Playing on a train
Murphy said the band sought out all kinds of venues. Organizers with the mission board told them to “to be more than flexible, be fluid” when looking for places to play their music and engage people along with other bands from around the world, Murphy recalled.
That meant pulling out their instruments on a commuter train that spanned the 92 miles of Sochi and the neighboring village of Adler where the Olympic Park was erected and most of the events took place.
“People were just so receptive on the train,” he said. “People took videos. They danced with us. It was a lot of fun. And after we were done, the guy from the International Mission Board who was with us, Marc Hooks, would say in Russian, ‘Thank you folks, this is a group of Americans playing a type of music called bluegrass and we just want to say that Russians and Americans are friends.’”
Even Sochi security officials joined in the dancing, Brackin said. The band later learned they shouldn’t have had instruments on the train, which was against security protocol because weapons can be concealed in them. They were only asked to stop playing on their final train ride, having to send their instruments to the airport by bus.
“People were upset,” Brackin recalled. “They wanted us to continue and got mad at the security people. We told them, we didn’t mind. We didn’t want it becoming a big deal.”
Between playing on the train and finding public venues — including outside the Team U.S.A. House where athletes and their relatives and friends hung out — the trip was a blur, the band said. It’s possible somewhere in that blur they played for famous athletes, Brackin said, but wasn’t sure of anyone specific. Murphy said he was able to watch several hockey games.
Godwin said she had two chance encounters with a British bobsledder named Joel Fearon, once at the Moscow airport and later in Sochi when the two recognized each other. Fearon’s team placed fifth in the Olympics.
“He was just like, ‘Oh, hi, how lovely to see you again,’” she said. “It was really cool.”
The point of the trip wasn’t to meet athletes, but to “meet strangers and tell them about Christ’s love,” Godwin said.
“Never in a million years would I have imagined going,” she said. “And now, I can’t imagine not doing it. It felt like home.”’