Well well well... I'm finally getting around to writing this blog. It's been about 5 weeks since we've all been back home from Europe, but I'll do my best to summarize and minimize. There are just so many stories to sort through ;)
I think it was maybe like 2-3 days before we left for Germany, I was feel so much tension in my body. My head, neck, jaw were all really tight. I was still able to open my mouth, but I just felt like maybe I should try out this osteopath that my friend insisted upon before I left. It must have been all the stresses of preparing for tour, planning a wedding, and just the busy-ness of life that set off my jaw. When I was done at the osteopath my mouth was almost fully locked. I could hardly open at all to drink. I was spilling things all over me. It was hard to eat anything. I was in a huge panic. The osteopath said that it might take a 48 hours to start to feel better. It was the second day... and nothing. I was still in pain and extremely limited jaw mobility. In frantic worry I went to my chiropractor for an adjustment. He gave me some exercises to do that seemed to help slightly. Needless to say, I was in terrible shape. That same evening at 11pm, I was to catch my flight.
I tried to make the best of it. I had a great group of people with me, but to be honest it was very wearing on me. It increasingly got worse with the lack of sleep and non-stop traveling. We were meeting so many new people and seeing so many sites, and I felt like everyone was having the time of their life but I had to take a back-seat approach. Every time I smiled or laughed it was so painful.
The first show I played in Spaichingen, Germany I brought an ice-pack with me. During the middle of my set infront of maybe 130 people or so I broke down in tears. I confessed to the audience that for me to sing was painful and that I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to get through the tour, but only that I knew God wanted me there. I explained how sometimes we are most effective in our weakness. I encouraged the audience that whatever they're walking through, no matter what it may seem, that God is a good God, and has GOOD plans for us. Peering through my own tears I saw so many people break down. I then attempted to sing the last song. I didn't expect to cry-- I felt like it was a rough start to a 12-show tour, but afterwards one of the organizers came up to me and said, "Amy... we don't normally show our emotions like that in public. It was so neat to see how so many people connected with what you were saying. Thank-you..." I suppose his words to me was the fuel for the rest of the tour. No, it wasn't pleasant to experience all this discomfort, but if God was going to work through me in that way, I didn't want to get in his way.
|Amy & Erin in Austria|
|Jake at Mozart's birth place|
In Austria I seemed to get a little more sleep, and my muscles started to relax. I remember waking up and running to my friend Erin Wyga, "Erin! I can open my jaw a little!" Erin was so wonderful. She gave me a huge hug. Erin was always massaging me, providing anti-inflammatory cream, and just always making sure I was okay. What a huge blessing. That day I have to confess was one of my favourite. We toured the city of Salzburg. It was beautiful. Lots of sun, laughs, and beautiful sight-seeing. That was the day we got to visit Mozart's birth-place! I think Jake was in his glory. In the evening we played in a really cool underground restaurant built inside a cave!
I was so blown away by people's kindess. Complete strangers who were taking us in, praying over us, blessing us, loving us. A huge thank you goes out to Timo Schmidgall. Timo was my main contact out in Germany who had never booked a tour before but did the most spectacular job. He set up all the housing, meals, venues, instruments, equipment, transportation... we wouldn't have gotten anything done without him! What is more, he was the perfect bass player to accompany us on stage! I must also thank his beautiful wife Sonia for all her love and support. Next is Karl Honemeyer. Karl was such a joy. Always positive, always light hearted. He brought so much to the band with his tasty guitar licks. What I also appreciate about Karl is that he is a great conversationalist. We had many thought provoking conversations. His wife Sabina was also so gracious for allowing us to borrow him for two weeks. Beautiful people. Jake Ivens is dedicated to the core. Whether I play for a crowd of 15 people, 500 people, in Guelph, or in Germany, Jake is always willing... always available. He has such a generous and fun spirit. Laura Osburn, what a bundle of energy. Laura traveled with me as my opening act. What a pure delight to be able to listen to her sing each night. She is so sincere, so talented, and just a really good friend to me. I also appreciated our in-depth conversations in the car. Erin Wyga, what a completely essential role she played. She kept us all sane, organized, well-kept. Mind you, she does have strange out-bursts or hunger pains in the middle of the night ;) haha. Ryan was definitely appreciated on this trip. He was a huge help, not only with percussion, and manuel labour, but with comic relief. We appreciated his many creative voices he would do for us. Actually, I think we were all talking in various accents throughout the trip. Good times. Ryan also took the time to stay behind with me during one day when I was feeling too pained to go out with the crew. He just has a good heart. Just a good, kind, brotherly heart :)
Switzerland is beautiful. I mean, any place in Europe seems to be breath taking. I think another awesome memory I have is staying with a lady named Iris. Her house had the most beautiful look-out from her backyard. You could see a castle lingering in the clouds. What is more, she had this beautiful baby-grand piano. I immediately gravitated to Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune" and Beethoven's "Sonata Pathetique" lying on her piano. Back home I rarely get time to play these beautiful classics. I was real rusty but I was soaking up every moment. I'm currently actually trying very hard to make time to polish off these pieces. I was so inspired that day.
