I wanted to take this next blog post and express my thanks to Kris Kropff and the Lorenz Corporation. As many of you know I have a number of pieces published with Lorenz and this past spring my first piano book, "My Redeemer" came out with Lillenas (Lorenz owns the keyboard division of Lillenas). I really wanted to be able and leave something with the students in India that would be a reminder of our time together. My piano book seemed like the perfect choice. I found out from Abraham the number of students in my composition class would be around 25. I wrote to Kris at Lorenz about getting books for the students. I sent the email late in the evening and when I woke the next morning there was a reply from Kris saying that Lorenz would be honored to provide the books for my students. 25 comp copies were in the mail the same day just a few hours after getting her email. You rock, Kris! What a great company! I am one of many, many composers who write for Lorenz but I always feel like a VIP when I have emailed about anything. They have compassionate and giving people who work for them and they go out of their way to make you feel special. Thanks to Lloyd Larson and Larry Shackley for being amazing editors to work with as well. Also a big thanks to all the people behind the scenes that make Lorenz a success. Boy, this is starting to feel a little like an acceptance speech, please forgive me for rambling. I would like to thank my wife, my kids...
I also would like to tell you about another way you can be involved in this trip. I will be teaching a conducting class. It will have 8-10 students in it. They do not have a text and I found a gem of a book called Conducting Techniques For Beginners and Professionals by Brock McElheran. It is an exceptional book that will benefit the students. I would like to purchase a copy for each student and also be able to leave a few at the college with Abraham. They are only $8. So I have set up a Crowdrise account for $150. This would allow me to purchase 12-15 books and then ship them along with the piano books from Lorenz over to India so I don't have to carry them in my luggage. If you are interested in helping with this cost, click on the widget below and make a donation. I would LOVE to have you partner with me.
Until next time!
My visa came in the mail on Thursday last week. I have been tracking the process for the past two weeks and watched as each step got checked off at the website that is the only company the Indian Embassy endorses. The last step before delivered was “Dispatch.” I got notice on Wednesday and by Thursday afternoon the FedEx envelope was at my door with my passport and the new visa page pasted inside. I can’t say I am thrilled with the photo. It makes me look like a thug. My son made the comment he would not want to cross me in a dark alley. Is that good or bad? Why must all our photos we have taken for identification purposes be so horrible? Has anyone ever had a “good” photo for their drivers license or passport. If anyone can top my lovely pic, I challenge you to post it in the comment section below.
So, my visa is now complete. My next step was to make an appointment to get the shots I need for the trip. You can get all the necessary shots for wherever you are traveling through the University Health Center in Lincoln. Things are getting checked off the list now… appointment made. I will head up week after next to follow through on yet another requirement before I take flight to India.
In 50 days I will be heading out. July 14th is my official take-off date. I know this day will come very quickly so I am glad I can now focus more on the reason I am going and begin to prepare for the classes I will be teaching. Thanks for taking the time to read these posts and please continue to pray as I prepare for my time in Thiruvananthapuram. I am not going to let you forget that I can not only say the name of this city but can now spell it without checking with Google! You’ll just have to take my word on that one.
Until next time!
I got my teaching assignments from Abraham at ACCM and I couldn't be more excited. I will be teaching three courses: Music Theory III (yes, I LOVE music theory!), Composition and Conducting. They have a text book for theory and also a book available for composition but I am free to set up the classes in whatever manner I choose. It will be a huge amount of work but I am looking forward to the challenge and excited to be able and have the freedom to teach the things I feel will be beneficial for the students.
A typical day runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with a break at 1:00 p.m. for lunch. I will be required to teach 3 hours a day and I can set other times to work with students if I choose. I am looking forward to the classroom time but I also hope I can get some one on one time with students to go deeper in the composition and conducting process.
I will be working very hard in this time before I go to have everything prepared for my teaching duties so I can also spend some time in India writing as well. My goal is share this experience not only through this blog but through music I will compose while in India. Just wait my dear choir friends, you think I have some unusual harmonies already what will happen when I am half way around the world?
