Today was an incredible day for me personally and to best explain why I need to rewind several years back. My Pastoral theology class that we being taught by Fred Fulford took a trip the the Bc/Yukon District Office in Langley, British Columbia. To be honest I had very little interest in the trip because in my mind I had already decided that Kim and I would be returning to Eastern Ontario to begin our ministry together but needless to say I went along with the rest of my friends and classmates.
The tour was find and we all left with a better understanding of the purpose of the District Office and the role that the Officers each play in the healthy operation and governing of the local church. The highlight for me was the conclusion, and no, I don’t say that sarcastically, it truly was. The then acting District Superintendent Dave Wells spoke to us and shared with us what his role in the District was. Upon him concluding and us being dismissed Dave and I entered into conversation. He asked if I was the student that was playing hockey for TWU, the one who was also acting as chaplain? I confirmed that I was and that is when Dave shared with me that he had just returned from Torino, Italy (where the winter Games were held in 2006) and he went on to share about how he was serving as the Head Chaplain for Canada and oversaw a team of other Chaplains that gave aid, counsel, ran Bible studies, prayed, and encouraged the athletes from Canada and around the world. The expression on my face must have communicated interest and amazement because next he asked me if I would be interested in coming along side he and his team for the Olympics in 2010 to be hosted in Vancouver.
Now nearly four years later I type this after just finishing working my first of sixteen sifts here in the Athletes Village in Whistler. Today I met some incredible people, both volunteers and athletes. Jackets of all colours and styles line streets here in Whistler. I have met teams from many different countries such as Estonia, Latvia, China, Russia, Japan, Germany, USA, Australia, Belarus, Slovakia, and of course Canada too just to name a few. Their team colours and ensembles are meticulously put together in such a way that the demand respect and attention even before any trial run or timed heat takes place. Rumor here has it that the American Bobsleigh team will be wearing suits that look like Captain America’s. Each athlete, coach, trainer, and staff member models and exudes excellence and are genuinely pleasant, however; there is another type of uniform that dominates the grounds. That uniform belongs to the elderly man who can speak 3 languages fluently but wouldn’t go anywhere near a ski lift. That uniform belongs to University student who has been given two weeks off from UBC and is now serving coffee and Vitamin water at the athletes cafe. That uniform is unmistakeable, it’s the electric blue and navy colours of the Volunteer Team that is made up of different nationalities and people from around the world.
There’s a togetherness that is instantly felt whenever you dawn a uniform, a bond of sorts that is difficult to explain but we have all likely felt and one time or another. Complete and total strangers greeting, introduciing, and saying hi to one another simply because of the UNIFORMITY they have found within their UNIFORM. A dictionary definition might read as follows,
the state or quality of being uniform; overall sameness, homogeneity, or regularity: uniformity of style.
It’s a wonderful thing to be able to make so many people feel like they belong and like they are appreciated. Every volunteer for the Games receives a welcome package (with travel mug and other mementos), Authentic VANCOUVER 2010 jacket, snow pants, fleece vest, toque, and two long sleeved shirts for FREE. Also all your meals are covered while working and you are made to feel valued by all those you come in contact with. Today has been an amazing day, a true dream come true. It has challenged my thinking and just how I all the more want to honour, shower, and encourage those who I watch volunteer around me daily. See here in the Olympic Village it really doesn’t matter what UNIFORM you are wearing, there is UNIFORMITY felt as each individual wants to do their best to make the experience memorable. The Volunteers love hearing positive reports on the television about the “outstanding” service or how our venues are the “best in recent memory”. The athletes all are desperate to compete and the WORLDS LARGEST and most prolific stage hoping to impress the crowds of spectators and Volunteers that line the slopes and tracks. Each person unique in what they are placed here to do BUT each one setting out to do their best UNITES all residences in Whistler Village wether skiing slopes, piloting tight turns, serving Big Macs or praying with the athlete that just got bad news. This to me is an ideal structure for anything to be successful, and the local church I feel is most definitely included. if the person who is serving coffee before and after service feels as valued as the one communicating the truth for 35 minutes from the front and centre, you’ve got a winning and perhaps record breaking team on your hands. I guess the encouraging thing has to be this, that with all people working together to do their part the goal shall be reached. The VANOC has done an amazing job at this and thus I think they will find themselves on the podium come the conclusion of the Games.