UK Tour 2018 – Week 2

In May of 2018, I had the wonderful opportunity to take Lubbock Christian University’s singing group, Best Friends, on a 3-week tour of the U.K. This is an overview of the trip, in three parts. Continued from Part 1.


We got up and around bright and early the next morning. We had to be in Cumbernauld by 9:00AM for a radio show. Arriving early, we caught a quick bite at a roadside cafe before meeting the radio DJ at Revival FM. As it turned out, his show didn’t even begin until 10AM, so we had some time to kill. Before too long, the entire group was crammed into the radio booth where they did interviews and performances for a full hour. It was much fun.

That afternoon, we visited the Pensioner’s Club. This was a collection of retired ladies who meet on Tuesday afternoon to drink tea, play bingo and presumably gossip. Upon arrival, we spread out among the 4 or 5 tables of ladies to introduce ourselves. Tea and talking lasted about 20 minutes before the group got up to sing. It only took about 10 minutes for the question to come up… “What do you think about Donald Trump?” This question keeps popping up when people find out we’re Americans. I can tell you, without a doubt, that our President is not liked at all in Scotland. I got an earful for a good 10 or 15 minutes before I could escape and get the group up to sing.

Four of us are staying in another AirBnB place out in the boonies again. We dropped by that afternoon to check in. We arrived and met the lady who owned it (this time, a working cow farm). Her first words were, “Oh! I thought it was next week!” Fortunately, she keeps the house that she rents out in good shape in case she has last-minute bookings. We weren’t last minute, but we might as well have been.

That evening, the group spent a few hours with kids from the community at Kid’s Club and then called it a very long day.

Most of our second day in Cumbernauld was spent in Glasgow. We spent a while in the Glasgow Cathedral, an ancient and very impressive building. Afterwards, we walked up to the Necropolis behind the cathedral. It’s the tallest spot in Glasgow and the hillside is covered in very large and very old tombstones and monuments. When we reached the top and saw the tallest monument, we found that is was for John Knox, one of the leaders in the Reformation Movement. That was a nice surprise.

Next, we met our new driver and promoter of one of our events, Paul Hill from Leicester. He’s about as crazy as we are, so it’s a nice fit. We walked down in the city center, had a bite and did some shopping. After taking the subway to the other side of town, we went to the Kelvingroves Museum of Art and History. The museum is a stone’s throw from Glascow University and is quite an impressive bit of architecture in itself – not to mention the wonderful collections they have inside.

Our concert was just a few hours later at the Cumbernauld Church of Christ. For the first time on the tour, we were asked to tone down our vocal percussion. It felt like the old days in Acappella when elders would ask us not to sing doos or boops – maybe just sing words. *sigh*

But, we are here to serve. We decided to cut a couple of songs, turn the vocal percussion down to about 40% of normal and add a 4-song worship set. We must try to become all things to all people. Nevertheless, immediately after the concert Jackson was accused of being an instrument. Shortly after that, I was engaged in a spirited conversation with a young lady who appreciated what we did, but clearly thought we were in the wrong if we considered what we did as worship. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve had that conversation…


The next morning after making the rounds and picking up everyone, we headed for a day off in Edinburgh. We parked the bus in a Park and Ride outside of town and took a 30-minute tram ride into the City Centre.

The Edinburgh Castle is an imposing presence overlooking the city. It had a familiarity that I couldn’t quite place (until a bit later). After walking up a very, very, very large hill and 1,376 steps to get up to the old city, we were presented with a wide cobblestone street lined with ancient shops and impossibly high spires. There were so many people, it felt like we might have been at the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios. Come to find out, we almost were.

That was when I was informed that J.K. Rowling is actually from Edinburgh. We saw the cafe were she wrote most of the books. We walked through the cemetery where she found names to use for the characters. The streets of Edinburgh reminded me of Hogsmeade, and the Edinburgh Castle felt much like the ramparts of Hogwarts. We spent three hours in the old city and it was truly a magical place.

That evening, after checking into our AirBnB, we arrived at Robin Vick’s house and had a meal of Mexican Food with haggis nachos. Really. And they were good. The church in Falkirk is small and meets in the community hall (which is where the concert was). Most of their bible meetings and small groups meet in a local coffee shop. After dinner, we all walked over to the coffee place to sing and fellowship. It was a lot of fun.

On concert day, we did some on-the-spot singing in the city centre while Robin and crew handed out flyers. The concert that evening was well attended and they even had some community contacts show up, which is exactly what they were hoping for.

Leaving this place was hard for Lacy, as this is where she spent her high school days as a missionary kid. The church in Falkirk is a very friendly, loving church and they’re doing great work. One of our guys was even talking about coming back there on a longer-term basis, which is excellent.

One side note: Falkirk was our third use of the AirBnB system. I’ve found it, for the most part, to be a great service. At every stop we’ve met great people and had a wonderful experience. This particular house was very large, with 3 floors, 5 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and lots of extra room to relax and have fun. It was perfect for our entire group and it as fun watching everyone cooking together.


On the road to Liverpool, we had a small adventure. We stopped at a service area to stretch our legs and get some snacks. After we’d gotten back in the bus, Cameron realized he didn’t have his phone. He and Paul ran back inside to search to no avail. No one had turned it in and he didn’t have an international plan. There was no way to call it and he couldn’t use the find a phone feature.

Just as we were about to give up and drive away, Jeremiah suggested we use the bluetooth Tile that Cameron had. We pulled back around front and Cameron went inside with the Tile. Apparently, if you click the tile 3 times, it rings your phone. Who knew? Anyway, he came out a couple of minutes later with his phone. The gift shop lady had been trying to turn off the ringer because it was going off nonstop from the Tile. Mission accomplished. In Paul’s words, “That was wonderful! Now we don’t have to curse the Scotts.” Which is a very Paul thing to say.

After our arrival in Liverpool and a quick bite to eat at the church, we had the opportunity to sing at one of the local hospitals. No one has private rooms in this particular hospital, so we went from ward to ward singing for groups of patients and staff. They seemed to enjoy it very much. Some of the patients (who were all older) were semi-dancing in their beds. It was fun to watch.

The next morning, we attended church services at Liverpool Church of Christ, followed by a potluck. The church is very culturally mixed, so the food was fantastic. I got to eat some authentic rice and peas. Multiple times.

That afternoon, we all walked over to a nursing home and sang for about an hour. It was a bit challenging, as most of the residents were in some stage of dementia, and a couple of them were somewhat combative and loud. Afterward, the director introduced us to some of them. There were more than a few WWII vets and medal winners in the crowd. From general appearance, it seems that Brits tend to live longer than Americans. How, I don’t know. Not with all this fried fish and chips around.

Concert time rolled around and the group (and I) were pretty much spent. We’ve been going nonstop for 2 weeks now and it is certainly taking a toll on us. After a group prayer for strength and focus, we had one of our best concerts on this tour yet. The crowd was small and the response (though they loved it) was quite reserved in a proper British manner. But they sounded amazing, even more so considering their state of exhaustion.

After a good night’s rest, we loaded up for a tour of Liverpool, which means it was Beatle time. With the exception of Ringo, the Beatles are much loved in their hometown of Liverpool. Ringo has made some stupid statements about the city and has lost his support from the town. There’s even one statue of the four of them where residents kept chopping off Ringo’s head. Ouch.

Anyway, we got to see Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, Sgt. Peppers, John Lennon’s home, Sir Paul McCartney’s home, the Cavern Club and much more. Liverpool is a fascinating city and worth a return trip. After 5 hours in the city, we loaded up and hit the road for our driver’s hometown – Leicester.

To be continued in Pt. 3.

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