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It Is Finished

I helped get the team on the plane yesterday here in Dallas and they are heading home after a long but successful tour. We finished with performances at Christ for the Nations in Dallas and then Living Word Worship Center in Minden, Louisiana. I turned the truck in yesterday and found that we had driven 5,000 miles since October 4. We also slept in 13 different beds and conducted 13 performances.

It's too early for me to draw some conclusions from the tour, but here are some immediate thoughts.

1. The team from Zimbabwe was great -- young, energetic, cooperative and appreciative.

2. The tour was a logistical success -- we had no accidents or breakdowns, and were seldom late or behind schedule.

3. Revenue was so-so -- we had higher than expected offerings and lower than expected sales.

4. Our program needs some work -- I think we did great for a first tour, but our message and presentation need a lot of work before the next tour, if there is a next one (which I think there will be).

5. God helped us -- We had a lot of protection and divine assistance on the tour.

6. I have to think and pray about my involvement in the future -- Tours are a lot of hard work and we worked for four weeks without a day off.

I finished the tour by going to a Dallas Stars hockey game last night against the San Jose Sharks (the Stars lost). I am now in the Dallas airport heading to Pittsburgh, but I will be home only two days before I head out to Grand Junction, CO to be with my friends, Pastor Ted and Tammy Miller. Then I come home for two weeks after I finish my work in Colorado.

My thanks to the Celebration Church team, led by Pastors Tom and Bonnie Deuschle, for the opportunity to serve and participate. And now, as we say in the business, it's on to the next event.


Oklahoma City

I JUST NOTICED THAT THIS ENTRY WAS NEVER POSTED TO MY SITE FOR SOME REASON. SO HERE IT IS, EVEN THOUGH IT'S A WEEK OLD.

The team pulled into Oklahoma City last night after a busy weekend in which we did three concerts in 24 hours. That included a four-hour drive to Killeen, Texas in between two of the concerts. Monday was to have been an off day, but it turned out to be busy with other things, so the team was feeling the affects yesterday as we drove up to Oklahoma City (it took eight hours). Tonight the team performs at Victory Christian Center here in OKC and then it's back to Dallas for two days and to Minden, Louisiana for another two before everyone heads home.

I don't think I can look at another Subway sandwich shop for a while. Pizza is also far down on my list of preferred foods at this point in time. Some of the food where we have been has been great and creative, some average and one meal (I won't say where) was the worst meal I have had in my 34-year Church career. It was absolutely putrid! That, however, is part of life on the road.

The weather for this tour has been great and the team is doing well.


Six Flags

On Friday night, we took the Celebration Choir and team to Six Flags Over Texas amusement park. I had some work to do so I got a late start on the rides, but soon I found myself being dragged to go on three of the four meanest rides in the park. I survived to write this entry, so I made it through. Let me tell you what they were like.

The first ride was called Superman. They take 12 people and strap them around a cylinder. Then you wait and when you least expect it, your cylinder shoots 250 feet into the air at a speed of 45 miles per hour. When you get to the top, you free fall half way back down the cylinder, where you sit for a few seconds. Then you shoot back up to the top of the ride, where you sit enjoying the spectacular view of the city (if your eyes are open). Then you free fall back down almost the entire 250 feet before you settle back down where you started.

From there, I went to Mr. Freeze. They strap you in a roller coaster car and then move you out to the launching pad. I should have known then I was in trouble if they called it a launching pad. They catapult your car onto the track and you go from zero to 70 mph in 4 seconds, going through turns and dips. Your car then goes onto a part of the ride where you are perpendicular to the ground and you then retrace the ride going backwards! I got off and could barely walk, but I had to walk to get to the next ride, The Titan.

The Titan is a smooth roller coaster with no loops, but you do reach 85 mph speeds on two of the turns, one of which while your car leans to left about 30 degrees. You feel like you are going to fall out. After those three rides, I staggered back to the bus and was woozy that night and the next day. I determined it's hard work having fun, more work than I care to invest.

Now we are in a busy part of our tour with three concerts in 24 hours. I am writing from Killeen, Texas, about three hours south of Dallas. The team continues to do well, gaining more experience and confidence with every event.

