Today was deemed a day of rest, meditation and spiritual preparation for the task at hand: the competitions! We ate breakfast in the hotel again, today. After breakfast, the entire travel group, students, and adult leaders, met for a very important meeting. Little did we know, the meeting would become one of the most important gatherings of this entire trip.
During the meeting, Mr. Chris Stockamp shared a story that had been shared with him yesterday. A choir traveled a great distance and sacrificed much just to get to the World Choir Games. They had to make a hard decision of whether or not to attend, because they did not have enough funds to afford the trip. They did several fundraisers in order to raise just enough to stay in a hotel that is one hour away from the city of Riga. They were so focused and dedicated to performing on the highest level, they did not talk above a whisper, and did not use their phones or any other distractions for two weeks, including during the trip to the World Choir Games. They came to Riga for the first week of competition, and their dedication and hard work paid off. They won the gold! Their story touched the choir and was a reminder of the level of sacrifice and commitment it takes to be great.
The alumni also gave encouraging words to the group, reminding them to really become one, to be unified. They told the students it is important to have a unified mindset, which is something that will ultimately translate well on the stage.
Our media person, Justin shared videos of audience responses he recorded after the choir performed the day before. The emcee from the Friendship Concert stated he thinks we’re “really cool!” Another gentleman stated his response in Latvian. Our tour guide, Liva, translated for us and told us he said the performance was wonderful and emphasized the appreciation for the heart and soul put into the music. This was a common theme among many of the responses given by audience members that day.
Mr. White encouraged the students to meditate on the things they had heard. The choir then began singing “Imagine Me” by Kirk Franklin, followed by “Total Praise” by Richard Smallwood. The moment was one that brought about the spirit of unity that had been emphasized earlier. Students prayed and embraced one another with love. Everyone was at peace and their minds were in the right space. Our tour guide, Liva, shared in this special moment with us and embraced us as well. Tears flowed from most of the people in the room. This moment was very special for the choir. It was a moment to reflect on the journey to this point. A moment of renewal. A moment of thanksgiving. A moment of unity. The rest of the day was spent with continued preparation of the mind, heart, body, soul and voice for the first competition the next day.