It’s been over 10 years since we’ve been to the Memphis area so all year I had been trying to book a couple of churches but there were always scheduling conflicts. Even after we got everything worked out, there was a miscommunication between me and Tim which meant I scheduled the tour on the same weekend he was to be at a major Boy Scout event! But we went ahead with the weekend since it seemed the Lord wanted us to go even though the devil was throwing so many obstacles in the way.
Friday night Ryan, Gary and I left without Tim since he wasn’t able to leave his event until later that night. We had a great trip out, but it’s always a little worrisome when we travel separately since we literally cannot perform our music if one quartet member is missing!
Sabbath morning the three of us made our way over to the Memphis-Raleigh SDA Church and tried to get a sound check without Tim (which is difficult!) He had driven part of the way Friday night and would meet us at the church, hopefully before concert time. We’d been texting him to see where he was and he told us he was close. After sound check I realized that I had left my tie at the hotel room, so we had to drive the 20 minutes back to the hotel. I was feeling very bad about it as we pulled in to the parking lot but as I came out of my room I was surprised to see Tim’s car! He’d stopped for a bathroom break and, without knowing it, had stopped at the same exit as our hotel. He was able to follow us back to the church without having to follow directions. Obviously it was meant for me to forget my tie.
Back at the church I saw some familiar faces right before the service began. Ronald and Indra Feick had been staff members at Laurelbrook Academy when I was teaching there and now both of them were members of the Raleigh church. Indra had seen our Facebook post about the concert and had commented that she and Ronald would be there. It was good to see them again. I also got to meet in person Charles McClarty who had helped arrange the concert. It’s always nice to put a face with a name.
During song service there were two very talented violinists playing along with the organ and piano. It really enhanced the entire song service. There was also a little girl singing beautifully on the front row along with every hymn. We found out later that her name is Susanna and we complimented her on her wonderful voice. Ryan’s children’s story had the kids on the edge of their seats, as it usually does, and I think the adults enjoyed it every bit as much as the kids!
We had a shaky start to the concert, but it ended well and no one seemed to mind that we ended at 12:15. There was a terrific fellowship dinner afterwards with some very tasty curry dishes. I suspect my friend Indra made at least one of them! We sang our usual “Irish Blessing” potluck song and they loved it so much we decided to sing “Movin’ up to Glory Land” which we hadn’t done in the concert.
Back at the hotel we had a snafu with the rooms when our keys didn’t work, but were able to explain to the clerk that we had actually paid for two nights. When that was cleared up we were able to catch a nap before heading over to our vespers concert at the Memphis First SDA Church.
We had a great turnout at Memphis First and several from Raleigh came to hear us again including Charles McClarty and his family. My friends Lorie and Vince Romeo came and brought all their kids even though their youngest was sick. I know Lorie from Laurelbrook since we were both students there and after college we were both staff there too. I know Vince from my years of singing in Die Meistersinger Male Chorus at Southern Adventist University. He and I got to travel to the Middle East with the group back in 1994 and made lifetime memories singing in Greece, Jordan and Israel.
Halfway through the concert Gary was introducing the next song and Ryan gently corrected him. Gary looked back down at the song list and said, “Are you sure about that?” There followed an amusing discussion right there on stage about which song was next. Suddenly we realized we had two different song lists! We always put one song list over on stage left for Ryan and Tim and on stage right for me and Gary. It’s my job to bring them and this time I had brought two different lists. The congregation laughed at my unintentional blunder as we decided which list to use!
When the concert and sales were over we decided to go to Red Robin for supper. As we were taken to our table we noticed some familiar faces at the table next to us. Charles McClarty and his family had had the same idea! They’d been at both concerts that day and we were seeing them again for the third time. Charles asked us why we were following them around town. As they were leaving they asked us where we were going to eat breakfast so they could be there too!
Memphis is well-known for being the home of the founders and pioneers of many genres of American music, including blues, rock, country and gospel. Arguably the most famous musician associated with Memphis is Elvis Presley. Being a fan of Elvis’ music, Tim suggested that we take the time on Sunday to visit Graceland since none of us had ever been there before. It was really amazing! We took the self-guided tour which includes headphones with an audio track that described each section of the mansion, grounds and other buildings as we went through. It was truly an interesting and educational look into the personal life and influence of an American icon. Two of my favorite parts of our visit were the hall of gold records in the mansion and the museum of Elvis’ cars down the street. The museum included the iconic pink Cadillac that Elvis is known for and it’s been restored to pristine condition. We thoroughly enjoyed the day and had Elvis songs running through our heads as we drove back home.