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Dallas

We are in Dallas for two performances, but we are here for five nights, so now we have to decide how to entertain the team. We decided to take them to Grapevine Mills Mall yesterday, where they spent eight hours shopping, eating and going to the movies. That Mall is one of the largest outlet malls in the world. When the team returned to the bus last night, they looked more tired than when they got off the plane from Zimbabwe!

Today we are taking them to Six Flags amusement park, which is only open weekends this time of year. Then we have three performances in 24 hours before we head back north to Oklahoma City.

I am doing well and anticipating the end of the tour. I have put all my school work on hold for the last two months and I am anxious to re-engage that work. Plus I miss home and my wife. But I made a commitment to do this and will finish out my commitment. So it's back to truck driving for this last 10 days of the tour. It could be worse - I could be the bus driver!


Off Day

Our visit to Great Bend is coming to an end and it was highly successful. Here is a report that I wrote for someone in Zimbabwe that summarizes the time here:

Bonnie's homecoming concert was a huge success last Saturday night as 800 people packed the college auditorium to watch, clap, stand and shout with the Celebration Choir. One woman told me she had never seen a crowd that large in the auditorium and, for a town with only 15,000 people, the turnout was exceptional.

The choir is doing and performing well. Everyone's health is good, morale is high and the largest part of the tour is ahead of us, with dates yet in Dallas, Killeen and College Station, Texas and Oklahoma City. Everyone is traveling in a 48-passenger bus with Dr. John driving the supply truck and bringing up the rear. One major donor, who has helped underwrite the tour, came to Tulsa last Wednesday to see the program and promised help for future tours. I think he was impressed, but also had some good feedback on how we could improve.

The team is learning how to handle the details of a tour, with Taz handling the product table with much help from the choir members. Offerings have been strong and product sales are about what we expected so far. All in all, the Choir and Bonnie are doing you proud and we are confident that the best is yet to come. Be praying for our success and we will keep you posted on our progress.

We are resting today and tomorrow we make the 10-hour drive to Dallas, where we will be for the week. With every day that passes, we are one day closer to the end and have one less day to organize and sweat the details. Our last weekend, October 25-28, is still unplanned, but hopefully that will be taken care of later this week. So it's on to the "Big D," where shopping malls, Six Flags amusement park and Covenant Church all await our arrival.

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Great Bend, Kansas

We are now in Great Bend, Kansas a town of 15,000 people in central Kansas. I am surprised by how much oil drilling there is in this area. You can see small oil pumps all over the fields as you drove along. My truck mate was so impressed by the fields, which have been harvested so it is easy to see the rich soil. We are being housed in a convent, but the accommodations and food are better than average. The team seems content, but the weather changed today to rain and much cooler temperatures.

The drive up here was uneventful, but showed the need for one voice to speak and organize. I had set with the bus driver to stop every two hours with the team. When we pulled off the interstate, I thought it was for our stop and I was glad, since I needed fuel for the truck. But the bus kept going because the leader on the bus said there was no need to stop. So I had to pull in front of the bus to go to a small gas station. When we stopped, everyone on the bus got off to use the toilet, but this small station only had one toilet! So what should have been a 15-minute stop turned into a 45-minute stop, all because I wasn't consulted as to what we should do. For the first time, we were late for our arrival time, which was no big deal. It's just an example of how life on the road is a series of details and decisions and those must be centralized or the tour can go off in two or twenty different directions.

I have seen posters everywhere for our concert and when I checked into my hotel last night, the clerk asked if I was here for the "concert." She said she was coming. That's life in small-town America. I could never live in a town this small. I need a big city, with traffic, pedestrians, pollution and entertainment options. That's about it for today. Stay tuned for more exciting updates from life on the road.


Tulsa

Today we are in the city where Oral Roberts University is located -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. The choir performs tonight at Greenwood Christian Center and tomorrow we move on to Great Bend, Kansas, hometown of Bonnie Deuschle. I don't know what to expect from Great Bend, since it's a small town and the concert isn't in a church but a college auditorium. So we shall see.

The details got a little overwhelming today, as even the smallest thing seemed like a big deal. It took a lot of energy just to get online here at the church. What should have taken a few minutes required two hours! I am grateful that everyone is doing well, however, and that our drive down from Kansas City was safe and uneventful.

I have worked with creative people for 30 years and they are always fascinating to behold. We are trying to trim the program to 90 minutes and it's almost impossible to do, since everything is a "must" and critical to the program. It's no big deal to me, but it is interesting to watch. Thank God I have had lots of experience working with creative types or I would go crazy. If it's any consolation, I am sure that I have driven creative people to frustration, so I guess the score is even.

