Where to start with Friday? That was a crazy day. I should have known it would be since it was both Friday the 13th and a full moon (and apparently a significant radiological event since there was a massive solar eruption sending heaps of radiation toward the earth at terrifying speed!).
We started out with an important tradition: thank you notes. It is important for everyone who supported our effort to know how much we appreciate it. So we take some time to make sure that each and every one will receive a note hand-written by one of the youth. (PS If you're reading this and you don't get one, will you please let me know so I can review my records and see what happened? Thanks!)
We had to make an adjustment in the schedule because it was raining. We had planned to walk the Freedom Trail. Well we didn't want to walk it in the rain!!! We'd melt! So we went to a mall in Boston instead. Several of the girls had makeovers. And a couple of the boys, who as I understand tried on a dress. I don't have a picture, but I'll pay good money for one!
It looked like there was going to be a break in the rain in the afternoon, so we decided to have Wes drop us at Quincy Marketplace and walk the 2nd half of the Freedom Trail, which would include Paul Revere's house, the Old North Church, the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill, and a couple of other things. Carolyn agreed to be our tour guide. Here we're discussing the plan for the afternoon. Please ignore how dorky the straps look across my chest...by the end of the week carrying "the football" (the clever name for my backpack because of its importance), my neck and shoulders were in need of assistance.
I'm not sure what happened in this picture. It kindof looks like Rhett pulled Curt's finger or something. I could be wrong.
Foiled! Tric got some foil at a stop early in the trip (to save some leftover pizza). But there's no such thing as leftover pizza. So every now and then you'd hear her say, "It's ok...I still have some foil." It became the solution for virtually any problem. Like Windex. Now that I'm looking at the picture below I see why Kim wanted me to use the other one...in the other one you can see Brittany's face. Sorry, Brittany!
So Wes dropped us off and we started up the Freedom Trail. We began, of course, in Diagon Alley.
Then to Paul Revere's house...
...where we learned that the guy pictured on Sam Adams beer is actually not Sam Adams but rather Paul Revere because Sam Adams was too ugly. Also that Paul Revere dabbled in dentistry. I think, for my mouth, I'd prefer the work be done by someone who specializes in that endeavor.
In addition to Dash Board Jesus, we also had flat Jesus. He enjoyed the Freedom Trail, I think.
Here's another one of Carolyn filling the heads of the youth with important information about the various landmarks. Among the interesting facts she shared? She pointed out an intersection where she claimed Paul Revere had an accident with my great great great grandfather's horse and buggy. For the record, I feel certain it was Paul's fault. And also for the record, I have never had an accident in Boston (though I was once on the bus when we did).
Outside the Old North Church is a memorial for soldiers fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is one [blank] dog tag for each of the fallen. It's a lot of tags. It reminded me of a friend of ours who lost her daughter-in-law in the war. Before we moved on, we had a prayer for the lost and their families.
The Old North Church is very pretty on the inside. It is still an active church!
Seating is divided into cubes, which at one time were purchased by families. They have one decorated how it might have been when this was still common practice. Jonathan suggested we begin selling reserved pews in our sanctuary as a fundraising project for our next music mission.
The plaque on the wall identifies when Charles Wesley preached in the Old North Church. Worth noting: some of our youth said, "Who's Charles Wesley?" Remediation is required.
That way up there...that's where the lanterns were lit. 2 of them. The British were coming by sea, after all.
Our next stop was this cemetery, where Carolyn again shared some interesting facts. And the rain began to fall lightly.
And then...disaster. On Friday the 13th, with a full moon and solar radiation, in a cemetery, we happened across a black cat. Had we known what was good for us, we would have immediately assumed the fetal position and began saying rosaries. Or at the very least taken Dash Board Jesus with us to counteract the bad mojo.
Nope. We didn't. And the rain picked up. Just enough to be a bother as Carolyn told us about the great molasses wave that killed 20 people and several horses. The wave of sticky was apparently 25 feet tall, and many residents claimed that decades later you could still smell it on hot days.
Near that spot, an instruction on the ground. I thought some things went without saying, but they're leaving nothing to chance. They must have met Curt before...
