ACC in Japan

When people watch the African Children’s Choir perform they are sometimes unprepared for the emotional impact it will have on them and their own lives. The children’s joy and positivity in the face of hardship touches hearts, changes people’s prospective, and lifts spirits.

This impact was evident on a recent trip to Japan where the Choir children performed for victims of the 2011 Tsunami, bringing hope and faith to people in crisis.

Our Director of Development, Scott Lambie, was with the Choir on this tour and would like to share the below experience…

There are broken pieces of a tea pot embedded in the ground by my feet. Other debris surrounds it. Looking up, a river runs next to the flattened land that buries parts of vehicles, homes and boats. Most people saw this place on the news when the tsunami hit Japan in 2011. The reports showed water swelling quickly down the river pouring over the sea wall taking large boats into banks and bridges, tossing and turning them like little toys. The cars on the street opposite the seawall were swept by the water down the streets as sirens and loud speaker announcements alerted the highly populated area that a disaster was coming.

Looking back at the Choir children they are standing in a row studying a five story structure of rusted and mangled steel frame that stands alone in the middle of the desolate flattened flood plain. It used to be the city hall building. It was the place where the announcements and sirens warned and instructed. It’s a memorial now. It’s a place where almost fifty people courageously stayed to help warn the rest of their town to get out, a place where they all eventually died.  It’s a somber realization and the children quietly start to sing Amazing Grace before praying for the victims.

Japan building ruined

Buildings were ruined

Just down the road side, nestled on the side of a hill sits a temporary housing area. It’s where we are going next. We have a concert scheduled there. It’s where the people from this area live as they wait for their insurance claims and homes to be built. This land has been in their families for generations. They won’t move away, they’ll wait until they can rebuild. Each person in this housing area knows they are lucky to be alive. Relief and social workers rarely visit now. We wonder if a lively concert would be appropriate. Barnet, a past Choir child from Choir 5, now one of our Ugandan chaperones, breaks the somber mood and removes any doubt that the kids will bring some life back to this place. “We’re going to get these people to clap their hands and dance, we came all this way to bring joy to this place.” he convincingly announces as we board the bus.

It’s a long walk up the hill carrying drum bags and props. After two weeks of concerts and workshops, we have a pretty good feel for the Japanese culture and their response to the Choir children. A crowd gathers in the courtyard in this labyrinth of trailer homes. They’re stoic, the kids do a song and a dance and the chaperones encourage the audience to join in the rhythm. They stand and reluctantly begin to clap and move their feet. Reluctance turns to freedom and freedom is expressed with a smile and then a laugh. If there is a spirit within us that guides our thoughts, movements, attitudes and emotions, that spirit begins to collectively lift an entire group of people, from somber to joy, from ruin to hope.

ACC put on an uplifting workshop at the temporary housing area

ACC put on an uplifting workshop at the temporary housing area

We all share a common story. We all fall at some point and we all struggle to find our faith and a hope and sometimes when we fall we forget to keep looking for hope. Then a reminder comes. In this case the reminder comes through the eyes, smiles and songs of eighteen African children. Children selected from the most poverty stricken communities in Uganda, children with disarming hope and faith, a hope for a better future and an unbridled faith to change the world.

To help the African Children’s Choir continue to spread joy around the world, whilst being the ambassadors for the vulnerable children of Africa, please consider becoming a Friend of the Choir.


Update from Auntie Jenny

Here is a wonderful update from Auntie Jenny, one of our chaperones on Choir 38. It is a letter that she has written to her supporters and she has graciously agreed to share it with you all.

How do you see the world?

I have always seen shape and design wherever I look. I was that kid who always saw pictures in the clouds in the sky, in the grain on a wood door, and in the textured “spackling” on the ceiling. When you look for shapes and designs in the world around you, you see different things… every view, at every moment takes on new dimensions…

Each moment of these last 5 months has seemed more vivid than “every-day life” was before the tour. Being in a new place every day and sleeping in a new place almost every night keeps you on your toes. I feel like I notice details I never noticed before, and value things that I never thought would be important. On top of this personal journey, I am bringing 17 children along with me. The way that a child see’s the world is unique… but the way that a young child from Uganda looks and see’s the world in America is even more astounding. They see things that I don’t. They pick up on people’s actions and behaviors when I would assume that it would go right over their heads. They ask questions about the bible and question why our world does not operate as we know it should. I am amazed, I am blown away, and I want to stay in this place for as long as I can.