I have often said that I think there needs to be more reconciliation between the creative and administrative than between the races! It seems that either one or the other "rules" and works against the opposite type. When administrators "rule," it's usually well organized but lacking in spontaneity. When the creatives rule the day, there is high energy but everyone gets worn out. So what's the answer? I think we need to learn from one another and respect one another's gifts as equal, not better or worse than our own.

I have often felt that people don't think administration is spiritual; it's more common sense. The creative, spontaneous and public gifts are usually seen as spiritual and administrative as a necessary "evil." Of course, that's my view as an administrator and a creative person would probably feel as misunderstood as the administrative often does.

On a musical tour, however, the creative has the upper hand, so I am laying low and adding my gift as it's asked for and needed. I'll keep you posted as to how it goes.


First Shows

Our first two performances of the Change the Word tour are history and we are off to a good start. That doesn't mean our show doesn't need some work; it does. But we are learning and I am confident it will get better with time. I am the emcee and have about 12 minutes of material to help explain what the choir is singing and what the audience is seeing on the video clips we brought over. I don't think my role is that critical; you could probably get a chimpanzee or someone off the street to do it as well. I'm glad to help out where I can, however, and I fully realize that the people coming to see Bonnie Deuschle and the choir. I just have to point the crowd in the right direction and let the rest flow naturally. There's no room for ego on the road.

Today is an off day here in Kansas City and tomorrow we are off to Tulsa and Greenwood Christian Center. It's a five-hour drive, so the team will be on the bus with my truck following close behind. Speaking of the truck, our "stuff" has grown and we are now three-quarters full with books, CDs, t-shirts, bottled water, brochures, office supplies, flags, drums, and luggage. I feel like a "roadie" for sure and the truck is pulling "heavy.". While it's an off day, I have plenty to do to coordinate the schedule for the next three weeks.

By the way, we will be at the church in Tulsa at 7 PM on Wednesday night. Gotta run and take care of business!


Kansas City

I am sitting in the home of a friend as we prepare for the first choir performance tonight of the Celebration Choir. Everyone arrived safe and sound from Zimbabwe and yesterday was an off day. I had the chance last night to go to what many consider the best barbeque restaurant anywhere, Jack Stack's. It was great, but I'm not sure how anyone could declare it the best.

I am serving as the tour coordinator and will also emcee the program. We are still putting together the itinerary, which makes me nervous. We have 44 people on tour and we just can't show up and say, "Here we are!" There are beds to find and meals to eat, and that requires organization and planning.

I am not quite sure how I feel about being on tour again. It feels like a step "back" to something I used to do. It doesn't feel like I'm going forward. I made a commitment to do this, however, and although the objectives and my role on the tour changed, I am "committed" to see my commitment through to the end, even if I serve as the truck driver, gopher and emcee.

I will let you know how the tour and concerts go. It will be fun to watch my friends, many of whom are in the States for the first time ever. Stay tuned for more reports from the road.


Running the Road

When I was a college student, I worked for my cousin's moving company. We would load and unload furniture, and "run the road," a phrase that meant we were on the road quite a bit. These last few days have reminded me of those former days. i flew to Kansas City on Monday to visit the venues where the Celebration Choir will visit. Then I drove five hours cross state to Great Bend, Kansas and covered some details for that event. Yesterday I drove five hours south to Tulsa, Oklahoma for two meetings and last night drove over to Oklahoma City. Today I will meet with a church here and then it's off to Dallas, where I will switch vehicles, turning in my car in return for a truck full of supplies and product for sale, and drive back to Kansas City.

It will be more of the same over the next three weeks as we travel from site to site with the choir. Not only did I do this for my cousin's company, but I also used to run the road for Integrity Music when I organized worship conferences.

This line of work is demanding and exacting. Your dates are set and the show must go on whether you are ready or not. Every detail must be covered and contingency plans must be in place for the things that could go wrong. I have conducted more than my share of poor events, so the thoughts of those linger as you prepare for the next ones. I don't think I want to do this kind of work regularly when I grow up.

So I have to go, for the truck is waiting in Dallas. Maybe I'll see you at one of our events, or maybe I'll pass you as I run the road.