first at Starbucks + about last weekend
Dropped my fam off at Dulles airport before 5am; they’ll be away from me for an agonizing 2.5 weeks. I don’t do so well all by my lonesome. Lined up a coupla trips in between.
Waited at the outdoor seating by Starbucks this morning, powered up my laptop (drats, forgot my power supply today) and got online. 5:30am opening time slowly rolled around, as I was starting to get nibbled on by mosquitos in the dark. In the lead-off spot, first up at the register. Called to the barista: my usual hot drink, a grande’ soy latte.
2nd time in Austin this year, and this was last weekend to speak with over 100 teens (middle schoolers and high schoolers) from ACC Lighthouse. I spoke 5 times, 4 of them got recorded.
I had good positive feedback and encouragement from many, even though my feelings (healthwise and emotionwise) were out of whack. I slept most of the free times and evenings to preserve some energy, to make it most probable for me to speak without coughing or wheezing. I’d finished 2 rounds of meds for bronchitis, for which many were praying for healing, and it mostly went away. But something residual made me feel not so good, about 80% healthy when I started, bordering on 50% when I finished. Bummed I couldn’t hang out with the fun-loving teens more. And, I missed being in the group photo, an Asian faux pas.
I did not apologize for my health or voice when speaking, a good public speaking tip, I think. Don’t call attention to your nervousness or apologize for circumstances. Just deliver the talk and let it speak for itself. Apologies generally gravitate towards being an unnecessary distraction or at worst false humility. But I did ask for prayer from the counselors throughout the weekend, and that sustained me.
Now, if you’ve read this far, you’re wondering about how I felt, more than mundane details about what happened. So, again, this stupid recurring theme in my life, I’m feeling badly about my performance. I’ve pretty much always been averse to evaluating performance and rarely ever satisfied or feel good about how I did something. I do work hard, or prepare hard, but my feelings more often than not are not accurate indicators of performance or quality. But, that’s not dismiss my feelings. This new metaphor (or would this be a simile) I found helpful: feelings are like indicators on a dashboard. They tell of emotional reactions or respond to certain stimuli or thoughts. To process those feelings, I prefer to talk about them out loud (or blog them? well, not really overtly, as you can tell by my veiled references), to discern what the feeling is trying to say. So in this context of speaking, it’s also partly a spiritual battle.
While in Austin, also worshipped at Acts Fellowship Church on Sunday morning, and made my first pilgrimage to Liquid in the evening. Acts was meeting at their sponsoring church’s facility for the last time. We witnessed the ceremonial plaques exchange, kind encouraging words, humble bows, and prayers. They’ll be embarking on this new adventure by meeting in a movie theater, fast becoming a preferred location for church startups, over the older trend of school cafeterias or gym.
Liquid was a dream come true, the experience was just as advertised. I’d been reading about Liquid soon after it started up, and dialogued with a number of Liquidians online at their discussion forums for years. But I had never been. Until now. What a treat, to see a dynamic and creative group of mostly Asian (Chinese) Americans using their talents and actively engaged in living out a missional lifestyle as a community.
I met Gid‘s dad, who is also a pastor, and at age 60-something, he still has such a fire! He (Gabriel Tsang) rightly commented about 2nd generation Asian church goers (and I hope he don’t mind going on record, or he can say that this was a misquote): “Why do you act like cry babies and subject yourselves to being 2nd class citizens in the Asian church? Find 10 families and start your own church!” Brillant! And, quickly doing the math in my head, I affirmed his exhortation: yes, that’s right, 10% tithe times 10 makes a pastor’s salary! (Okay, so you might need a little bit more to get a church off the ground, but that’s the right idea!) Plus, he shared his excitement about the vast response to the Gospel in China and India, and a handful of young adults going into full-time ministry. His fire was contagious: got me to re-think my own vocation, and even almost got me to re-enter pastoral ministry. Almost.
A few photos from this trip.
And, love seeing what’s happenin’ in the online world with folksonomy, with the likes of flickr and delicious and technorati (even though I’m not very active in tagging personally). Sure beats creating content or web pages, and having to put in categories and meta keywords for them, when the collective number of readers can do a much better job! Installed a tag cloud via TagCloud.com for my blog here, see the right column, scroll down. Very cool!
Last Memorial Day I went to Seattle to speak at a camp and had similar experience. What I see was not the poor performance; it’s the poor physique that I had. You feverishly work on the prep, to the point of delivery you came down with fever!
I need to exercise more and improve my endurance to be like those on-fire old pastors…