I want to get as close as I can to seeing the world in the way that my children do. Though it will never be possible for me to literally be in their shoes and see through their eyes, I have done my best to come as close as I can… the following includes many of the fun things we have done on tour, but instead of listing where we have gone, I’ll do my best to share how I saw a little bit of what my children were seeing…

Red Water:

One night our host was making Kool-Aid. The host had already poured the red powder into a clear pitcher and was then running cold water from the sink into the pitcher to make the drink. When Brivett (8) saw this, his eyes got huge and he looked frightened. I stood there and thought… why is he scared? What is he seeing… what does he see that I am overlooking? And then I realized it. I got down on his level and explained “Brivett… the water coming from the faucet is not bright red. Our host is making a special kind of juice. The water from the faucet is clear, and when it hits the red powder it turns the water red.” He was shocked to hear how we make “juice” sometimes, but was quite relieved to hear that the water running from the faucet indeed NOT “red”.

A Carnival:

I had the opportunity to attend a carnival with Alice (9) and Dorcas(8) in Phoenix, AZ. When we arrived our host began asking them what “rides” they would like to go on. They were completely confused… What is a ride? And how far way would the ride take them? I quickly suggested we stick to bouncy houses and inflatable slides and they were much more comfortable with this idea. As I was explaining to them about standing in line and taking their shoes off to bounce, they looked around with huge, wide eyes and took in all of the people, the colors, and the lights and energy that come with a carnival. I was wondering to myself: “what are they thinking? What stands out to them the most? The lights? The food? The sounds?” when Alice interrupted my thoughts “Auntie Jenny… all of these children… do they not have aunties or uncles to take care of them?” It was then that I saw what she was seeing… children running EVERYWHERE… completely unattended by any adults. To a child who is used to following every direction we give them, waiting quietly in lines for their turn, and never asking for anything extra… this was complete chaos… and the only solution she could think of was that they had no one to care for them… and she had compassion for them, feeling sad that they did not have an auntie to hold their hand… I praised her for being so good and not running around like crazy. I then had a blast watching Alice and Dorcas light up the whole carnival with their smiles of joy and excitement as they jumped in a bouncy house for the first time ever.


For three months the children prayed for snow. I mean earnestly prayed for snow… at bedtime, at meals, and during devotions each day. They had heard of it, they knew they could somehow make it into balls and throw it at each other… but they had never touched it… until… we were in Park City, UT. While eating breakfast with Gaster (8) and Timothy (7), I noticed the rain turn to snow! When I told them to look outside Gaster shouted “Praise God! Thank you God!” and fell to his knees in rejoice/excitement! When they finally went outside they did not know what to think… or say. Timothy tried desperately to scrape the tiny dusting of snow into his pockets to “save it for later.” Gaster was happy until his jacket hood fell backwards and then snow fell lightly on his head and he shouted “Owe! Owe! Owe! The snow is pinching me auntie! It is hot! No… it is cold! Ouch!” (he finally did adjust and loved it.) I guess not knowing what to expect would throw me off too! Later that day the whole choir was blessed with an hour of playing in 6 inches of snow altogether. Their prayers came true, and their dreams of snowballs, snowmen, and snow angels finally became a reality!

Christmas In America:

You have not seen excitement until you witness African children seeing a Christmas tree full of gifts for the first time ever! They are not hoping to get “what they asked for” because they did not ask for anything. My children were excited beyond belief to receive a candy cane… let alone all of the presents that our Choir 38 family was blessed with by many donors along the way. They were elated to open every single gift, even if they did not know what it was. One of my favorite moments was sitting next to Damalie (8) when she opened a portable CD player (for listening to music on the bus!) The wrapping paper flew off and she shouted “Hurray! Hurray” Praise God! Isn’t it beautiful! Oh it is so beautiful!… Excuse me Auntie… what is it?” When Damalie looks at a gift, her definition of its beauty is not based on what it can do for her, but instead its just the fact that it is for her. She saw it as beautiful, without even knowing what it was. I think we could all learn a lot by the way Damalie sees the world.

Well friends, I have many, many more things to tell you about, but I have surely already written too much. I hope that through these updates I can communicate to each of you how much your support for me being on this tour is changing my life… but even more so, I hope that you can SEE the difference you are making in the lives of each one of these children. They will never forget each of the “firsts” they had here in America, and because of supporters making this tour possible for them to see America, they will go home and get the gift of a lifetime… an education! Thank you for blessing my kids through your support for me!

Auntie Jenny

Host Family Transformed

Uncle Ryan, Bright, Richard and Emmason with the Rush Family

“Every single day, hour and moment has been a blessing. I view our lives as ‘before we knew the Choir’ and ‘now that we know the Choir’. Our lives have been forever transformed!”

From the Rush Family in New Jersey