We all enjoyed sleeping in a few extra hours after having risen early for the past several days. But we were all anxious for the day ahead as we would be singing at Vicenza Department of Defense School to the children of our deployed service members. We had driven the two hours from our hotel in Pordenone, and were met yet again with difficulty at the front entrance to the base. Our driver’s name wasn’t on the list, so he needed to be cleared, which took longer than expected, but we were and continue to be thankful that the security protocols work as they keep both us, and our military personnel safe.
The Singers were allotted 30 minutes to sing a concert for elementary and middle school children. Boy did they love it! We took them on a parade through America’s musical history and sang a variety of American classics. The guys of the team, with the assistance of the beautiful, low-notes of singer Caitlyn Gardner, sang a barbershop piece, in which they all wore fake mustaches! The team sang This Land, and asked the kids to sing along with us; many obliged. We couldn’t have done a school concert without performing Disney songs, so we ended with a medley of music from the movie: Frozen. The kids also sang along and even complimented many of us by saying that we sounded better than the actual characters in the movie! A great time was had by all, and the Singers were blessed by the smiles that were on the kids’ faces.
Our second stop at Vicenza was the base chapel. We were greeted by SPC Charles King who was our escort while we were on base. When we entered the chapel, Singer Alumnus Zach Ford, was immediately struck by the stained-glass windows. They included images of World War Two patches, and one just happened to be a patch worn by his great-grandfather. It really brought home how the military touches all of us. Many of the Singers have family and friends that have served, or are currently serving in the military. It was also a reminder that we stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before us, and that each generation’s call is to continue to carry the torch of freedom. That is why we are here – to carry the true message of freedom.
The chaplains were very excited about our arrival. Many countless hours of planning and communicating had to be done in order for us to get to this point, but God opened doors and it was a blessing in itself to relish in the works done by the faithful hand of our God. There was a warm feeling throughout the service. People felt lead to worship in many different styles and it was so sweet to see the good people of God worshipping together. Some stood and clapped along to the songs, some raised their hands, others sat in their seats and sang along, but all of it was done in worship to the One True King.
At the conclusion of the service, we had the opportunity to meet-and-greet with the congregation. The wife of Chaplain Foster, another chaplain we were able to meet, just so happened to have been raised in a Wesleyan church! We heard some of their stories and connected with the people easily. Chaplain Mike Burgess, another chaplain we had the privilege of meeting, taught at the chapel at Fort Jackson in SC. He is friends with Major Timothy Cross, who is the chaplain that was over our director’s son, Devin Kerstetter!
After the service, the University Singers prayed over the people for the Lord’s protection and guidance. We all left with hearts full of thanksgiving that these brave men and women are willing to put their lives on hold so that they can stand the watch for us. In this, we saw a small glimpse of true Christian virtue.
– Zachary Ford, Singer Alumnus