Okay, now we have the official start on NTE. The morning, or night rather, wasn’t so great for me and Ben. As much as Josef’s voice carries when he talks, you certainly don’t want to hear it in the middle of the night in the form of snores. To reiterate, Josef snores as loud as he talks; well he snored that loud on the very first night. Funnily, me and Ben were awake at the same time and I heard Ben mumble out: “Is Josef snoring?” To which I mumbled back: “Yeah…”
That was night 1.
In the morning we were left with cornflakes and raisin bread from Baker’s Delight, and some other normal things like tea, coffee. So we just helped ourselves to whatever we felt like eating; it was all pretty laid back. But rather, there wasn’t much else to choose from, that’s okay. We were meant to have an official start at 9am, but just like on Wednesday night, people were late, driving back form the homes where they stayed overnight and so everyone came only at about 9:30am.
Brian gave another talk in the morning and then some more words to get us inspired and in the mood. Then there was a briefing on what it was that we were meant to do; and what tools we had for the job. The bottom thing for all mission work is, as Brian said, to remain faithful to God. The church had a lot of stuff to give to us, to hand out to the community, including this awesome gospel of Mark in the form of a magazine; it’ looks pretty cool. There was a Chinese version of the gospel which was less flashy. There was also Two Ways to Live thingies, in English and Chinese. The final thing the church had to give out was those *shudders* Colin DVDs *double shudders* I mean nothing against the man, I’ve just had my clash with his material a little too much for a number of events; I’d never think I’d have to see them again, and by the boxful as well. We were just meant to give those DVDs out to families with kids, obviously; it’s a pretty generous gift I guess.
At about 11am we finally set out on our first “mission”. Everyone was divided into 3 teams, by faculty: the law and med in 1 and the commerce people into 2 teams. One team was sent to the Mandarin Centre, another to a nursing home and the rest to do door knocking, in no particular order. We were sent to do door knocking first; the plan was to split into pairs, one guy and one girl. Unfortunately there were more girls than guys that came so the pairing thing didn’t go entirely according to plan. We were assigned blocks of houses to just go and knock, invite them to this Carol’s night at the church on Saturday night; then we were to try and, I suppose, get into some “God-chat”, anything from asking them what they thought about Christmas, to things as direct as what they thought about Jesus.
Went with Angelina “Leg” the first time round door-knocking. Was a bit iffy because neither of us had done door-knocking before; but because there was a lack of experienced people my only other time for doing “walk-ups” at Comm Core during the semester labelled me as “experienced”. Out first block was pretty huge and it did take nearly 2 hours to get it all done. The general procedure was as follows:
1) Get through the front gate
2) Ring door bell or knock door
3) Await a reply if any
4) Begin with “Good morning, how are you?”
5) Follow up with advertisement for Carols’ Night.
6) Ask about Christmas
As standard as that sounds, it was still pretty hard. The houses in the area all had weird gates which required a small sleight of hand to open. Most of the houses were empty at the time we visited, we’d wait about 10-15 seconds until we were sure that the house was empty. And then we’d just put a leaflet in their mailbox and move onto the next house. Some mailboxes had the classic “No Junk Mail” and “No Advertising Material” signs, so we didn’t give them any. I guess advertising our Carols’ Night does at least count as an advertisement.
We took turns being the ones that spoke to the residents. We got a lot of “no, we’re not interested” as should be expected. In a flat statement I would say this is because of the works of Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses. They’re the ones which obviously inspire this feeling of paranoia in people. So when we say the magic word “church”, they immediately label us as “religious organizations” and then simply won’t want to have a word with us. There was one house where on the front door there was a menacing laminated sign which was like:
1) Belong to a religious organization
Please leave. You are wasting your time…[and then some stuff about not being interested and wanting to just live in peace.]
I forget the wording exactly. They had a list of about 5 things, and religious organizations was at number 1, which was a real bummer.
Other houses had vicious dogs which barked like crazy when we rang the door bell. They were gnawing at the front door, or ramming the gate to the back yard; pretty scary and obviously meant the tenants weren’t at home. At another house we had a stingy person who had all these wonderful Christmas decorations in the front yard, it was a really lovely front yard. But when we went to talk to the person inside, we asked him: “Oh, we see you have a lot of Christmas decorations; do you celebrate Christmas?” To which we get a rude reply “No…bye.” The hell?
There was one really nice house though. After that scary dog incident, there was another house where the front door was completely wide open and a dog was sitting there right at the entrance, looking at us. I thought it was fake for a moment because it wasn’t barking at us or anything. We walked past the gate and I moved back and forth just to make sure the dog was actually looking at me. And then out of the blue, a man sitting on the porch behind a tree (we couldn’t see him) got up and made his presence known. So we finally proceeded to go up and talk to him. He was a really nice old man. And we found out that he was a strong Christian. He gave us a short “talk” on what Christmas meant for him and what Jesus means to him; it was pretty cool. The dog was really friendly and was walking around us. That was probably the highlight of the experience.
We came back for lunch at 12:30pm and in the afternoon we pretty much did the same thing again. Of course we had extra numbers for some reason this time; so although I could’ve gone door-knocking again, I stayed back with a few others to help with some admin stuff, which simply was just fixing up the banner for Saturday night.
That night, we had the people of the church take us out to dinner. The girls just went back with the people they were staying with, while the guys were separated and invited out to dinner by different people. Me and Ben were lucky enough to go to dinner with Brian; had a lot of “ooh” going on beforehand. Anyway, yeah Brian was really nice in letting us choose where to eat. We weren’t picky so we just went to Hong Kong De Cafe like near the station, it was called Hong Kong Kitchen, but same Chinese words.
We all ordered some food, said grace, and then we had some pretty in depth conversation relating to church (obviously!). Brian went on and gave us some background information about where Australia, or even Sydney stands as a Christian nation, giving us the demographics and statistics which sort of suggested how “bad” a situation we are all in, in terms of the number of Christians and such. Never know why we were never told about the big picture of Sydney; which so justifies the hard work of organizations like RICE. Brian also talked about the impact of this time of year for churches; like for example, newcomers seeking a church around new year’s, but then conferences like next gen taking the pastors away from their church so they can’t welcome these new people, and such.
At the end of the night, we were about to pay the bill, and it was only at this time where we all sort of glared at each other; obviously having the same Asian thought in our minds: “I need to get to the bill.” That night was a 2v1 match, me and Ben versus Brian. We struggled and tried to argue our way to him, but obviously he had some better points which does make sense that he should be shouting us. Anyhow, we got to the front counter and for a split second we both got distracted and he managed to grab the bill as it came around, shoved his $50 on it and handed it back. We lost. But then again we’re not so good at this game yet, being so young, and pov I suppose. Ben later bought Brian some coffee from McDonald’s on the way back.
And that was Thursday. Went back, had a short Bible study, then slept.