Ring in the Christ 2004 was a journey through different
cultures, traditions, foods, economic conditions and climates.
The Southminster Ringers returned on July 5 and are now fairly
well-rested and recovered. We wanted to share some of our
travels with you, our Southminster family. For even more
details and a chance to ask questions, we hope to see you at the
presentation on Sunday, September 19 during the Sunday School
Following a great Bon Voyage concert on Sunday, June 13,
everyone headed home to frantically pack for our 10:00 departure
on June 14. Several parents and friends drove us to
Baltimore for our departure and we arrived in plenty of time.
We flew to Stockholm, took a quick tour of the city and arrived
at our ferry for the evening crossing to Helsinki. This
crossing gave the ringers a chance to relax and recover from the
The ferry docked at 10:00 in Helsinki, we greeted our bus and
driver, Jussi (whose favorite English phrase was: "No
problem!"), at 10:30, checked into the hotel at 11:30, and
arrived in time for our sound-check at the 2:00 open-air
concert. The sun peeked through the clouds for the whole
performance (as it did for all of our outdoor performances).
After a brief stop back at the hostel, we were off (minus one
ringer...) for our 7:00 concert at the Church of the Rock (Temppeliaukionkirkko)
and the outstanding acoustics of stone walls. (The ringer
found her way to the concert.)
Next stop was Ylivieska where we played to an audience of
about 350. Enthusiastic rhythmic clapping, an encore and
26 CDs later, we traveled north of the Arctic Circle to
Sodankylä for a few days. In addition to our concert and
worship service, we worked with the newest handbell team in
Finland: Lapin Käsikellot. We shared music, techniques and
fellowship with this small and enthusiastic group from Rovaniemi.
We motored south via Taivalkoski to spend a few days in
Kuopio working with ringers from Käsikellokuoro Dolce (Käsikello
= handbell and kuoro = choir), directed by the energetic Seppo
Kirkinen. We performed together with these ringers in
concert at the Kuopio Cathedral and made some lasting
friendships. (A couple of the Dolce ringers later came to
our final concert in Helsinki.) This group rings with four
octaves of Malmark handbells and is very musical. We hope
to see and hear more of them soon.
Russia was the next stop where we stayed with families in
Vyborg. Vyborg is a smaller city that is off the usual
tourist path. A visit to St. Petersburg was a welcome
delight since it had recently been spruced up for it's 300th
Anniversary. Vyborg had none of the window-dressing
despite its more than 700 years of history. This was a
rare opportunity to see how Russians survive with so little.
Our two concerts at the 711 year old castle were
enthusiastically received by the locals and they were most
After two bribes (30 Euros and 20 Euros) and one fine (110
Rubles), we were finally allowed out of Russia and into Estonia
where we settled in Pärnu for two days. We worked and
performed with the Agape Handbell Team at the Methodist Center
and again had a chance to share music, techniques and
A ferry crossing from Tallinn to Helsinki was fast (only 1 ½
hours) and we almost felt like we were home upon arrival.
Accommodations were the same as for the first day of the trip
and concerts were again successful. We traveled to the
fortress island of Suomenlinna for our first concert and another
"Rock Church", Kallionkirkko, for the final concert of the tour.
After so many concerts and much packing we found that the kilts
were in need of serious attention: they were truly "Rumpled kilt
skins" (thank you Peter Henry).
The flight to Iceland was uneventful, but we were greeted
with a bus that whisked us off to the Blue Lagoon upon arrival.
(A welcome afternoon of relaxation and warmth.) We played
for worship the next morning, visited Reykjavik in the
afternoon, swam in heated pools the following morning and flew
home in the afternoon.
What a trip! Many of the ringers were like sponges and soaked
up the local flavors. After seeing some of the sleeping
areas, I now have more sympathy for their parents. The
most frequent question was: "When is lunch?" It is amazing to
see what can be done with 5 Euros for lunch: Six girls pooled
their resources to get loaves of bread, meat, cheese, juice and
dessert to have at least 3 hearty sandwiches apiece. The
rest? A small can of Pringles, a beverage and lots of
groans about the inadequacy of 5 Euros! Some are more
flexible and creative travelers than others!
Thank you to all who helped make this trip such a special
time for all of us. We wish we could share every moment
and detail with you, and perhaps, over time, we will.