Since Gary joined us in May I had been working on booking tours for the end of 2012. After a couple of successful tours and several local special music numbers, Gary was doing great job and each time we got up front we all seemed more comfortable together.
Pastor Jose Nieves, a long-time friend of the quartet, was the associate pastor at the Ooltewah church when we re-formed the quartet in the early 2000’s and he now pastors the Athens, Georgia church with his wife Debbie. For whatever reason, I hadn’t been able to book anything for the weekend of November 17, so I looked up his number, taking a chance that we could arrange a church service concert on very short notice. I also called the Chattanooga First SDA Church and was able to arrange an evening concert there on short notice as well. It was very obvious that God was working things out for us to have a November tour.
Athens is only about two hours from Chattanooga, so we opted to leave at 5:00 AM Sabbath morning instead of traveling Friday night and having to pay for hotel rooms or find somewhere to stay. So, bleary-eyed, we met in Collegedale and headed south. We arrived in time to get set up and do a soundcheck before most of the congregation came in, and even had a few minutes to catch up with Pastor Jose and Debbie.
Gary had told us on the way down that his brother Greg was in the Atlanta area and was going to try to make it to our concert. Greg arrived as we were setting up and we got to know him while chatting before the concert. Greg and Gary don’t exactly resemble each other, but we soon realized they have a similar sense of humor and it was obvious after a few minutes that they were brothers.
The concert had a shaky start, but we soon settled into a rhythm and finished well. There’s always a little more pressure when there are people in the audience whom you know, but many times that initial nervousness fades after the first three or four songs. After the concert and honor sales, we said goodbye to Greg, Pastor Jose and Debbie and headed back to Chattanooga. It was hard to pass up staying for the fellowship meal, but since we had a concert at Chattanooga First church in a few hours and a couple of hours to travel, we decided we better make tracks..
My new wife Charity enjoys hearing us sing, so she met us at a gas station right off I-75 and then followed us to Chattanooga First SDA Church. It had been many years since we’d been able to sing there and I believe the last time was when the members were renting from another congregation and hadn’t yet built their own church. It’s always nice to go back to a congregation that has been able to build their own church after renting for a long time, and even though this building is now over ten years old, we were excited to be able to share new music with these people in a new location.
Charity started setting up the product table while we worked on the sound system and by that time a few people had started to come in. A lady heard us during the soundcheck and asked Charity if she was our manager! The lady has a videography business and thought we might want to use her services. Charity told her that she wasn’t our manager, but only the wife of the tenor. I think it made her feel good to be mistaken for our manager, though.
Although the concert had been arranged at short notice and we hadn’t had time to put up posters or announcements, the turnout was good and I even saw several people I knew. Arnold Cochran, who was once a member of my church in Cleveland, is now a member of Chattanooga First and came to the concert with his wife. It was nice to see him in good health and to see him happy. Charity and I also ran into the Wickhams, two friends from Laurelbrook Academy. They’d heard about the concert from their daughter, Sharon, in Montana who saw my post about it on Facebook. They’re fans of the quartet, but wouldn’t have known about it since they’re not on Facebook! Just another proof that God always makes sure the right people are at our concerts.
Another proof that God is with us is that this weekend worked out so well on such short notice. We’re constantly amazed at how God provides, directs and guides our path as a group and as individuals. He truly is “Emmanuel!”