olympic reflections

It’s taken a while to get down to writing anything since the Olympics. I guess I was not aware how much energy the Olympics zapped… and then we had a holiday …. but last night’s amazing opening ceremony for the Paralympics has been my personal inspiration to reflect on all that happened for me over that 3 week period.

First and foremost … what a privilege! I don’t think I have ever, or will ever repeat, volunteering in such an amazing, spectacular and special event.  Being a volunteer chaplain at the Olympics was such an amazing experience and quite a unique way to support, encourage and sometimes even challenge people. I must admit I started wondering how being a chaplain to the workforce (ie other volunteers) would work …. but we were clearly needed and welcomed by the other volunteers there.

I had four particular locations to look after as chaplain: Horseguards Parade, Wembley Stadium, Wembley arena and the Wembley Plaza hotel. In all four places I found people who wanted to talk, who wanted to be listened to, and who wanted to be prayed with or had someone they wanted me to pray for.

Being a football fan, having the opportunity to walk around Wembley stadium on a daily basis was kind of a schoolboy dream come true. On one occasion I found myself in one of the Wembley boxes praying with two people while we looked out over the empty Wembley which had a match the night before. We needed somewhere quiet and the box was to hand. It was surreal … looking out over the ‘sacred’ ground of Wembley while asking God to intervene in these peoples lives.  Of course … I took a pic … it had to be done!

I was amazed to find myself praying with people in stairwells, in the rest area, and even at the top of the Bowl in Horseguards while Beach Volleyball was played out below us. That was a unique venue in itself … and the press have made much of the amazing party atmosphere that was there. It was wild, and it was special and it may surprise some that amongst all that party stuff a chaplain was still needed and both of us there were always engaged with people from opening to close.

There are many amazing experiences that I will treasure for years and years to come. Those diamond moments of listening to people share their stories and being able to help them connect with God in some way were very very special. I was surprised by how many wanted to talk seriously about their lives and faith and how it all connected. The whole experience has left me with one new aim  …. to learn Portugese in the next couple of years so that I might have a chance to do it all again at Rio 2016! Yeh … I wish!!

an olympic chaplain ….

It’s been am amazing week – but then you have probably guessed that by the lack of action here on SHP.

I am one of the volunteer chaplains at The Olympics covering a couple of venues. My role is to support and be available to the workforce and volunteers that are giving up their time to help ensure that ‘the games’ run smoothly. The days are quiet varied – although I am in the same venues the number of volunteers and shift patterns means I meet an come alongside a great variety of people.

I have met loads of people, had loads of conversations, been surprised, been humbled and found myself in some amazing situations and places. Some of these I will share a little more of after the Olympics have concluded. In every conversation or encounter I have had (and there have probably been over 50 already) people are really ‘touched’ or ‘intrigued’ that there is a chaplain on site for them. Everyone has been pleasantly surprised rather than suspicious and we are quickly being seen as a support to people.

One particular highlight of last week was being one of the lucky people to attend the rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium. It was stunning … I can say that now as we are past Friday and you have all seen it. I came away thinking ‘Danny Boyle is a genius’. The sound, smell and atmosphere did not really relay that well through a TV screen but it was still exciting to watch at home.

The next two weeks I will be continuing as a chaplain at the Olympics and really can’t believe how cool and exciting this role is. The role is rewarding, I love meeting new people and being a listening ear and being … well … a chaplain to them … and for the next two weeks I’m part of the Olympic Family! Wow!!!

getting excited now ….

Last week ended with my attendance at my role training as a volunteer olympic chaplain. I’m really excited by thois role although, until it starts, it is quite difficult to get my head around what I will be doing day by day.

Even though I don’t know the detail I know it will be about people, about serving people, a great selection of people. It will be long hours, most of it behind the scenes, and I’m guessing a fait bit of it will be emotionally draining.

But … I’m up for this. I love people and believe I am called to serve people… and this is THE OLYMPICS …. how exciting is that!!!