Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ode to a Prototype

 One man’s tripe
Is another man’s prototype.

It’s all a matter of truth or hype.

The singing was joyful
Causing goose bumps to sipe,
But compared to the choirs of heaven
It was but a prototype.

All page turns came with a swipe,
But compared to the hearts that were turned,
They were but a prototype.

Paul Soulek’s playing was astonishing
He used every pipe
But compared to the music of heaven
It was but a prototype.

All the tears that were shed at Auschwitz
Came with a wipe
But compared to Christ’s tears for us,
They were, but a prototype.

The rainy weather led one to gripe,
The promised rainbow,
Compared to God’s promised redemption,
Was, but a prototype.

The clapping of the audience
Contrasted to Christ’s healing stripe
Compared to the clapping of angels before God
Was but a prototype.

The smelly attire of the running club
For some was a bit ripe
But compared to the stench of sin
Was but, a prototype.

Being roommates day after day
Led to an occasional snipe
But the forgiveness that followed
Was, as compared to God’s forgiveness,
But a prototype.

The homesickness was occasional,
But alleviated by Skype,
Which, compared to a prayer with God
Was, but a prototype.

And last, but not least,
Nancy et al. would say “yipe”,
Whenever that word was whispered…


Wednesday, June 5, 2013


It has been two days now. We have all returned home, shared our pictures, talked about our stories and given our gifts. And as we continue to share our experiences, we are also able to reflect on the trip for ourselves. This blog post is our opportunity to share with all of our readers as to why this trip was important to us. 
Thank you all for your continuous prayers and support as we traveled through Europe and shared the Gospel through song. It was indeed a life changing experience and I thank God for what He did through the A cappella choir.

This tour was an opportunity to grow in friendship, culture, and faith. From the Alps to the Baltic Sea and everything in between, our eyes were opened to the majestic beauty of God’s creation. Time and time again I found myself speechless at the landscape that lay ahead of me, whether being a peaceful lake, a peaking mountain, or a city steeped with history. And amidst these awe-filled wonders lived people just like me, sinners just like me, who need the message of Salvation. To be a part of God’s plan in that region, even if only for a brief second, is the thing that will stay with me the most. His plans transcend our own, and His plan is for ALL people. Thanks again to all who made this trip possible. We owe it all to you. 
-Joel Kaldahl 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
First of all, I am so beyond thankful that the great God was able to take us to Europe and home safely. I am also so thankful for the opportunity that He led us to and through to be His servants and to be carriers of the Gospel in song and action!
For me, this was a brain-molding experience and truly opened my mind to so many new ideas and realizations that I have never known or understood before. It is still so surreal to me the events that actually happened and all of the people, places, and occasions that we witnessed before our very eyes! Words cannot justify the last 24 days!
I will forever cherish the emotions that flooded me in performing God’s praise through musical and vocal expression. The audiences and spaces were truly unforgettable.
Even in the midst of discomfort, God worked through the group of people that traveled on this tour. Whether it was in our witnessing to a number of people of varying culture or them to us, the Holy Spirit was at work.
I pray that our message continues on both in Eastern Europe and also back home in the United States.
I feel beyond blessed that God called us to do this mission work and still allows us to carry His love through memories and experiences for the rest of our lives!
-Shelby Nicole Stolze

This 2013 A Cappella tour far exceeded my expectations in so many ways. I was, of course, impressed with Nancy's attention to travel detail, Lyle's quick wit, and Dr. von Kampen's musicanship. What I did not expect was how GREAT the students would be at their singing, how POSITIVE they would be on even grueling bus rides, and how WELCOMING they were of me from the very beginning of the tour. I could not have eaten my way through a continent with a better group of people. It was a great blessing to be a part of this tour.
-Paul Soulek

The best aspect of this trip for me was the fact that we were sharing the Good News with people from around the world.  Not only were we witnessing to the churched, but we were witnessing to a crowd of concert-goers who may or may not be churched.  I think one of the most special moment of this entire trip was when we sang in the Pentecost festival.  Not only did we experience the essence of Pentecost through the numerous languages, but we again were able to sing praises to God!  Another great aspect of the trip was how pastors reminded us why we came.  Our purpose for them was to open the doors to some of the most beautiful churches in Europe who's doors remain closed with the absence of a congregation.  Hopefully, we put enough of a foot in the doors to keep them open!
-Andrew VanVelson

