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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Some Christmas Memories

I have just a moment to update this, but I wanted you to get a glimpse of what my Christmas looked like . . . Thankfully it was a fun day filled with a new family that I have grown to love deeply. I did miss my family and familiar Christmas traditions, but the transition of getting to giving to all of the children was wonderful! I hope you can see some of the new Christmas memories I tried to capture.

Here are some pics from the Christmas Eve Service that we all dressed up for.

Christmas morning . . . mitts and Bibles for presents!

Laura eating some delicious turkey that we made for the Christmas diner!
I wish I had the energy to blog more, I will try to update again soon. We are starting back at concerts tomorrow morning. It is hard to believe that our week of Christmas camp is now a memory and we are back on the road. It was very relaxing and restful. I hope your Christmas season has brought you joy and peace.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve

Here are some pics of the past few days at camp!
(Peace, Patrick, and Hannington assisting in the decorating)

Last night we had a birthday party for all of the kids who had birthdays since tour started. The party hats were a big hit and of course a dance party began immediately. At breakfast this morning I saw all of the party hats again!

Here are a few pics I took this morning of Christmas Eve - thankfully the sun is shinning and the kids are able to play as much as they want outside. The last few days have been rainy and cold so they have been stuck inside.

Hannington and Rachel enjoying the lovely sunny morning!

Sarah and Gilbert small were taking a break from the big football game this morning to pose for a pic.

Apparently we are staying at a reunion centre - but I was excited to see us on the sign, at least I noticed three days after we got here!

Tonight we are going to attend a Christmas Eve service at the church that is hosting us at camp and then finish off the Christmas story with the kids after church. And the only thing left for the Aunties and Uncles is wrapping christmas presents . . . yeah!
Merry Christmas and much love to you all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

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Merry Christmas!

Friends, Family, and whoever reads this blog . . . I want to send my sincerest Christmas wishes to you all (or y'all, I am in Texas but I refuse to say it, I am from Canada after all).

I may have a chance to update this before Christmas, but just in case the wireless isn't available, I thought I would do it now.

We just arrived at Christmas Camp yesterday and this morning we did a performance and tonight will be our last performance until December 27th! We were welcomed by Uncle Brother Doug in Laguna Park, Texas, which consists of 1 traffic light. Now you have to understand, if you have been in the ACC family for the last two years you would have met or heard of Uncle Brother Doug, and I have been hearing about him long before tour started. His church in Laguna Park has welcomed the choir this year for Christmas. We have been overwhelmed with the welcome we have received - even before we arrived we called ahead to see if we could get a tree, of course when we saw our accomadations a tree was up lite, and a train around the base.

Yesterday the huge grocery shop for 32 mouths over the span of 7 days was done by some wonderful aunties (I stayed behind to setup) and Uncle Brother Doug. I just got to hear some of the stories but let me pass them onto you - Angela was looking for coffee but didn't really know what kind would be suitable, no sooner was the request made and he was on his phone to a friend at a Starbucks making sure that there would be coffee ground and ready for the chaperones. As you can imagine after 3 months of the children jumping around and dancing in the same costumes - they smell to say the least - this was mentioned in passing and he told us it would be taken care of by the time we leave (they have to be dry cleaned, 22 children x 2 different costumes = 44 costumes!). Needless to say this man and his church eminates generosity, another quick example, he makes breakfast every Sunday morning before preaching to them. We walked into a room wafting of homemade english muffin (who knew you could make them?), french toast, and homemade cinnamon roll smells this morning. It was wonderful!! He was there flipping french toast in his camo apron.

(One of the fridges nice and full!)

I am sorry that my time has run out, at the moment the children are sound checking for the concert that will start soon. So I will hopefully be able to in contact with you one way or the other over the next few days.

