Day 1 - Manchester, Missouri
Day 1, 4:30 am, no one was happy. We were on the road by 6:30 am and the second we were on the bus, everyone was sprawled out into the aisles. It was a five hour drive to St. Louis, Missouri and we had a long way to go. Everyone slept. As the hours went by and people woke up, we plugged in Pitch Perfect 2 and watched until we arrived to the arch. When we stopped, we went out to lunch, some going to Panera Bread and others going to Jimmy Johns. Getting back into the cramped bus, we had another hour and a half or so to get to Manchester. When we arrived, we immediately put our bags into our separate rooms and went to practice, talking to former DGFUMC pastor, Nick. The Church bought us pizza and we got ready. As we went up to perform, we had a crowd of about 10 people, but still performed as if there were a whole crowd. Once the performance was over, some people went out for a run while others got ready for bed and as curfew arrived, lights went out and people were spread out around the rooms, sleeping on the floor, on couches and on chairs, preparing for an early morning and another five hour bus ride.
Day 2 - Batesville, Mississippi
Day 2, 6:15 am, everyone was getting up and packing for the bus that would show up at 7:00. We all ate an assortment of cereal, bananas, and apples. Then, Howie held a lovely service where Anna L., Kotomi, and Anna S. read scripture. Afterwards, we all filed on the bus for a 7-hour bus ride. We napped, finished watching Pitch Perfect 2 and We bought a Zoo. We stopped for lunch in Arkansas and the service was pretty bad. Then we got to Batesville, Mississippi and practiced our music. Once we were done with that, we ate a really good dinner with the youth of their church. There were potatoes, chicken, rolls, and green beans. For dessert, they had ding dong cakes, caramel cakes, and butter finger cakes. The church had a good amount of people that showed up, about 40. We also live streamed our performance. We performed very well and their choir director said we had good diction. After our performance, we went to our host families. Some families had baby goats, others had chickens. They enjoyed when there were little kids in the homes too. One family bought hats for all of the kids. Everyone said that their families were nice and funny. A couple families had outdoor cats and trampolines. Everyone had fun in Mississippi.
Day 3- Slidell, Louisiana
Day 3, 8:00 am, we all arrive back to the Batesville FUMC and begin our journey to Slidell, LA about 45 min away from New Orleans. Mostly everyone felt refreshed after sleeping in a bed and not a bus. During the five hours of road trip, we watched Jersey Boys, Sean’s secret pal present. Everyone was singing, laughing, and dancing to the movie. A few of the girls really wanted to tan, so “pro-tip” if you ever want to tan while on a road trip, tan in the parking lot of a gas station on breaks. When we arrived at the Slidell FUMC, we had a ton of free time. Some activities included playing baseball and badminton. For dinner we had hamburgers, hot dogs, and salad. After dinner, the host church taught us a game called Baby Bronco Backpack and the first round Karin and I (Danny) came in runner up and Sean and Caroline were double champions! The rest of the night ended with coloring and singing an original song by Zack “Jon Looks Like Potatoes.” We slept on cots and surprisingly, slept really well.
Day 4- Slidell, Louisiana+ New Orleans, Louisiana
Day 4, We got up at 6:15 because we had to get up and eat breakfast from 7-7:45. Then, at 8 we read our letters from home. Even though it was earlier than usual, it seemed to have the same impact. There was lots of crying and happy faces. Then, we walked over to play with the senior citizens in the nursing home. We played cards, dominoes, checkers, and bubbles with them. There was a lot of entertainment in playing with them and talking to them. They all had different personalities and backstories, coming from different parts of Louisiana or even different states, they could come from farms or be retired police officers. They were all very sweet. Then we left to go to New Orleans. The ride to New Orleans was an hour and when we got there we took our group photo. Everyone went to get in line for Café Du Monde but not many people stayed because the line was very long and we only had 3 hours. As we walked around New Orleans, you could tell that the architectural style was different. It was more French and colorful than Chicago. With the 80 degree weather and the beautiful scenery, it was very enjoyable. When you go to New Orleans, you should try the Beignets, so of course we tried them and they were wonderful. Then, we went to restaurants where we tried new foods such as jambalaya, bayou pasta, or alligator poppers. All of it was delicious. Then, we went to shop and there were lots of art stores or vintage shops. On the streets were lot of art vendors or hand readers or psychics. In the trees were Mardi Gras beads and on the walls were art. Otherwise there were lots of gift shops. Then, we got back on the bus at 3 to get back to the church at 4. Our rehearsal was at 4:30 and then we ate dinner which was jambalaya but Abby, Kotomi, Amanda, Caroline, Sean, and Zach did karaoke instead. At 6:50 we all lined up for our concert which was a success. We had about 40 people in the crowd and they seemed to enjoy the concert. Afterwards, we went to our hosts families that we’ll have for day 5 also. The host families all know each other and are very nice. One had turtles in their backyards and another had a gate to separate the bayou from their backyard so alligators couldn’t get in. Another had grandchildren that came over so they could play. Everyone slept well and had enough energy on the bus that they didn’t take any naps on the bus the next morning.