Sunday, April 18, 2010

WAIT Interstate Trip: Kansas Report

On March 18th, the DC WAIT Team were met by Richard & Barbara Karnowski, Kansas WAIT parents, and treated to a special all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet dinner after which they sang “Reach Out” for the Karnowskis. They then drove another 20 minutes to the home of another WAIT family, the Thompson’s, who welcomed them warmly.

On March 19th, the day started early at the Douglas Community Center in Manhattan. KS WAIT members, Xavier Dowdell, and Elke Thompson, demonstrated Tae Kwon Do and krumping. The DC trainers taught the Kansas WAIT members the dance to “Desert Rose,” adding in new sections using step dance, break-dance, krumping, and Tae Kwon Do.

Following this, we attended the screening of “Cashing Out”at K-State University. The audience was truly inspired by this no-budget independent movie, and suggested another screening later in the semester.

At the performance at the Manhattan Public Library, DC and Kansas WAIT team performed “Desert Rose” with the newly added pieces and a whole performance with new WAIT members learning new parts.

The day went from a beautiful sunny day to a cold, windy, snowy evening. Driving to Kansas City, the van was struck by an 18-wheeler that had blown a tire. The WAIT members from DC and KS were miraculously protected from serious harm, and helped by many people, and decided to continue the training work.

While Aunt Kate contacted all families and insurance companies to report the accident, the training continued with the Kansas WAIT members learning “A Rose Is Still A Rose”, while the guys practiced “WAIT for Me” and break dancing.

After a delicious dinner, the group came together to review the internal guidelines of WAIT and the way we operate. To finish the night, “Cashing Out” was shown.

On March 21st, in the Kansas City Church center there was Sunday service. After lunch, Kansas members learned more of “Desert Rose” and Rose Is Still A Rose” The guys practiced the rap parts for “Wait for Me.” Meanwhile, Kate Tsubata shared with the parents the specifics of how adults provide the wisdom and ongoing guidance for each team.

At the closing of the training, a performance for the parents was suggested, with each dance or song presented. Besides the standard acts, we heard Xavier’s new rap about WAIT, and had an exciting final act where young and old showed their moves in a spontaneous dance off!

On March 22nd, the DC trainers navigated obstacles to rent a van, arrange the towing of their van to a salvage yard, meet insurance agents, and transfer equipment to continue their journey to Nebraska. Before leaving, the team sang “Reach Out” to the Saarnas, WAIT family, in thanks for their kind support at a tough time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 2 in Atlanta, Georgia (Photo Update)

Day 2 of the Atlanta WAIT Training:
Powerpoint, Fundraising and Breakout Sessions

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

On the way home

Leaving Omaha, the team embarked on the next leg of our journey to Chicago, Illinois. Thankfully, Lynelle Curtin, the mother of Rachel Curtin, found it possible to accompany us, so we had an extra driver. Arriving in Chicago around 7:30, we decided to sing at restaurants and ask for food donations. To our delight, a Subway sandwich manager donated us all sandwiches, and a Chinese restaurant donated several dishes!

We slept at the Chicago family church center, and attended the Sunday service the next morning. We were amazed that there was a report being given on a recent medical outreach trip to Haiti, and we asked to sing the song we wrote: Reach Out. It was a beautiful experience to share this song with people who have done so much outreach themselves.

Back on the road, we drove all the way to Columbus, Ohio, where we were welcomed at Ilseuk Masuda’s home with a big pot of homemade beef and vegetable soup and some lovely baked potatoes and yams. Sleeping soundly after our long journey, we awoke ready for the next day’s trek to Ithaca, New York.

Since our funds were so depleted by the accident and van situation, some of the team members called restaurants to ask for discounts. A Ponderosa Steak House in Bath, NY, offered us a substantial break on our meals. We arrived, met the manager, and sang “Reach out” for the diners. One table of customers asked if they could donate, and then suggested we consider a trip to Puerto Rico. Others wished us luck in our work.

The staff of the restaurant asked for another song at the end, and we took a photo together. It was a special moment of grace and love to meet such loving people in the middle of our journey.

That night, we arrived at the home of Ann and Chad Hoover, a family who have often hosted WAIT when we traveled to Upstate New York. We were so happy to see their own work, and to feel the warmth of a loving family.

The next day, we arrived at the Lansing Residential Facility to meet one of our favorite people, Dee Cooper, who has a wonderful team working with many girls in crisis. We did a shortened version of the PowerPoint, and then the full WAIT performance. It was wonderful to feel the girls there responding, blossoming in response to the songs and dances.

