Back in Atlanta, we are blessed with a rather nice rehearsal space
both for the choir and the orchestra. Today, a quarter of the way
around the globe, your Mount Paran Choir transformed the ship’s
largest bar into its own rehearsal room… and church, too!
Since leaving Vilkovo some 28 hours ago, our collective energies have
been placed toward a) readying ourselves spiritually and mentally for
the tasks ahead and b) rehearsing the selections, in Russian and
English, we will sing in a variety of venues throughout Ukraine.
To accomplish the first, we started this morning with small “family”
groups for devotion and prayer. We all used Acts 2:42-47 as a focal
point for framing our purpose in this country – that by acting
TOGETHER as a body united, we allow God to multiply and compound what
we do in His name and for His kingdom. (I hope you will take the time
to read that selection, too, and remember that even though you are
thousands of miles apart, you play an integral role in our journey
through your prayers of intercession.)
After family time, we started rehearsal #1 of the day (and rehearsal
#3 of this “captive” period on the ship). Of all the saloons and gin
joints in the world, we walked into this one! To be fair, I probably
should characterize the room as a multipurpose meeting space, because
it really is. But one look at its decor – deep red carpet and
furniture, chairs pulled four at a time to intimate tables, lights
with dimmers, a stage and microphone that practically scream “karaoke
tonight,” and that big bar at the room’s aft end – suggest the type of
lounge you often see coupled with a budget motel on a stretch of
lonely Texas highway.
Yet God can work anywhere. Rehearsing and worshiping in a room with a
panoramic view of the Black Sea reminds you truly of how big He is.
Of course rehearsing in such a room also has its challenges. Our
choir worships with a free spirit at home and abroad, but today, when
we swayed back and forth, the swells of the sea, not the meter of the
music, provided our metronome. No one had it worse than Rod Jeffords,
our amazingly talented arranger and, for this trip, pianist, who tried
valiantly to stand at post behind his keyboard when, in fact, he
needed a chair and a seatbelt.
Today is the Lord’s Day, so amid the music-meal-music-meal-music
monotony, we paused for our own church service, again, in the bar.
After a time of corporate worship, our own Paul Clayton, an elder back
at Mount Paran, shared a powerful devotion, an exhortation to think of
ourselves as more than just worship leaders but as warriors and to
prepare our minds and hearts for the work we begin in earnest tomorrow
when we visit our first orphanage. When we closed, Mark led us in the
doxology but asked us to turn and face the sea, which stretched to the
horizon and beyond, neither beach nor boat in sight. The lyrics –
especially “Praise Him all creatures here below” – take on an even
stronger air in the stillness and the seclusion of such a place.
One final note today – our Russian is progressing admirably, at least
according to our dear interpreter, Henrietta. We’ll test it out
tonight during our first concert in a park in Sevastopol. We land,
wobbly legs and all, in about two hours.
Thanks so much for your continued love and support,!