I hope it is warmer where you are than here in east central Missouri. The low tonight is going to be about 1 degree with a wind chill of -15, and the high and low tomorrow are supposed to be 16 and 0. It took a long time, but winter did finally arrive, and the cold temperatures and wind chills do make for an opportune time to stay inside and look back and recap our ministry for 2021.
2021 was once again a different year for us. Though more singing opportunities opened up in 2021, I had to make many of them by myself, as Cheryl still needs to remain close to home to care for her dad’s needs. Out of the 83 singing dates we had in 2021, Cheryl was only able to make 30 of them. February 13 her dad turns 98 years old, and he needs a little more help with basic necessities all the time. He still lives at home by himself about 12 miles from us. Though he is very stubborn and set in his ways at times, we are still praying he will see there needs to be some kind of change in his living situation so Cheryl can be out singing more often than she has been the last couple of years.
As I mentioned, we had 83 total singing dates. That is less than we normally did before Covid arrived, but it was an increase over the 30 we did in 2020. Here is the breakdown of dates by states.
- Iowa – 42
- Missouri – 24
- Nebraska – 11
- Wisconsin – 3
- South Dakota – 2
- Illinois – 1
As you can see, we still sing in Iowa more than any other state, but it did seem like we had more opportunities in Missouri than we have for a few years. Still, many places where we normally sing were not available last year. Now, here is the breakdown by concert type.
- Retirement communities – 28
- Gospel sings – 17
- Church concerts – 14
- Benefit concerts – 7
- Fairs and festivals – 6
- Revivals – 5
- Senior dinners – 2
- Cowboy church – 2
- Hymn sing – 1
- Prison concert – 1
We always list some of the highlights and low lights for the year, so let’s start with the low lights. Cheryl not being able to travel and minister is definitely one of them, as well as her not getting to connect and visit with so many friends she hasn’t seen for the last two years.
Being on the road by myself also falls into the low light category, as I longed for time to spend with my wife and sing with her. I missed her dearly. Though having more opportunities to sing this year than last was a blessing, many of our normal venues still being closed was another low light.
On to the highlights! One was having so many concerts close to home that Cheryl was able to attend. It was a blessing we had so many concerts in Missouri this past year, as those were most of the singing dates she was able to make. Singing at many new venues was also a highlight. We were blessed to sing at five new churches in Missouri we’d never been to before, and Cheryl was able to sing at all of those. We also were participants at the Southwest Missouri Gospel Sing for the first time, and we had a wonderful time there. In addition, nine retirement communities in Nebraska and Iowa scheduled us for the first time, though I had to sing at them by myself. We’re hoping to schedule many of them again this year.
Another blessing for us (me really, as Cheryl couldn’t attend) was being asked to be a part of The Matt Carroll Family’s 10th anniversary concert, along with the Larry Delawder Family. Many of you know that Matt was our tenor back when we were a part-time quartet, and he and his family have meant a lot to us over the years. It’s hard to believe he, his wife, Deb, and their daughters, Ryleigh and Emma, have already had their own singing ministry for 10 years; and it was an honor that they asked Cheryl and me to be a part of their special night.
Our 2nd annual New Year’s Eve Gospel Sing and Soup Supper we held in Mexico, MO was a big highlight. Not only did Cheryl and I get to sing together, but she got to make the soups we provided (they were delicious). She also got to decorate the building, and it looked so festive and elegant. She enjoys doing things like that, and I know it truly had to be the highlight of her year ministry wise. Our special musical guests Gary Freeland, Hillsong Duet, and Heirs Together all did a great job. Also, to help make it a great evening, we were blessed to have friends from as far away as Nebraska and Iowa attend.
Finally, we traveled 16,287 miles as a ministry this year with no accidents, injuries or breakdowns. The Lord has been so good to us as we’ve traveled over the years, and we are so grateful for His protection during all the miles we’ve logged as Ambassadors of Grace over the last 18 years.
As we enter our 19th year of ministry we want you to know how much your prayers, encouragement and support have meant to us. We’re unsure of what this year will bring for us concerning Cheryl’s ability to travel, but we are convinced that God still wants the ministry to continue. Therefore, we are scheduling concerts for 2022 to continue spreading the Gospel to the lost and encouraging and strengthening Christians in their everyday life, even if I have to do much of the traveling by myself. We know there will come a day when Cheryl will be able to be back on the road, and we are praying it will be this year, if the Lord wills.
We consider all of you who have any part in our ministry as partners who allow us the great privilege of serving the Lord through song. We hope you know we mean it from the bottom of our hearts when we say this ministry is all….