Saturday, January 31, 2009

Not A Missions-Fest-Virgin Anymore

The phone rang while I was still in bed.
"Hi. It's Janice. Want to hear Tony Campolo speak tonight?"
"Uhhh. Sure. I think I'm free. I'll let you know by noon."

At noon I facebooked her and told her I was good to go.
Her reply:
"I'd like to get there in time to walk through the booths. . . next to the MCC Fair, this is my favorite festival. . . can we leave by 5?"

I do not schmooze.
I do not go to events hunting down people I might know from somewhere.

I was going to Listen to A Famous Speaker and take notes.
She was going to look for folks with friendly faces that she could talk to, hug, connect with, give business cards to...
This was going to be like attending the MCC Fair (or the PNE, or any funeral, or even the Mall) with my dad (in the olden days).

We are so terribly unlike.

I got home from work at 4:30 and filled up the tub with warm bubbly water. I was allowing myself 30 minutes to focus on myself. Drew was snowboarding with one of Clint's friends and his supper was not my concern. Clint doesn't usually come home on Friday nights, and Max? If he was going to be home? There were a number of quick meal options ...

So... 10 minutes in the tub, 10 minutes on my hair and face, and 10 minutes to figure out what to wear and get myself organized for a night in Vancouver. (No camera to bring, it's on it's way to Phoenix with my supervisor ... but I should scrounge around for some cash, maybe a water bottle, a notebook, pen, gum, loose change for parking...)

And then Max says, "What's for supper?"
"Uhh. I'm going out. Can you help yourself to something?"
"Is there anything to eat in this house besides leftovers? I'm kinda hungry for something that's not like Campbells soup or frozen pizza."

In a moment of pure parental sacrificial giving, I skimmed 10 minutes off of "me" time and said, "How about, before I go, I make you bacon and eggs and toast..."

I zip upstairs, drop my work clothes on the floor, and am ready to hop into a bubbly mass of warm, slightly scented welcoming water, when the phone rings.
"Hi, It's Janice. Can you be ready in 15 minutes? I have to drop this kid here, and then this kid needs to go there and Peter hasn't left work yet and I'll be at your place at 4:45, OK?"


I refuse to waste the water so I hop in for a 2-minute-escape.

And then the rush is on.
NOTHING to wear. (I end up wearing 2 mismatched socks and a sweater vest with nothing underneath. Well, I had my bra on, but no shirt or anything. Vests are supposed to be the top layer of something. And for me, they were my only layer.)
I apologize to Max for 10 consecutive minutes for not having time to make him a real meal that leaves a mess in the kitchen.

Janice arrives just as I'm borrowing $20 from Clint's desk. I put on a hoody, slide my feet into red shoes (What was I thinking when I bought them? I SO should have bought black) and I grab my purse that has no pen and no notebook and probably no wallet in it.

We drop off her kids, then join the line-up on the freeway and inch forward towards Vancouver at 10 miles-per-hour. After finding parking and running to the bathroom (for her, not me) we find seats in the auditorium at 6:46 pm - two hours after we left my house.

She looks at her iphone to confirm the time, then she says something to the fellow sitting beside her.
"We have 15 minutes to go walk around! This nice young man says he'll watch our seats for us. Come on! Let's go. No point sitting here. We might know someone in the booths area..."

We leave our seats and rush to the room next door where various Christian Ministries have set up their booths. Missions, Bible Schools, Camps ... We are half way up the first aisle and she pokes a guy and says 'hi'. She tells me she's known him forever. She introduces us:
"Hey, this is my friend, Jane. She's a writer."
WTF? (The F is for frig.) What is she talking about? I am speechless.
"Nice to meet you. What do you write?"
"I'm really not a writer. I'm a blogger. Totally different."
"What's your blog address?"
Janice cuts in, "It's picsandprose. It's good. She has such a faithful following. My hairdresser reads her every morning."
"So what's it about?" He asks.
"Really," I say, "You'd find it boring. It's a mom blog."
"Oh, so only moms read it?"
Again, Janice interjects, "No, she has a varied readership. She's a single mom with three fabulous boys and..."
"Oh," he asks, "What school do your boys go to?"
"Fun to be mental," Janice answers for me.
He looks at me, "I have two kids there too. What grades are yours in?"
"My older two are 18 and 21, so they've finished school, but my 14 year old is in grade 9."
"Mine are in grade 4 and 8. Plus my older daughter is at Poppy."
"My older two went to Poppy too."
"What is your last name?" he asks.
I tell him.
"Oh my goodness! I bought Clare's house!"
I am stunned.
Janice looks bewildered.
"Clare is the other ex-wife in the family," I say.

We chat a few more minutes and then race back to our seats just as the evening program gets underway. The worship leader is straight out of the '70's in every way imaginable. There is even an organ on stage. I am transported back to Killarney Park MB Church in a surreal time warp. And I am hot. The mother of all hot flashes is burning me up from the inside out. Some people may suggest this could have been the Holy Spirit or some such spiritual awakening. Others might conclude it was probably that peri-menopausal thing I'm bound to experience one of these days. Still, others would say it's becuase I am carrying around an extra hundred pounds of Jane. But I say they had the heat turned up toooo high.

Holyhannah. I could barely breathe.

