Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 15 - Wichita KS to Denver CO

June 28th

Today we drove about 525 miles and set our clocks back to Mountain Time when we crossed in to Colorado.

Our route today took us north from Wichita to Salina KS, where we picked up I-70 and headed west towards home. We had a little more unseasonably cool weather this morning when we hit a rainstorm west of Salina. The prairie looked beautiful under the rainy skies.

We had a relatively "leisurely lunch" in Colby KS.  We were buffeted by strong prairie gusts (it's like deja vu all over again) as we drove west and Don had to wrestle with the steering wheel to keep the bus on the road. But, we made it, safe-and-sound, to Denver a little after 4:00 PM local time.

We got our rooms, set some boundaries, then turned the kids loose on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver.

The kids had to be in the hotel by 9:00 PM, but we didn't do the room check until 11:00 PM, so they went to the pool, hung out, and straightened Gabe's hair (unfortunately, no one took a picture...).

Tomorrow is the last day of tour.  We are going to get an early start and make our way back to SLC. 

From Terry - The 3rd Row On The Right

The 3rd row on the right!

I’ve had a great view from this seat for 18 tours.  Oceans, rivers, forests, deserts, grasslands, plains, mountains, big cities, small towns, famous sites and obscure, but memorable, curiosities. I’ve been privileged to see more of this country than most people could ever dream of seeing.

The best view has been on the inside of the bus.  Nearly 200 young faces have passed by while I’ve been sitting here, most of them for four years, some for five. The first time they file past they are still children, anxious about their first tour.  Will it be as fun as advertised?  Will it make a year of rehearsal and fundraising worthwhile? 

When they file past for the last time, after four or five years of travels, they are young adults.  They have come to understand just how wonderful and significant an experience the choir has been in their lives.  Their eyes, in those final trips up and down the aisle are often filled with tears.  Tears of sadness that their time in the choir is ending, and tears of joy for the experiences they’ve had and the friends with whom they made so many memories.

What happens between the first and last trips up the aisle is a magical thing to see.  They slowly begin to discover who they are and what they might want to do with their lives. They decide how they are going to treat the world and the people around them.  They experience incredible highs, demoralizing lows and too many lessons learned the hard way.   In the end they emerge as motivated, compassionate contributing young adults. 

I think of those young adults as friends for life.  Many of them I love dearly. For every one of those faces I can recall a fond memory.  Every one!

To me that is the beauty of the whole Wesley Bell Ringer experience.  There are so many moments I’d like to be able to do over.  Words spoken in anger, haste or stress that I’d like to take back.  Reactions to situations that I’d have done differently in retrospect.  I suspect that most of those 200 young people have some of the same regrets, but those are not the moments that come to mind when we reflect on our time together.  We overcame the difficult times.  We remember with pride the challenges and adversity we’ve overcome together.  We remember the joys we’ve shared together.  We remember the music we made together and the impact it had on our audiences.  We treasure our friendships and our shared experiences. And, we wish the same for those who follow us.

It has been an honor to direct this choir.  I’ve directed the choir in some incredible venues.  I have been blessed beyond words by the relationships with ringers and parents.  Thank you one and all! 

Terry Waite

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Reflections from the Ringers - the Second Years

June 28th

We've heard from the First Years and now it is time for the Second Years.  I didn't give them a prompt, I simply asked them to write about the tour.  I didn't edit or proof-read the entries unless they asked me to. I really wanted this to be "in their own words".

