The STARS STAMP France group is made up of STARS, teens and adults with cognitive disabilities, and their parents. From May 19-31, they will share the love of Christ and their musical gifts with the people in Nancy, France.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Von STARS Family Singers
Tuesday, May 24, was a great day with a train tour of the old part of the city of Nancy, a visit to the ESAT workplace in Lunneville, walking the grounds of the Chateau in Lunneville, and finally performing in a concert which was part of the Festival P'artage.
The ESAT workplace in Lunneville was very interesting and very well run. 120 adults with intellectual disabilities work there and are paid minimum wage through subsidies from the government. We had a nice exchange with the director. The pastor of Sara and Manu Klopfenstein's church accompanied us and served as my interpreter. The facilities cares so well for the physical needs of the residents, including special sports activities and other social events, that I asked the director how they address the spiritual needs of the residents. He replied, "We are a secular country. We do nothing." This opened the door for the pastor to talk about the Disability Ministy Sunday evening service we did in Nancy. We ended the concert by inviting them to our concert that evening.
Following our visit at the ESAT workplace, we went to see an incredible Chateau. As we looked at the size of the place, one parent remarked, "Think of how many STARS could live in that house!"
By 6:30 PM we were at the Festival P'artage, doing our sound checks and making preparations for our set-up. This has been a week long Festival where there have been activities to support and encourage the integration of people with disabilities. Our concert was one piece of their Festival. To say we were a little overwhelmed would be an understatement. The hall was much grander than we had anticipated and had an incredible sound and light set-up. We felt pretty small, so we all gathered before hand to pray and ask Jesus to help us to sing for him. God answered in incredible ways. The STARS connected with the audience on many levels. Sara Klopfenstein's trio sang with the STARS on a few numbers and then performed some great gospel songs. At the end of the concert the audience of around 100-150 people gave the STARS a standing ovation. It was exciting to see that one of the directors at the workplace we had visited that afternoon, came to the concert and was very touched by the STARS expressions of faith through their singing and playing of the chimes and autoharps. After the concert, STARS Mom, Brenda Kopp thought that we should nickname our group the Von STARS Family Singers! Check out the STARS French blogspot to get some great pictures of the evening. http://www.horizonjeunes.net/stars/
Wednesday, May 25, had a little slower pace and we didn't gather until 11:00 AM, since we hadn't returned home until after 11 PM the night before. We visited a specialized school for students with intellectual diabilities, agest 13-20. They had a great woodworking shop which STAR Gary really enjoyed. They were even making a harp at the woodworking shop.
Then we went with the Africal percussion group from the school. These are 6 high school students with intellectual disabilities who do percussion music using African drums and percussion instruments. We had a delightful exchange, where the STARS learned some of their techniques and the Africal group tried their hand at playing the chimes. This group will perform with the STARS and the Nancy Gospel Singers at the Friday night concert.
While the two groups were practicing together, Sara and I were interviewed by a journalist from the Reformed Magazine, a Protestant national newspaper that has a circulation of about 5000. We were able to share the purpose of our trip and how people with intellectual disabilities can be disciplies of Christ and the importance of making the gospel message accessible to them.
The day ended with a visit to the Basilique, one of the largest cathedrals I have ever seen. Inside the cathedral it was great to see a replica of the empty tomb. Jesus is Risen Indeed!