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The bells of Good News open the hearts of Europe and America

21. June 2019 | Zvonky Dobré zprávy

Good News Bells

Article title

If someone had told us a few years ago that we would go on our traditional tour to America, we probably wouldn't have believed them.

If someone had told us a few years ago that we would go on our traditional tour to America, we probably wouldn't have believed them. Here we go! Two entire groups of the unique Bells of Good News ensemble are standing in front of the Evangelical Church in Kateřinice, ready for a long journey to new experiences. One last goodbye to their parents and off we go. Fortunately, the journey passes quickly thanks to the great accompaniment of the home fans and supporters of the ensemble, led by Vojtěch Zubíček, the mayor of Kateřinice, and Martin Žabčík, the mayor of Ratiboř, and their wives. We, the bell ringers, make up the greater part of the 35-member group of fellow travellers.

Before anyone could say shoemaker, we are welcomed by a huge country - the United States of America. First on the list is a stop called Pittsburgh. A beautiful city that welcomes us with beautiful weather and open arms. Thanks to our friends, led by Mr. Richard Pinkerton, who prepared a great welcome and facilities for us, we feel at home here. After an exhausting journey, we are very graciously welcomed by the first host families of Southminster Presbyterian Church, who open the doors of their homes and hearts wide to all our members.

The first day is filled with touching encounters and breathtaking experiences.As the first item on the program, we have prepared a tour of the town led by our friends who come to teach us to play handbells in Katherine each year. Since luck favours us, we can be part of the Art Festival, which takes place right in the streets of the town. We successfully end the busy day at a local famous restaurant where we taste the famous American cuisine together with all our hosts and other friends.

We all spend Sunday morning together in church, where we carefully prepare for the morning service, which we can attend and enrich the program with a few pieces from our repertoire, which we play as a small taste and invitation to the afternoon concert. After the devotional worship, when the congregation poignantly bids farewell to its two pastors (out of four), performs the baptism of the Lord, and receives the vows of its presbyters and deacons, we have a picnic at the nearby Congregational House, where we sample a good dose of ice cream and desserts. Thanks to them, we have a good supply of energy to spend on our first performance, where we have the privilege
to play alongside the house band, The Southminster Ringers. We share the emotions of our heartfelt speeches at a garden party hosted by one of our host families, who looked after us royally.

We pack our bags for the first time, say our goodbyes, hand over our gifts (a wooden denko with the logos of our two parish choirs of the two communities and bells and books of memories) and continue on.AfterUSWe travel in a rented bus, which gives us a sense of background for the long journeys we have to make while moving to the venues of the next concerts (over 2,000 km). On our first crossing from Pennsylvania to Maryland, we stop at the family-owned Malmark company, where we have the opportunity to see how the amazing musical instruments we play are made. We learn a lot of interesting things, are present for the entire production of handbells and chimes, and even get to play the woodwind products. In a word, wonderful! Along the way, we learn from our driver about the interesting Amish community who live in an area not far from the city of Annapolis, which becomes our next home.

We take the port city by storm. Right in the heart of it, we visit the world-famous US Naval Officers' Academy, surrounded by beautiful monuments and memorials to fallen soldiers. The next concert, right near the universities, is a bit hectic for us bell ringers, as we don't bring our Czech bell ringers, we are always dependent on the capabilities of the host ensemble. However, we manage the problem of the lack of bells, the total absence of mallets and chimes with the left back and a pleasant performance unobtrusively gets us through half of our trip.

We weigh anchor again and head for the capital - Washington, D.C., where we are proudly accompanied by Mr. Pinkerton and his wife Essi. From the United States Capitol, we move at a turtle's pace to the National Museum of Natural History, where we can see the evolution of the world from the dinosaurs to the present day. Next, we pass the Washington Monument, the White House, the World War II Memorial, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars, and we meet for a group photo in front of the Lincoln Memorial, where a member of the oldest group breaks away from us and leaves for a few months of work. With tears in our eyes, we board the bus and follow the shimmering landscape to Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, where we are scheduled to play another show. Thanks to a nice pastor who has prepared a great service for us, we have somewhere to lay our heads. We are continually surprised and touched by the cordiality of all the surrogate families, so we reward everyone with a gift as a thank you for their hospitality.

On the penultimate day of our American Dream, we have the privilege of personally meeting Mr. Thomas Flynn and his wife, who have invited us into their home. This visit is a very strong emotional experience for us, all the more so because our pastor introduces us as his bell-ringing "grandchildren". Mr. Flynn established a set of bells 50 years ago in Pittsburgh of all places, which were taken over from him by the aforementioned Mr. Pinkerton. At our last concert in Raleigh, we had mixed feelings of happiness, humility and gratitude that words cannot describe. A huge thank you goes to Pastor J. Vera Jelinek, who first showed us the way to the beautiful music, to God, and finally to America. We are shedding tears and time is running out. On our way to the Baltimore airport, we make one last stop at the Air and Space Museum, where we can see life-size planes and rockets.

Our final moments and we bid farewell to the USA with a long look out of the plane. There is nothing left to add but THANK YOU! Thank you to our Bells of Good News Association for arranging this event.
with their leadership - M.D. Josef Čáp and our pastor Miroslaw Jelinek, both of our congregations and the Municipalities of Ratiboř and Kateřinice with their mayors, all of our sponsors, our friends in Pittsburgh and, most certainly, the Lord God for His blessings and protection.

Hana Malovaná
member of the ensemble ZDZ, Ratiboř

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