So, as all of you would know (surely), I've just spent a week down at Surfers Paradise, volunteering with the Red Frogs, basically showing the schoolies there Christ's love by serving and looking out for them. While I was there, I was insightful enough to write out a few notes of what happened on each days, so I could post here as a testimony to how God works in places where it's most needed.
So I left on the 25th, after Paula's musical audition, and band practice with y'all (yes, I had my harmonica with me!!). A big thanks to Paula for driving me down! I'd have found my way, but it was good of her to do so :-). I wandered around looking for where to sign up, found it eventually, signed up, got my photo taken, they didn't ask for my blue card... and helped them move stuff into a ute. Found out my hotel, walked to it and went to meet my team. I'd heard that one of the members had red dreadlocks. He meets me in the foyer of the hotel, I tell him his reputation preceeds him (with the dreads), and we go up and say g'day to the rest.
Ahh, my team. Y'know, I'm certain that God was lookin' out for me when He picked the team I would be assigned to, I was so blessed to be a part of it. They were all from Woolongong, near Sydney, and very very devoted to God, quite an inspiration. We'd usually spend nigh on half an hour praying before heading out. More on that later though...
So the team consisted of Lauren (the leader), Brendan, Anna, Louise, Sarah and myself. They were members of a church called “Lighthouse”, and most of them were biol students. Lighthouse was a pentecostal church, from what I gathered. Interesting that they don't consider themselves protestant, which I found confusing at first. This would be my first prolonged experience with a group of pentecostal people (man, writing it like that makes it sound so negative :p), as I said before, more on that later.
Saturday, 25th Nov
First night, should be good. We spent half an hour or so praying before we hit the hotel. Lauren was doing the praying in tongues thing, I spent some time analysing it, because I'd read that some linguists had analysed it, and said it is quite repetitive, and basically made up by people. It basically sounded liked “shoo tetetete” over and over (with slight variation in number of “te”s). So that confirmed that. Another thing I noticed was that the prayer was very... long winded, I guess you'd say. That's another thing I've sort of had a problem with too, people that go in depth, quote scripture, explain things to God, and so on. And a lot of symbolism and things were involved there too, like “cover us in Your blood from the tip of our heads to the bottom of our feet”, along with the armor of salvation fully explained every time... yeah, you get the picture. I feel I'm complaining about the team – I'm not, they were great :).
From there, we basically walked around up to the 10th floor of our hotel (it had 31), and introduced ourselves to people. Not many people knew about us – NSW high schoolers aren't told of our presence, it seems, so we got real good at explaining what we do, real fast. We handed out a bunch of cards with our support number on it, and found out quite a bit about each person. Also caught wind that there'd be a party in 6D on Monday (though we heard this from the 7th floor people, not the 6th floor people. We made a mental and paper note of that one, we'll crash it then!
We also met Andre – one of the security guards. He's a machine, he did 149 hours over 8 days. We took care of him always bringing him free starbucks coffee and dinner and whatever else we could.
Having had enough of the hotel, we thought we'd check out Cavill Ave, and the beach. It was less busy than expected (but still loads of people), though the reason for that was twofold – the schoolies come 'staggered' over 2 days, and there's not many NSW/Vic schoolies compared to the Qld ones. Which reminds me... week 1 had 500ish red froggers, we had about 80. Anyway, we hit the streets and talked to people who looked like they wanted talking to.
A few interesting things happened before we got to the beach. It was pretty crowded and full on, I made it a duty of mine to make sure that there's no team member left talking to someone on their own, which is important. I spotted Lauren talking to this guy [I won't name any names]. I came in halfway through the conversation, but found out that his mum was Christian, and has been praying for him, but Steve was still doing some searching, and having run with a bad crowd recently (just got out of jail). He was fairly open, Lauren was doing most of the talking, and ended up asking if we could pray for him, for him to resolve some issues with confidence and etc. He let us pray for him, and we did, and he thanked us, and we kept on going. He's in God's hands now, really.