This trip has really meant a lot to me. I have grown in many different ways. I have grown the most in my faith. It is a once in a life time experience to head overseas to spread the love of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I also have grown in earthly relationships, as well. I have made many new friends and established closer friends. This trip has really made me look at the blessings I have in my life and it reminds me to thank God for these blessings! I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to spread Christ's love on this tour and grow personally! Thanks to all that supported us through this tour!
-David Lindeman

Throughout the last 24 days of the A Capella European Choir Tour, God has been working in some pretty amazing ways! We travelled through Switzerland, France, Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. In every country we sang, and in every church or cathedral we were welcomed with so much joy and appreciation for the message we were trying to share through our music. We hoped that through our songs and our actions, the audience could hear and see the message of Christ’s love and gift of salvation. The songs we sang were all received in different ways. Some of the audience would cry, some would laugh, some would clap, and some would smile. But, when the concerts were over and person after person approached us and thanked us for our wonderful music and told us how much they loved it, that was when we knew that we had an impact on someone’s life. God is so good. I can’t even put into words how thankful I am to be a part of a choir that loves the Lord and strives to live in accordance to His will. All the glory goes to our Heavenly Father! Lives were touched on this tour through Him:)
-Helena Dieckhoff

Throughout this trip, I have constantly been reminded of the many blessings that we all have as members of the body of Christ. Not only are we blessed with many gifts which allow us to make beautiful music, we are also blessed to be able to use these gifts to proclaim the Gospel message to all the places we have sang. We have interacted with thousands of people through our concerts. Although we don't know whether everyone who was listening was a believer, our prayer is that the Holy Spirit would work through us and positively impact the faith through the message that was proclaimed.  What a blessing it has been to live out our calling as Christians to "make disciples of all nations" by spreading the Gospel message throughout Europe over these past 3 and a half weeks.
-Steven Whitney

This tour has opened many new doors that I never knew existed. From foreign currency to foreign people, there were many differences about this tour. As I look back on the tour I see a large amount of people striving to a larger goal. I see the struggles set in front of them and see how they adjust. I mean, we gave 13 concerts in a row with less than 24 hours in between. You can't say that was one person doing all the work. And the best part was being able I make the adjustments and to be able to say that I am part of this choir, not that I get to go to Europe, or I sang in front of many people, or the fact people came to listen to me. It was a group effort and nothing could have changed that. The experience was great. I will hold onto these memories forever, but I will also remember one thing. I couldn't have done it with out every other person in this choir.
-Luke Kaldahl

Wow what a ride! It is amazing to think that after 24 days, 8 countries, 5 currencies and so many amazing concerts we are at the conclusion.  There are so many moments that I will remember from this journey for the rest of my life. It was truly a blessing to be a part of something so great and special that could reach out and share the good news of Jesus Christ! I have enjoyed exploring God's great creation and the ablitiy to share with His people that He has made, whether from a different country or within the choir itself, God's great love. There were certainly times when the Holy Spirit was moving in the hearts of listeners and singers alike. I thank God for such a great blessing and opportunity to glorify His great name, to work with some amazing musicians and people, and to communicate with people that I wouldn't otherewide be able to in such a spectacular and meaningful way, through His word and through the gift of music that He gives. We are small in this great big world, and it really gives a perspective of how big and GREAT out God is! He really has the whole world in His hands. 
-Jordan Miller

