It’s been a month now since we went to Sydney, Australia to enjoy the remaining days of my wife’s maternity leave; and we really can’t get over it. Sometimes, we want to live and start a new life there… urgently (LOL!). Kidding aside, I have lots of ideas in my mind what to blog about it. In fact, I’ve already lined-up the series of blog that I’m going to post. Yet, let me share one of our highlights when we came in this place.
I would be giving a huge disclaimer that this specific blog post is not just a where-to-go in Sydney. But something much deeper. Something essential for our life with God. Well, DextograPH won’t even exist without it.
Maybe hearing the word “Hillsong” or knowing who they are aren’t new in almost everyone’s ears. At least, on our ears. I was a Catholic back in my childhood days until a decade ago but I’ve been hearing their songs on some of the masses I’ve attended and served. I’m also hearing their songs on youth gatherings that I became part of during those period. My wife, coming from a Baptist family, also had an idea of who they are and songs that they made given most of them are played during praise and worship on her church.
Until now that both my wife and I, being “born-again” (more than just “religion” and too long to explain, but I’m willing to if you message me), married for almost a year, and both serving in the music ministry of our church in Quezon City (Inspire Metro); Hillsong is still active and known throughout the Christian community… worldwide. In fact, we’re playing some of their recent songs during praise and worship on our church.
Thus, it made us excited when our pastors recommended us to visit the Hillsong Church after I told them that we’re going to Sydney, Australia to spend a holiday for a week. It felt overwhelming that we’ll be visiting a church whose music and songs about Jesus are famous worldwide. On another note, we just found out that their pioneer location is on New South Wales.
CHOOSING WHICH HILLSONG CHURCH
As per the website of Hillsong Australia, there were more than 10 church locations in New South Wales. Not to mention that a huge fraction of them were within Sydney and its suburbs. My wife and I wanted to visit the Hills Campus in Baulkham Hills, a Sydney suburb, knowing that it’s their pioneer location. But upon knowing that it will take a few hours to go there from Sydney Central, we decided to search for another location that is nearer.
We also decided to visit Hillsong on a Saturday night, instead of a Sunday, given that it’s only my wife and I who’ll be coming. My parents and my sisters, although accepted our ways, honestly weren’t that much open in our form of faith. Also, it would be better if we spend our Sunday with them. Well, they financed our trip anyway so why get separated from them (LOL!).
Of all the church locations in Sydney, there’s only one that caters Saturday services; and it’s the City Waterloo Campus located at Waterloo, an inner-Sydney suburb. Thus, finalizing our plan.
GOING TO HILLSONG CITY WATERLOO
My wife and I left Hyde Park and got separated from our group at 4:30 pm (Sydney time) given that we need to get to Sydney Central Station by 5:15 pm to catch up with the shuttle bus especially that we’re not even familiar with the place (LOL!).
Our original plan was to walk from Hyde Park to Central Station. But upon accidentally seeing a train station going there while we’re walking, we decided to ride the train instead.
We arrived 15 minutes too early at the station. It is said at the website that the shuttle bus (called the Big Red Bus) will pick up the passengers at the Devonshire street Bus Stop near the Chalmers street. But upon arriving, the original bus stop were relocated nearby due to ongoing construction. My wife and I got scared at first and became unsure if the red bus will arrive here since we’re really unfamiliar with the place. Also, we don’t have an internet access to confirm. Still, we decided to stick with our faith and wait.
My wife and I saw a park nearby the bus stop. It’s called the Prince Alfred Park. Various activities can be done in this picturesque set of greenery such as jogging, picnic, walking with your pets, and many more. I also saw a swimming pool inside so I can assume that swimming is allowed.
As much as we want to swim, we don’t have an extra set of clothes to wear (LOL!). Besides, we only have few minutes remaining before the bus is expected to arrive. Thus, what we only did here is to take a picture.
Looking at the clock, it’s already 5:20 pm. We got a little worried that we might went to a wrong stop especially there are numerous public buses arrived already but no Hillsong bus. But still decided to wait given that we also saw some bystanders still waiting despite the fact that different public buses arrived already. “We might be waiting for the same bus.” I said to myself.
Just a few minutes hence, our thoughts were confirmed. We’re indeed at the right stop. The big red bus indeed arrived; and it’s the same bus the other bystanders were waiting for.
At the bus, there are some greeters who entertains everyone throughout the bus ride. Although my wife and I were serving at our home church in Manila, we felt shy to interact with them (LOL!). Oh! Just introvert things. (*sigh*)
ARRIVAL AND IN-BETWEEN THE SERVICE
We arrived at the church within less than 15 minutes. My wife and I honestly felt the vibe of our home church in the Philippines despite the fact that it’s a mega church already.
They had a café and resources table where beverages, books, t-shirt, and other goodies can be bought.
We’ve also managed to have some conversation with some of their concierge team. It’s a relief that some of them were Filipinos so language barrier didn’t became a problem for us. Although they speak English, some of their Aussie terms we’re quite different from the English language I’m used to speaking. It’s just a bummer that I wasn’t able to have photos with them taken for me to be included in this blog. But I absolutely can’t forget who they are.
