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Our Phoenix Experience

Coming from the hot and humid conditions of south Florida, it was refreshing to feel the dry warm air of the desert southwest. The weekend’s weather could not have been any better. What was better then the weather was the acceptance and support of the music Herm and I shared over three days.

I was picked up at the airport by my childhood friend Dan Mast. He was supposed to have a rental car, but the one he reserved mysteriously was not available. His cousin Clair borrowed his Honda CRV last minute and it turned out to be a blessing (more on that later)

Friday evening, Gene and Neta Kimel (aka brother-in -law and sister) hosted a backyard house party complete with refreshments and a catered dinner. The evening was punctuated by dancing angels disguised as grandchildren. The youthful energy was contagious as we fell back into sharing songs from our youth that we hadn’t played for decades. It was a sweet memory to share our songs with family and inspire the youth to play music. As one of my grandnieces Hazel told Gene “Mas’ brother is really good!” We later enjoyed a violin performance by another grandniece Harper.

Saturday morning, we visited the Trinity Mennonite Church site where we would be performing that evening. Herm wanted to get a feel for the place as he asked questions about the church past and present with Gene and Neta who had been married there over 40 years ago and were faithful members. The feelings we got were good ones. Later in the day we met up with Jeremy Kempf and his helper Nathan Shenk as they were setting up the staging and sound equipment. The atmosphere was very positive as we anticipated a magical desert evening of music.

We were surprised and happy to see Wayne Weaver, Herm’s brother who flew in from Ohio to be with us. Phil Yoder, a Phoenix chiropractor who went to school with Herm and I at Hesston also showed up early to reminisce, unlike Dan Mast who snuck in as we were playing our first song! We were also joined by Bob and Twila Mast who were friends of mine from my Lancaster PA childhood. Herm and I are so thankful to be able to share our story with friends old and new.

Sunday morning, we got to the church at 7:30, joined the Sunday service musicians led by Jeremy Kempf at Trinity and learned the songs for the morning service. We also played a couple of our own for the congregation. What a great group of singers! We taught them the chorus to “Hope For Tomorrow” and it never sounded better.

After arguing about who would benefit from the money Dan saved by using Clair’s car (Clair didn’t want anything for that, and Dan insisted Clair take it), they decided to donate the amount to support our adventures. How about that!

We can’t wait until our next adventure in Sarasota the weekend of January 8th!



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