Tuesday, May 17
Itinerary: Fly to Amsterdam
Wednesday, May 18
Itinerary: After a flight lasting 8 to 9 hours, we arrive at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, several meters below sea level. After clearing customs, we will meet our bus from Emile Weber, our home for the next three weeks. We will start our day touring an open-air museum, the Zaanse Schans. Here we will see how wooden shoes are made, how windmills work, how cheese is made, and see what village life in the 1920s would have looked like. After finding some lunch, we will go into Amsterdam and check into our hotel. Sleeping will be tempting, but we will try to stay up as long as possible to adjust to the new time.
We are in Amsterdam! After getting lunch at the airport and spending our first euros, we toured the Zaanse Schans. Delicious cheese and chocolate to taste and beautiful old architecture to admire. We then arrived at our hotel in downtown Amsterdam and spent the afternoon finding restaurants and exploring. A great first day but we were very grateful for our hotel beds that night. -Luke Huyard
Thursday, May 19
Itinerary: After a wonderful breakfast at the hotel, we will tour the Anne Frank house. This is where Anne, her family, and several family acquaintances hid during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Their hiding place was finally found out and her father was the only person to survive the war. After visiting the museum, we will go to the Singelkerk, at one time the largest Mennonite Church in the world. It is also a hidden church, built to look like the surrounding buildings. At the time, Mennonites were not allowed to build churches which would draw attention as a church. After some free time to find lunch, we will head to Aalsmeer and prepare for our first concert! After our final bows, we will return to our hotel in Amsterdam.
Friday, May 20
Itinerary: The Rijksmuseum is the Netherland’s National Art Museum. Works by Rembrandt and Vermeer are just a few of the pieces we will see. Lunch in the park outside of the museum is a great place to relax. We will head to the town of Haarlem for the afternoon, first touring the Bavokerk (Cathedral of St. Bavo) and seeing one of the most famous organs in the world. W. A. Mozart played on it when he was a child! Then a short walk will lead us to the location of our next concert, the Doopsgezindekerk (Mennonite Church). This is also a hidden church with amazing acoustics. Professional recordings are often made in this space. We will return to our hotel in Amsterdam after the concert.
Amsterdam day two was just as amazing as the first! After another great breakfast at the hotel we walked through the town to the Rijksmuseam. The artwork displayed was beautiful, with famous paintings such as The Nights Watch and The Milkmaid on display. After finding lunch at the small shops, we left for the city of Haarlem. In Haarlem we toured the Cathedral of St. Bavo. This cathedral was extremely large and contained a world renowned organ. We were able to experience this building’s acoustics by singing two songs from our concert set for present touring groups. After wandering around this town known for its great shopping we had dinner at the mennonite church known as Doopsgezinde, and gave our second concert that evening. Now we are heading back to our hotel for our last night in Amsterdam, tired but ready for what’s next! -Aidan Swartzendruber
Saturday, May 21
Itinerary: After a final breakfast at our hotel, we will head from the province of North Holland, to the province of Friesland. To get there we will travel over the Afsluitdijk (cutting off dike), a 32 kilometer (20 miles) dike built between 1927 and 1932. Then on to Joure, a town which has been on every Hesston College choir tour of Europe since 1982! After a rehearsal we will provide a concert for these enthusiastic hosts. Tonight will be the first of three nights in our first home stay!
This morning we ate breakfast and had a morning of free time in Amsterdam. A group of friends and I went to a big park where we sat by a pond and watched the ducks in the water. They were very tame and came right up to us, especially the Mallards. We also walked around the pond and watched people play with their pets. I thought it was interesting that so many dog owners just let their dogs run around off-leash. We rated each dog from 1-10, 10 being the cutest dog.