I think my favorite part of tour this year was New Orleans, even though it felt like a million degrees, we still had a really great time. We explored the french quarter, and went into as many voodoo shops as we could find. We had beignets and they were fantastic! I wish we could've stayed a little longer and watched all the crazy street performers, but it was still an awesome day.
-Cullen Mittelstadt

This has been one incredible tour! Everyone has really become family these past couple of weeks. Its good to know that no matter where I am or what I'm going through I'll always have my bell family to rely on. We have seen so much and been to so many places on this tour especially. From the tiny church sanctuaries to the big city of New Orleans, I wouldn't want to spend my time with anyone else!
-Mady Roberts

This tour has been an adventure. i have gotten to know everyone on a more personal level. i've had so much fun exploring the country and meeting new people and seeing new things. my favorite thing we did this year was probably the coke factory, we got to see so many different things there and try a whole bunch of flavors from around the world. i also liked New Orleans that was really a culture shock but it was so so hot. its going to be weirs next year not having catherine, Larni, Desi, Braden and Terry but it will be a whole new adventure and a whole new choir without them i will miss them a ton but i'm excited to see who will step up and become the new leaders next year. This tour really has been great but i'm so excited to get home and sleep in my own bed, stay in the same place for more than one night and see my family and pets.
-Bobbie Jacobsen

Tour this year was a great experience. I have gotten a lot closer to everyone in the choir. The trip alone has been really interesting and very insightful on things like JFK's assassination and on slavery. All of the museums we have visited were really cool. Tour seemed to start out slow but now its already the end. There are a few people leaving this year and it will be hard to get use to. This years tour was a great experience. We go to see a lot of historical museums and places that not a lot of people see. Next year when Justin becomes the director of the choir i think that it will be a good step for the choir.
-Corey Knapp

This tour has been filled with tons of excitement and lots of more memories to treasure. This tour is a very special tour to me because this is Terry and Mama Lucy's last tour with us and on the awesome WBR bus that has been filled with laughter, tons of sleeping, and other weird randoms things that happen. Terry has taught me a lot through out my first two years in the Wesley Bell Ringers. From my very first tour till the end of my second tour, Terry has changed my life for the best of me, I can't thank him and Mama Lucy enough for what they have done to help shape my life and the person who I will become. I will always treasure the special moments I have had with Terry and Mama Lucy and looked forward to the new memories I will make with Justin.
-Katya Wahl

Tour this year has been really great; we've been able to see so many places that I had never been to, especially in the South. All the other ringers are great and the chaperones are fantastic, and Don, the bus driver, is really great. He always gets us where we need to go. Tour is a great experience and I'm glad I've been able to go!
-Chris Castleberry

Tour has been super great this year. I have had so much fun this year. I've made fantastic relationships with all the new kids, and the kids that have been in the choir before. Playing some great bus games, and finding new positions on the bus to sleep throughout the day is always the best way to pass time. Concerts have been absolutely amazing and just outstanding. Don, our bus driver, is so much fun to talk to, and can always make you laugh. I would have to say that my favorite places to go to were the Civil Rights Institute, The Coca-Cola Museum, and The Country Music Hall Of Fame. I also must include that it was really great to see Kay Mattena, an alumni of the choir, and her family again, after a few months of not seeing her, and I thank her and her family a ton for having us perform at their church. Before I go, I would also like to add a quick thank you to all the host families on this tour. Without y'all, gladly taking us into your homes and giving us bed/breakfast, we couldn't have done tour without you, and we really do appreciate all your help, you all are a big part of tour. And thank you to my family for letting me be gone for two weeks. And thanks to Terry for being a huge part in my life, and the rest of the choir's lives. All of this wouldn't happen if it wasn't for Terry, or Ed. And good luck to Justin Cash in the future. You'll do great. I hope you can deal with me for the next three years. I miss everyone at home, and I hope you can all come to the home concert. It will be AMAZING.
-Peachy Neeld

Tour this year is one for the books. It was so much fun! We got to see so many places along the way that were probably some of the coolest things you will ever see. We got to see the Civil Rights Museum, The Sixth Floor Museum, Houston Space Center, and so much more. I am very proud of this choir and how we have accomplished so much this year especially on tour. I can't wait to see what else we have in us for next year, cause I know we still have more to show. For those that are leaving this year....They have become some of the people I look up to most in my life, and have created a close relationship with. They are a part of my family no matter what happens and I will miss them. But they still have the future ahead of them and I know they will go off and be the best they can be in life. So Good Luck to Desi, Catherine, Larni, and Braden! I will miss you all, but I 3 have complete faith in you! And Thank you Terry for being my director for the past 2 years, it has been a lot of fun and a pleasure to work with you. And Welcome Justin to the Wesley Bell Ringers. 
-Alicia Griffing

