Monday, March 10, 2008

Tour guide to the tour guides

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This weekend I had the pleasure of playing tour guide at the Opry for some friends from South Africa. Mike M. & Mike J. of African Encounter put together visits for individuals and mission groups, including drives through the game parks. They, along with Mike M.'s wife Meg, are in the U.S. visiting with various groups that have used or plan to use their services, and were part of the Living Hope Partners Conference hosted by my church last week.

Several of us American ministry partners who had been to Africa were eager to get our friends to the Opry, especially since a couple of them were on their first visit to the U.S. Fortunately one of the Living Hope partners was already on it; she's a former Opry staff member who attended the conference and plans to go back to Africa. I was the only one available to go to the show, and was thrilled at the chance to show our guests around. Almost redeemed all those times I had to clean up after audiences between shows (wearing a vest and tie) during my few years as an Opry usher. Almost.

Our "tourist" friends enjoyed the visit, even though they'd never heard of the stars they were meeting, including Jimmy C. Newman and Mel Tillis. (In all fairness, the same would be true for most people, regardless of national origin). The only song we heard that was familiar to them (other than snippets of hymns in a Bill Anderson song) was "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band. Simply put, the CDB tore the place apart. Definitely the highlight of the evening for all of us.

I especially enjoyed the "turnabout" aspect of the evening. In Africa, these guys take people to gawk at wild animals in their natural habitat, and I showed them country musicians backstage. The similarities are almost too obvious to mention.

I wasn't in full photog mode, but took a few shots. See the pics and read the captions for the rest of the story here.

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