Saturday, June 14, 2014

Friday Epic Post...and Arrival at Home

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 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 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.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Preliminary Post

Goodness.  It's been quite a day.  Alternate rainy-day activities, walking part of the trail (in the rain anyway despite our best efforts), a twist with the bus schedule.  And at the same time it was senior night.  There's so much to say.

For now, though, all I can say is "goodnight."  Tomorrow begins at 3:30am.  I'll work on an epic post tomorrow.  You won't want to miss it!

PS.  Today is Friday the 13th.  It's a full moon.  While walking the Freedom Trail we encountered a black cat in a cemetery.  I sure am glad we brought Dash Board Jesus to counteract the bad vibes!

Epic Post for Thursday

Starting out today with an admission of my jealousy of Jerry Hudspeth's smile.  Though it's rarely seen in concert (had to make a bet in order to see it), it can frequently be seen at breakfast.  Looking at the picture below, it occurs to me that we're all the time talking to the youth about smiling...perhaps we should mention it to Mitch!

Nothing says "tourist" like a backpack with camera, location specific sweatshirt, and personal water bottle.  Wow.  What a dork.  But seriously, thanks to Kim for the sweatshirt!

We gathered for a group picture at the beginning of Long Wharf.  Yes, yes.  That's Andrew on the ground at the front.  Again.

Ummmmmm...  Apparently strange things happen when I walk away from the group?  I left to get our harbor cruise tickets.  I could be wrong, but this looks a lot like concert formation.  To my knowledge we had no concert scheduled at this time.  Can someone please fill me in?

We went on a 45 minute harbor cruise.  The narrated cruise told us about the waterfront and associated landmarks as well as letting the chaperones relax a bit because the youth were all held captive onboard!

After the cruise we went back to the Quincy Market for lunch.  This is a pretty cool place.  Lots of shopping and options for eating.

And there are some interesting characters milling about.  I didn't know they were in the business of giving 5 back in the late 18th century.  Shows you what I know!

After lunch we headed to our final concert.  Kim got this nice picture of Riley.  She's a first-year alumna, so she came along with us.  She's enjoying having the freedom to sing with us or cut up dance make faces be ridiculous sit in the back with the chaperones.

"We are the three amigos..."  I think in the next frame they do the 3 amigo salute.  Unfortunately the footage of that event (and all associated photos of these three in sombreros) has been lost.

Seriously, this was possibly the best concert I've ever had with a youth choir.  Engaged, first rate singing.  Animated participation by all, including some smiles from people I'd decided didn't know how to smile.  All around.  Right before we sang I reminded the choir that this is the last concert we will ever sing together (next time we sing some of these singers will be missing and others will be added...cue "The Circle of Life" from Lion King).  Great concert.  Super fun.  And then great visiting.

It was Don's birthday.  He was 93 yesterday.  So we took some time out of the concert to sing happy birthday to him.

He was a Methodist Minister.  So naturally after we sang he took the opportunity to preach!  But he was preaching to the choir...

Beth and I had to drag them away!

You can almost hear the spurs and see the six-shooters...

Things began to improve yesterday.  We received word our bus would be back at our hotel when we got back from the game.  We were not late anywhere we went.  The kids seem to have enough money to eat (they were overheard thinking through how many meals they have left to pay for to determine if they could buy souvenirs).  I wonder why...

...ah.  Of course.  Dash Board Jesus is back in the van.

So then we went to Fenway.  After taking care of our extra tickets (thanks, Curt!), we met up with a couple of friends.  It was great to see Maggie Gleason and her husband, who moved to Boston in December or January.  Also, by chance, David Brewer was in town on business.  I think we all had a good time at the game.  We root root rooted for the home team (which won the game, leaving Henner deeply disappointed that there were no fireworks).  We enjoyed fried dough (please quit calling them funnel cakes...also, this is just what we need...more sugar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  And of course the ballpark hotdog, still the most compelling reason to go to a ballpark.  Except perhaps for watching William Morgan dance.  He tore it up.  Folks from all around us were cheering him.  I'm just pretty sure he's on youtube somewhere this morning.

Then we formed the orange and did the pizza man (kudos to Jonathan for coming up with "with these Red Socks in my I can be a Bostonian."

Jeremy Nix is jealous.  He has to be.  Paul found a place called the Bell-in-Hand Tavern.  It's apparently the oldest tavern.  They have great fish and chips.  And of course their logo is a handbell.  What's not to like?

Mitch finally in his element on an organ bench in the chapel where we sang.  He told me all about what generation it is and how it compares to several other organs including his at home, the one in our chapel, and a few others.  Seriously this dude knows everything there is to know about the organ business.

Finally today, a glance back to the harbor cruise, when Jonathan wanted to know why we didn't ride "Codzilla."  It's a jet boat.  Two words, Brown: vomit comet.  I'm not cleaning that up, and I'm not asking Carolyn to clean it up either (PS, thanks, Carolyn, for taking care of that the other day).  we went on the slower version with lower risk of revisiting anyone's lunch.

It was a great day.  Things are turned on their ear today because it's supposed to rain, which isn't good for walking a trail.  We're going to plan B, but perhaps that shouldn't surprise us.  Taking care of some things at the hotel this morning.  Then we'll have lunch at a mall.  Because as Curt said we haven't spent enough time shopping.  We're going to figure out how to catch some of the history after lunch...then senior night dinner.  And in the morning...many of our youth find out for the first time that the clock says "4" twice each day.

The official number is still 365, but when you add our flashmobs, I suspect we could increase the number.