After the park, we stopped at a grocery store on the way back to the hotel to buy some lunch. They had really good smoothies and I enjoyed one that had yogurt, avocado, pear, strawberry, and raspberry. We ate our lunches in the hotel courtyard. -Kelly Miller
The drive from Amsterdam to Friesland was absolutely gorgeous. After seeing quite a bit of city, it was refreshing to get a glimpse into an area with more spacious land. We drove over the Afsluitdijk and saw boats and windmills in the water. Those in the Netherlands are big advocates for protecting world from Climate Change because they are very affected; they are very far ahead in terms of environmental practices. We arrived at the church and met our host families. Rachel Teeter and I are being hosted by Theo and Wiepkie. Theo is a pastor of some of the surrounding small churches. We got to meet their cat and Guinea pigs, though, all of them were very shy and kept hiding from us. We had a wonderful supper and time to talk with our hosts before going back to the church for the concert. The church building that we sang in is absolutely beautiful. The ceiling is green and there are flowers on all the pews, left over from a recent wedding. We then headed back to our host homes for the night. -Alyssa Nolt
Sunday, May 22
Itinerary: We will enjoy a relaxing morning with hosts families, and then a brunch at the church and an afternoon concert. The rest of the day will be planned by the host families. Details to come, but the hosts in Joure always have some fun surprises for the choir!
I woke up at my host home with Kara, Bethany, Natalie in a cute pink themed tiny house in our hosts backyard and had a nice pre brunch breakfast. We had tea, yogurt, sugar bread, ham, and cheese. Natalie kept laughing at me for all the cheese I ate…Then we went to Doopsgezinde Geneente, a church in Joure and had a delicious brunch and got to know some people. It was a heartwarming experience. After we ate and fellowshipped, we performed our second concert at that church. Then our hosts surprised us with a two hour boat ride down the canals! It was gorgeous and a great time to talk to people not only in our choir but also those that live in Joure and learning about their culture.
The canal was not through a city such as Amsterdam as you might think. It was through flat green farm land full of cows, sheep, swans, ducks, jack rabbits and sunshine. A memory that sticks out to me and will always keep with me is a thirteen year old boy named Jollo. Esmi and I sat next to each other on the boat and Jollo absolutely loved to mess with us. He would splash us with water, make silly faces at us, threaten to push us in, and make fun of us. It was like a little brother big sister interaction. His dad kept telling him to stop, but that didn’t stop him:). He was so fun! Afterwards, we all went home with our hosts. Bethany, Natalie, Kara, and I had tea with Rinnie (our host) and continued to talk about almost anything you can think of. It was such an amazing learning experience and will cherish these memories forever. -Madison Higdon
Monday, May 23
Itinerary: Today we will get back on the bus and travel to the small Friesian towns of Witmarsum and Pingjum. Outside of Witmarsum is where the Anabaptist reformer Menno Simons was born. In the Town of Pingjum we will see a small hidden church where there will be a presentation about Menno’s life, and we will see the church where he served as a priest before leaving the Catholic church to join the Anabaptist movement. Afternoon activities will most likely include a fishing village and a cold walk on the beach. We will return to our host families for the night.
Tuesday, May 24
Itinerary: We say goodbye to our Joure hosts and head into Germany. A late morning stop will be at Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi Concentration Camp which is now a museum. This is where Anne Frank and her sister died, a connection to our first days in Amsterdam when we saw their hiding place. After lunch, we will head to Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany. We will head directly to the Kreuzkirche (Church of the Cross), the location of our concert. After the program, we will meet our hosts for the next two nights.
The three big things that happened today were traveling in the bus, visiting former sight of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and giving a concert in Hamburg, Germany. We started off the day in the Netherlands and traveled most of the day to Germany. I enjoyed the bus ride because I am an introvert and I was able to just sit and read. It was nice to just have some time to rest. We stopped at the concentration camp on the way to Hamburg and it was not what I was expecting. There was a lot of green grass and trees and the area was very beautiful. The only sign of the camp were mass graves that stated how many people were buried there. It surprised me that a place that had so much death and struggle, not even a hundred years later, could be so beautiful. As we contemplated what we had seen, we headed into Hamburg. We gave our concert at a beautiful church that was truly a joy to sing in. The acoustics of the church were wonderful and the people were even more so. They were a small crowd but they were engaged and enthusiastic which helped us to sing our best. Today was filled with lots of rest and calm, as well as joy and contemplation. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. -Ginny Miller
Wednesday, May 25
Itinerary: We will have a brief time for activities in Hamburg before heading north to the town of Bad Oldesloe. We wil visit a small museum where Menno Simons died and is buried. Then on to the city of Lübeck, known as the principal city in the Hanseatic League, a powerful coalition of trading cities. The center of the city is Germany’s most extensive UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a wonderful city to explore. After visiting the Marienkirche, we will have time to explore this Medieval city. Concert tonight and then return to host families in Hamburg for the night.
