Zoe Paraskevopoulos is one of our youth who embodies Trietsch's values of radical love and servant ministry. God tugged on her heart to provide clean water to those without.
The mission statement of Trietsch's Uth Kwior is to "Live Humbly, Serve Boldly, Sing Loudly."
We do all three on our summer mission tour, but we mainly serve. We serve in several ways including volunteering our time and labor, but also uplifting people spiritually through music. The latter is what makes Uth Kwior tour so different from any other mission trip our youth take part of. I've been a member of Uth Kwior for five years and gone on five Uth Kwior summer tours. I've also been blessed to go to Appalachia for senior high mission tour and did two junior high mission trips.
Each year, the Uth Kwior creates a different program to take wherever we will go that year. The last several years, it has been the youth, myself included, that collaborated and created the program, with Mrs. Amanda's approval and guidance, of course. We choose the songs, put them in the order we want, and create the dialogue that puts the 45-minute show together. Some previous programs have been "Old Time Religion" (Nashville, Tenn.), "Praise!" (Branson, MO.), and "United in Love" (Birmingham, Ala.). This year, our program was based around the concept of "Living Water," which we brought to Colorado.
While we were away, we performed in several places including at the show, "Texas!" at Palo Duro Canyon, at retirement homes, and at several churches. We try to perform and serve at least once each day we are gone. This is an important balance between mission and fun. While we are there to serve others, we also want to have a fun experience that we will remember. Mrs. Amanda does an amazing job maintaining that balance.
Another part of tour that was different this year was the time of year. This affected me in a way I didn't expect. This year, I celebrated my 17th birthday while on tour. While I knew that my birthday wouldn't be the same as if I were home with my family, I never expected it to be the best birthday I've ever had – in a way that nothing can ever top it.
Everybody has that charity that hits them in the heart. For some it may be helping the homeless, for others it may be caring for abused animals. For me, it is bringing clean water to those without.
A few years ago, Trietsch did a series during Lent called, "Thirsty," which studied water and its meaning in the Bible. During the few weeks of the study, the church maintained a campaign through charity:water to bring clean water to the people who need it. This stuck with me, and since then, I have been interested in the water crisis and its causes, effects, and solutions.
Ever since, I have wanted to pledge my birthday to charity:water to bring people water instead of accepting gifts. However, as I said before, this always got pushed aside. But this year, God was pushing me to do this. Actually, he didn't push, he threw every possible connection he could to make sure I did this. The most inspiring was my birthday being on the Uth Kwior tour where I was sharing about the life that the living water brings us all. I pledged my 17th birthday to bring people, who are stuck in the water crisis, clean water.
I left for tour having only raised $75 and I came back having raised $575 – ensuring 19 people would have clean drinking water. If this isn't proof of God's will being done, I don't know what is. I was able to raise $717 total, which will bring 23 people clean water.
To finish off my post about Uth Kwior, tour, and my incredible birthday experience this year, I asked a few of the Uth Kwior members what has been the most impactful, important, or fun thing about choir. Here are their perspectives:
Brynna Egge (Graduated Senior) – "The most impactful part of tour was all the relationships that were formed. I really like being the senior that the younger kids could look up to and talk to. I also got to spend a lot of time with friends and rebuild old friendships and start new ones. The most fun was definitely getting to spend time with so many different people and getting to know some of the younger members of the choir."
Lauren Schwartz (Graduated Senior) – "I think the most powerful thing about choir tour and seeing people's faces when we sing, how the music moves them and also talking to them afterward and hearing their stories and putting a smile on their faces."
Lindsay Schwartz (Graduated Senior) – "I really enjoyed building the prayer labyrinth and seeing the sunrise. The most important part to me was reaching those in need like when we sang at the homeless shelter. I really enjoyed spending time with my friends at Estes Park and singing at all the different places."
Mackenzie Arnold (Graduated Senior) – "The way it made me a leader and turn towards Christ in becoming a leader to represent him."
Sam Damaske (Graduated Senior) – "The most impactful part of tour would definitely have to be senior night. It was great to hear such positive words from everybody on tour and to be reassured that I had a second family (the Kwior family) backing me up and cheering me on as I took my first steps into the next stage of my life."
Alyssa Hedding (Sophomore) – "I really enjoyed leading worship this year on tour. It was very powerful to get to see all of my peers worshiping together in such a beautiful place. I feel that worship is where I often see God and having a week filled with that was really impactful."
Austin Wills (Senior) – "I think the most impactful thing was anytime we went to a nursing home. I love when they say that we have renewed their hope in the world even after a performance that we think wasn't that good."
Callie Bailey (Junior) – "My favorite part of tour is when we have circle time and all get to sing and worship together. It’s powerful to me because it makes it feel like we have a closer connection to each other and to God. Also, my favorite thing about Uth Kwior in general is when we get to go to places like Salvation Army where we not only sing but also get to serve because it feels like we are making a difference."
Mia Schwartz (Sophomore) – "I think that the most important and impactful part of choir tour is making new friendships and strengthening existing ones. Also helping others and seeing how much a few songs can really change someone’s opinion on faith and God."
Natalie Bonner (Sophomore) – "The best part for me was seeing all of God’s creation. Everything is so intricate and crafted so beautifully, and it showed me that our God crafts everything like that, even us, and even though we may think that something is wrong with us or have insecurities that God made us just as beautiful as the mountains and the trees."
Olivia Eckroth (Freshman) – "The most impactful part of choir tour for me is the mission work and outreach. It is so eye opening when we sing at places like Salvation Army. Also, churches where there are people who are underprivileged or in tough times. Also, talking to the people after a performance and seeing their smiling faces and hearing their stories is always amazing. Seeing them touched always makes me happy!"
Amanda Evans (Director) – "I love all the different venues we perform-we encounter so many different types of people. I thought the performance at Trinity in Denver where Amy (Amy Parsons chaperoned the trip) signed was so powerful and moving. I also love watching you guys as you age step up into leadership roles."