Tuesday, August 21, 2012

After The Summer

Man, what a crazy summer.  So many lessons, so many blessings; a whole weekend seminar maybe could scratch the surface of what we learned this summer.

But since we last checked in, we finished VBS in Black Creek and did worship with them on Sunday.  That same day, we drove to Shawano, WI, which is not too far from Black Creek and played for Divine Savior's Community Corn Roast.  Think church picnic where the whole city is invited.  They expected a little more than 300 people, 500+ showed up.  We had the chance to play for three hours (with some breaks), but it was the most we had ever played at one event.  We enjoyed the chance to be a little more loose than we are in worship, and lot of people said wonderful things about us there.  Hopefully, the community became more aware of the church and possibly heard a good thing or two from the messages of the hymns we played.  After playing more than 30 songs (if you combine morning worship and afternoon concert, we started the long trek to Arlington. 

We got in at 2am, and had to be ready for soccer camp the next day.  It was a challenge, but we did it.  Thanks in large part to Caleb Schmiege, we were prepared for the day, and we worked hard the next morning to get the camp off the ground. We enlisted the help of the Petzel's, Zach, Jordan, and their mom, Judy, who helped with registration and coaching, but the biggest part of our team for the week was Bill Sergenian.  Bill came all the way from Madison on his own tab to help us with camp.  His experience with the soccer camps in Madison and Mississauga helped a great deal.  He also helped by paying for the backpacks and water bottles for all the kids and by taking and printing all the pictures from the camp.  We served 21 children with some soccer skills and God's Word.  It was a great success and we hope that St. Paul's continues this camp in future years because we can really see the potential for growth in this camp.

We had a chance to help with a youth group gathering in Arlington.  We all got to hang out with the kids from St. Paul's youth group, and Caleb Schmiege gave a nice devotion for them before we sang some guitar accompanied hymns.  We also had the chance to go to Glencoe, MN to help them with their VBS music and closing program.  We got the chance to teach and sing with the kids at their VBS.  Doing kid's music has never been our forte, but we definitely enjoy the teaching and hearing those kids sing their hearts out.  Maybe their parents could learn a thing or two. ;)

After worship on Sunday in Arlington, we packed up and headed to St. James, MN for a concert that was supposed to be outside.  Unfortunately, weather took another outdoor event from us and we did our concert in the sanctuary of St. Paul's there in St. James.  We enjoyed the concert and we were well received in St. James.

We finally went to our last stop, Mankato, where it all began.  We were confronted with helping Pastor Siverly plan the hymns for the services in the upcoming year, and we all enjoyed the opportunity to give our suggestions to him.  We also got the chance to lead a Bible study, help a family move out of a house and got a bunch of time to finish recording.  We did a concert on Thursday night which was well attended and was a great way to thank St. Mark's for all they had done for us.  We finally prepared for worship on Sunday, which was great, and packed up for the final time.  Peter and Sam went to MLC, Caleb and Caleb back to Wisconsin.

As far as CD's go, they will be ready to given out within the week.  They will be available on soundcloud.com and also via a .zip file by e-mail to Caleb Schultz (schultck@mlc-wels.edu).  It will be almost 20 tracks that we haven't recorded previously.  We did the recordings on our equipment, so it's not professional quality, but the purpose was not ever to make money, but to show how our hymns can very easily be adapted into a musical style that more people in our culture today can relate to.  If you love listening to it, that makes us really proud, but we hope that you will use it to show your congregation that they are a hop, skip and a jump away from doing what we do.  Caleb Schultz should also be contacted if you want the resources of Fide's hymn chord charts.  They can be a great place to start if you're looking to start something similar to Fide at your church.

Finally, what is next for Fide? Not much during the school year.  Peter and Sam will, at least, begin the year working with St. Mark in Mankato every third Sunday of the month.  Caleb and Caleb will use their talents around Sem and hopefully in their Early Field Training assignments.  Next summer is up in the air.  We will let this summer sit for a month or two and then start talking about next summer.  If you are interested in having us next summer for worship music, a concert, help with your VBS either in teaching, music or both, or any combination of those, let Caleb Schultz know, and he will keep you informed on the progress of Fide tour next summer.  Until there is any news, we will not be posting many new things on our blog, but stay connected to our Facebook page for any news.  Thank you for reading our blog this summer and for the support you gave to us.  We are truly blessed by God and thank him often for the blessings he gave us through this summer.