On a personal note, it is hard to believe, even though its only 4 days away, that Christmas is here. Last year I somewhat knew that I would be doing this, but it was so vague it was hard to really picture. But I am missing my dear family and wishing that I could just have a taste of Christmas past with them. I think though that we (chaperones) are all trying to recreate Christmas with touches of home through recipes and traditions. We all know that it will not be Christmas as we once knew it, we are excited to share this holiday with our kids, but I know that I will have moments of homesickness and moments that I would just like to see and touch those that I love. I know that if I continue to surround myself with these wonderful 22 children and 9 new brothers and sisters I have adopted I will feel the love of Jesus on the day we celebrate his birth.
(Racheal - Mary and Patrick - Joseph looking for the stable)

I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

TOMS for All!

So many churches, so many hosts, so many opportunities = so many blessings!

Tour life is all about flexibility and different is normal. Meaning our stays at churches can vary from 1 night to 5 nights (not the norm). This is that time - 5 night stay.

I have been so blessed by this church and by my hosts, and I know I speak for all of my fellow chaperones.

One of the ways that this particular church blessed us is with . . . SHOES! The kids received shoes when we first came to America, and that has been their only pair they wear. You can imagine that after three months of wear and tear and growth, it is time for new shoes.

As we ventured to this new church it was evident that they had partnered with a shoe organization TOMS ( - for every shoe purchased a shoe is donated to children in need in Africa and South America.

The children performed during their church services and after the first performance they came out and announced that the children would be receiving new shoes! I was sitting at my product table with Auntie Lindsey and watching the tv screen of the service and all the sudden we were rejoicing with the news.

Today we were all (yes even the auntie and uncles!!) fitted with our own TOMS. It was great to watch as the church staff sat putting shoes on the kids and then receiving numerous hugs and thank yous. It is such a timely gift as we will be able to wrap them and give them to the kids for Christmas - approaching so fast!

As I go to bed tonight I realize again at how the body of Christ is so beautiful - it has been a joy to get to know many different members doing their important jobs that are custom tailored to their giftings.

ps check out the toms website - very cool

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Choir 32 unites with Choir 31

The pictures that follow are of meeting up with Choir 31 . . . the story goes something like this.

Andrew (tour leader) tells the kids and chaperones that the church who is hosting our stay at the gym has planned an afternoon activity for us. Of course he adds that it has been approved and that it will be good. I however was a little doubtful, I wasn't exactly sure what activity I would be super excited about, we weren't leaving the building and there was no sort of activity being set up for us. So at a certain time we all get called outside to wait for the surprise to enter the parking lot. We begin watching cement trucks pass and cars . . . but then to all of our surprise it was an African Children's Choir bus!!!! It had to loop around a few times because the bus driver was trying to give their kids the excitement of seeing our bus sitting in the parking lot. So our kids had much time to anticipate the arrival of a fellow choir on the road.

Choir 31 was on route from Texas to Chicago and had to drive right through Little Rock AR; we had the perfect accommodations for them to ALL spend the night (an entire gym floor)! It was so much fun to watch the kids greet their friends and for the chaperones to reunite. We have been told that this rarely happens, to see other choirs on the road, but this is the second time we have seen Choir 31 - the first time was within the first week of being in the States with the kids. So we were excited to see them all once again and share lots of laughs and stories.

The pictures that follow are in reverse order, so if you start at the bottom and work your way up you will see the kids getting excited about the choir, then their arrival, the aunties having a little too much fun with the rummage sale (the uncles and boys left us for a football game that we won!) and then a picture of both choirs together!

At the moment we are in Louisiana and at the Barksdale Airforce Base. We are singing at the chapel in the morning and then a church tomorrow night. In other words I must go to bed before a busy day tomorrow.

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Choir 32 meets Choir 31

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sleepover Hangover

Do you remember that feeling when you would stumble home in a fog of irritation, nausea, and exhaustion from a sleepover mid-Saturday morning? I had the privilege of vividly remembering childhood "funtimes" when I awoke from a restless sleep Monday morning.

Let me take a moment and explain - sometimes on tour we have the joy of having a giant sleepover in a church, like the last entry, or in this case a gym. We had a gracious church accept our last minute booking and they decided it best to put us up in a gym of a local Christian school who is on their American Thanksgiving break. We rejoiced when we found out that it was not a hardwood floor but carpeted, but lets remember a basketball still needs to bounce on it so it can't be that plush.