Amy Gets Lost
One thing I'm still learning about myself is that I always get lost. I could take two turns on a street in Europe and get lost. My defense is that everything looks the same there, but I am partly blond. Anyways, I forget which city it was... maybe Rumlang? We were setting up for sound check at the church and I asked if I could take a shower quickly (since it's completely necessary after traveling in a packed tour van for 3000 hours). I was lead by a lovely girl named Rebekka to her house. We went through the grass, trees, goats, tomatoes, took a couple turns. I don't know why, but I wasn't really paying attention. We arrived at her house and I quickly stepped into the shower. I finished up as fast as I could and ran down the stairs and stepped out the front door. It was thundering and lightning, and was quite dark. I couldn't remember which direction we had come. I kept on wandering in various directions and was continually getting more soaked. I saw some goats... (or were they sheep?...ha.) and I started to walk towards them. I realized that the path I was on all of a sudden stopped. I had to trudge through a garden. My feet were covered in mud. It was lightening still. I looked like an idiot probably to the neighbors. I was half laughing out loud and half petrified. The thunder was so intense. I walked by one fenced gate. A dog started barking at me and I decided to run back to the house. "Hello????" I said. "Anybody here?" No one was answering. I froze in fear. Was I in the wrong house? I wandered in every room. Complete silence. All of a sudden someone came down from the stairs in a towel. She must have been showering too! I was like, Oh shoot. That's not Rebekka. I wasn't sure if she spoke english, so I felt awkward. "Um...Church? Where's church?" She seemed to understand and we were both laughing as she pointed me in the direction where to go. I ran as quickly as I could to the church. My outfit was soaked. I looked like a Raggedy-Anne doll. I explained to the audience that night what happened. They were most gracious ;)
CourageIn Basel (Switzerland), we ran into the most adorable girl. She and her mother were out on a date night. They were quietly watching from back of the room. Afterwards the mother came up to us and said her daughter wanted to meet us. She had told her mom, "Mommy, ...when I grow up I want to be a singer just like them...". The girl was moving herself around with crutches. I believe she had a form of Spina Bifida and was paralyzed in the legs. I was so touched by her. Here she was, barely able to walk, and yet she was excited about her future. And so she should be. She was a reminder to me that God is not limited by our own weakness. A common theme throughout this trip ;)
We met Nicolas on our last day. We heard a soulful, determined voice echoing from one of the alley-ways in Heidelberg (Germany). We passed him by and then just seconds later my brother Ryan was like, "Hey guys... lets go listen to that guy". I was a little hesitant. I wasn't sure if the man would feel comfortable if we gathered around him to listen. His name was Nicolas. He was singing in English surprisingly, cursing in one sentence and then praising God with the next sentence. He immediately welcomed us in his circle. "Hey you guys, do you mind just sparing a little bit of change..." He began to give us a list of reasons why he needed the money. "Hey man", my brother said, "do you mind if we buy you some lunch?" "Umm...okay, but only something small..." Ryan quickly ran off to grab Nicolas a burger. We started to ask about his life. He started to tell us one story after the next of all the pain and abandonment he had experienced in his life. All his hopes and dreams had been reduced to his life as a beggar on the streets. I got the sense that he had some kind of spiritual background. I wanted him to know the love of God but I wasn't sure how to start that kind of conversation. When my brother returned, he said, "Hey Nick, do you mind if we pray for your food? Just ask God to bless it?" With tears in his eyes, and a real humble smile Nicolas said, "Sure friend. I'd love that". After we prayed he wiped his tears. It was as if he hadn't experienced love in such a long time. We invited him to the venue we were playing that night. He showed up.
|Nicolas (Heidelberg, Germany).|
There is just not enough space here... not enough room or time to write everything down. I think what touched me the most about Europe was just connecting with people. The human journey is the same where ever you go. Joy, sorrow, hardships, victory,... all these things find their way into every human life. I think often we tend to isolate ourselves thinking our struggles are so unique. Thinking this way can become lonely. I'm not going to sit here and paint a rosy story about my own life. I have my own challenges. Some of them I share openly, some I keep hidden. One thing I do know, we all need hope. We all need purpose. But above all, we all need LOVE. The need for love is so prevalent. I see it all around. I myself and desperate for love. I need it to survive. When I feel not good enough, when I feel insecure, incapable, I need the love of God that reminds me I am his treasure... that I am everything He intended me to be. The fact that God uses me, despite my flaws, is incredible. To think he would use someone like me who lost my voice years ago, and someone who suffers from TMJ to be a singer, just shows God's heart. He uses the WEAK things of this world and the broken things of this world to demonstrate his power. Through our weakness He is strong. And through His love, we are made strong. Understanding God's heart for me changes everything. His love empowers me to the impossible. His love has no limits.
|Laura Osburn (Germany)|
Peter didn't come, but I missed him like crazy. Peter created all of our posters, promo, charts/schedules... the whole bit. The fact that I knew he was praying for me 24/7 was a huge blessing.
So much is on the go right now. A couple big changes: Getting married in December, and moving to Michigan. I plan on setting up tours in the US in the new year, so I'm excited for all the many new adventures along the way. One thing that I do ask... I tell audiences where ever I travel: I suffer from headaches/migraines and TMJ on a regular basis. I've suffered with it for 7 years. I believe one day God will heal me. If you remember to, I would so appreciate your prayers. Often I don't feel equipped to do this calling God has placed on my life, yet I've seen His power prevail even when I feel almost useless. I believe God will one day restore my health. I'll blog about that miracle later.
I love you all. I really do.