"And then when all my days shall cease, let me depart in joy and peace, in answer to my pleading."

Monday, July 30, 2012

After Day 71

We are back in Black Creek.  We are riding the most exciting wave of emotions and experiences we have received all summer.  This is week 3 of 3 consecutive VBS programs.  Let me tell you about the past two week and what we are looking forward to this week.

In Mankato, we were a large part of their Sky VBS.  Caleb Schmiege was Flash Skyrunner, a quirky character who did skits at the beginning of every day of VBS.  He also did the Bible stories for all the older kids. Peter did all the preschool work.  He told the stories, did most of the games and crafts and had a wonderful time doing it.  The experience of seeing preschoolers clap when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead is one of those rewards that God has given us this summer. Sam was in charge of the Imagination Station which ended being the hit of the whole VBS.  He had explosions, helicopter frisbees, and a slingshot that was being played with even after VBS was over.  Caleb Schultz taught the songs and ran the games for the older kids as well as doing the opening and closing skits of each day with Caleb Schmiege.  Overall, we all enjoyed the jobs that we did and we felt like we were really appreciated too.  Comments like, "It's so great to finally be proud of our VBS," or "this was the best VBS my child went to all summer" are still ringing in my ears. God is great.  We had many churched kids in VBS in Mankato, but we were blessed with a little under 10 non-churched children.  We pray that they learned to "Trust God" (the theme of Sky VBS) and to see him as their only means of salvation.

We then went to Lannon for our last week with them.  They also did Sky, but this VBS was a little different.  Not only were all four of us working on Bible stories together, but this VBS was three times the size of Mankato's.  Caleb, with the help of the guys, again go to teach the songs, but the fun for us was in the Bible stories.  From preschoolers completely engaged by the large man in the fake beard who just told us that he was Jesus to crew leaders laughing at Barnacle Bill, the deckhand on Jonah's ship, it was a wonderful experience.  The success of the VBS was very great here also.  Every year previous to this, their VBS had decreased in numbers as the week went on.  This year, the numbers not only didn't decreased, but they increased as the week went on! What a blessing!

Leaving Lannon was difficult, but we know that God will take care of that congregation and the friends we made there.  We will see them all again in Heaven, but we hope we can see them again before then.

After a Sunday night service at St. Marcus in Milwaukee which went very well, we travelled to Black Creek for our last VBS of the summer.  We are doing "Back To Jerusalem" here.  We are jointly teaching the songs, Caleb Schmiege is doing the upper level Bible study, Caleb Schultz is doing the teen leader Bible study, and Peter and Sam are helping with crafts.  We are all part of the opening devotional skits for each day also.

We have started recording again.  We are planning to record as many of our arrangements as we can before the summer ends and to send it to the congregations we worked with this summer as our gift to them.  Of course, when it is available, anyone can get their hands on one.  Watch our Facebook page for updates on when you can get our next demo.

Next week is soccer camp in Arlington, probably the biggest challenge of this summer for us.  We are getting close to the end.  Please continue to pray for us and the work we are doing so more people can be reached with the Gospel.

"Fight the good fight with all your might, Christ is your strength and Christ your light."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

After Day 55

It's been a while since we have checked in with our blog work.  That's because we have been very busy and loving it.  Let's catch up, huh? ;)

Our three musical events in three days went better than we even could have predicted.  Pewaukee was a great location to lead worship.  From the way the people talked to us after church, we surpassed their expectations.  We love when that happens. 

Our trip then took us to Wisconsin Rapids for two services on Sunday morning.  Both went very well.  Again, we were blessed with a lot of positive comments.  We did had a few comments that weren't thrilled with our work, and we regret that we can't please everyone.  We just hope that we can educate people on the benefit of changing the style of music that accompanies hymns.  It's always a learning process and we are thankful for the criticism as well as the praise.  It keeps us humble, focused on Jesus, and always improving.  We had the chance to do our hymn study between services, which is always fun for us.

We then headed to Grace in Ridgeway, MN for our first concert of the summer.  We were confident that we were musically prepared, but it's always intimidating trying something for the first time.  However, God brought us through it, and he blessed us and the congregation through the words of the hymns.  Grace received us very well and we definitely enjoy our time there both playing hymns and interacting with the members.

