no problem, there was a school bus yard (maybe 100 buses?) with plenty of room to turn around. Funny thing #1 – an employee standing in the yard couldn’t understand what was going on. He told me he was afraid they had bought new buses for him to take care of. Since I didn’t know why were in the lot, I was worried we were trading in for a school bus. Funny thing #2 – there was a sign on the fence that said we couldn’t turn left, so we couldn’t really turn around. Funny thing #3 – a local police car happened to end up coming out of the lot behind our buses, but in front of me — he turned left!
Anyway, my luck got worse since I missed the turn for food (when we finally turned south). Everything after that was another ramp to another highway. I still have no idea where we were or where I went, but it took 20 miles to do it! Thanks to Garmin, I did make it back in time to eat – quickly – and move on.
Then we were off to Philadelphia; and i have a recommendation, if you hate traffic, don’t move anywhere close to here. But we made it to the bus drop-off site just in time to get in line for tours of Independence Hall. Apparently, about 90% of the brick and structure of the building is original (I think first built in 1732) but most items in the building are recreations. Still, it’s very humbling to think of the history created in those small rooms.
The last stop was to see the Liberty Bell across the street. We didn’t take a lot of time to read the many displays, but there it is – THE Liberty Bell. One minor trivia I remember is that this was not the first crack in the Bell; it’s actually the third one after various repairs.
And finally, off the the hotel which lead to food which lead to a swimming pool, which leads to a LOT of noise, but fun and memories.
Day 5 – July 16th – The Huntingdon area.
“The great outdoors”
With no significant travel, it was a day to enjoy the campground and a surprise boat ride on the Raystown Lake. Very relaxing and scenic. Then lunch back in Huntingdon (let’s see, I think it was KFC, Subway, Burger King and something else).
After another stop back at the campground to re-group and eat dinner (shepard’s pie, which is basically hamburger, corn, mashed potatoes and cheese made up like a casserole), we headed off to an amphitheater next to the lake. Since it was an outdoor performance, there was plenty of room and time to set up, and stay in casual clothes. Be sure to see the pictures. A nice crowd was on hand, including a youth group that had been recruited by a local pastor thanks to the performance back in Saxton. They seemed to really enjoy the energetic performance. Plus, we will be singing AT the campground’s church next week – we anticipate even more recruits. Also, I met a couple who had just been walking by during our warm-up, so they stayed for the performance. They seemed very impressed and appreciative.
By the way, the performance pictures were taken by Emily Howell so I could stay backstage and run part of the lights. Thanks Emily!
After the amphitheater, it was back to the campgrounds for snacks and various activities until lights out. Again, take a look at the pictures – it’s a creative group.
Tomorrow it’s an easy travel day to Philadelphia, and maybe best of all, hotels for all!
Day 4 – July 15th – to Huntingdon and Saxton, Penn.
“Back on stage, literally”
The good news: this is getting posted a little earlier than usual; the bad news is I don’t have a lot of pictures. It was just that kind of day (and the performance venue caused part of it, but I’ll get to that). Tomorrow should be a good picture day, but you’ll have to check that out tomorrow – some of it is a surprise.
By the way, we are setting records for number of views if the website. Our record before Tour was around 552 – and just once. Now we are over 600 for several consecutive days and higher each day. Thanks for following us and spreading the word. I’m glad I’m not typing this just to practice typing!
Anyway, we had a fairly easy day of travel and didn’t leave Mansfield til about 9:30. I have no idea what town we ate lunch in, but it was Taco Bell and Arby’s. Hummmm, Taco Bell, you do the math.
The group is staying at a camp ground that is a part of the church in Huntingdon. New G has been there before and returns because they are so accommodating and the setup works well. There are even multiple showers! But we only stopped there long enough to unload suitcases and sleeping bags. The performance was actually about 25 miles south(ish) in Saxton. (Roads out here do not align to the compass the way we think of them back home). We started at the host church for dinner – huge servings of lasagna plus garlic bread, salad, fruit and desserts! We were in a open-sided shelter in back of the church – it even had a nice “babbling brook”. And the weather is great – nice temperatures and comfortable humidity, even though it has rained quite a bit in the area.
After dinner, it was just a couple of miles across town to what appears to be a very new high school. So we set up on the stage of course. We were able to use the theatre’s main lighting and then added our own colored LEDs. But that meant I needed to stay backstage to run the stage and house lights – Ashley stayed out front and ran the rest. It’s an interesting perspective of the Singers, especially since I was so close. As a result, I didn’t get many pictures. But trust me, we still have everyone! I enjoyed being backstage although nothing beats being in the audience for this group.
I think it was our host pastor who gave the final thank yous and benediction, but he said some very nice things about, and to, the group. I need to get better at taking notes (or better yet, recording everything), but – to paraphrase – he congratulated the Singers on stepping out of normal summer activities to spread the word of God. He talked about how they are a vessel and have answered the call. And he encouraged them to be sure to remember these days many years from now and how special these days are.
Then it was back to Huntingdon and the church campground for snacks, a bonfire and various activities.
Day 3 – July 14th – to Mansfield, Ohio
“Travel, Eat, Repeat”
We have one big travel day on tour this year and today was it – about seven hours. So that meant getting back to the church fairly early and on the road by 8:15. Lunch in Indianapolis (I think, that was a long time ago) at Arby’s, White Castle and Burger King.
