New Year, New Journeys

Welcome to my Europe 2017 blog!

If you are reading this you are probably a friend of mine.  So, you probably are already aware of my upcoming trip abroad. The intent of my blog has always been to simply share my thoughts and experiences with my friends.  For quite some time now I have been planning a trip abroad to Sweden, Germany, and Slovakia.  Of course there are many reasons for the journey and things I would like to accomplish and I thought it would be a good idea to list some of those things here.  I intend to blog at least every-other-day about my experiences (if not more often) so if you are interested, bookmark and you will be able to click on “blog” on the dropdown menu.

The idea for the trip stemmed from a conversation I had with a friend and colleague, Tom Nelson.  Tom has spent a good deal of his life and career as a missionary, working in Japan, Malaysia, and Slovakia.  Tom and I have spent the past couple of years brainstorming ways to find resources and opportunities for young people, like those at Bethany, to see the world while making a difference in the lives of others.  Tom mentioned the Evangelical Lutheran Lyceum in Bratislava, Slovakia, where he had worked during the 1990s after the fall of communism.  This seemed like the type of place that would be perfect for young people to visit and serve.  Furthermore, as many as four graduates of Bethany College have spent time at the school as visiting teachers.  The wheels began turning. . . the Bethany Choir and Handbells would be planning a tour to Sweden and Germany for May of 2018 (more on that later for some of you alumni who may want to join us!) and I had already been soliciting bids from travel companies.  Many of these companies offer to take you to various venues and hotels as a “perusal” type of enticement.  After piecing things together I was able to make the current trip happen.  It’s important to note that, even though Bethany College will benefit greatly from my journey, I did not have to utilize one dime of Bethany money!

So, I begin my journey tomorrow morning, Monday, January 2 when I fly out of Wichita at 7:45 am.  After stops in Chicago, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Dusseldorf, I will find myself in Aachen, Germany listening to a sitzprobe of a Puccini opera!  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Listed below are my goals for the trip. . .

  1.  Visit the Evangelical Lutheran Lyceum in Bratislava.  Make connections with teachers there and with the church in Bratislava.  Gather information about opportunities for young people.
  2.  Visit venues in Germany and Sweden where the Bethany Choir and Handbells will visit and/or perform in spring 2018.  Also, visit with the travel company in Stockholm while there.
  3. Meet and audition potential European-based singers for possible inclusion in upcoming seasons of the Messiah Festival of the Arts.
  4. Spend time with 2016 Pearson Professor and Messiah Soloist, Anders Jalkeus, and tour the music academy at which he is administrator.  See if there are any possibilities of incorporating something like this in Lindsborg. Also included in this goal is to visit folk arts venues in Sweden and identifying possibilities for the Bethany and Lindsborg communities.
  5. In general, have fun, represent Bethany College and Lindsborg in a positive fashion, and create lasting relationships with individuals and institutions.

Part of me wants to outline here every activity I have planned for every day. I’m just that excited about it.  But, I will leave that for other blog posts and hope you come back to read them.  My general itinerary for this trip (with a few highlights) is listed below. . .

January 2-3Wichita-Amsterdam-Stockholm-Dusseldorf.  After 8 hours in O’Hare and losing 7 hours on the flight overseas, I will not arrive in Dusseldorf until around 8 pm on January 3 (1pm in Lindsborg).

January 4Aachen, Germany to meet and hear Linda Ballova, a fine European soprano who is a former student at the Evangelical Lyceum in Bratislava.

January 5-6Leipzig, Germany, where J.S. Bach lived and worked for many years.

January 7 – Most of the day traveling by train from Leipzig to Bratislava

January 8-11Bratislava, Slovakia.  I will participate as cantor in worship at Bratislava International Church, tour the Evangelical Lyceum, and experience many exciting things, of which I will write about later.

January 11-14Berlin, Germany.  Many things lined up here.  Mostly seeing places and things pertaining to the BC tour in 2018.

January 15-20 – Stockholm, Sweden.   I will stay with my friend Anders Jalkeus and tour his music academy, as well as many other places in and around Stockholm.

My typical blog posts will contain many pictures, but for this first post I didn’t have much.  My wife, Jeanne, would tell you that I tend to overpack.  If we are going to Wichita for the weekend I’ll bring a suitcase.  So, it was a huge surprise to her when I told her I was not going to take a suitcase for my 18-day trip to Europe but instead pack everything in a carry-on backpack.

Basically, I took this:

and made it fit in this:

Pretty impressive, huh?  Exactly 20 lbs.  I’ll report back later as to whether or not this was a good idea!

Again, thank you for reading this.  Please feel free to comment here or email me at with any thoughts.  Please understand I may not respond too quickly, depending on internet access.  So, until Tuesday night (afternoon in Lindsborg), I bid you farewell!



14 thoughts on “New Year, New Journeys”

  1. Keep the great blogs coming. I wish I could be with you in Bratislava, but I know you’ll be in very capable hands. Give my love to all those great folks!

  2. That is very impressive packing! Have a wonderful time, Mark! I look forward to reading about all the fabulous goings-on of your journey. And, if you can manage it, it would be awesome if you could bring back some good European chocolate that we can’t find around here! Hehe

  3. That is very impressive packing! Have a wonderful time, Mark! I look forward to reading about all the fabulous goings-on of your journey. And, if you can manage it, it would be awesome if you could bring back some good European chocolate that we can’t find around here! Hehe

  4. You are embarking on a wonderful journey for yourself and your students. For many of them, this trip will be a life changing experience. I know that from personal experience. They will remember and revisit this trip the rest of their lives and be always grateful to you for instigating it. Safe travels, my friend.

  5. Mark, I’m so excited for you. What a wonderful trip you have planned and what a benefit it will be to Bethany in the future! You amaze me!
    I’m writing this Monday morning, so you’ll soon be in Chicago for 8 hours. You probably have friends there to keep you company. If not or if you need anything, call us. I’ll share this with Terri.

  6. How exciting, Mark! You sound very focused and goal oriented for this trip, but I know you will have so much fun, too – probably because you are so well planned! Looking forward to updates.

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