Next was Arlington for our second week there.  This was a soccer camp prep week.  We were getting a little nervous with only 11 kids signed up by the deadline that we had set (July 1).  But God once again reminded us that his timetable is different than ours and that we should just trust him to take care of us and bless what we are doing.  As of right now, we have expanded that number to 22 with a couple others still on the way.  Our first goal was to get at least 20 kids...way to go, God! ;)  We will keep praying that he expands those numbers so more kids can be told about Jesus through soccer camp.  Our lofty (but achievable for God) goal is to have 40 kids.  We believe that God can bless us with those numbers.  Please, take a moment now, stop reading this blog, and ask God to bless Soccer Camp in Arlington.

This past week has been our first in Black Creek, WI with Immanuel.  Pastor Steve has been absolutely wonderful in planning a lot of work for us to do.  One thing that we all appreciated were daily morning meetings for Bible study.  We all grew in faith and knowledge of God's love for us.  We studied humility, patience, contentment, and love in those studies.  We have planned a great deal of the VBS material that we will be presenting in a few weeks.  We spent four days canvassing various parts of Black Creek and Shiocton, WI.  We created a prospect list of interest in the new child care facility on Immanuel's property and in the church.  Pastor Steve even took us out to see The Amazing Spiderman.  Definitely worth seeing. :)  Obviously, canvassing tends to produce a lot of "no's," but God has blessed each of us at different times in canvassing as his will permits with great conversations or interest in the church and childcare facility.  We are praying that the Holy Spirit begins working faith in the hearts of the people we invited to church either by bringing them on Sunday, through meeting Pastor Steve and John (the childcare director), or by whatever means he sees fitting.

After worship tomorrow, we have a concert in La Crosse at First Lutheran at 6:30pm (if you're in the area).  We are really looking forward to this opportunity to play there.  After the concert, we continue our drive, ending in Mankato.  VBS starts Monday...oh boy!  It's going to be a quick turnaround, but we know that God will take care of us and continue to bless us.  Pray for us, please. :)

"Your grace is enough for me.  Heaven reaching down to earth, I'm covered in your love.  Your grace is enough for me."

Friday, June 29, 2012

After Day 40

For worship in Mankato, we took a survey about our worship.  Overall, the responses were very positive.  The most often seen negative feedback was about our volume, which could be related to us using our own sound system for the first time in Mankato.  Also, St. Mark's is the smallest sanctuary that we will lead worship in this summer, so we may have been victims of expecting our amps to be as loud as they had been.  Either way, we learned some things that we can improve on and were refocused on why we lead worship in the first place, to facilitate the worship of the people in the pews.

We spent another week in Lannon.  The work load was less than last time we were there, but more work had to be done musically than normal, so the extra time was nice.  We added two members of St. John's grade school who had approached us last time we were around to our arrangements.  Hattie sang and Maria played xylophone.  We appreciated their work.

We also worked on the school building preparing it to be wax and carpet cleaned.  We also spent some time with St. John's youth group, Wildfire.

We also had to prepare for and lead worship in West Bend, WI for Rev. Bob Hein's 25th anniverssary of being a pastor.  The service was very nice and the congregation was very kind to us also.  We got asked about recordings and about future visits to West Bend.

On Monday, we prepared for three events in three days.  We have worship in Pewaukee on Saturday night, Wisconsin Rapids on Sunday morning, and a concert in Ridgeway, MN on Monday night.  The services are pretty basic for us, but preparing for our first concert of the summer is really exciting.  We all enjoyed working on some really well-known Christmas hymns.  We are really proud of the arrangements we are playing for the concert, and we are also hoping that we prepared our concert well enough that it will show people the life of Jesus and his work.

We are on a week off right now and will come back together on Saturday for worship.  Keep praying for us.

"Speak, Oh Savior, I am listen as a servant to his Lord."

Monday, June 18, 2012

After Day 29

We are back in Lannon.  It's definitely nice to be back with the Caira's and to look forward to working with St. John's again.  We are spending our Monday preparing for the musical things we will be doing this week which includes hopefully adding two members to Fide from St. John's for the weekend.

Our two services in Arlington went very well last weekend.  The number of visitors wasn't as high as we would have hoped, but the main idea of our canvassing was to promote the soccer camp to lead kids to hear about Jesus.  We are hoping that soccer will be an opportunity for a bunch of new families in Arlington and the surrounding area to be exposed to their Savior.

