In the early morning hours of Feb. 27, the 65 members of the A cappella Choir set out for a week of adventures in a culture much different from their own. The spring break trip to the Czech Republic, Poland and Austria, was an opportunity for choir members to minister through song.
Though the original plan was to go to the Netherlands, choir director Thomas Holm decided to go to the Czech Republic because of a partnership he had formed with Christian Outreach International.
“Christian Outreach International had ministries we could work with that aren’t part of a normal tour,” said Holm. Those ministries would prove to have a lasting impact on the members of the choir.
While in the Czech Republic, the A cappella Choir performed five concerts in various cities. The wide variety of songs performed ranged from spirituals to folk songs. The choir sang traditional American pieces, a collection of pieces by German composer Mendelssohn and numerous songs in the Czech language.
All of the concerts took place in churches, and the members of the choir were able to collaborate with Czech choirs on a number of songs. Members of the A cappella Choir also had the opportunity to sing a Latin mass in Salzburg, Austria.
Along with the concerts, members of the A cappella Choir had the opportunity to minister in children’s homes, a refugee camp, hospitals and nursing homes. This was an experience that touched the hearts of the choir members. Jenna Monsen, a senior choir member, learned the universality of love when ministering to residents of a Czech nursing home.
Although she doesn’t speak the Czech language, Monsen was able to communicate with residents through hugs and the phrase “Slave bohu,” which means “praise be to God.”
“I learned how language is a barrier; but love transforms language,” said Monsen.
One of the highlights for Jordan Baker, a sophomore A cappella Choir member, was a conversation he had with one of the men at the nursing home. After the choir had finished singing, the man approached Baker and told him that the choir was fulfilling the verse, “I was sick and you visited me.”
“That conversation made me feel like everything we were doing was not in vain,” said Baker.
Another experience that had a profound effect on students was the trip to Auschwitz, Poland, where they visited a concentration camp run by Nazis during the Holocaust. Junior Sarah Hill was deeply impacted by coming face-to-face with the reality of the horrible atrocities committed during the Holocaust.
“Even though it was difficult to see, I think it changed people’s views,” said Hill. “The faith of those people despite their incredible hardships challenged me to appreciate what I have and not complain about minor inconveniences.”
Though the spring break trip to Eastern Europe was a time for the members of the A cappella Choir to minister to others, they found themselves being ministered to in ways they will never forget.