After having explored downtown Austin the other day, we got the opportunity to explore Congress Street today, an art district which offers among others an art gallery, a big thrift store, an antique shop and several private owned clothing, book, and gift stores. This area also has got a big variety of food trucks, which made it hard to decide for one only. I tried a meal at one that sells authentic Jamaican food that I really enjoyed a lot.
After spending a few hours on Congress Street we loaded the bus and headed toward Salado. However, traffic was backed up a couple hours due to an accident involving a semi-truck and a bridge, which kept us from getting to our hotel as scheduled. Instead, we went straight to a ranch a couple of hours earlier than planned. This ranch is owned by Bethel College alumni Walter Dyck, who generously let us explore his property. We fed his horses and donkey, took a walk and just enjoyed being in nature. In the evening, they fed us a delicious barbeque meal before we watched the impressive sunset and brought the day to a close by singing several songs for Walter Dyck and his friend, who we are very grateful to for letting us experience such a wonderful day.
On Monday morning, we started out to go on a guided bus tour through Galveston. Leland provided us with interesting historic facts as well as tips for where to go, what to do, and where to eat well. After the bus tour, some of us decided to see the historic downtown of the city – the Strand – and do some window-shopping, others went to the State Park, and others just enjoyed what we don’t have in Kansas: the beach! … some of them suffering the consequences of “seeing some sun today” in the evening…
At about 4 pm we left for Leland’s home congregation – a most beautiful church with tinted windows and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. After a warm-up session we got some very delicious food and had the opportunity to meet some of Leland’s family members, who were all so welcoming and happy to have us there. It was just a pleasure to see their shiny faces!
Before we gave our concert we gathered in the old sanctuary next to the actual church, where we listened to Leland’s senior reflection. Most of us will probably never forget those touching moments, when we share joy and grief, laughter, and tears, and hugs. Those are moments that bind us closer together and that will become memories for a life-time.
Our concert went well, the congregation was so engaged and encouraged us again and again with their enthusiasm and joy about having us there and listening to our music. We probably enjoyed the evening just as much as they did. After the concert we had the possibility to greet the church members and again, we were so blessed and touched by their love and gratitude towards us. This evening will never be forgotten, that’s for sure!
An amazing, relaxing, challenging day full of events and new experiences came to an end. We look forward to the next one.
(Wednesday, March 25)
Today we had a few hours of free time in Austin.
People spent time on the Colorado River, wandering busy 6th Street and exploring the Texas state capitol. It was a beautiful day and was wonderful to experience such a great city.
At the end of our free time, we sang one of our pieces of music in Saint Mary’s Cathedral. It was very different from the small churches we have sang in on the tour. I always love hearing the sound of large choirs in cathedrals and it was great to be a part of it.
(Sunday, March 22)
We have only been on tour for two days, but already I am overwhelmed with the incredible hospitality we have experienced.
First in Harper, Kansas — where a congregation the size of our choir (or smaller) not only provided supper, but hosted all 45 of us overnight, and then packed sack lunches for the next day.
Saturday afternoon, we were jointly hosted by Edmond Trinity Christian Church and Joy Mennonite Church (of Oklahoma City) in Edmond, Oklahoma. After the concert we were treated to, as I heard it described, “the faspa to end all faspas.”
This morning, we had the privilege of worshipping with Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church’s sister congregation, Iglesia Luz del Evangelio, in Dallas, Texas.
I think I can speak for the entire group when I say that this was one of the most (if not THE most) dynamic church services that I have ever been a part of! The energy and exuberance that this congregation worships with is truly extraordinary. Although we come from different backgrounds and spoke in different languages, it was clear that we were welcomed into their church not just as visitors, but as brothers and sisters in Christ. It was a moving experience to sing for an audience that was so engaged in the music.
After the service we were led out to the lawn behind the church for a lunch of tamales, tacos, flan and many other authentic Mexican dishes. This also gave us the chance to talk with the members of the congregation and make connections.
As we continue on to Houston, and then Galveston, I’m looking forward to all of the fantastic people we have yet to encounter. I also hope that we can take these experiences to heart and learn to practice such hospitality in our everyday lives.