We then began our final leg of the trip home. To our great shock, it began to snow! Soon, we were in a repeat of our recent experience in Kansas: snow flying everywhere, trucks backed up on an interstate, accumulation of the icy crystals on our windshield. We changed our route to avoid the mountains, and after crossing one mountain, the snow turned to rain! We stopped to make sure of the weather, but then confidently proceeded to do the final journey home.

We arrived to the gleeful welcome of Do Joon, our number one fan, and all the Tsubata family. It felt good to be home.
Now, there is one more part of our trip to complete: the training trip to Atlanta, Georgia. We are looking forward to bringing the WAIT model and message to our “southern cousins” after such an amazing journey to the Midwest. Many thanks to all who made this such an unforgettable trip.

Kate Tsubata

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Performing in Omaha Schools

Renting a van in Kansas City, we made our way to Omaha where we were welcomed to the beautiful home of the Curtin family.  After a delicious dinner, some of us collapsed into bed, and others met Dan and Christella who had come from DC and were on their way cross country to California.
Waking early, we were out the door early to get to Ralston Middle School, where we did 5 performances in the 45 minute classes for kids of the 7th and 8th grades.  Despite tiredness, the group really poured out their energy and hearts.  The classes were more reserved than in DC, but the same response was there.  
It was wonderful to have Christella join in and breakdance in several of the presentations, and Dan was a good tech supporter too.
Ms. Denise Craig, the teacher who hosted us, heard the team mentioning wanting to visit the zoo, and arranged for a special discount for us.  Another staff member, hearing about our work and our accident, gave an anonymous donation for the team to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo the next day to see a good part of the huge number of exhibits.  
After our Ralston performances, we headed over to Sakura Bana to sing for the staff, who were between their lunch and dinner hours.  We sang “Reach out” to Mr. Yamagata and Jin, who were looking very serious while listening.  Then, Mr. Yamagata said “Okay, come back at 5 for dinner.”  When we returned, we were shocked.  Not only did we get our pick of the combination dinners, but a huge boat full of sushi, about 3 feet long, with every type of sushi in it.  
This was a huge gift for the team, who were a bit tired of the uninspiring diet of a roadtrip.  There was so much food left over, the team boxed it to eat the next day at the zoo!
While the team viewed the animals, the adults were busy trying to work out a way to do the return leg of the trip.  It seemed that most rental places would not allow us to travel one way, and even those that would did not have a large enough van available.  
That night, we drove over to the Eagle’s Nest, a huge church family in the Northern area of Omaha.  We were surprised to see the extent of their preparations for us: sound and video personnel were on hand to help set up our levels, and other than the mats and linoleum we really didn’t need any of our equipment.  
After a few praise and worship songs, the ministerial team introduced WAIT.  It was an amazing performance; full of energy and heart, and the congregation (of mostly young people) was so responsive, especially to the message of abstinence. Several youth from other churches were also in attendance. After, the pastor gave an inspiring message about value determined by God. The pastor’s words rang throughout the room and tears ran down our cheeks. All the frustrations and fears that had been residing in our hearts faded away as we were all reminded that God is taking care of us.
The pastor, along with members of the congregation, prayed over us. With our hands and hearts connected there was so much of God’s love flowing throughout the room. After the service we enjoyed the company of the other youth, eating dinner, break dancing and getting to know one another as brothers and sisters.
Driving back to Rachel’s we began to share about our experiences, and decided to open the white envelope the Church had given us. To our great surprise a $1000 check was inside! We were so grateful for everything and immediately prayed to offer it up to God.
The next morning, we performed for two different eighth grade classes at La Vista middle school. The teachers and students alike were inspired by our message and our new and different approach to AIDS and abstinence education.
After some much needed naps, walks in the sunshine, and phone calls to home, we decided to blitz fundraise to car dealerships in hopes that that someone might be inspired to help us out with the van situation. After a disappointing one, we passed by an Enterprise rental car place, and saw a 15 passenger van!  We went in and sang them “Hero.”  They were pleasantly surprised, and called a more central location where several vans are available.  We went there, and did a combination performance of “Wait for me” with breakdancing and beatboxing.  The rental and sales personnel were so great, helping us find several solutions.  The team went performing at nearby businesses and got several donations including a pie from Village Inn!
Back to the house for a potluck dinner with Omaha families, we showed “Cashing Out,” and shared a bit about how it was created.  Then we sang “Reach Out” and “Beautiful Ending,” while Kuniyaki Sugiura was able to watch by skype!
The next day was all-day performance fundraising while Aunt Kate and Aunt Lynelle drove to Kansas City to return one van and pick up another.  The team had amazing experiences in Downtown Omaha.  
Our final adventure: going back home through Chicago, Ohio, New York and DC is about to begin.  Please keep us in your thoughts!