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Volcano makes trip longer for choir

An Icelandic volcano that snared air travel in Europe for days turned into an unexpected blessing for a community choir from Suffolk.

The Higher Praise Community Choir, which includes members from Hampton Roads cities, visited Paris, France for a concert tour that was planned for April 9-19. They performed in several churches, conducted workshops and taught music throughout the country. At several concerts, they were accompanied by Thierry Francois and the TF Gospel Singers, who last year performed several concerts in Hampton Roads, and Higher Praise also performed with Frank Davis, a professional singer with the Golden Gate Quartet of Paris.

“We had a really good time,” said the Rev. Brenda Boone, founder of the choir.

The group’s first 10 days were packed with concerts and other scheduled events, including the Catholic church in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris. However, as they prepared to return to America, the volcano Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland began to spew lava and ash, wreaking havoc on air travel to and from European airports.

Delayed in Paris for what would eventually be an additional week, the choir took the opportunity to see the sights.

“I didn’t feel that we were really stuck,” Boone said. “We knew we would get home after a while. We knew that by prayers and dedication to the Lord … we knew that He would get us home in His time. We could not do anything, so we took the extra seven days and really toured Paris and had a good time.”

During their extended stay, the choir visited the Eiffel Tower, Wine Country and other tourist destinations in France, while bonding with the staff at their hotel, Boone said.

“We couldn’t see the volcano smoke, but we could smell it,” Boone said. “We knew that it was out there, but we had a good time.”

The choir finally arrived back in the United States on April 26, but got stuck in Philadelphia, Pa. because of poor weather. After staying overnight in Philadelphia, the choir finally returned to Norfolk International Airport on April 27.

“God is continuously doing great and might things in Higher Praise Community Choir,” said Boone, who added the choir will be traveling to other states and countries again soon. “God said that this is just the beginning of greater things to come.”