I wandered the town of Nuremberg and visited all the churches. At my own pace, quietly and respectfully, not once embarrassed by any Americans. I decided to put my camera away and just soak it in and take pictures in my mind rather than with a camera. Again, best decision ever.
I spent a good deal of time sitting in the old churches reflecting on history, on music ministry, on my philosophy of teaching and church music and all of that.
I went to do my shopping for Christmas, thank you gifts for various people, etc. again, I shipped it back this year. I you ship it, it costs about 40 euro and you don't have to hassle with all that junk. I you ship it, the tax gets deleted, which in my case was 38 euro. So basically, you pay tax and carry it or don't pay tax and ship it and it costs you the same in the end. Ship it!!!!!
Some general thoughts from my crazy head this day
1) I was blessed with professors and teachers who practiced what they preached. It was not unusual to see them praying before meals, and you never really heard them curse or take Gods name in vain. I am so grateful for these fine examples of people who truly live what they preach. They were wonderful teachers who knew how to push with love and never just break. They know patience is key because people learn differently and at different rates. They are fantastic role-models and the more I'm out in the world, the more I realize how rare gems like them are.
2) I find it peculiar that this group has eaten a meal together each day and yet most people don't pray before the meal, and the only time we have had a group prayer was when we had a guest in France joining us. This has made me stop and wonder a lot of stuff. Was that prayer offered genuine, or just the politically correct thing to do at that moment? With last year's group and while on tour with Kapelle, there was a prayer at every meal.
3) While I understand this choir is not the typical choir and the purpose here is different, I've always been of the mindset that my first job as choir director is to love the people I work with and make it about the ministry. The music is secondary to those things. My choir will never be award winning, and I don't care. They are faithful, dedicated, and the there with the right spirit, which is worth far more to me than perfection. Sure, perfection would be nice, but it should be a byproduct and not main goal. I am starting to think more and more that I am alone in my views of this.
4) Some people here have been wonderful and nice to get to know, but this trip has by far been the most challenging trip I've ever taken. The joy is gone in the frenzied schedules and demand for perfection. Remember a few days back when I posted I wasn't sure how this trip would turn out and I was nervous? I perhaps should have stuck with my gut and not come. I'm just not sure.
5) I am eternally thankful for the wonderful network of support in my life. After such a rough day, it was so nice to have a familiar voice on the other end of the phone and nice that I could immediately have some email conversations with people back home who understand me and how I work. Knowing I only have to make it to Leipzig and my friend will rescue me if nessesary has been a life saver today.
6) I believe more and more that my views of ministry and life and dealing with people have been shaped largely by the special needs children I am so privileged to work with. These people are too often overlooked or written off by most of the world, but they are some of the most wonderful human beings on the planet. I convinced. They have taught me to be gentle and loving to people regardless of ability, size, race, etc. "Success" in life and "intelligence" are really man made labels and not fair measures of people. These special students of mine have really changed my view of the world.
7) Thank God for the cross. As I reflect on the past 24 hours and I reflect on watching people on this trip and I see remnants and scars of WWII and see places and paintings of execution and torture from the Middle Ages, it seems that we humans just can't figure it out. We don't get it. We fail to love God and our neighbor and mess up over and over again. I still don't understand why God would love us enough despite how stupid we are, but I'm glad he did. I'm also glad that every now and again you can get a glimpse of kindness or love being shared with people.
After this day by myself, a good friend back home advised that I talk to a former professor who is on this trip. I s reluctant but did. It was so helpful and very wonderful. I may or may not have cried a little. I was surprised at the outpouring of support and understanding. I went to the concert and sang with the choir, then we all went out to this beer garden. It was crowded, they ran out of food, and many people said this was not the best idea but we made the best of it. There are some good people in the choir and I'm finally starting to find who to hang out with and also trying to be sensitive and not just butt in since I know some of these people have known each other forever.
I'm moving on and going to make the most of this trip and what's left of it. Not sure what making the most of it will look like, so stay tuned for future updates.