When was the last time you stayed with complete strangers? I mean, not just shirt-tail relatives but actual people you had never met or spoken with? Well, welcome to the basic lodging plan of the HLA choir tour!

Following a fabulous music/communion service at Blom Prairie Church last night, we were parceled out to various group homes in the congregation. I imagined this could be awkward, as I loaded my gear into a strange car and buckled into the front seat. Students were doing the same in cars and trucks all over the parking lot and we waved at each other, grinning nervously.

A half hour later, our group pulled up into a large yard of outbuildings and the car’s headlights illuminated an old-fashioned red barn. Friendly cats hurried out to welcome us as we dragged all our stuff into the house. From the minute we arrived we were doted on and warmly welcomed like family. We gathered in the spacious great room near the fireplace to eat snacks and exchange stories. My room belonged to a college-aged son whose walls were decorated with photos of friends and sports awards. There was a guitar in the corner and a little statue of Mickey Mouse on a shelf--a tribute to some childhood vacation. A stack of folded towels waited on the bed and I crawled gladly between the fresh sheets at bedtime. Familiar with hotel stays, I marveled at how different this felt. Here was a family who welcomed us into their lives--me and a half dozen teenage boys which such grace and hospitality. The students, in turn, were the epitome of gentlemen, quick to express appreciation. Moms--you can be proud of your sons! I was.

Soon, we will converge again with our entire group and reload the bus for our continued trek west. Our stops today include Mt Rushmore and Wall Drug and then a non-stop stint to Seattle. Pray for our drivers, Matt and Dave, for alertness and safety for our bus.

I smell cinnamon rolls, so I am signing off! Until later...

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