While that was going on, Anna and some others had been talking to this girl, and she had a messed up ankle (sprained or otherwise sore). Anna is interesting in that the Holy Spirit has decided to bestow the gift of healing. Quite out there, yeah? I thought so. They prayed for her, and the ankle felt better. I only heard the girl say it afterwards, and that's all we really got there. Still, quite amazing.
Went down to the beach afterwards, talked to some people, checked out the stage (the Red Frog stage had the most people!!), and talked to some more people. Anna ran into a girl who had become seperated from her friends, and was quite distraught, as her hotel was in labrador (about 5 or 10min drive north). We comforted her and started praying and scouring the beach with her to find the friends. After a couple of circuits, she found a group she knew (though not the people she was staying with), and joined in there. And all but ignored us after that. Ahh, thankless serving.
Went to see the street chaps from student life after that – Damo is sick, so I've been praying for him. Couldn't chat for long though, had stuff to do. Well, not that much to do. We went back to the hotel, had a conversation with a supremely drunk guy about evolution. For the record, drunk people talk and don't listen. Wish I'd picked that up earlier. We went back to the hotel room at about 2am that night, fairly early really, and slept. Not a very good sleep, as I was on the couch, but a sleep nonetheless
Sunday, 26th Nov
What's wrong with this Sunday? No church! But it was ok I guess, we were serving God well. And serve we did – there was another team (with 1 member) who had a call for pancakes at 9am in the morning. Anna and I joined with Rach to cook them pancakes. Wasn't an extremely spiritual conversation, but I think we made an impression that Christian people go alright. Most conversations go as follows: “So, do you guys get paid?”, “Nah, actually, we have to pay for food and that”, “Eh? Why would you do that?”, and then a spiel about Jesus and churches and how we found out about it and all that. There wasn't anything else to follow on from that though, but the pancakes we made were awesome, I must say.
Went back to the hotel for some quiet time – I read Romans 2, which basically said not to judge others. I thought initially it would be very relevant – it's very easy to pass judgement on drunk, drugged, naked schoolies, so I made sure to watch that. The interpretation of the Word was different later on in the day, though. Also read something in 2nd Samuel, where David gets punished for taking a Census of the population. That taught me from the very start of the week that I should not count the number of people I bring to Christ, or help, or anything like that. It's not important. I took note of that and had a nap, I was tired.
Evening came, we ate, and Rachel's team needed me for that night *sniff* I have a night away from my awesome hotel and team. It really made me realise how great my team was. That sounds bad, but it's true unfortunately.
We started off by going to Long Beach Hotel which, truthfully, was a total pain in the butt. The manager of that hotel was really strict, wouldn't let us take the red frogs up, and they didn't have a pre-prepared list of the rooms with the schoolies in it...we spent about 1/2 hr in reception before heading to the top and beginning to work our way down. Because we couldn't bring frogs up, it was like knock knock, hi, how are you? Good to hear. So... We're red frogs, but we don't have any. But here's a card with our number if you need it. Bye! It was really hard to get in without the frogs. After 4 or 5 floors we got a call out for a pending eviction about 8 or 9 blocks north (20-30 min walk). That's where things started to really drag for tonight.
I took the pending eviction to be fairly high priority, the others did not, and proceeded quite slowly to go down to the reception and ask for the location of the hotel. We sort of discovered how far away it was, rang home base and asked if there was any closer teams that were free... apparently not... The team didn't wanna walk it, they thought we'd catch a taxi. We were told there'd be a 45 min wait on taxis, being schoolies, and ugh. The leader of the team wasn't doing anything for initiative, so I kind of tried to there – I'm like “Look, there's an eviction, we've already spent a tonne of time here ringing home base, finding the location of the hotel, let's start walking”. They wanted to take the long way (via a main road), and hail a taxi if it was free. Of course, there were none free, and the time it took to get them moving even that far...ugh, I was praying hard for the boys and the manager.