This morning we woke up and were greeted by our host with an amazing breakfast. We ate out in her backyard garden and were joined by 4 other members of the choir. She had prepared a beautiful spread of coffee, bread, cheese, eggs, and fruit along with many types of jellies and jams. We then loaded our bus for the house where Menno Simons lived out his later years. We heard Aidan sing “Der Lindenbaum” under the Linden tree that Menno planted before heading to Lübeck for our concert. We visited the Marienkirche and Jacobienkirche churchs. Jacobienkirche was the home church of Distler, the composer of “Praise Ye the Lord,”one of the songs on our set. After that, we enjoyed dinner in the town before heading back to the Probsteikirche Herz JesubParade church for our concert. After the concert we headed back to our Hamburg host families for the night. -Matthew Manickam
Thursday, May 26
Itinerary: Saying goodbye to northern Germany, we head into what was formerly East Germany for much of the second half of the 20th century. In the town of Halle an der Salle, we will visit the house where G. F. Handel was born. This will also be a great spot for lunch. Then on the city of Leipzig, home of many famous composers including J. S. Bach and Felix Mendelssohn. We will be in a hotel for the next two nights.
Friday, May 27
Itinerary: After a hearty breakfast, we will have a walking tour of the city of Leipzig. This town has a rich heritage of music, art, and literature. As a university town, there is a youthful vibe which brings energy to this place. Free time in the afternoon, but we will return to the St. Thomas Church (Thomaskirche), where Bach was the music director. It is here we will listen to a late afternoon Cantata service, a Friday afternoon tradition in Leipzig.
Today was a loosely scheduled day of exploration of the historically musical town of Leipzig. We got up early to eat a delicious breakfast in our hotel, and then split up into several groups to explore the city. My group went to the Mendelssohn-haus, a museum commemorating the life and works of composer Felix Mendelssohn. It was a very cool museum with many interactive displays, such as a digital orchestra that we were able to conduct. After the museum we ate lunch in downtown Leipzig. Next we went to the Bach museum. The museum stands across the street from a school where Bach taught music. This museum had a very interactive audio tour. After this, Ken led a walking tour around the city, visiting some of the important places that were important for the reunification of Germany in 1990. The entire group then attended a Cantata sevice at St. Thomas’ church (Thomaskirche). It was a Liturgical service centered around music, with brief scripture readings. It was a great experience to attend a service in German and especially to hear a German choir sing two English songs. After that we ate dinner in the city before going to sleep in the hotel. -Sam Groff
Saturday, May 28
Itinerary: A morning bus ride will eventually bring us to the Bavarian town of Ingolstadt, the home of the car manufacturer Audi. At a local mall we will participate in the first-ever Hesston College flash mob in Europe! Then on to meet our host families for the evening.
Sunday, May 29
Itinerary: After participating in a worship service with our host families from the Mennonite church in Ingolstadt, we will have lunch at the church followed by activities with our host families. Then to a local Lutheran church for our full concert.
Monday, May 30
Itinerary: Today we leave Germany and head to Switzerland! Our destination is in the Emmental, the home to great cheese, chocolate, and apple juice – look for the Ramseier Apfelsaft label. Our concert tonight will be in the oldest continuous Mennonite church in the world, dating back to 1530. Host homes for one evening.
Tuesday, May 31
Itinerary: Today we head to Zurich and have a walking tour of the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement during the time of the Protestant Reformation. It was here that Ulrich Zwingli was starting his Swiss Reformation, while his young disciples such as Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz, argued he wasn’t moving quickly or radically enough. In 1525 they broke with Zwingli and started their own church, the Anabaptists, often known as the Radical Reformation. Our evening concert will be in Wattenwil, the home of a Swiss Reformed congregation, but one which has done a lot to heal the history between the Swiss Reformed Church and the Anabaptist Churches. Host families for the next two nights.