After making all of the bedtime preparations and finding my sleeping bag I settled in for a nice rest. I would like to say that I was awoken at 2am, but I had not yet fallen asleep, to a fire alarm and strobe light. This continued for the next 20 mins, no do not worry no fire brigade came and the rain coming heavily down convinced us all that it was just a false alarm and there was no need to get the children wet. So as we waited patiently for a kind soul to come and turn it off, we spotted a few creatures running across the floor, right by our heads, yes that is right - Cockroaches!! Lets say that even after the fire alarm was turned off I was a little uneasy, thinking every brush of breeze on my toes were more friends!

So the next morning, I stumbled around Walmart on my day off and around noon realized I could no longer put a sentence together. At that point the gym floor and my noise-cancelling headphones lulled me to sleep.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Movie Night

Yes we are back on the road in Little Rock AR, we arrived early this morning to a nice carpeted church floor to welcome our weary bodies. Thankfully the aunties scoured the church for any sort of cushion to sleep on, and yes the Youth Room proved faithful! So we did sleep in somewhat comfort - actually I can't complain I did not wake up once and felt actually rested in many days.

As a treat for the kids and all of their hard work as they prepared for Uncle Desmond Tutu - we suprised them with Movie Night . . . Madagascar!

Of course we were planning this before we even knew what type of a church we were in, and this morning as Andrew was talking to the staff and telling them our plans they said, oh well we have a children's movie theatre upstairs. Seriously, of all the churches I have been in at this point I have never seen a theatre room!

The children got burgers and fries and had dinner and a movie!

And then of course POPCORN followed! It was so fun to hear the children (and Auntie Lindsey's) reaction to the movie.

Now they are soundly sleeping!!!! I should go and do the same - good night

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Yes the great city of Boston . . .

Yesterday morning our day started at 3am and we arrived via two flights from Little Rock AR to Boston MA to sing at the Greenbuild International Conference ( You are probably wondering what the African Children's Choir has to do with building "green" but the correlation was to the keynote speaker of this morning's main session. With every seat full the room of 10,000 watched as the children sang to introduce Archbishop Desmond Tutu and sang again once he finished.

During sound check yesterday it struck me again how wonderful it is to be a part of this organization. I was chatting with a few of the guys who were setting up the stage. They had just torn down Tina Turner's show the night previous and were commenting that these kids have much more talent than half the shows they set-up. I just sat back and thought to myself, if you had any idea where they came from you would have thought these were hopeless children that would just become another statistic. But I thought back to how innovative Ray Barnett - our founder - was when he decided, during one of the most volatile times for Uganda, to bring Africa to the West. I daily witness how this goal is still continuing to be meet 24 years later.

This morning after the children came off the stage they were greeted by Uncle Tutu and smiled for some pictures. After more greetings by VIP's of the conference and many thanks the kids headed to their change room. As I was leaving one of the ladies with Desmond Tutu casually asked how long the tour was. After being shocked at the 15 month length she asked one of the most common questions "Don't their families miss them?" I responded saying that the families were so delighted that these children had the opportunity of a life-time. And these children are some of the most vulnerable children in Africa, you would not believe where they come from. At that point she lost control of her emotions and said thank you so much!

Even though the conversation was no longer than a minute, the impact the children had on her and many others was incredible! Auntie Laura and I were just discussing how we sit back at times look at how this opporunity is so much bigger than we could possibly imagine.

In just a few hours we will be back on a plane to Little Rock AR to continue on with "normal" tour life!
(The girls, Sarah and Scovia, enjoying a lovely bed at the Westin!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Girls Night Out!

I can’t believe the role reversal that has taken place in the last few months. Just four months ago I was living the life of nanny – taking care of other people’s children so that they could go out for “adult” time. Last night was the first time that I experienced the flip side to this.

It is Auntie Laura’s birthday on Thursday and Auntie Angela had a most giving host the last few days and gave her free reign of the car – this does not happen often. So we had to strike while the iron was hot and celebrate a little early for Laura’s birthday. Tuesday night was soon announced “Girls Night Out”! Our jobs as Aunties though were still needed. After our kids were feed, showered, and in pj’s ready to jump in bed, we were ready to escape for a few short hours of freedom.