The directions we were given was it was near the GCI hotel. About half an hour walk later (no rush, right?), we get to the GCI and start asking for hotel names. The girl who answered the phone didn't write down the hotel name, and we all had different ideas on what the hotel name was. They were fairly certain it was something, I suggested we call home base and double check, but of course, they knew better. We bugged the GCI reception on more precise locations, the hotel name was wrong, they couldn't find it AT ALL, and still wouldn't call back home. 20mins later, they eventually call home base, the name was completely wrong, and within half a minute we had the location and were on our way.
“Don't judge others.” Yes, God was telling me not to pass judgement on my team. I prayed hard about that, and kept praying that the manager was keeping his cool about the possible evictees. We made our way to the apartment. Turns out the prayers were answered, the boys were still in there. Apparently they'd thrown a bottle off the balcony, which is grounds for eviction (you'd kill someone easily doing that). The manager just wanted someone to fess up, but none of them knew who did it. We talked it through, didn't really reach a conclusion, but things were made more clear to the manager and the schoolies in the room. They didn't get evicted. Victory!
We went back to HQ to restock on frogs and stuff, and to pick up another team member who had just gotten in then. Richard, his name was. Great guy. We got a call out to a hotel nearby the other one, so we went that way. A big walk later, we get there and talk to the guards, they know nothing of such a call out. So, people were tired, and we sat around there for a half hour or so before heading off to the beach
Nothing really of note on the beach. I ambushed a couple that were making out, and offered em red frogs. They found it quite funny and had some. Not sure if they continued making out afterwards. We then got a call that someone needed an escort home from the beach, so we did that, and I left the team as we were going past my hotel on the way back.
This was at about 2am, and my team had a pancake run at 2am, so it worked very very well. We made 3D some pancakes, stayed and chatted to em for like 2 hrs, went back to the apartment and slept. 2C wants to make us breakfast at 11am tomorrow morning :)
Monday 27th Nov
As we're sleeping, we get a knock on the door. I groggily get up to answer it, and it's the 2C girls asking if we're ready for breakfast yet. I'm like “Isn't that at 11am?”, after which they tell me it is now 11:15am...heheh. So I get everyone up and out and we head next door. They're makin' us pancakes!! Woo! I was half expecting bacon and eggs (because they had some of that the morning before) but pancakes is great too! :D:D, they're quite awesome.
We had a call for pancakes to be cooked at the hotel across the road, Surf Regency, it was a group of boys. Nothing of note here, we went back to our apartment, and got another call that room 31A needed cleaning. Top floor! Woo! The view was great! The room was actually cleaner than ours, but we did a quick clean up anyway, it was a great way to meet everyone there, which would prove valuable in future.
Went to dinner, and there was a BBQ happening tonight. Remember the 6th floor party that's happening tonight? Well, apparently the 6th floor people didn't want a party, so they left their rooms and stayed down here. We talked to heaps of them. Louise talk to some guy who had been “Christian” his whole life, I didn't catch much wind of that, but as we were leaving, she said she'd like to talk to him more. We ran into him a few days later and got his email and stuff. Also talked to another guy called bambi (strange name, no?), who'd recently had golden staf, and none of the doctors knew who it was. See, it's hardly ever passed on outside of hospital, so ... yeah. Anyway, one other guy went to a Catholic primary and high school, and was getting into some debates with Brendan about the legitimacy of the Bible.
We went to a few different rooms, nothing of note, so we decided to go out to Cavill, hit the streets. Ran into a guy who I like to call “Mr Religion”. He was a genius, pure genius. His most common line was “This is what you believe, you gotta know your stuff”. But yeah, he was quite drunk, and just reciting stuff he learnt in religion class, with no real belief. We offered to meet up with him later on for coffee and a more sober conversation, gave him our card and went on our way. Never heard from him after that, unfortunately.
We met a guy who was the God Son of one of the guys who started Hillsong, I didn't talk to him so I can't say much more there. We also met a really nice guy who was hoping to get into uni next semester, we've been praying for him to get into his degree. Yet another thing that we just won't know the outcome of. That was about it for tonight :-)
Anyway, I'm sick of writing for now... But expect more later