Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Over and Out

The Final Sweden installment from Benny:

It’s done. The 2010 World Youth Convention has come to a sizzling conclusion and what an amazing conference it was for everyone involved.

I am writing this entry from Singapore Airport as we’ve just conquered the mammoth 12 hour flight from London to Singapore. Soon we’ll come back to reality and touch back down in Melbourne- something that we all have mixed emotions about.

It was such an intense week and we barely stopped during our time there. For most days we left our hotel between seven and eight in the morning and would return close to midnight. So it will be nice to rest and recuperate in the comfort of our own homes over the coming days.

However we can’t help but feel a tad sad about leaving Sweden because it was such an inspiring, uplifting and fun week to be a part of and a week that all of us will never forget.

The Big Band’s final two days in Stockholm were jam-packed full of action. The Salvation Army went public and set themselves up in the middle of a square in Stockholm to try and spread the gospel to the general public. This was a brave step for the Swedish to take because only around one per cent of the country’s population attend a church at all.

We kicked off the afternoon/evening with a 40 minute program on stage and we were received fantastically by the public. It’s probably safe to say that we saved our best performance for the most important one of the trip and we were really proud of the way we played. We were tight, focused and extremely aware of why we were there. Not to mention that there were some sensational solos from Davey George, Scotty Mangos and Cal Barry as well.

We did a lot of playing on the final day of the convention. Two 20 minute sets on the outside stage and a 25 minute program before the farewell meeting. We also led worship at the beginning of the service too. Once again the Aula Magna went nuts during ‘You Are Good’ and it was mind-blowing to stand out the front and see how excited people were to worship.

After the final song and the retirement of the WYC flags, it was as if everyone was still super hyper and that there was plenty of partying left in a few. So a few of the Big Band big boys, including yours truly, and two lovely girls from the Norwegian Dance Troup, hit the town in the early hours of the morning. And I tell you what, Stockholm found out on Monday morning just how sleek Australian males are at dancing up a storm.

A very special thank you must go to Sandra- our Swedish host for the week. It’s fair to say it took her a while to adapt to our sarcastic sense of humour, but once she did it was as if she was touring with us. Sandra was always on the ball in terms of organisation and was even able to teach a few of the boys a few flirting phrases in Swedish! She should be reading this as well as she has become a fan of us on Facebook, so tack Sandra!

Also thanks to Brian and Emma for their efforts before and during the trip because without them this trip wouldn’t have been possible.

From a personal perspective, the past week has been one of – if not the – best experience of my life so far. To be with close to 1000 young Salvationists from across the world really put into perspective how big this church really is and how much potential the Army has to grow.

So the question on everyone’s lips is what next for the Australian Southern Territory Big Band?

To be honest, not even we know. We will take a break over the next few weeks to let the enormity of what we’ve just been a part of soak in. Then we’ll sit down and talk about the possibilities that this Band has to offer.

One thing for certain is that we have incredible potential to witness if we continue on.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first-class Nine News-style coverage over the past few weeks. We have had an absolute ball together as a group and it was a privilege updating you all about our adventure.

But for now- Hej Da!

P.S. Just a quick shout out to Tyler Webb. Some very fine work was done by him on the flight from London to Singapore as he exchanged conversation with a beautiful, young, Norwegian girl whose name I cannot pronounce or remember.

P.P.S. Check out the Facebook photos of everyone in the Band wearing newspaper hats - especially made by Scott Mangos - in the coming days. The word is that there is only a limited edition of 17, so unfortunately none will be for sale.

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