We made it to Mansfield, Ohio about 6:00 and ate at a church with a unique history. A few years ago, the congregation was dwindling to low numbers so a local businessman offered to buy it! In the meantime, he fixed up the sanctuary and turned the back portion into his home! He also retired and became the pastor at two other churches while his building is now used for a new congregation. I learned he is quite the philanthropist by doing many things for the community; for example, he started a Memorial Day parade, and his building is the normal place for parades to start. He also started a free meal every Saturday; last week, they served 150 people. He also owns a pink limousine and simply does nice things for people in need whether it be cancer patients returning home from the hospital or prom dates.
The connection for this whole thing started with Byron calling around to barbershop connections. A local barbershopper – who Byron had never met til today – has known the owner of the church for years, and the rest is history. Once again, the barbershop community sticks together.
One of the complications of staying in this church is a low number of showers (very low). So our host solved the problem by setting up a visit to a local pool, which happens to have multiple showers. 🙂 There was a storm in the area, so we had to wait a while to get in, and then another one re-appeared to get everyone back out about an hour later. Plenty of time to unwind and splash around.
Day 2 – July 13th – New Town at St. Charles, Mo. and Auburn, Ill.
Let’s title today “Big Shark Marathon, Corn and the Mayor”
Remember I mentioned the Big Shark Marathon that would be taking place today? Well it turns out they didn’t tell Garmin, or any other GPS system, that it would be happening, so that made getting from the sponsor’s hotel to the church a bit of a challenge. It wasn’t so much we – well Garmin – didn’t know where the church is, it just didn’t know how to avoid 600 bikers. Anyway, we made it in decent time and the kids were ready to go. It was a nice service and a welcoming audience. We took down most of the equipment before the 10:30 service where New G was simply participants, not the main event. Kind of nice to just be there.
After that service, we headed toward St. Louis and found lunch – Wendy’s and McDonalds – the basics. With plenty of time to get to Auburn, we had time to go downtown to the Gateway Arch. Guess what, construction, but not too bad. Everyone had a chance to visit the museum under the Arch, we’ll save a trip up the Arch for another trip.
Off to Auburn, Illinois, by way of lots of corn. And soybeans. (Crops look to be in good shape.) Auburn is a smallish town 20 miles south of Springfield. It was a very nice church with lots of room to setup – the riser crew loves this kind of design. The church served a great potluck dinner – chicken, ham, “real” corn from the area! And plenty of other delicious items including great desserts.
But the best part was yet to come…a sizeable crowd of about 150 enjoyed a memorable performance. It’s hard to identify what triggers, or even defines a great performance. But you know it when you see it, and this was one of them. And be sure to check out the pictures to see why there’s a reference to the mayor!
Just to cap off the day, it turns out the sponsor’s hotel isn’t on the GPS map either, but the desk clerk guided us in without any real delays. Back at the church, the congregation had really turned out to house the kids; I’m sure there will be plenty of stories.
Day 1 – July 12th – Send-Off and New Town at St Charles, Mo.
“And so we begin…”
It’s the day we’ve all looked forward to since January (maybe even earlier for some). Although it was a warm, muggy day in Missouri – as many of them are – everyone made it to the 8:30 meeting time, loaded the buses and then headed into the Ashland church sanctuary. Sydney Owens, a recent New G member, gave a nice re-cap of her days in New G. She encouraged the current group to take advantage of the opportunities Tour and New G in general can provide. She said “I feel so honored to be a part of something so cool!”
Pastor Gary invited everyone to receive communion, which was served by the New G officers. The service concluded with New G singing their traditional benediction – “The Lord Whom We Love”. Then it was off the the buses to take the group photo followed by last hugs and goodbyes and then everyone loaded Faith and Hope. I didn’t get a picture of it, but many of us witnessed the Hope bus wheels turning as Matt ran to catch up after a quick errand to his car. But he made it!
Our lunch stop was in Columbia – somehow Bemo knew exactly what exit you take for Steak & Shake (128A). So one bus overwhelmed Steak & Shake and the other headed to Wendy’s and McDonalds. My compliments to Steak & Shake for handling it all very well. [On a personal note, by this time, I had run over a heavy wire basket that fell out of a pickup, I destroyed a styrofoam cooler from another vehicle and ran over remnants of some wooden box. I hardly ever hit road debris, but three times in the first 200 miles seems like a record. Oh by the way, I bought four new tires last week – including road hazard insurance! But Keegan – our car guy – checked out the underside of my car and didn’t see any damage!]
It was a relatively short trip from Columbia to St. Charles, or more accurately New Town. It’s literally a new town that is a very well planned community. I would liken it to a modern version of the town in the movie Pleasantville. The church building is only eight years old, but New G has been singing at previous locations (and this one) as the St Charles Christian Church. It’s a nice, modern facility and the midst of nicely designed houses and streetscapes. Down the street appeared to be the downtown area with many restaurants and entertainment venues – again, designed with a well thought out plan. In the morning there is an event called the Big Shark Marathon which apparently involves a bike, swim and run – lots of miles of each. New G will be a part of the service at the same church at 9:00 in the morning, and the runners will be running right by the church around 8:30! If you’re really curious about New Town – go to www.ntga.net – it’s pretty interesting.
Although I was never a singer on the risers, I have been to various parts of several Tours, but this is the first time I have been at THE first performance. I can tell you that if tonight’s quality and energy was any indication of the rest of tour, I can hardly wait.
You can all be very proud of this group.
That’s all for now, the link to pictures is below. Be sure to look for comments on some of the pictures – Picasa seems to display them in strange places, but I think you’ll find them.
p.s. I can’t guarantee every update will be this long! I was on a roll. 🙂