We started the day with a concert at a nursing home. It’s an interesting shift to go from a big church to a more intimate setting. Many of the residents had different health issues and weren’t able to communicate easily but — you should’ve seen them when we passed out our shakers. Despite all of their health concerns and limitations, they were still excited to play along and joined us to make music. One man instantly found the beat of our 12-8 piece, and just nailed it. He was fantastic! Their toes were tapping and you could tell that the music had a positive impact on them.
We had lunch and headed to the Howler Monkey reserve! I think the kids are really enjoying these animals. We will be sad to leave our hotel tomorrow and say goodbye to the monkeys who play in the trees outside our rooms.
Then, it was onto San Jose Catholic Church. This community has more Spanish speakers than we have seen so far and I used a translator during the concert. VIP did a great job and when we were finished...
On Day 4 - we went cave tubing! We learned a lot from our guides on a nature walk to the river. Along the way, many kids tried eating termites (they taste like carrot and mint!) and held a giant tarantula!
It was glorious to swim in the cool river. The caves were amazing and just as you might expect, VIP took advantage of those divine acoustics. I was in one of the last groups, so we were probably 10 or so minutes behind the first group. As I descended the final hill down to the entrance to the river, what I heard stopped me in my tracks: it was “Blessing” pouring out of the mouth of the cave. And it was phenomenal.
I’ve heard that piece thousands of times in almost every setting — churches, an ancient monastery in Ireland, under the Chicago bean, in the rotunda of the Texas Statehouse and so many more. Honestly, I’ve done it so many times that I thought its effect had worn off. But this time... this time was different. I was hearing our signature piece, but I wasn’t IN the circle. I got...
Day 3 had a much more relaxed pace than our previous two days. We sang in worship in the morning, and then returned to the hotel for some downtime. The kids splashed in the pool, rested, played games and spent time with a local child who is often at the resort because her mom works here. Some of the kids also attended a Bible study. It was a nice Sunday afternoon, for sure!
On Sunday evening, we returned to the city for Singspiration at Queen Street Baptist Church. We enjoyed a great dinner, and the kids got to hear the testimony of Pastor Lord. (Yes, he’s a pastor and his last name is Lord.) He’s a young, vibrant minister and the kids really listened to what he had to say about how God has worked in his life.
Then, we moved into the sanctuary for our evening concert. The praise team from Queen Street opened the event with some great tunes, including a fun arrangement of “I Will Enter his Gates” with “This is the Day.”
Then it was our turn! It’s fun to watch how we are refining our music...
Every mission trip has a different vibe - and this one is no exception. Voices In Praise is navigating their days well, and battling the heat and humidity with grace and perseverance.
Yesterday, we started at a nursing home in Belize. The choir sang a concert and visited with residents.
It’s always amazing to me to see how God shows up in different settings. We were singing a beautiful piece called “Be Not Afraid” and I looked at one of my altos. She had tears just rolling down her face as she offered words from the scripture of Isaiah: Be not afraid for I have redeemed you. Be not afraid, I have called you by name. I have no idea what was going through her mind at that exact moment, but I know that she was singing her heart out and as I looked at this child, who has had a tough year, I was just overwhelmed.
In that same concert, as we sang Here I am, Lord, many of the residents joined us in singing along. One particular resident of the nursing home used to sing in a choir, and r...
Update from Belize, June 22, 10pm local time (12am EST):
Hello from Belize! We are off to a great start. The singers are in high spirits - even though we've all been up for more than 22 hours. VIP gave their first performance and did a phenomenal job. We'll have photos and more info tomorrow! For now, we rest.
I was on the phone with an alumni member of Voices In Praise. Maddie Buckley (VIP Class of 2014) is a Communications Major at Syracuse University and I was asking for her counsel on a few communications challenges.
"What's on our website?" Maddie asked. And there it was - "Our." Maddie didn't ask me, "What's on your website?" or "What's on VIP's Website?"
"What's on our website?" 4 years removed from VIP, for Maddie (and I hope for all of alums), there is still that sense of connected-ness to VIP. Yes, it's ours.
Earlier this month, we lost a dear friend. Dan Boyer was the chorus teacher at Huntingtown High, and a long-time friend to Voices In Praise. He often conducted workshops with us before Tour and provided a steady stream of encouragement and advice over the years.
We were honored to be asked to offer music at a service to celebrate his life. While this was not an easy task, the VIP singers showed up in wonderful ways to offer music that Dan would have loved.
Below are videos from Dan's service. We thank God for Dan's life and trust that one day, we'll raise our voices with him and all the saints in God's heavenly chorus.
Sit Down Servant (arr. Shackley)with Guest Soloists Molly Wilkerson and James Huchla
A few years ago, our home church underwent a building renovation. One of the best outcomes of that project is a stairwell with some mighty fine acoustics.
I’m sure that in all the meetings on the project – no one ever gave much thought to the stairwell. After all, it’s just a stairwell. It connects two floors. It’s up to code. It does its job. But to VIP, it’s something more.
The VIPs regularly ask to sing there and when we do, it’s pretty special. The sound is amplified and it rolls around in a way that it doesn’t in most other spaces. We’re suddenly able to hear one another, loud and clear, which enables us to tune more easily with one another.
In rehearsal last night, I was reminding the kids to open up and sing out with a little more intention. One singer said, “We need to find our inner stairwell.”
Our inner stairwell. What an interesting phrase. What IS it about that stairwell that makes it special? It seems built for singing. But is it the stairwell, or is it the way that we all...