- There’s a chef-in-profession named Eugene and I just found out that we attended the same highschool. It’s just that I’m from a batch 2 years older than his.
- We’ve also met Mr. Alexis Junio and his wife, both medical practitioners, and whose whole family were now based in Sydney. They’re the ones who assisted us on where to be seated. We’re thankful that they didn’t left us even though we already told them that we already had a church back in the Philippines. Also for listening to our story told for the nth time. They even provided some medical advice in preparing for our next pregnancy and assisted us to riding the bus back in Sydney Central.
- There’s also Pastor Dan and his wife Pastor Judith whom I presume, is overseeing their concierge team. They’re not Filipinos but we’ve also had a great time with them. They even prayed for us before we leave the place.
We’ve realized that their connect lounge, which is different from their entrance lounge, is also used as parking space during the day. What a nice way to maximize space eh(?)
We’ve managed to take the coffee cup given to us as their complimentary drink for first timers as a souvenir. But decided to leave it at our flat in Darling Harbour to conserve space. What a bummer (LOL!).
We’re seated near the front row as similar with other visitors and first-timers. It wasn’t much of a culture shock for us especially that during the praise and worship, we’re already familiar with most of their set list songs. They played: Where you are, Touch the Sky, and one of their new songs So will I from the United’s new album WONDER.
We also sang What a beautiful name during the altar call and Only wanna sing during their send off. It’s so nice singing with the Lord.
THE MESSAGE AND OUR TAKEAWAYS
Of course, without any learnings from the service message, going to Hillsong is just one’s usual travel destination. The most important part of our whole experience is that we get to take home an inspiring message from Pastor Chad Veach. Not being “churchy,” but without an encounter with God, these are just a plain “positive thinking” seminar. But on another note, I find all his points and insights somehow practical.
Honestly, we have no idea before whom Pastor Chad Veach was; except that he’s a guest pastor during that time and he came from Zoe Church in Los Angeles. It’s only until recently the my wife and I found out about him and the story about his family. His daughter was diagnosed with a brain disability called the Lissencephaly or “smooth brain” which caused her to not being able to walk, shortened life expectancy, constant vomiting, and seizures. His story inspired many people including celebrities and public figures like Justin Bieber, Hailey Baldwin, Kevin Durant, etc. Thus, starting the trend of the letter G tattoo which stands for Georgia, the name of Pastor Chad’s daughter.
By that, we realized that everyone is indeed facing different battles in life. Also, we can’t say that one is much easier than the other. Yet, it takes huge faith to be able to go through everyday amidst the pain.
The main context of his message is from what Paul is commanding his disciple Timothy from the verse below:
“Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus.”
– 2 Timothy 2:1 (NLT)
From there, he came up with different points to ponder and how these are somehow helping us through this tough journey of recovering for the lost of our Marvel Zane:
- YOUR STORY IS A WEAPON
On the very first time I heard it, I suddenly remembered the phrase that I’ve heard for many times now through the years: “God can turn your mess into message; tests to testimony; misery to ministry.” My wife and I are aware that by the time we’re healed and can move forward already, we know we’ll be able to inspire people about it.
- BE MORE COMMITTED TO STAYING RATHER THAN TO GOING
There are times when my wife and I just wanted to migrate to another country. We’d like to go back to Sydney actually and live there. Leaving the toxic people and frustrating road traffic. Not to mention the greater compensation there. But we need to realize that “we’ll not flourish if we’re not planted” and “the grass is not always greener on the other side.”
- BE STRONG IN THE GRACE
Being strong in the grace means doing what we’re supposed to do according to the gift given by God. In all honesty, I’m still trying to figure out what it is. But eventually, we know we’ll be able to find out. Although for now, I’m juggling between work, my thesis, blogging, married life, and my ministry (playing bass in the music ministry and operating lights in the production ministry).
- JESUS + NOTHING = EVERYTHING
We should realize that “it is already finished.” Our greater debt were already paid ages ago. Although the scars will forever be here on earth.
It’ll honestly take a while before we be able to fully apply what Pastor Chad said during his sermon especially we’re still facing the battle of recovering from our loss. Still, I can say that our Hillsong experience played a huge part in it.
Oh, and not to mention the HILLSONG UNITED’s new album WONDER that we took home in the Philippines. Too bad, the cover broke. But hey! It’s still working.
If I made you interested in visiting Hillsong when traveling to Sydney, I suggest you look at their website for more info and to help you plan.
Let me end this post with the definition of the word WONDER:
“An emotion filled with awe, marvel, and admiration of something strange or unexpected.”
I’ll also be leaving you an advice to “never lose the sense of WONDER.” That would also be a way to enjoy the journey.
Thank you very much for reading! Sharing this is much appreciated. Let me know if you went to Hillsong too. We can talk about it all day.
– Dex B.
PS: If you’re in Quezon City area in the Philippines, I’ll be inviting you to visit our church. You can message me on my e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my social media accounts; or visit http://inspiremetro.com/ for more details.