Exhausted but encouraged after a couple of lovely days with Team North East, plus special guests from the Christian Persuaders team (as well as a flying visit from a couple of our IFES colleagues – Mark & Renee from TSCF).
We spent the last two days doing the usual (but wonderful) team day staples – singing, praying, laughing, drinking coffee, and eating a lot – but we also experienced three unique-to-November additions:
- Cultural Pursuits
We spent yesterday evening watching a film together. Peter chose it, and he was working off a few different criteria: high quality, arty, a documentary and importantly, not foreign language so there would be no subtitles so that it would be suitable to knit along to (perhaps you can take a guess at which team member made that final request).
We watched Deep Water, and it was very good. Interesting, and moving, and beautifully shot – I’d definitely recommend it.
- Apologetics Practising
We spent the team days with the Christian Persuaders, learning how to be Christian Persuaders. We each had to come prepared to give a fifteen minute apologetic talk on one of six topics that we are allowed to choose from. The Relay workers got split into two groups, and the staff were a third group, and then over a series of sessions we each gave our talk, answered a number of questions (from the rest of the group, who were pretending to be non-Christian students who had been listening to our talk) and then we were given feedback on what we had done well, and what could be improved, based on four different areas: identification, persuasion, invitation and structure.
I have to admit that I was really not looking forward to giving a talk, or answering questions, or getting feedback, but it was actually just so helpful, and quite a lot of fun, both to have the chance myself, and to listen to everyone else’s talks and be inspired and encouraged by them.
There was a disturbing amount of facial hair present. November has been dubbed Movember and Simon has been encouraging Team North East to get on board.
If you’re unaware of what Movember is then I’d encourage you to check out their website, but this is their brief summary of what it’s all about:
On Movember 1st, guys register at Movember.com with a clean-shave face and then for the rest of the month, these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. … Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November and through their actions and words raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.
As it happens, Simon has been left as a little bit of a lone wolf in his efforts. Lensa and I decided that our lack of testosterone might hamper the moustache-growing; Peter, Matt and Hamish have the valid excuse of all having wives who are not the hugest fans of facial hair; and Paul, well Paul hasn’t shared a reason with us. We’re pretty sure he doesn’t have a secret wife stashed away somewhere, so we’ll just have to speculate wildly about his real reasons until he reveals the truth.
So Simon is alone, but Hamish decided to show a little solidarity and came to team day with rather unpleasant little moustache and soul patch combo, that he had dubbed ‘the Guy Fawkes’. Simon has promised to keep us updated with his Movember journey, and hopefully he’ll also share some photos so we can keep track of the progress.
It is, of course, all for a good cause: raising money for, and awareness of, men’s health issues, particularly cancers that affect men. This is not just facial hair for fun folks, it’s facial hair for good, facial hair for others.
Gospel-centred facial hair, if you will.
In summary: team days are most definitely equal amounts of awesome and bizarre, (just like this blog).