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Pre-Talent Show Surprise (Ms. Mary cried)

Coming to you from the big M, NC is your first (as far as I know) guest blogger! I’m Elizabeth Riddick, one of the young adult conferees on the trip, and I get to take over the blog for a post by virtue of having attended the rehearsals for the Montreat Talent Show.

We were super proud of our small army of kids who auditioned for the talent show this year, and very proud of our two that get to share their talents with the conference tomorrow night. Alex Holder is singing one of the songs she learned in Vacation Bible School last week and Tressa Tiner (accompanied by Shelby Thomas) is singing an aria as well. Both of them are, to borrow a word from Sharon, “abstaggering”. I believe that is a combo of “absolutely” and “staggering”. Not sure, to be honest, but we like it.

Still, even the most awesome of performers must go to rehearsals. So Tressa, Alex, Shelby, Ms. Mary, and I all trekked down to Anderson Auditorium for the run-through. As always, every performer was wonderful. There were several dancers (including one who could twist herself into a pretzel and still look amazing) and lots of singers, guitarists, and pianists. Alex, our littlest Prima Donna, was the darling of the stage during her run-through. She’d been working so hard on the words to her song, and she’d gotten them all right! Tressa, who always sings beautifully, had a surprise up her sleeves for the sound technicians. The staff member in charge of the show warned them that she had a big, operatic voice. Mary and I warned them that she had a big operatic voice. You’d think they’d have taken the advice and turned the microphone volume down, right? Well, I suppose sometimes you have to hear it to believe it.

Tressa started to sing, and boy, was it loud. She took a big step back from the microphone. Still too loud for the sound system. Finally, they started turning down the volume. Not only is her voice beautiful, but she can blow you away! An impressive feat in a space as big as Anderson!
The surprise of the night was a group the likes of which Montreat’s Talent Show has never seen before. A group of about twenty filed on stage. Every member was from a church in South Africa. Their church has been partnered with a church in Virginia since 1999. The Virginia church invited four to come visit the states and attend the conference. They were so excited for the opportunity that, in a wazimu move, the South African church raised their own money to fly the rest of the group to the states. They got themselves here. The downside is that they didn’t have the funds to pay for the conference fees. But as the pastor from Virginia said, “just when you’re about to freak out, God provides.”

The church in Virginia picked up what they could, the local presbytery in Virginia donated money, the church congregation donated, they had a garage sale, and they got every last one of them to Montreat.

And are we glad they did.

They made the simplest of music. A small pillow drum and a metal plug, much like you’d find in your kitchen sink, which they used as we would a triangle, were their only accompaniment. The rest was just voices raised in an incredibly beautiful song they brought with them from South Africa. From a musician’s standpoint, it was wonderful. The harmonies they used were just beautiful. From a worshiper’s standpoint, it was profoundly inspiring. Ms. Mary and I both found ourselves wiping away tears. Where words fail, music speaks. And this music was of God.

Obviously, we are all looking forward to hearing them, and our girls, in the full show tomorrow night. We’ll be back with an update soon!