Choir is pretty neat. -Chad Nelsen

To start- I need to explain that my camera was left in Ellen’s purse because while we would be sight seeing I would just be carrying it along and she would always be nice enough to offer to carry it in her purse to free up my hands. She’s lovely. But, one day it died and it was in the purse and I started using my iPad instead and totally forgot about the camera…until now. So, rather than wait for all those pictures to be sent back to me, because I’m headed today to camp in Colorado where I will have little to no internet most days, I figured I would at least post what I have. You’re all thinking it. I know, I know, typical Chad.Ā  šŸ™‚

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This first picture is in Bratislava, Slovakia, along the Danube River. I chose this picture because I like the Slovak writing on the billboard, but also because of the river. The Danube is one of the longest and most important rivers in Europe. We actually followed it for a while as well. Our first night in Europe was in Bucharest, Romania, only a few miles from the Danube. We next saw it again in Budapest when we took a river cruise on it and discovers it separates the two sides of the city, Buda and Pest. We then followed it to this picture in Bratislava, continuing along next to it in Vienna, Austria, where we left it again until we reached Germany, where it runs through Ulm and Neu Ulm, neighboring towns to one of our concert venues, Leipheim. Cool stuff! šŸ™‚

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This was a beautiful concert I attended in Vienna with an incredible orchestra as well as a few singers and dancers. The music was mostly all Mozart and Strauss, because both of the composers lived and worked in Vienna. But, one piece not composed by either of them was Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro” from the opera Gianni Schicchi, which I was fortunate enough to perform in earlier this school year!

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A nice Venetian cappuccino I enjoyed before singing in one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, San Marco. It was an experience never to be forgotten.

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We took a quick stop in a town called Ravenna, Italy. A few of us set out to find Dante’s tomb. This is a picture of a very interesting tomb that over time filled with ground water that we believed was Dante’s tomb. We found out later it was the wrong tomb. Oops. Fun story though!

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Quick look into the beauty and artistry of central European cathedrals. I was blown away by this cathedral in Pisa, right next to the leaning tower. I had no idea this church existed and it may have been the most beautiful we saw all of tour. Pictured you see the ornately carved pulpit, with the breathtaking ceiling overhead.

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A picture from what may have been my favorite home stay ever. This little guy’s name is Ben and he is four years old from Michelbach, Germany, just outside of Ohringen. He was enthralled by my iPad, and pretty darn cute! His family welcomed us with more than open arms and I will forever appreciated the hospitality and joy of that stay. Home stays are the best!!!

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Next is a sculpture done by the same man who created the Statue of Liberty. I have been lucky enough to see the Statue in NYC, and it was a really cool experience to come full circle to be in the birth place and residence of Frederic Bartholdi, in Colmar, France!

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This is a shot from another wonderful home stay with Heinz and Ursula Schnotz just outside of Leipheim, Germany. They spoke relatively no English, but through the few common words, and an iPad with google translate, we were able to have a wonderful conversation while we enjoyed a few beers brewed by their son. You can see Heinz’s arm there.

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Next is the Wartburg Castle. This is a place that I really have not come to the ability to describe quite yet. It meant so much to me to be in Eisenach at this historic and significant place. One aspect in particular that really struck me for whatever reason was seeing the German flag flying next to a cross above the tower. I think the power that has in its symbolism is incredible. To be in Eastern Germany, quite a few years after the reunification, but to see that sign of national pride, the flag, in unity with Christ, in a place that is our home, really struck me. I did truly feel as though I belonged, and I was home.

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Last but not least is a sign I found in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. It says “To understand Islam, please contact our specialist in the Islamic Information Center”. The idea of this took me aback. I felt honored and humbled. The people of Istanbul understood that not everyone visiting this place knows about their religion and culture. They respected us enough to allow us to understand the symbolism and ritual of the mosque in which we were standing. I started to think about other places we had been. I had just visited a large number of the most beautiful Christian cathedrals in the world, and did I even once see a sign offering to explain Christianity? Do we as Americans ever take the time to respect others enough to understand that they don’t know what we come from? They don’t know our culture, they really don’t know us. But do we offer a hand? No. In another mosque, Hagia Sophia, which was originally a church during the Roman Empire, the Muslims had the respect and courtesy enough that when they converted the building, they kept the decorations. They left the beautiful mosaics of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, as well as other figures. They simply built around it and left what was a part of the history of that building and the beautiful artwork. I struggle to believe that Christians of that time period in the 1400’s would have done the same. I was truly taken aback by the people in Istanbul and the people of the Islamic culture there. I think we should at times strive to be more like them in their respect and understanding.

 

This tour meant more to me than words can describe. Thank you to all who allowed us this opportunity. I hope and pray we never forget it.

 

Chad Nelsen

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