I told my two girls, Peace and Esther, that I would be going out and that I would be back in a little while. Once they understood I would be eating cake and coming back to sleep in the house that night, Peace offered to go in my place and I could just have the luxury of staying home. Esther promptly busted her out and said “Peace just wants to eat cake!” I told Peace I would make the sacrifice and go out and she could stay in while I ate cake. It was strange to be giving the girls hugs goodbye and telling them to be good and go bed promptly.

After all meeting up we headed to the cutest part of St. Charles MO – old town. On a Tuesday night at 8pm it was not the most happening place in town, but it was the cutest and I think we caused enough noise to create a bit of a scene. After ordering a round of waters and a few desserts we enjoyed much more laughter and conversation that didn’t include “excuse me auntie” every 2 minutes. I guess this is a good introduction to parenting. 14 months to go . . . !

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Fun

It's always a treat to enjoy a host family with another chaperone. Friday night after the concert I had the pleasant surprise of sharing a host family with Angela and four girls. We made the trek out to the country from Springfield IL and were greeted by some friendly dogs, horses, and cows. Some of the girls thought it would be a good idea to ride the cows, apparently what they do at home but they were persuaded to ride the horses instead.

Peace and Rachael were not afraid at all to hop onto the horse. We were able to enjoy a lazy Saturday morning on the farm. There was even time for a little rehearsal.

The Auntie and Uncle lent us the appropriate attire for a day at the farm! The girls loved wearing the cowboy hats.

We have been in Springfield since Saturday and are heading out tomorrow morning. We will have a bit of a crazy schedule for the next couple of days. On Tuesday night we will have a concert and drive directly to Indianapolis to spend a very short night in a hotel. I will then wave goodbye to the choir and six of the chaperones very early in the morning as they head to San Fransisco. While they back up Josh Groban at a OnexOne benefit I will be on a mini vacation in Chicago. Once Saturday morning hits we will all be on the road together heading to Evansville, IN for a Sunday morning concert. Tour life never gets boring and there are always new places to see. I'm hoping though to enjoy some familiar sites and people over a few days in Chicago!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Child-like Faith

Daily I am struck by the children's words, whether it is their vocabulary that cracks me up . . . "Auntie are you wearing a braid in your hair because it was disturbing you?" or their hysteria as they see a Chicago Train go underground. But over the last few days I have been watching as their words demonstrate how God is working in their lives.

I had the opportunity to stay in the middle of a cornfield with farmers last week. The two girls I was with absolutely loved it, it reminded them of home, all of the maize surrounding the house. One afternoon the girls asked what the tractor was so our lovely host auntie took us to a corn field and we had the opportunity to go inside a brand new combine and see how it all worked. As we were driving along the combine had to dump the corn into the trailer so I was commenting to the Uncle about how much the tractor would hold. Out of the blue Peace chimed in, "Auntie, God knows how many pieces of corn, he can count them one by one." I just sat there and said yes, He definitely knows. It struck me how quickly and innocently Peace acknowledged the omniscience of God.

Again tonight as I was tucking in three boys, we sat around with the host family and each one prayed. It was Gilbert's (small) turn to pray and told the Lord that we did not have anything to give to this host family, but he asked God to reward them. I just sat again in amazement as this little 10 year old recognized his limitations, but knew that God was able to bless those who serve Him.

It is truly a joyful experience to be surrounded by these children. Even when, on the bus, I have my ipod in (Jackson has started calling it my applesauce because it has an Apple sticker on the back) and my eyes are closed and Jackson continues to ask questions and talk as if we were having a conversation. I get greeted with 22 smiling faces and warm hugs every morning and they fight to tell me their latest adventure with their host families. When I become weary and doubtful of why I have chosen to live out of a suitcase for 15 months, I am quickly reminded that I have the amazing opportunity to somehow teach these children lasting lessons that will grow them into people who are changing Africa!

little Christopher enjoying some ice cream and watching a personal fireworks show, compliments of wonderful hosts!