Wednesday, June 1
Itinerary: A tour of the area will bring us into contact with the history of the area as well as the beauty of this part of Switzerland. In the afternoon we will head to the location of our concert for the evening, a church dating back to the year 1000! The amazing acoustics make it a great place for us to do some recording before giving our concert in the evening. Return to Wattenwil and our hosts.
Thursday, June 2
Itinerary: Today we head into the mountains! After driving to Interlaken, we will head south to Lauterbrunnen where we will park the bus and take the train up into the village of Wengen. This ski village in winter and center of hiking in the summer, this is the starting point for all things outside! Our home for the next two nights will be the Hotel Falken, one of the historic hotels in town, dating back to 1895. It is old-world charm at its best.
Friday, June 3
Itinerary: FREE DAY! Some of us will get up early and go with Russell on SUPERHIKE for the full day or only part of the day. Others will sleep in and perhaps follow Ken to Kleine Scheidegg for a spectacular view of the Jungfrau Mountain. For ca. $150 for the ticket, one can take the train to the Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe, with the last hour going through the mountain! An amazing feat of engineering! Whether we sit and read a book and take in the views or go on an adventure today is guaranteed to be a memorable experience.
Saturday, June 4
Itinerary: Today we must leave our mountain holiday and take the train back down to Lauterbrunnen where we will meet our bus again. Then on to the small village of Moron in the French-speaking part of Switzerland in the Jura Mountains. At just over 1,000 meter elevation, this is picturesque in a different way from Wengen, but still beautiful. The town has more cows than people, but the church will be full with people from the area coming to hear the Hesston College Choir once again. Like Joure in the Netherlands, this congregation has been on the itinerary of almost every HC Europe tour. Into the mountains for home stays tonight.
Sunday, June 5 – PENTECOST
Itinerary: This morning is Pentecost, the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, everyone understood each other with the coming of the Holy Spirit, despite speaking different languages. How wonderful to be worshipping in a congregation that will be speaking French, German, and probably some English for us! After a noon meal at the church, we will head into France and the city of Mulhouse. Our final concert will be at a Mennonite Church which will host us for the evening. The concert will be at 5:00 p.m. with a meal following, so a different schedule than we have gotten used to.
Monday, June 6
Itinerary: This is our biggest travel day. We will load our bus, bid adieu to our hosts and head to Amsterdam arriving early evening. Time to repack and prepare for flying to our various destinations. What a great trip!
Tuesday, June 7
Itinerary: Today we all depart on different flights taking us back to the various places we are from. A few students will extend their trip and travel on their own. Thanks for tuning in to our tour updates!
Anna Banman, So. – Lenexa, Kan.
Bethany Masters, So. – Mount Eaton, Ohio
Kelly Miller, So. – Archbold, Ohio
Alyssa Nolt, So. – Dalton, Ohio
Rachel Teeter, So. – Hesston, Kan.
Meg Beyer, So.- Harrisonburg, Va.
Alyssa Burkholder, So. – Goessel, Kan.
Esmi Hernandez, Alumni – Newton, Kan.
Madison Higdon, Jr. – Kalona, Iowa
Natalie Ladd, Alumni – Hesston, Kan.
Kara Longenecker, Jr. – Harrisonburg, Va.
Sadie Oesch, Fr. – Caldwell, Idaho
Ginny Miller, Fr. – Harrisonburg, Va.
Rachel Weaver, Jr. – Harrisonburg, Va.
Luke Allison, Jr. – Freeman, S.D.
Luke Huyard, Fr. – Harrisonburg, Va.
Isaac Tice, So. – Buhler, Kan.
Jack Shingler, Jr. – Kidron, Ohio
Sam Groff, Fr. – Harrisonburg, Va.
Jesse Kanagy, Fr. – Lancaster, Pa.
Matthew Manickam, So. – Hesston, Kan.
Caleb Oesch, Alumni – Caldwell, Idaho
Aidan Swartzendruber. So. – Henderson, Neb.
Toby Yoder, Jr. – Harrisonburg, Va.