Our week in Mankato was great too.  We got to canvass two neighborhoods and have a meet and greet with a Sudanese family belongs to St. Mark's.  We also got the details about VBS and how we will be helping with that.  We are looking forward to help St. Mark's put on a VBS that will get Mankato talking about St. Mark's and give them more opportunities for outreach.  Pray for them.

The services went well on Sunday and Thursday.  We took a survey of the congregation on Sunday to see how we can improve.  Other than one or two outliers who sound like they just dislike a band in worship more than they actually dislike us, most of the feedback was positive.  We were a little loud on Sunday...I blame it on being in bigger church buildings the last three weeks... ;)

We are looking forward to leading worship in Lannon this Sunday, and also leading worship in West Bend for Rev. Robert Hein's 25th anniversary of ministry on Sunday.  We thank God for servants like him.

Your prayers must be working because God is still taking care of us like we never could have expected.  Please continue bringing us to Jesus in your prayers.

"Praise to the Lord, the almighty, the king of creation."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

After Day 21

We had the awesome chance to participate in WELS Kingdom Worker's Music For Missions concert on Wednesday.  A bunch of other musicians and singers participated to benefit WKW.  We had a great time being part of the concert and heard a lot of really nice comments afterwards.  We were all able to mingle with people afterwards and even made some possible connections to have a few more stops on our summer tour.  It was a cool blessing to see a large group of God's people supporting those who are doing to the work of the church.  We thank God for Kingdom Workers.
This week in Arlington has been great. We were able to canvass all of Arlington and Gaylord, which included handing out 900 brochures about the soccer camp we are going to put on and even more leaflets inviting people to worship with us on Sunday. Each of us have great stories to tell from our experiences, but overall we are just thankful for the opportunity to invite people to hear about Jesus.

Sam created and built an awesome Time Machine prop (don't tell the kids that it's just a prop) for St. Paul's Back to Jerusalem VBS. You can check out the photo on our facebook page.  We also did a bunch of miscellaneous projects to help prep for VBS.

Our arrangements for Sunday are trying some new things.  We start "Open Now the Gates of Beauty" by singing the first line in four part harmony. 

Our host families, the Hanneman's and the Lukasek's have been way too good to us.  We have all been floored by the blessing of meeting so many awesome people even though this tour has barely started.  We are in a great place right now (literally and figuratively).  Keep praying for us. 

"Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus can my heartfelt longing still."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

After Day 17

It's like God is rubbing it in our faces!  Let me tell you why...  As if all the things that God has already done for us and through us weren't already amazing, recently God has given us more reasons to see him in everything we do.  We had a wonderful time worshipping at St. John's in Milwaukee.  We had to get up way earlier than I care to admit, but we made sure that all our arrangements were polished.  We played two services and attended Bible study in between, and the congregation was very supportive and welcoming. Pastor Goldschmidt and Mr. Hirschmann were very kind and accommodating for us, and the congregation as a whole had a lot of really nice things to say to us--they even took a freewill offering for us.  It was defintely more than we expected.  We packed up and got to experience Wisco's graduation that afternoon because Sam's brother, Michael, and our Lannon host family's son, Austin, were graduating and we wanted to support them.

After spending the night at the Jeske home, we drove to Arlington, MN and met up with Principal Eric Kaesermann who explained some of the things he wanted us to do throughout the week.  After that, we ate supper with Matt and Kristin Lukasek, who are also Caleb Schultz and Peter's host family for the week.  Kristin is in charge of VBS and had a bunch of ideas ready for us to work on.  Sam has a sweet vision for a time machine that will fit into the "Back to Jerusalem" theme of St. Paul's VBS this year. A few other art projects and prep work for VBS will also keep us busy.

Today, we canvassed a bunch of Gaylord, MN.  Initial results were mixed, but we had some cool experiences also.  Allow me to share just one story... I walked up to a house after not having much succes for the past half hour.  I prayed to God that he would allow one of the people in the next few houses to be interested in St. Paul's and the soccer camp.  At the very next house, a man named Mike walked out and told me that his son would be very interested in soccer camp.  In the heat of the moment, I also began to tell him about Fide and worship on Sunday.  He told me that he would probably be there on Sunday.  Now that's exciting!

Tomorrow, we are playing at MLC for WELS Kingdom Worker's "Music for Missions"  benefit concert. In order to fill our half-hour time slot, we tried to pick five hymns that really hammer home the message of Jesus as our only means for salvation forever and our only hope of peace in this life.

