Tour Diary 7—We Do This For Love!
By: Janine Green, Mormon Tabernacle Choir mjember
Sunday, July 10th, the entire choir organization attended a church service held in the Platinum Ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in Frankfurt, Germany. Elder Patrick Kearon, a member of the Seventy and President of the Europe Area, and his wife, Jennifer, addressed us as did choir member, John Maddox. I was particularly impressed when Elder Kearon said, referring to our upcoming concert in Brussels on the following day, that Belgium is in great need of healing.
Early the following morning, we bid a sad “Auf Weidersehen” to Germany and loaded the buses that would take us from Germany to two more countries—Belgium then Holland—by the end of the day. We arrived at the beautiful Palais Des Beaux-Arts (now referred to simply as “Bozar”) early that afternoon. Because of the tight concert schedule, I was sad that I wouldn’t get to see any of Brussels. Let me explain.
From 1962-1966 I lived in Charleroi, a town 50 km, or 31 miles, south of Brussels (near the French border). It was there that I and my five siblings attended French-speaking schools for four years when my father was called to supervise the construction of an LDS chapel in Charleroi, Belgium. When I was eight years old, I accompanied my parents to a rehearsal in the Palais Des Beaux-Arts where my mother was a soloist with a community choir from Charleroi.
Fast forward 35 years to 1998. A year after completing the rigorous audition process for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, I once again found myself in this same historic hall for a performance with the choir. This concert, the second on the choir’s three-week tour of Europe, had particular significance to me because of my earlier associations there. Now, eighteen years later, I had the privilege of singing in this historic concert hall one final time. As the oldest member of the choir, and with this being my final tour, it seemed fitting to conclude my choir tenure with a revisit to my beginnings.
Prior to the concert, I was able to visit with dear friends from decades past. This was understandably a very tearful reunion. But it was the young Bozar employee who caught my attention. In his mid-twenties, he stood sentinel-like at his post. While lining up prior to the concert, I engaged him in a conversation in French, only to discover that his English was, not surprisingly, much better than my French. He shared the hopelessness he felt regarding all that is currently going on in his country and in Europe. I attempted to encourage him by reassuring him that one person can make a difference. He said that money, and a lot of it, is the only thing that can make a difference in this world. I assured him that there is something stronger than money that can change the world—love. With that final statement, I walked on the stage. Throughout the entire concert, I thought about the power of God’s love. Though I doubted he would be able to hear the performance, I sang with all the love I possessed--we all sang with love and with the spirit of God. The healing that Elder Kearon spoke of was desperately needed as never before in this city of pain, sorrow, death, confusion, and division. Singing on that stage, the same stage that my mother and I had each performed on previously, was a holy night of miracles—a night of healing and of love.
I met my young friend following the concert to offer him a little “cadeau” (gift or present). He seemed surprised when I gave him a CD of the choir’s recent Messiah recording. He asked if singing and traveling with the choir was my job and when I said no, he said, “Let me guess, you don’t do this for money, you do it for love!”
Yes, we do this for love. Love can heal the world.