Choir 40 have enjoyed the last 4 weeks performing to sold out crowds while taking in valuable lessons and experiences from the road. Here are some of their highlights…
The children loved performing to a packed house in Nova Scotia, and sang their hearts out, receiving 3 standing ovations, one of which happened after their 2nd song!
Performing at West Point was a highlight for many of the Choir children, particularly Gideon, who connected with a young man from the Mbaale tribe in Uganda, the very tribe Gideon’s family belongs to, and he was inspired to see a man like himself pursuing his dreams.
The children were excited to have their first experience with the ocean upon visiting the chilly waters of the Atlantic during their tour visit to Prince Edward Island. They loved searching for seashells and chasing the receding tide.
The Choir were featured on the local news station, NBC29 during our visit to First Baptist Church of Charlottesville in Virginia. The concert was so full, people were sitting in the upstairs balcony area so they could see. See the video below of the children doing the Tamina Dance from this very performance…
Making their first visit to the SPCA, where rescued animals are sheltered and kept until they find new homes, was a special event for the Choir children. When they first arrive in the States, the children are unaccustomed to household pets because animals in Uganda are undomesticated and often wander the streets scavenging for food. The children have come to love pets, and are learning first-hand the big difference that love and care make in any life.
Returning to Grace Crossing Community Church in Phoenixville, Arizona, is like a brief trip home for our Choirs. Having hosted the Choir at least half a dozen times, Pastor Brent and Auntie Lori know just how to make our Choir feel welcomed- by doing things like spending 3 days preparing a special meal for the kids- complete with Ugandan stew and homemade chapatti. Former Choir chaperone Grace moved from Uganda to Pennsylvania a few years ago, and it truly is a coming home experience for our Ugandan chaperone, Dorothy Nabwami, who was thrilled to have a few days to catch up with a friend she has known since childhood, 6,000 miles away from home.
After studying plant anatomy in class with Auntie Alyssa, the children loved taking a walk outside to study the parts of tulip and daffodil flowers in person and connect classroom study with hands on experience. They especially enjoyed watching the bees buzz from flower to flower after learning about the pollination process.
The children were thrilled to receive their first ever letters from sponsors, and couldn’t wait to sit down and write letters back to them. It was really encouraging for the children to know that their hard work preparing for tour and their joy in performing here in America was having an impact, and to experience first-hand direct support from our Choir friends!
Inspiration of the month…
On tour, the children experience many “firsts,” and are thrilled to see many new things, visit new places, make countless new friends, and try new foods. Some new things, like hotdogs and balloons, are immediate favorites. Others, like milk and cereal, and having dogs as pets, take a little more getting used to. By far and wide, however, one of the children’s most favorite activities is jumping into a swimming pool. An activity rarely enjoyed in Uganda, the children are initially timid near the water. After several hours in their life vests, however, the children go from fearing the water to counting down the seconds until they can jump back into it.
Along with the many new things the children are exposed to here in America, there are always some things that remind them of home. Driving through a winding, forested back road in Pennsylvania, Peace N. (7), mentioned that the many green trees reminded her of home. When the sunshine finally broke through after three weeks of clouds and rain, Emmanuel (9) volunteered that the sun reminded him of Uganda, where, even in the rainy season, the sun’s rays fall on the deep orange soil daily.
I was humbled to hear Gideon’s (9) response when asked if anything in America reminded him of Uganda. Pausing thoughtfully, he said, “You know the houses which are older and are falling down? Yeah, they can remind me of houses back in Uganda.”
In our warm homes, with running water and cozy beds, it is easy to forget that flushing toilets and separate bedrooms are more of a novelty to these children than the norm. It is strikingly easy to see their beautiful faces, their vibrant costumes, their even more radiant smiles and forget that their joy comes from an attitude of pure gratitude; because they know what it is to be without. And yet in in observing their joy in the little things and their gratitude for all things, I find I am learning what it means to live a life that is truly full.
Quote of the month…
Gideon (9), hearing the GPS give audio directions to our bus driver, Rudy, asked “Can the lady see what road we are on?”