Keep praying for us.  God continues to bless us through those prayers.

"The king of love, my shepherd is, whose goodness fails me never.  I nothing lack if I am his, and he is mine forever."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

After Day 10

The Memorial Day parades were a great success and we had a great time  being part of them.  There were dance parties when the parade slowed down and the plane was a huge success with the parade go-ers.  Now we pray that God will move many of those people to send their kids to VBS.  We definitely enjoyed our time with the members of St. John's in Lannon.  They are such nice people and way too generous to us. 

We had to leave the Caira's, which was a sad departure, but we will be back with them soon enough.  We are definitely looking forward to being with them again.  Such fun people!

We are off for a few days, but that doesn't mean that work is not being done.  Hymn charts and arrangements need to be written and planning has to start for the soccer camp we hope to run in Arlington this summer.  Keep praying for us.  God has taken care of us so far and we have no doubt that he will continue. I pray that we keep him first in our lives, and continue to go to him for help.

"God's Word is our great heritage, and shall be ours forever.  To spread its light from age to age shall be our chief endeavor.  Thought life, it guides our way.  In death it is our stay.  Lord, grant, while worlds endure, we keep its teaching pure throughout all generations."

Sunday, May 27, 2012

After Day 8

Wow, what a great first week.  Here are some of the highlights from our first week in Lannon, WI at St. John's.  The Calebs and Sam painted a hallway of the school building.  All four of us collaborated on building a float (which consisted of a pickup truck dressed up to be a cloud with a airplane pulled behind it and a hot air ballon basket in the bed of the truck) for some Memorial Day parades to advertise VBS.  Sam and Peter built the plane, while the Calebs made the signs and basket. In addition to parade preparation duty, Sam and the Calebs put together a tri-fold to promote VBS to the congregation.  On Friday, we led the singing for the grade school's chapel service and Peter delievered the devotion. We gave two presentations to the 7th & 8th grade confirmation class--one on MLC and another on Fide hymn arranging and hymnology.  We gave a more in depth version of that hymn presentation on Sunday during the Bible Study hour.  We led worship once Saturday night and twice on Sunday morning, and tomorrow we are walking in two parades with the float we built.  It's been an awesome and rewarding week.

We got to spend some quality time with the Caira's (our host family) and even got to make them supper last night.  It was an odd combination of burgers, pancakes, eggs, and fruit salad...but hey, they liked it (I think). 

Next time we come here, we are looking to spend a lot more time with St. John's youth group, Wildfire.  We are going to try to integrate some members of the congregation into what we do musically.  We will be doing a lot of the prep work for VBS next time too.

Keep praying for us. God is taking care of us beyond what we deserve.  A prayer of thanks always goes up to God when we have our daily band devotion.  Thanks for reading.  Write us a letter or something.  We love to get mail. ;)

Monday, May 21, 2012

After Day 2

Hey. We've never done this blogging thing before, but a few people have asked that we tell them what we are up to on our summer trip helping WELS churches.  So, let your friends know if they're interested in hearing what we've been up to.  We will try to write a new post every few days...who knows if that will actually work?

Today was technically Day 2 of our summer, but it was the first day that we were all together for the whole day.  After leading worship in Mankato on Sunday (which was wonderful as usual), we had a "new member" potluck in which we were named honorary members of St. Mark.  We love the members of that church, so it was really cool to have them express how much they appreciated what we have been doing for them. 

We travelled to Milwaukee last night and got a good nights sleep.  This afternoon, we loaded up all our equipment at the Jeske household and drove to Lannon.  We moved into our first host family, the Caira's.  They are a wonderful group of people and their house is defintely way too good for us.  If anyone was uncertain about the blessings of God to us, this family is yet another blessing.

We got to speak to Pastor Koschnitzke about our involvement with their congregation this week.  We will be doing two short workshops with the catechism class, one about MLC, one about what we do with hymns.  We will be leading worship for the school's chapel on Friday which will include Peter giving a devotion for the kids.  We will also be giving a Bible study on worship principles, planning and execution on Sunday before worship.  That's all we know so far, but we will be meeting with some other folks who will get us involved with VBS planning and other odds and ends around the church and school.

Keep us in your prayers.  "Draw us to thee unceasingly; Into thy kingdom take us. Let us fore'er thy glory share; Thy saints and joint heirs make us."