Janice is nudging me and I turn to watch her struggle out of her jacket.

"Hot in here," she whispers.

I have a choice. Sit there, baste-ing in my sweat, with my hoody on, covering my vest-with-nothing-underneath, or taking off my hoody and revealing All That Arm and Chest Flesh to those sitting near by. I took the hoody off.

"Oh, look!" Janice whispers. "There's the R family! I'm going to sneak over and say hi."

She comes back and says, "They were happy to know you're here too. You're supposed to go over and say hi after...

I happen to know that one of the R's is hurting badly from a relationship break-up, and I've been praying for her daily for the past few weeks. I was glad she was here...

And then? Then the gal in the upswept hair do in the long black velvet skirt with the classically trained worbly voice, led us in singing Faithful One. And BAM. Just like that it was 1999 and I was in the gym at Pacific Academy singing this song with the rest of the Fraser Heights Church congregation hanging on to those words with both hands while navigating through a brand new life as a single mom:

"Faithful one, so unchanging

Ageless one, you're my rock of peace

Lord of all I depend on you

I call out to you, again and again I call out to you, again and again

You are my rock in times of trouble

You lift me up when I fall down

All through the storm

Your love is, the anchor

My hope is in You alone"

I thought of my young, sad friend, sitting a few rows ahead of me, and hoped the words to this song were healing the hurt in her heart. I prayed while we sang, that she'd be putting her hope in Him. And that she'd let Him lift her up, now while she's so down.

Really? By the time Tony finally got to the podium to challenge us on our choices regarding consumerism and missions, I was spent. It's exhausting being in public.

However, all the thoughts cluttering my brain, and all the feelings floating in my soul, faded to nothing when Tony started talking. Oh My Goodness - what a powerful speaker. So motivating. So challenging. So real. So, so good. Wishing I'd brought a notebook, I ended up jotting down notes, with a dull pencil onto the (rare) blank spaces on latest edition of the BC Christian News Newspaper.

I can't read any of those notes now. They look like the drunken scribbles of a mad woman.

When he was done, there was the obligatory alter call, and even if I had decided to go forward, there was no forward to go to. It was just that crowded. Janice and I chatted with the R's, then made our way out of the hall.

"Oh," I said, finally recognizing someone on my own. "There's Nelson!"

Janice was keen to be introduced to him. She loves people. All people. I wish it were infectious.

So, we chatted with him, then his parents and with 15 minutes left, we rushed back into the booth section. As we walked through the crowded hallway, she said, "Just look Jane. Look at all these Christians we don't know yet. Someday we'll know them all!"

She went from booth to booth, talking to anyone and everyone. I went at my own pace, which was significantly faster than hers, kept my head down, picking up brochures as samples of grahic work we could reference at Arrow. They were turning off the lights and locking the doors, when she finally admitted it was over for the eveing.

We walked outside to enjoy a breath of fresh air and take a look at the big city, when she bumped into another fellow she's known for 20 years. His first question to her was, "When are you going to get me on Oprah?"

She replied, "When you've got a book."

And can I tell you about this guy's life? You can read it for yourself, here, on his website. But if you're not into researching or following links (you obviously have a low first number in your Kolbe profile) let me share the highlights:

- He wants to go to the Oscars. He needs an "in", so he thought he'd ask a high profile, single actress to be his date. This week, he is taking out a half page ad in the Los Angeles Times newspaper with these words, "Anne Hathaway. Will you be my date for the Oscars?"

- He wanted to be on The Apprentice so badly that he spent over $30,000 auditioning for a spot.

- He has written a book/treasure hunt where the treaure is worth $1,000,000. The book has 12 chapters/clues/stories written by 12 different authors from around the world, with 12 smaller treaures. If, after reading a chapter, you want to guess where that chapter's treasure is, you email him. If you are correct, he'll give you $1,500 to travel to that location and retrieve that treaure. Why has he done this? To raise One Hundred Million Dollars for Breast Cancer Research.

- What's his story? In a 4 year period 15 people close to him died. (One of them, his brother's wife, was diagnosed with breast cancer just weeks after getting pregnant. She chose to remain pregnant for 25 weeks, then have an early delivery and deal with the cancer. They took the baby at 25 weeks and she, his sister-in-law, died the next day. The baby, now a 4 year old girl named Hannah, is doing well. During this time period, he was hit by a drunk driver and suffered from massive injuries including a broken neck and brain injuries. He was told he'd never be the same again. He's a bit of a fighter, so against the odds, has recovered fully.

Really. Just go check out his websites. And then watch the Oscars to see if Anne took him up on his offer.


Extroverts derive energy from engaging in people.

Introverts are exhausted by it.

Which is why I'm blogging about last night now. I was wiped when I got back home at midnight.


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Friends who are not like me.

2. New experiences. (How is it that I'd never been to Missions Fest before? What kind of Christian am I anyway?)

3. Speakers who ROCK.



Anonymous said...

Did you have to use my name? I'm a bit shy and was hoping to remain anonymous. . .

Jane said...

Knowing how shy you are, I didn't link to your blog. But I will if you want.

Anonymous said...

I love it! Janice is one of the biggest schmoozers I've ever observed working a crowd. And the amazing thing is she doesn't just do it on a superficial level about the weather or who won the last hockey game. She's a Master Schmoozer.