Among the multitude of blessings that came from our Catholic Hospitality Centre was the chance to meet many people from near and afar, believers and non-believers, each person with his or her own unique story and experiences.
One of my most memorable encounters occurred about half-way through the 17-day Olympics. A group of young female teens was hanging out in our Centre, happily downing hot chocolate and checking their Facebook accounts in our “café.” Seeing a good opportunity to do some relational ministry (I don’t get to do as much with teens as I’d like to), I approached them and introduced myself.
After they rattled off their names, I asked them if they had any specific plans for their downtown trek that day. They replied that they were waiting for a concert by the “Stereos.”
“Oh, that’s cool,” I replied, “Who are they?”
Nothing could have prepared me for their reaction. They all dropped their collective jaws in unison, their eyes piercing through me as if I had just violated all 10 Commandmens and hence committed the gravest sin in history.
One girl offered, “Are you kidding? You actually don’t know who they are?” I guess I should have known that they have had Canadian Top 10 hits such as “Summer Girl” and “Throw Ya Hands Up.”
‘That’s why I asked who they were!”
Another girl shot back, “Well have you heard of MuchMusic?”
I thought about giving a sarcastic response such as “Heard of MuchMusic? Well of course…I was on the darn channel on Electric Circus with Monika Deol! Have YOU heard of that show or of her?” (It’s true…see the video here).
I decided against this blatantly sarcastic response, and went with a more measured response instead: “Yes, channel 24. The station that plays all the music videos, right?”
They giggled and continued, “Well, the Stereos were on the show disBAND.”
I didn’t want to send them into cardiac arrest by telling them that I actually knew of the show, so I just made some small talk, finding out their ages and what schools they went to. I then asked them what time the show was.
“9:30pm at the Alberta House.”
I shot a quick glance at my watch…it was only 1:15pm. Using my amazing math skills, I surmised that the show was still over 8 hours away. “Well, feel free to hang out here as long as you’d like,” I said genuinely.
So the girls went off to do their thing, as did I. A few minutes later, I saw them huddling near our prayer wall, giggling as they wrote on our prayer sheets.
I approached the wall, casually trying to decipher what they were writing. It wasn’t too hard, as their bright green writing and drawings of happy faces and hearts gave them away. They had written messages like “I love the Stereos”, “the Stereos are hot”, and other similar sentiments.
I turned to them once again and said, “Hey ladies…it’s cool you’re here and that you’re exploring the Centre, but please know that these sheets are actually for prayer requests or to sign your name.” I didn’t bother explaining that some messages had become “greetings to our athletes” as opposed to prayer intentions.
I continued, “So please keep that in mind as you write stuff up.” I was cognizant that I may have been coming off as a stuffy old man. “But truly, I’m glad you’re here and feel free to stay as long as you’d like.”
“Thanks” came the quiet reply, and they left soon afterwards. Upon seeing them leave, I was concerned that they had only left just to escape me and my watchful eye. I laid these concerns to rest as they returned five minutes later, this time with a couple of more friends.
They went straight to the prayer wall and I turned away pretending not to notice. A few minutes later, they went back to the computers, likely to update their Facebook statuses with something like “Can’t wait for the Stereos show, but I’m not sure if I can handle the Catholic Police for another 8 hours.”
As I approached the prayer wall to see their latest contribution, I broke out into boisterous laughter followed by a smile that went from ear to ear. These spirited girls were quite bright, if not funny. In bright pink writing, for all the world to see, one of the girls had written:
“Me and Jesus love the Stereos.”
Now how can one argue with that? I was truly glad they had come, indeed.