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Providence Chamber Singers
Concert at Virgil Church.

Group Photo at Fort William, Thunder Bay.

Photos taken by Heidi Martens.

Eastern Canada Tour 

On April 19th thirty-one people set out for two weeks of what would become choral exhaustion, dedicating the beginning of their summer to spread the glory of God through song into Ontario and Quebec. They didn't know what they were getting into until a half hour after leaving the college the bus they had rented broke down and had to be replaced. As the tour progressed nearly half the choir became ill and some were even bed-ridden. In spite of early mornings, bus break-downs, high tensions, and tons of fast food, the choir sang their hearts out and until their throats ached. Through it all God was given the glory. Hearts were offered with total surrender and his presence was felt with exuberance.

Dryden was first. After a long ride on two different buses the choir arrived with just enough time to change and officially begin the choir tour. Early the next day they drove to Thunder Bay, were provided with an excellent meal, and ran the set once again. Upon concluding the audience stood in a grateful ovation; to God be the glory. The next stop was Wawa, a small Baptist church with an obviously close community of parishioners. Thomas Guenther, a new voice in the choir this year, gave his testimony during the service and the congregation was very moved by the words God gave him. Sault Ste. Marie was a beautiful destination and the choir spent a night at the Puddingstone Inn on St. Joseph's Island, their first non-billet sleep since the tour began. They delighted in the simple cabin like comforts of this charming family-centered B&B. From Sault Ste. Marie a ten hour drive to Ottawa preceded a three-night stay. For the third night in the capitol, the men stayed in the Ottawa Jail Hostel, an old jail house converted into a simple hotel. While in Ottawa two Easter services were shared with St. Stephen's Anglican Church and there was an evening concert at the Bethel Pentecostal church. In between the team played tourist in this beautiful city and even took a tour of Parliament Hill.

After a two-hour drive to Montreal the choir sang with two community choirs. Many of the choir members loved exploring this historic metropolis that included visits to the incredible St. Joseph's Cathedral and the Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal. In both of these stunning churches the choir was privileged to sing some of its repertoire. “Holy was the moment when we heard our voices resounding throughout the vaulted ceilings and across the stain glass; God is good!”

From Montreal the choir traveled to the Niagara area, and took an afternoon to enjoy the roaring falls; though it was cut short as they were stuck in traffic for five hours due to a hurricane force wind that closed off most major routes and brought multitudes of travelers to a crawl. This was the beginning of the end. For the next few days they spent less time on the bus as destinations were all close together in southern Ontario. They stayed and sang in Virgil, the heart of wine country where Dan Johnson gave his testimony about the confusing time college can be; then there was a workshop with composer Leonard Enns in Waterloo, followed by a much needed day off in London. The last performance was in Port Rowan Ontario. Sunday morning the choir sang with raw voices and aching bodies from constant travel, but God took Associate Professor, Dr. Randall Holm's very moving sermon and Heidi Martens reassuring testimony about the legitimacy and necessity of questions for every Christian to produce one of the most Spirit filled services in the two weeks. Praise the Lord!

When the service was done and a delicious potluck had been digested, the choir left for Chicago, and the first leg the journey home. A warm hotel bed awaited them after a long drive late into the night and they reveled in the knowledge that they had served God well. The team drove to Minneapolis and stayed the night, enjoying an afternoon in the Mall of America. On the morning of the final stretch toward Otterburne and the rest of summer, they shared their memories of the tour over the bus intercom. Everyone offered thank-you's to everyone else who had blessed and encouraged them during the past two weeks: a special mention for a friend who had spoken an apt word, the hard work of Dr. Schellenberg and our bus drivers, John and Mary Zacharias and Dr. Holm, and encouragement to the random people who hosted, sang, laughed, and cried with them. The choir became a community, each with his or her part to fill. God was praised, his people were blessed, and all grew into better servants of the risen King.

Included below is a poem by Aaron Barkman, which he shared with everyone on the last day’s drive home. It is a beautiful summation of what was experienced:

We embarked on a journey,
A fraction in time.
Definitely a worthy excuse to devise a few words of rhyme.
From the banks of the Rat to the shores of Lake Michigan We have come together to share in fellowship and adventure.
Though at times an incubator for sickness, the intimacy and closeness to one another has been an incredible blessing.
We sing for a reason; we serve for a purpose: our God our Fortress and our salvation.
Each and everyone of you is special beyond expression, And you each have a ministry beyond your confession.
Maybe a smile, the conviction of the Word, a hug or testimony speaks far beyond what is heard.
I have grown to love each and every one of you as my brothers and sisters in Christ.
And I pray for you each as we continue along this life's great way.

Article written by Thomas Guenther.

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