"Reclaim us if we go astray, You are the Truth, the Life, the Way." It's has been easy for me to become focused on myself during this tour. When not under the influences of Dramamine, I've found myself sitting on the bus, contemplating whether or not I feel like I'm getting the "tour experience," the right souvenirs and pictures, enough growth in friendships, etc. But at ever single concert, both the concerts with very few people and those with overflowing audiences, I have been reminded of the true purpose of this tour. It's not so that I can have a blast seeing the world with friends (although I did) and it's not so that I can post the best pictures on Facebook (which they won't be); the purpose of tour is to share our message of hope with others. At ever concert I have been able to pick out at least one person who was physically moved by our performance. How many more were touched in ways that I couldn't see? It doesn't matter if I can look back on this tour and say it was everything I hoped it would be. God used us to His glory. But in case you're wondering, I do say that I have been changed and blessed by the A Cappella Choir Europe Tour, 2013. 
-Adrienne Langewisch

Being a part of the 2013 Europe tour has meant more to me than I can truly put into words. Seeing The sights like the Eiffel Tower and The Swiss Alps was amazing, the food was delicious (most the time) :) and seeing the unique culture and way of life in 8 different countries was unreal!  Most of all though I feel extremely blessed to have been given the opportunity to sing for all the different people in all sorts of beautiful churches and to feel the emotion and heart of the choir at our concerts. The mission that we talked about in our devotions over the tour of proclaiming God's word and His love through our music is the best gift this tour had to offer. I truly hope that our words through the work of the Holy Spirit touched lives throughout this journey!  
Also a special thanks to VK, Nancy and Lyle for all the work and leadership you continually give! :)
-Kassidy Rixstine

Growing up in small town Nebraska, I have not had the chance to see much of the world. I have seen movies, read books, and even traveled to many places within the US, but I have never had the privilege of traveling oversees until this tour. God has used this trip to help open my eyes to not only the overwhelming beauty of His creation (the Swiss Alps and the Baltic Sea), but also to the needs and sufferings of others. After this trip, I hope to do oversee mission work again to bring Christ to these needs. And until then, I feel better equipped now to continue spreading the message of Christ to those God has placed in my life at this time.
-Brianna Ritter

The one word I think of when I look back on this trip is opportunity. Everyday presented itself with new challenges, countless opportunities, and memories that will last a lifetime. In the past 24 days, the A Capella choir has been able to immerse ourselves in 8 cultures with 8 different languages and customs, learn about ourselves and those around us, and share the Gospel of Christ Jesus, our Savior. I have been blessed with a once in a lifetime experience, and I feel that this tour has only been the stepping stone for spreading the Good News and learning more about my place in this big world.
-Kelsey Livingston

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

Tonight we had our final concert of this European tour, here in beautiful Riga. For some, it was their last A Capella concert ever. There were mixed moments of sadness and joy as we sang each song one last time and as we tearfully embraced each other afterwards. 

It is hard to really grasp everything this experience has been. As Dr. von Kampen put it the other night, usually in life we can go a long time without anything happening that really sticks in our memory. But when you have this kind of opportunity, every day leaves a unique and lasting impression! We have travelled through 8 different countries, and each one has presented us with new and exciting sights, cultures, foods, languages, histories, and the like. More importantly, each stop on our tour has opened our eyes to the rich variety of people that God has called to be his children in this world. To be a part of sharing the Gospel to these people by singing is almost too wonderful to put in words. 

We have been trying though! On any given day that we were traveling, it was easy to notice how many of us were filling pages and pages of our journals with every detail we could to encapsulate the days' experiences. As we think about leaving and our focus shifts to "reality," we want to bring as much of of this impactful tour back with us, whether it is by our written words, pictures, or souvenirs.

The truth is, though, that as life goes on, the 2013 A Capella European Tour will slowly fade from our all of our minds. Sure, we will always carry memories, but new days with new joys and struggles will take precedence in our thoughts. 

It's hard to face moving on from something that we've been looking forward to for over a year and that has been so wonderful! 

In the last verse of the final song in our concert, we sing these words: 

"Some days seem long though life is brief, and death is waiting like a thief.
When vision fades and dreams go dry, we will on unseen things rely.
Our stories take up but a page, but YOURS goes on from age to age."

There is one thing that will never fade from this tour, and that is God's story - the story of his deep love for each and every one of us that he revealed by sending Christ to receive the punishment that we deserve; the story of our salvation through Christ's sacrifice; the story of hope, comfort, joy, and peace in this life and into eternity. Nothing we've written in our journals can compare to this story!  The biggest blessing of this tour was getting to share this message with each other and with those in our audiences through our joined voices, knowing that the Holy Spirit was working in us to accomplish his eternal purposes.  