Tour was super fun. There were so many things i got to do that i normally would not have been able to do. Like the Bamahenge, that was really weird. a few days into tour i was peopled out and hid under my seat, which proves that one IS able to turn into a hermit even when surrounded by people. I loved tour, but now i am going to go home and pretend that i am the only person that exists and stab anyone that comes within ten feet of me. good bye, see you all soon and hope everyone enjoys our last concert.
-Shannon Meyer

This tour has been such a good experience! i love the south and it was a blast being able to go there with like 28 of my best friends. My favorite day this tour was the day that we all spent on the beach in Florida. We all got like 8 hours of free time so we played in the water and then walked around the town and ate. There has not really been a bad day on this tour which is awesome. I am very excited to go home but it still feels bitter sweet because i am going to have to say good bye to some of my best friends but i know that we will still talk and hang out after tour is over.
-Kelly Williams

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 14 - Morrilton AR to Wichita KS

 June 27th

We're almost to the home stretch. Today was another long day of driving.  Unlike yesterday, however, everything went very well.

There's one thing I forgot to mention in yesterday's post. During Celtic Farewell, a train passed through Morrillton not very far from the church. And it blew its horn. Loudly. Over and over again. One of the kids commented that they thought that someone had played a wrong bass note...when it happened again, they realized it was a train. But that didn't phase these kids too much.  Everyone kept playing and finished the song with only some minor problems.

At some point in every tour, Terry likes to have a picnic lunch and today was the day. A picnic committe was formed to shop for supplies at a grocery store in Tulsa and  then we found a nice park along the Arkansas River. 

The concert tonight was at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Wichita KS.  

The santuary at Covenant provided the opportunity for the "ideal" setup.

This was the last concert before the home concert and the kids played their best, yet.

Dave Haun showed up again.  This time he drove a car and brought his wife Joan.

The concert at Covenant was arranged by Chris Hauser and Machaelle Shetler, two sisters who played in the handbell choirs that Terry directed at Wasatch Presbyterian Church.  Chris was in the first handbell choir that Terry ever directed.

Chris (Knox) Hauser

Machaelle (Knox) Shetler

Tomorrow we have another long bus day to Denver, where we'll spend the night in a hotel getting rested up for the big event on Sunday.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 13 - Westmoreland TN to Morrilton AR

June 26th

We packed the equipment in the bus after the concert last night so that we could make an early start today. We only had one stop planned - Graceland - but a lot of miles to cover.

The folks from Westmoreland UMC and Fairfield UMC dropped us at the church at 7:00 AM.  We packed the suitcases and uniform bags, then headed west towards Memphis.

Graceland was an interesting place.  I expected a much larger house, but it was surprisingly small.  

The mansion from the backyard

It was pretty extravagant and like a time warp back to the 70s. 

I think everyone enjoyed the tour.

After a quick (and moderately expensive) lunch at Graceland, we got back on the road to Morrilton AR.  Unfortunately, we were not the only ones heading west on I-40.  We hit a serious traffic jam about an hour west of Memphis, then another one just outside of Little Rock. We finally arrived at the church at 6:15 PM, about an hour later than we predicted when we left Graceland.  We switched things up a bit and ate dinner first, THEN unloaded the bus and set up for the concert.  The concert started a few minutes late, but all things considered, it wasn't too bad.

The concert tonight was at First United Methodist Church in Morrilton AR.

The church is very nice and the kids played very well.

Tomorrow we are going to go to Wichita KS for our last concert before the home concert.