I leave you with a couple of items you can be praying for me as I continue to prepare for the trip. #1 - Pray that I would be able to get all the planning done needed so things run smoothly here at home. I will be missing 5 Sundays in a row at my church and there have been many years I have not missed one. I am rarely gone from worship but I know it will be good for me and my church to see that, yes, worship will continue to happen without me. #2 - Pray as I prepare for my classes that I would communicate well and connect with the students.
As we head into summer I will have a little more time to plan and as I spend more time planning I get more excited for what God has for me!
An update on the visa process: It has been to the Indian Embassy in Huston and was shipped back to the company I have been using to secure my visa. Only two more steps and I will have my visa in hand!
Until next time!
So one week ago I sat down at the computer ready to fly through the application process in order to get my visa. I already have a passport but India requires a visa as well. Six hours later (which did include a lunch break with my lovely wife) I had all the forms and copies of most everything I needed to move on to step 2. Why did it take 6 hours? The Indian Embassy I have to submit my paperwork to is in Huston, TX, so it all has to be done via mail. The online form you fill out also takes you to a third party website that has all the requirements and extra forms you need to make sure everything goes through properly. Well… the third party website did not seem to be finding me in the system and I had already filled out the first form. After calling the center on the phone and then being put on hold for over 30 minutes, the operator took me back to a page I had been to at least 5 times before. He assured me that all I needed to do was follow the prompts. I thanked him and quickly got off the phone since I was having a difficult time understanding him due to his Indian accent (I hope this is not an indication of things to come). I tried once again and alas… I was still in the same place as when I called. I dialed the number again and prayed for someone who would #1 be patient with me and #2 would not have a heavy accent. God was gracious and answered both prayers. This operator asked how long had it been since I had filled out the forms on their site. I said at least an hour ago. He explained I would not show up in their database for at least 2-3 hours. I wish the website or the first operator had told me that to begin with. This seemed a good time to break for lunch. Subway was in order. (On a side note, when I did some investigating where I will be in India, I found a Subway not far from the college. I may be eating there quite a bit.)
After lunch I proceeded to log back in and whatdaya know… there I was in filled out forms and data. I clicked to pay the processing fee ($155 - OUCH!) and moved along to getting the checklist for all the documents and forms that need to be sent via FedEx to Huston. Everything is very specific. My next hurdle? I need proof of address… simple… my driver’s license qualifies but it needs to be valid for at least 6 months pending. My license expires this year in September only 4 months away. I can use a utility bill in my name (which seems crazy) but the utilities are in “Kevin Boesiger” and all my formal documents are “Ross Boesiger.” Would they take the time to notice my middle name or flag the application? The checklist is SO specific it makes it seem like if you forget to cross a “t” or dot an “i” they will not issue the visa. Another option was to send in Tami’s drivers license and a copy of our marriage certificate. Her license would show the address and the certificate would prove we live together. I made plans to drive to Lincoln on Friday and get everything sent from the FedEx shipping center.
Friday came and I went through the checklist one last time to make sure I had everything that was needed. Not only did I send in Tami’s license and our marriage certificate but I also included a current gas bill that listed me as “R Kevin Boesiger.” I did not want to take the chance of not having what they needed. The clerk at FedEx took my picture with a white background and asked me to remove my glasses. “Nope, they have to stay on,” I told her, “it was one of the requirements listed in the checklist.” I tilted my head down to prevent glare on my lens and the result was a stunning mugshot that will now be part of my legal documents for the next 10 years. I placed all the documents and forms in the appropriate FedEx envelope (that was specified) and said a little prayer as I handed it to the clerk. Now I wait to get an envelope back from FedEx containing my visa as well as my passport which I had to send in with all the other information. Talk about putting your faith and trust in one company.
Until next time!