(Saturday, March 21)
We’ve been on tour now for about a day, and we’ve already given two concerts. This morning we left Kansas, traveled into Oklahoma, and we’re now on our way to Texas.
Over the course of these last 24 hours, I’ve seen a lot of beauty. I’ve seen beauty in the people we’ve met, the conversations I’ve had with people in the choir, the nature we’ve witnessed and the music we make. Several of the songs we are singing express the beauty of nature, something I was reminded of this morning.
Last night, we all stayed with people from the Mennonite church in Harper, Kansas. I was with three other choir members at a lady’s house on a farm.
This morning, we all got up and went out to feed her animals. We were exploring the attic of her barn when an owl flew out from the rafters. Initially, we were all somewhat frightened to be in an enclosed space with an owl, but then I was struck by the beauty of this creature. It was completely white, and as it flew around the barn, we all stared for a few minutes in awe.
As we sang our concert this afternoon in Edmond, Oklahoma, I was reminded of this and other moments of beauty I have witnessed today. The home stays in Harper were a great way to start our trip, and I’m excited for what is to come over the course of the week.
Greetings from Austin, Texas!
After a few technological difficulties, we are finally able to post blog updates about our tour! In order to catch everyone up to speed on all the amazing experiences we have had so far, I will go ahead and post updates from all the days so far. Look forward to more regular blog posts for the remainder of the tour!
I recently took my dog on a walk along the river that runs through Newton and eventually turns into the Sand Creek that lies just east of Bethel. The city of Newton has done a great job with providing sidewalks, dog pick-up bags and benches along the length of the walking path. The scenery is unexpectedly serene and beautiful, especially with the heart of Newton being just a block away.
One small thing was missing from the lovely path though — sufficient lighting! I went walking around 8:30 p.m., and there was an obvious lack of lighting on the sidewalks along the river. With the temperatures warming up, people are going to want to be walking, running or riding their bikes in the evening, and the sidewalk is far too dark to be considered safe for nighttime.
I would highly recommend taking a stroll down the path along the river. It’s a perfect study break and a change of scenery that’s only about a mile from campus. However, if you’re going at night, be sure and take a flashlight!
This year I have taken an entirely new approach to spring break. I no longer see it as a time when I must break the bank to see family or go to the beach with friends.
For me, spring break is a time to reset and catch up. I have been fortunate enough to find opportunities to work this week in the community doing lawn work and continuing my internship at Prairie Harvest in downtown Newton.
Schoolwork has been building up over the last few weeks, to which my response has been: “I’ll do it next week.” The break presents the possibility of working on tedious schoolwork at my own pace.
And the great weather has motivated me to begin training for soccer again.
With all of these necessary but dull plans, you may wonder if it even feels like a break. I certainly find joy in these tasks but I have decided I can afford making a trip to Kansas City for a professional soccer match and to Manhattan to see a friend I have not seen in months. If I really want this break to serve a purpose, I should make sure to remember to catch up on sleep!
Hey, anyone and everyone who reads Bethel blogs!
My name is Eric Preheim and I am a junior here at Bethel. I was born in Kansas City, Kansas, grew up in Augusta, Georgia, and currently reside in Nashville, Tennessee. I came to Bethel as a 4th-generation legacy student. I have been fortunate enough to play soccer with Bethel in my three years here so far. I am a double major in business and psychology but I definitely have a love for history and geography as well. In my free time, I enjoy playing disc golf and the most important aspect of college, building friendships. I am involved in a variety of aspects of Bethel including: intramurals, admissions and the weight room on campus. I enjoy learning from fellow students and professors while hopefully influencing them in a positive manner as well.
I look forward to continued blogs,
Okay folks, spring is upon us and everyone knows what that means… Sun’s Out Guns Out.
Everywhere you look on campus there is spring clothing. You’ve got those who rock the khakis, bro tanks, and Raybans. Then you’ve got the spring dresses and skirts. Of course, there are those cute strappy sandals. And you will ALWAYS see people without shoes.