Soli Deo Gloria!

And as my friend Katie Keily said after our concert, I can't wait to be in heaven and sing in choir again!

-Kate Sievert (Senior, Alto I)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Homestretch

Tonight marked concert number 14 for the A Cappella choir. With only one stop left to go and two concerts left to give, the reality is starting to sink in; in four short days, we will be back home. This opportunity we anticipated for more than a year will soon be behind us, preserved in thousands of pictures, hours of video, and seemingly endless stories and memories our group has made in the last three weeks. It has been a whirlwind of terrific experiences, beautiful places, exciting opportunities, heartfelt emotions, and deep appreciation. It is hard to believe that our time here has gone by so quickly, and yet, like it or not, here we are, on the homestretch.
On the homestretch... excited to reunite with loved ones we've missed while we were away. On the homestretch... looking forward to the time we will have to reflect back on all that we experienced while in Europe. On the homestretch... ready to be back in the familiar surroundings of home, our own beds, free bathrooms, and a language we can understand. On the homestretch... a place that, as Christians, we find ourselves every day. For from the moment we are born into God's family, we are on the homestretch, the homestretch to heaven. 
Paul, in 2 Timothy 4:7, talks about the race we run as Christians, and it is no walk in the park. Paul says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." Finishing the race with our faith intact is a fight. It takes patience and perseverance, two traits among many that we are not able to produce on our own. On our own, we are running a race we are neither equipped nor ready to finish. If there was one thing our choir was not ready for in coming to Europe, it was the weather. Like springtime was for us in Nebraska, the beginning to their summer here has been unseasonably cool. Rainy days and cloudy skies were a familiar sight to see out out our bus window. And although those days have a beauty all their own, after about a week of gray weather, we found ourselves waiting for the sun.
On those mornings we looked out the window and saw it peeking through the clouds, the excitement in the air was noticeable. Moods brightened and smiles widened. The sun lifted our spirits and gave us energy. It is the same way in the life of a Christian. We are here on earth, waiting for the Son. He is our light, our salvation. It is His message of salvation that we take to those stuck in the gray skies of sin. The light of the Gospel breaks through and gives abundant new life and immeasurable joy to a heart once trapped in the prison and shame of sin.
The effects of this beautiful message in the lives of God's children has certainly been visible on this tour. During concerts when we felt less than ready, days of long travel, and weariness that accompanies a schedule such as ours, it was the message of the Son that renewed our sense of purpose and brought joy back to our hearts. Night after night, as we shared the Gospel through our music and our words, we found the very words we sang comforting and touching us, just as we prayed they would our audiences.
Without the Gospel message, without our nightly concerts, without the bond we share as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we are just a group of college kids sightseeing through European countries. It is truly the greatest privilege in the world to carry the message of the Son to a world awaiting His return. During the past few weeks we have been reminded again and again of the presence of the Son in our lives, and the power of the Spirit to spread the news of that Son to a world in the darkness of sin. We are incredibly humbled and amazed by the work the Holy Spirit accomplishes despite our imperfect efforts. What an amazing blessing we have to serve our Lord with  the musical abilities He has given us.

-J'nae Rempfer (Senior, Alto II)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mmmm... Chicken Liver

