Sunday, June 28, 2015

I Knew Them Back Then

Sometimes you don't realize how special a time was until long after it's gone.

The members of A Capella Harmony Quartet were all in Oregon for a little while, so they arranged to sing for our evening service today.

The parking lot was full when we arrived.  Cars were being parked on the grass to the south and on the ball field.  The sanctuary was full, so we sat in the balcony, where people hauled in Sunday school chairs and joined us.  Apparently the foyer below filled up as well, and we heard the clank of folding chairs as edges and corners filled up with overflow seating.

The singing was just lovely.  And, I'm told by someone who knows music, it was also just GOOD.

Later I was also told that, despite the fact that AHQ parted ways a long time ago, they're still one of the most popular groups in the acapella-only slice of the Mennonite church.  Hence the great turnout.

I thought: Wow.  I was here when they began.

First it was four young guys singing after church, just for fun.  Well, three really young guys and Tom.  I think Byran and David were 12 when they started, and Tom was a few years older.

Gradually they became a Group, and they'd be asked to share a few songs on Sunday evening, and Tom would get up front and ask "the boys" to join him.

They sang more, and better, and for more people.  They made a recording, then another and another.  They sang at weddings and Southern Gospel celebrations and churches.

Don McGarry's cat had four kittens, and he took it as a sign, and named them Tom, Byran, Konrad, and David.

AHQ did an impressive job of combining creativity, excellence, and humility.

Paul went on several tours with them, where Paul would talk about missions in Mexico, and the quartet would sing. [Since we weren't a singing family, and you can't have the missions talk without the singing.] I went along on a tour in the South, and we went to places like Florida and Georgia, and we had sweet tea and pink-pod-purple-eyed peas.

And then after they had been all over the country and had sung for all those fancy people, they would come back to Oregon and sing those same songs for us at little old Brownsville Mennonite.

When they sang Then Came the Morning, it always made me cry.

Eventually life, college, marriage, and such things got in the way, and the group disbanded.

But today they were there again, on the platform at Brownsville, with a lot more life lived, and the songs were not just fun, as they had been in the past, but sung out of hearts that knew them to be true.

They sang Then Came the Morning and it made me cry again because it was about the Resurrection and so achingly amazingly right and so beautifully sung.

Did I have any idea how blessed we were back then when Tom would step up to the platform and ask "the boys" to join him, and when we watched the group grow into what they became?

No.  But I know now.

I wonder: what wonderful future something is sprouting, all ordinary and hidden, in someone I know and see all the time, right now?

Quote of the Day:
"There's an Office Deppot and a Hair Saloon."
--Konrad Krabill, who deliberatly mispronounced things, in a rumbling commentary from the back seat of the van on one of our trips with AHQ


  1. I was truly blessed by AHQ's singing tonight! My mind went back to when the guys were younger. They sang for part of the service. I was impressed with their singing abilities and the wonderful message in the songs! They all wore matching shirts, vests, and pants. They made an great impression because they were the first quartet I heard singing live. Other quartets I heard before were on tapes and records. It is great to see their families and share in their lives.

  2. Good post Dorcas. Your final question excites me and inspires me to actively encourage those around me. Can't wait to see what God does through people I know.

    My wife had never listened to AHQ before, so I pulled out Lookin' Up and Purpose and we've getting her up to date. :-) I always wished I could sing like Byron. . . Konrad's cool, too. :)

  3. These guys sang at our wedding-- and yes, they had a great thing going. Sometimes it's sad to see life happen and things change. But God is doing things amazing things now, starting wonderful things in hidden ordinary ways like you said. Exciting to think about!!

  4. That's how I feel about Shawn McDonald and Mat Kearney! I used to go to their concerts when they sang for free at podunk community centers and in city parks, selling their burnt CDs written with Sharpie. And now they're playing on national radio and TV!

  5. Wish I had been there on Sunday night!

    My brothers and I have sung as a quartet for many years - although infrequently now, as one member lives on the east coast. But when we sing, I think to myself: When we sang these songs in our 20's, we believed the words we were singing; now, in our 60's, we've proved the words we are singing.

    A good reminder to appreciate the special people and happenings around us right now!

  6. Just thought (I live in Alabama) that I should tell you that it's pink-eyed, purple hulled peas. :) If you went to the garden, or field, to pick them, you'd see the purple hulls. When you cook them, they lose their pink eyes.