We haven’t traveled to Virginia in several years, so we were excited to have the opportunity to go to Richmond for a four-concert weekend at three churches we’ve never visited. Our good friend Jaclynn Huse recently embarked on a solo music ministry journey and since her parents recently moved to Richmond, she suggested that we all travel there and sing together. I worked with Jaclynn’s sister Judy to put together two concerts at local SDA churches and two Sunday morning concerts at a Richmond Methodist church. It would be a long drive, but we were looking forward to singing in a new area.
We left Collegedale around 8:00 AM and, although it was a little more crowded than normal, the trip was pleasant and the eight hours went by quickly. We all enjoyed laughing and listening to music between trying to practice a few songs and stopping now and then to eat. We arrived in Richmond late Friday night and Jaclynn’s dad Glynn and her sister Judy met us at the Patterson Avenue SDA Church where Judy and her family attend.
There was snow on the ground when we arrived and the temperature never seemed to get much above the teens the whole weekend. It was very cold when Judy opened up the church and we started setting up our sound system. But moving in the heavy speakers always gets the blood moving, so after a few minutes we were warmed up and ready for a sound check. When we were finished, we said good-night to Judy and followed Glynn over to their house.
Jaclynn’s parents have a beautiful home and when we arrived they showed us where we’d all be sleeping and then fed us some delicious Big Franks and chili. We’d gotten to meet Glynn at the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference Camp Meeting the year before when we’d been invited to sing there. Jaclynn’s mom Camille hadn’t been able to be there because she was in Richmond at the time, so it was nice to finally get to meet her and spend some time getting to know both of them better.
The next morning we awoke to very cold temperatures and a brisk wind-chill factor so we were a little concerned that the weather might keep some people from coming out to church. However, when we arrived there were already a lot of people inside and as the time for the service came closer, it was apparent that everyone was used to the cold in January and it wasn’t going to deter them from coming to church! Ryan delivered his classic children’s story which never fails to surprise the kids and adults alike at the end.
At concert time, it was nice to sing in a warm sanctuary full of friendly people who enjoyed our music. Halfway through the concert, we invited Jaclynn to come up and sing a few songs and to let people know about her new recording “Wheel of Fortune.” Judy sang with her on “Not Guilty” and all of Jaclynn’s songs went very well. Before we finished the concert, she sang “Down in the River to Pray” with us. We finished the concert and spent a good while at our product tables conducting honor sales. There were quite a few people who wanted a copy of each CD and it was good to see Jaclynn’s new album being so well-received.
After lunch we spent some time at the Griffin’s house watching some Gaither videos before heading over to our evening concert at Fredericksburg. This was another concert that Judy had helped to set up and we had a good turnout there as well, even though it was still very cold.
After our CD sales we headed back over to Richmond and I thought I’d try calling my contact for the Beulah United Methodist Church. Her name is Cheryl and she’s the director of music ministries. I dialed her number, or at least I thought I did. A woman answered.
Me: “Hi, can I speak to Cheryl?”
Me: “I’m trying to reach Cheryl.”
Woman: “Who’s Cheryl?” (laughter in the background)
Me: “I’m sorry; I must have the wrong number.”
Woman: “I don’t know who Cheryl is, but this is your WIFE!”
Needless to say, I was confused and embarrassed as I heard laughter over the phone from my wife, Charity, and my mom and sister who were at our house visiting. I explained to my wife that I was trying to call my contact at the church and must have dialed her number by mistake. She said she’d never heard my mom laugh so hard.
I finally dialed the right number and got hold of Cheryl. She met us at the church so we could set up our system and get a sound check. When we were finished it was very late, so we headed back to the Griffin’s to get some sleep. Before I went to bed, I thought I’d call my wife and say good night. Right before she picked up, I thought of playing a little joke on her and ask for Cheryl. It would seem unlikely that I would dial the wrong number twice in as many hours, but of course, I did. A woman answered.
Woman: (sleepily) “Hello?”
Me, jokingly: “Hello. Is this Cheryl?”
Woman: (sleepily) “Yes.”
Me, mortified: “Oh, I am so sorry. I must have the wrong number!”
I hung up quickly before I made matters worse and resolved to apologize profusely the next day when I saw Cheryl at church. I hoped she’d still let us sing after realizing I’d been the person who’d called her after midnight! I carefully dialed my wife’s number and when I explained to her what I’d just done, I thought she’d never stop laughing.
The next morning I found out that Cheryl had a great sense of humor and when I explained that I’d called my wife earlier thinking it was Cheryl’s number, she thought it was even funnier. During the concert I thanked her for arranging everything and I mentioned to the congregation that she’d been a good sport even after getting a call from a wrong number after midnight. They all laughed at my blunder! Both concerts went well and everyone enjoyed “Down in the River to Pray” with Jaclynn. We enjoyed getting to know Senior Pastor Keith Mottley between services and taking advantage of the breakfast food the church provided in the Sunday school building.
Later at the sales table we were introduced to a lady who was in her late 90’s named Elizabeth Quaif and she pointed out that she had the same initials as The Emmanuel Quartet. I surprised her when I asked to take a picture with her and I think it made her day. She was very spry and told us she was one of the charter members of that church and had been attending for over 70 years! It inspired me to see her so active in her church and so happy to be there.
When we were all packed up, Cheryl had us follow her over to a nearby Mexican restaurant where the church was treating us for lunch. Pastor Mottley, his wife and Associate Pastor Will Waller came with us and the food was delicious! We had a great time of fellowship and after the meal we sang “An Irish Blessing” right in the middle of the restaurant. It was a great way to end a fantastic weekend. Our thanks go to Jaclynn, Judy, Camille, Glynn and all the people who made it possible! And we thank the Lord for His protection as we traveled such a long distance.
And I can say with confidence that I will be extremely careful from now on when I make phone calls on the road!