Hey all, back home! Good evening from Poland! It's been a full day for A Cappella. We started the morning with our first experience taking part in a foreign church service, by singing songs and sharing testimonies of faith. The testimonies were given by our very own J'Nae Rempfer and Zach Klatt. The service was concluded with a very well appreciated mini concert. 
Shortly after it was done the church provided an incredible three course meal of five star restaurant quality much to everyone's delight. As the title states, we had chicken LIVER and noodle soup which was surprising delicious! After the next two courses complete with tender chicken, potatoes, homemade coleslaw, and kolaches (spell check?haha) it's safe to say that we were all filled to the brim with sweet and savory Polish goodness; incurring a well deserved standing ovation from us to our cooks. We ate near the church in what was essentially the synod office for the Lutheran Polish church, kind of like St. Louis for us LCMS'ers. 
After a very enjoyable morning we had a short drive back to the hotel. I think that I speak for everyone when I say that we all used the next two hours for much needed rest and relaxation and overall just a huge group nap. Two-a-day concerts and a busy schedule has started to test our stamina, and it was nice to have some extra time for a Sunday nap. With our nap clothes off and our formal attire back on, we left for a quick 45 minute drive to the church. The drive back into the Czech-Republic was incredibly beautiful, and the blue skies made it all the better!  
We entered the enormous church ready to go for concert two of the day and got all set up with time to spare. In this time, we took in the words of Dr. von Kampen and came to the realization that we are almost getting too used to these magnificent evangelical churches. The immense size, incredible grandeur, and wowing sound resonance seems too much to ask, but we are being blessed with it night after night. 
 At the concert was somewhere in the range of 100 people. By the end they were well fed with the 
gospel message of Christ and hopefully what they believed was some pretty good singing! Another testimonial from Katie Keily was given before the end of the concert, reminding the congregation, 
and ourselves for that matter, the reason for which we sing. 
We are thankful for and amazed by the power of the Holy Spirit to work through the imperfect humans that we are. The mission we have to spread the gospel of Christ to people around the world renewed our tired voices and weary bodies. We were reminded yet again that the tour is not really our tour after all. It is not about us but about the people that we have come to sing to and The Lord we are here to serve. Regardless of how we are feeling or mistakes we might make the Holy Spirit works through our music. Thanks be to God for the work He continues to do through the A Cappella Choir!
To Him be the glory!

Briar McCoy (Senior, Baritone)

Concert in Czech Republic

We are so blessed to be able to announce that the attendance at our concert in Prague, Czech Republic last night ended up topping at 1,080 people! Praise The Lord!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weissenbrunn; The little town with a big heart!

After a busy day in Frankfurt, the next morning we departed to find our way over to Bayreuth, the home of Richard Wagner's Festpielhaus (a fancy concert hall essentially). We took a walking tour around the small city, and visited a few areas that had significant historical meaning, including Wagner's grave. The area was  undergoing a lot of renovation, so we didn't get to see the museum dedicated to Wagner's work.
Wagner's Grave
There is no inscription on the grave because it is "obvious that no one but Wagner could be buried there."

After our tour stop in Bayreuth  we headed to Weissenbrunn, a small town of about 3000 people. The village was about as picturesque as little German towns can be, with small winding roads and rolling hills. We pulled up to a hotel in the middle of town for dinner and the distribution of students to host families. After a very quick change, we headed to the church with little to no time to spare before the concert. What awaited us was a church full of eager ears and loving hearts. Without any preparation, we launched into songs with only an organ to accompany our piano pieces. God more than provided though, in that church there was something that I can only describe as the warmth of the Holy Spirit flowing through each and every person in the building as we shared a gospel message in song.

The people were surprised at first. They thought that we were just another college choir. To quote the mayor, "We didn't know you would be good!"  The people wouldn't stop clapping, and their faces could not have been lit any brighter. They joined in making animal noises on Old Joe Clark, and prayed when we sang The Lords Prayer. In our devotions we have talked about letting the Holy Spirit work through us to reach people. I would say that this evening, the Spirit worked even more strongly through those people to reach us. I don't think any of us expected a night that we wouldn't forget in the small village of Weissenbrunn, but it was something to behold, and our prayers will be with those people in that place, that they may continue to be a blessing to all those around them. We also have a lifetime invitation to return again someday, and I hope that a strong connection is built between Concordia and this village. God works in wondrous ways, and this was truly a once in a lifetime experience, one that I cannot put in words for you to imagine.

We continue on our tour with renewed energy and a cheerful spirit, that we may continue to spread the message of Christ's Love through music.

-Joshua Weishaar (Sophomore, Bass II)

I have been taking a lot of large panoramic photos, if you would care to see any of the wonderful places we been including some of the churches and tours, I Probably have at least 1 panoramic of the scenery on this website.