So here comes the “rest of the story.” Each year Chris Monroe would post on the discussion board that if you were interested in a possible mission trip to India to teach music to contact him. I have to admit, every time I would see those posts something inside me wondered if that was something God was actually asking me to do. Tami (my amazing wife) was also planning a missions trip to Uganda, Africa. She went in June of 2013 and I was SO proud of her for doing what God had asked even though it was hard. It was a challenge and inspiration to also be willing to follow the call if God would be gracious enough to ask me. This past February I saw a post from Chris again asking for people who might be interested in teaching in India. If a person had a masters or doctorate in music the college would consider providing a flight and room and board for the applicant. God just took all the arguments I could possibly make for not being a fit for the job. I emailed Chris which started, and I quote, “Just writing this email scares the snot out of me!” He assured me that I would be a great fit for the position and put me in contact with Abraham, one of the instructors at the college. It took us a while to find a time that would work but after several emails, it was finished. I booked a flight to Thiruvananthapuram for July 14th to August 8th.
Here is the last piece of the puzzle that assures me God is right smack dab in the middle of all this. “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is a hymn that originated from… you guessed it… India. This little chorus I have been drawn to all my life is actually a song from India. I have written not only a SATB version of this song but also a piano solo arrangement and a setting I use for congregational singing at church. It has such a simple and beautiful message. I wish I could say I knew the history of the song long before now but I have to admit, I never thought to do the research until it came so much to the forefront and prominent role in this whole adventure taking me to India.
Here is the story. The lyrics are based on the last words of an unknown man in Assam, India. In the middle of the 19th century he and his family had decided to follow Jesus due to the efforts of a Welsh missionary. The village chief called the man to renounce his faith and he declared “I have decided to follow Jesus.” His family was threatened and his reply was “though no one joins me, still I will follow.” His wife was killed and before he was executed he sang, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” This display of faith brought about the conversion of the chef and several others in the tribe.
So what seems to be a very simple song with easy to understand lyrics that was written over 150 years ago, has had a major impact on this guy born in 1965 right in the heart of the United States. I pray someday God will allow me to pen a song that will have a similar impact.
Coming up on the blog... the visa application process. I never thought it would be a story worth telling but...
Until next time!
As I think about how everything lined up for this trip, I can trace God's hand back to 2008. It would be easy to write it off as pure coincidence but I believe like an intricate piece of music every note and rest is placed purposely on the page by the hand of the Composer.
In 2008 my sister, who directs a youth choir, asked if I had an arrangement she could use that year for her choir tour. I agreed to write an arrangement of "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." I have always been drawn to the song and was excited to work on a new setting for SATB choir, piano and cello. About a year later I made a connection with Mark Hayes when he came to my church to do a choral festival. Mark took me on as a student and we worked on several pieces to submit to different publishing companies. I never thought that my arrangement of "I Have Decided" would ever get picked up. There have been numerous arrangements of that piece and what would make mine stand out? In 2010 Lorenz accepted the arrangement for publication and it was released in 2011. This was the first of many I would get published in the years to come. The piece has had a major significance to me as I felt this was God's way of affirming my writing and also reminding me of the purpose for my music.
The youth choir my sister directs, Esprit de corps from Lincoln Berean Church, used the piece again last year as part of their tour. Check out the Youtube video of one of the performances.
The same year this arrangement came out I saw a post on a Church Music Discussion board I belong to from Chris Monroe. He was asking for recommendations for a composer who he could commission to write a piece for the retirement of the organist at his church. I felt this prodding from God to email Chris. Since I only had one piece in print I never thought Chris would even know who I was. His response caught me totally off guard. He had used "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" and was familiar with my writing. I could have never imagined this would be the first connection I would have with the Asian Christian College of Music. Chris was one of the founders and patrons of the college which started.... you guessed it in 2011.
Well like any good story, here is where I will leave you for the time being, a bit of a cliff hanger. There is more to the story but I have promised myself I will not make these posts too long so you will have to come back to get "the rest of the story" to borrow a phrase from Paul Harvey.
Until next time!
This blog will journal my experiences as I prepare to go overseas this July and teach at the Asian Christian College of Music in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in India.