Then we walked across a bridge. You walk across a grate, so you can see through to the river below. Despite the assurances of the yellow paint, it is not actually an acrophobia friendly zone, though it didn't bother me.
Kim says she told Jonathan to talk like a pirate, but he missed the pirate ship in the background so he just looked confused. I don't know. He looks that way a lot. And the rain picked up a little more.
And then even more. It was a legit steady rain when we got to the Constitution. The youth all went through security and onto the ship (I hung back to stay with Carolyn and also because there was cover there). Turns out there was cover on the boat as well, as they went below decks and listened to a presentation by the navy guy (who apparently was easy to look at) about the ship. We let them know when the rain slacked off.
When the time came, they emerged from the ship and came back to the covered area, and when we thought the bus was nearly there, we set out to where we thought it was going to be. 2 problems: it wasn't nearly there, and it didn't come to where we thought it was going to be. So we pretty much got soaked.
But the youth didn't seem to mind. Let me say this about the youth on this trip. Despite the bus breakdowns, schedule shenanigans, getting drenched while walking the Freedom Trail, etc etc etc, they didn't complain or whine. They made the best of it. At every turn. Seriously, probably the best tour with least drama I can remember. I mean, seriously. I asked them if they were pumped about being all wet for our senior night dinner, and...
Senior night was memorable as usual. Dinner at Cheers, where everybody knows your name. I gave my seniors Cheers tshirts and reminded them (since many of them aren't actually leaving Atlanta!) that if they need a place where everybody knows their name, we will remember it. The emotional kerfuffle that eluded me in the final concert hit me here as I talked about our seniors, how I'd seen them grow, and how proud I was to see them move on to their next adventure.
It was a [relatively] early night. We got back to the hotel about 8:30pm. Had everyone in their rooms sometime after 9:00. As I checked them in to their rooms, I said, "Early morning, guys. I'm removing the tape at 4am. You need to walk out the door by 4:10am. Don't let it be said that this all failed because of you."
And let me just say...when I knocked on doors at 4am, nearly everyone was ready to walk out the door. Not that everyone was happy about it...
But we made it. The nice folks at the hotel provided us with bagged breakfast so we could get on the bus and get to the airport.
But just before we left, we took a moment to honor our bus driver, Wesley. He is now the proud owner of 3 tour tshirts, as he has driven us since our Dallas tour. He's the best driver ever. The kids love him, the chaperones love him, and I am fortunate to call him a friend. I asked if I could call him to talk about itineraries in the future, and he's game.
We got to the airport in plenty of time. Our planning paid off, as we made it to our gate in orderly fashion and left nobody behind. Great job, guys!
We boarded the plan, flew for 2 1/2 hours or so, and we were home. I required the youth to check in with me before they left so I could acknowledge that they were "somebody else's problem." Finally the last couple of chaperones walked away, and I was standing at baggage carousel 3 all alone.
That's a strange feeling at the end of the week. For 7 days I've been wholly responsible for the care and feeding of a choir of 45. Mine have been the first boots on the field of battle and the last off. I have assumed responsibility for the things that have gone well and the things that haven't alike. All of a sudden I'm responsible for me and me alone. The mixture of relief and melancholy is hard to understand and even harder to explain.
Because we never got to the Bunker Hill monument, I never got to give my final devotional. So I'll summarize here. While we're walking the Freedom Trail, we see all kinds of things that have been created to help us remember things. Most notably, the Bunker Hill monument. But all along the way there are plaques and stones and statues put there to remind us for as long as they are there of things that are important to us. And those are important things! Moments in our history that define how our nation would emerge and as a result how we would emerge. Had the moments memorialized on the Freedom Trail happened differently, our lives could be vastly different from what they are today.
But I wonder if those things are the most important to remember. Don (the pastor who had a birthday on Thursday), said that his 93rd birthday was one he would never forget. And that's because we were there to celebrate with him. For a week we've sung, laughed, shared stories. And while there are no monuments to those memories, they are nevertheless important to us and will remain a part of us.