Over spring break, many Northwestern students left small-town Iowa to serve, form friendships and relax. The NW band had a unique opportunity to do all these things in a single band tour in addition to, of course, making music. As classes ended, the band packed up and set out for a nine-day road trip that would take them to Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Nebraska. They left on March 4 at 5 a.m., travelled for 11 hours and performed that same evening. This was only the beginning of an experience that many saw as both exhausting and transformative. Numerous late nights, early mornings, long drives and constant hard work meant a lack of sleep for many of the band members.
Sarah Sundet said, “though we didn’t always get enough sleep, everyone still had a great attitude about the whole trip and we had a really fun time.”
Even the early mornings were the perfect soil for spiritual growth – as evident by an early morning sunrise hike memory. Elena Lee said, “It was a way to reset and remember why we were on the tour in the first place: to create beauty and music, to use the gifts he has given us to worship him and represent his kingdom.”
Representing the kingdom of Christ took many forms during the band’s journey such as serving at schools in different communities. “The opportunities to connect and interact with younger musicians and show compassion to everyone we came in contact with was a true blessing,” Nathan Jensen said.
In addition to serving at schools, the band spent some time performing in nursing homes. One of the residents told the band that witnessing the NW band perform for the Lord restored his faith in younger generations.
Band members felt their own faith being transformed through these experiences as well. Lydia Zink said, “It opened my eyes to see how God led me and my friends to share this gift of music we were all drawn to in the course of our lives.” “This trip was a personal reconnection with God,” Jensen said, “Seeing him work throughout band to reach people was amazing.”
The spiritual growth the band was experiencing was accompanied by artistic growth as musicians. “This trip made me a better musician because it allowed me to have a small glimpse into what it is like to be a professional musician on tour… we had to adapt to our environment so that our music sounded good,” Shayler Van Gelder said.
The success of the tour was obvious in the reactions of their audiences. In a small Christian school outside the homes of the Zuni Tribe, a community member stood up and began to dance with Dr. Holt. Later in the tour, Dr. Holt gave someone in the crowd the chance to conduct the last piece of the performance, a piece composed by Karl King. The audience member who conducted had played under the direction of King when she was younger. “She started to cry while conducting us and this was such a surreal moment and something I will never forget,” Van Gelder said.
Despite the struggles of sickness, lack of sleep, and other tribulations, the band members will walk away with memories of using their gifts and time to spread the gospel.“All the moments of uncertainty did not stop us from sharing the gospel with others and spreading God’s love and NW’s compassion to all we came in contact with,” Jensen said.