Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Introvert vs WAVE

So. Lemme tell you about WAVE.

The jobsearch is drier than the middle of Australia and all I really want to do at the moment is eat chocolate and watch a Miyazaki film and it's too early in the day to do either. So, in the aim of being productive, let me elucidate to you what it was like for an antisocial introvert to work on a kids section at WAVE.

For the readers who aren't my Novocastrian friends, WAVE is a summer kids club that my church runs in January. I signed up to be part of the thing about halfway through last year.

I remember that because it was a couple weeks before my car accident, when me and the other Swift driver at church jokingly made a pact that whoever's car died first would serve as an organ donor to the other car.

Don't make jokes like that. Also, give way at intersections when you have to cross them.

I'm good at segues.

I already knew was WAVE was. It's like, the biggest event on Hunter Bible Church's calendar. We go absolutely mental with telling the gospel to Newcastle for a week. I don't think I'd been asked to do it before, but that's mostly because when someone at church walks up to me and says 'Kids ministry?' I have a habit of throwing smoke bombs and batmanning off.

Kids are weird. They weird me out, with their ability to run for ages and ages and their noses which run for about the same amount of time, and they're sticky, and I don't understand them. I don't understand most people. And yet if you put me in a situation when I have to look after kids, I go all Nee-san on the situation, because that's what I am - the oldest of four, used to picking up after my siblings and looking after them and trying to get them to help me clean the house before Mum comes home.

But I'd been asked on three separate occasions, by three different people if I wanted to do WAVE, so after some prayer I was like 'maybe this is God giving me a nudge to give it a go'. So I said yes, aware that seven months out of D-day, I would be out of my comfort zone.

Fast-forward those seven months, through the soul-grinding harlem shake that was June, past my apathy when realising that I was investing my time in something that was temporal and wouldn't have any impact past my lifetime (pretty much anything to do with this world), the existentialism and the small successes I had with cosplay, through December and holidays and two weddings, and then WAVE was there in all of its being.

I don't actually have a lot of photos.
Combination of busy and child-protection.

The group of kids I worked with, and the team I was part of worked with, were the Skittles. Four and five years old.

Prior, we'd divvied up different responsibilities in the team, so there'd be folks working on craft, and folks giving a talk about Jesus, and I got the job of being our MC or character, since that was probably actually the easiest thing for me to do.

Y'all know I make costumes. Y'all know about the cosplay, and how it's easier for me to become someone else in order to deal with problems.

We had a tent to work in with the kids, and thusly we became the Skittle Circus. I donned my tophat and waistcoat, and performed magic tricks to grab attention of the kids. Despite the fact that all but one of them were planned the day before, they seemed to go well.

Day one's trick involved hair.

But that was only part of WAVE. The whole thing was far more than merely babysitting for two and a half hours. During that time there was play and entertainment, yes, but there was also the sharing of scripture - of learning about the God-man Jesus, and specifically, about the people he interacted with and made new.

Because that was our theme for the week - that Jesus makes people new and specifically, that He can make us new.

Interacting with four and five year olds is interesting. You can impart really important knowledge to them, but at the same time, not be completely certain whether or not they understood or remembered it. But come Friday, there were kids who could remember back to the beginning of the week, kids who were asking more, and being challenged with comprehending how a relationship with the Creator of the universe works.

Which is kind of cool.

At the same time, we got to hear about how things were going with the other age groups over lunch with the rest of the folks involved in WAVE. All through different age groups, there were kids hearing the gospel, asking questions - actively wrestling with the ideas we were talking about. Which is hugely encouraging. There were kids committing their lives to Christ, and that's probably the coolest thing that happened.

So even though there wasn't earth-shattering revivals going on in our sauna of a tent, we were part of, sharing in, what was going on in other places. They shared their triumphs with us, and we shared the story of our fearless leader getting urinated on.

But like I said, that wasn't the only part of WAVE. While we were looking after five bajillion yelling kids, their mothers and fathers were hanging around in the coffee tent, being served with free barista-made coffee and equal portions of the same gospel we were sharing with the kids.

And then in the afternoon, after we'd been run flat by the kids, eaten and had enough time to nap, we reassembled and went out again, in twos and threes, knocking on the doors of Newcastle, asking if there were folks that wanted to have a breather and bring their delightful children to the kids club, and also asking people what they thought about Jesus.

This was an interesting experience. Day one was the hardest - as Nick and I walked from house to house, I remember him talking about how doorknocking is simultaneously the most encouraging and discouraging thing to do. Because you can knock on six doors and only get answers from three of them. One of those three immediately shuts the door again, one tells you that they either already go to church or you find out they have a serious bone to pick with their idea of Christianity, and once in a while, the last door opens up and you have a conversation with someone who will entertain you standing on their doorstep and talking about this Jesus man for a little.

Sometimes those conversations are really hard, because they've got something that is difficult to talk about with a complete stranger. Sometimes those conversations are frustrating, because of previous ideas and how those are supposed to fit together when you talk to a guy about Jesus and he immediately wants to know about the Exodus. And sometimes they're searching. Sometimes they're genuinely interested in this Christianity business.

And when you have a conversation with one of them, suddenly the fifteen doors you knocked on earlier which were not having a bar of it don't weigh so heavily. It's worth it. It's so worth it, to be sitting at lunch with everyone else and recapping how things went in our different sections and someone stands up and tells you about how there were kids in their section, or adults in the coffee tent, because someone knocked on their door. It's worth it to walk away from a door and realise that they've had the gospel spoken to them, perhaps for the first time.

Because I believe the gospel is worth that. That Jesus is worth that.


Let me explain you another thing.

In case you've not read anything else on my blog before, in case you've never met me or known me very well, it will help you to know what kind of person I am.

I am not an extrovert, is the best way to begin. Although I love to go to conventions full of people, and enjoy sitting in a room full of people, I am not an extrovert, in a society that reckons you need to be an extrovert to get places.

Why do you think I enjoy pretending to people who can handle the situation I'm faced with?

A good night for me would look like sitting on a couch with a bunch of close friends and us geeking out over something inconsequential but fun; getting lost in worlds of fiction; playing a pen-and-paper RPG until two in the morning.

So to say that WAVE put me out of my comfort zone is an understatement. I was so far out of my comfort zone that I could no longer see that zone. The closest I got to that zone was being a ringmaster for the five minutes a day it took to gather the kids into the tent, sit them down, and then pull scarves out of nowhere. Dressing up and pretending to be someone else.

Knocking on a complete stranger's door and greeting them with "Hi, I'm Brooke and this is Nick, and we're from Hunter Bible Church and..."

That's out of my comfort zone.

But you know what?

That week - that week of madness, of getting to bed and midnight and leaving my house at 7:20AM, of herding kids and knocking on doors - that week was totally worth it.

It was worth the stomach-churning anxiety that happened when I knocked on doors in Lambton.

It was worth the complete exhaustion that took a week to recover from.

Because in that week, I saw the gospel go out to Newcastle, and I saw seeds sown in people's lives and people come to have faith in Christ Jesus. I saw people made new. I saw my own faith grow, as I watched the change and saw confirmed in hearts and flesh that Jesus stuff was going on, and it was good.

So, even though I would be a total ball of anxiety over it, even though I would be drawn to the point of exhaustion faster than that time I thought I could make a suit of space armour in ten weeks, I would do WAVE again.

Jesus is worth it.

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