My Take on BNTS

Without the Boys’ Brigade, things would’ve been different in Form 6. Joining the brigade as a Primer was due to interest and friends. But over the past two years, there has been a perspective shift about what BB truly is about. I’m enthusiastic and excited about the Boys and their lives, but at this stage, maybe it isn’t passion. I can tell you what is passion though. Passion is what the Madams from Manjung possess, exude and is admirable. They’ve done this for years, and it’s not plain talk; they mean it. I’m still levels below that.

BB has given me many ‘firsts’ – worship-leading, teaching, futsal matches, bugle lessons… there are too many to pinpoint any more! It’s easy to see the good in big things (think, Pesta 2010), but there are abstract ‘firsts’ for me like invaluable and positive friendships. My teaching skills (which are deplorable) have been put to the test and refined by some amount.

Basic NCO Training School was a challenge. I didn’t know what to expect. I was initially preparing for Advanced NTS, but by some stroke of luck/misfortune (you decide), I was moved to BNTS, alone, while Chee Khoon and Sarah stayed on. I knew I was in for a tough time when the main medium of communication was Chinese. Repeatedly admitting I’m inept in the language was a humbling experience.

I was well-informed that BNTS/ANTS was no leisure camp. As Chi Wei put it, “We were presented with a welcoming gift of 40 push-ups”. The registration was the most organised I’ve ever seen. And the photo session for more than 50 people was conducted in a jiffy. Impressive.

Registered as an observer, I expected to well, just observe, which I did most of the time. I was relegated to a squad coached by Edmond Chek and Rachel Lau of 3rd Manjung. Initially, the squad was reserved and unresponsive. Rachel led a simulation of a meeting which brought them out of their bubbles. By the time I did the Presentation module, they were all warmed up. Alas, it was the last session. I felt a little heavy-hearted. I thought that both Edmond and Rachel were great coaches, and the modules were well-constructed with the prime aim of building people of good character. Miniscule things like meal time preparation played roles in character building.

BNTS was daunting because I was thrown head first into a very Chinese environment. I was engaged in a long conversation about Form 6 and my law school plans completely in Chinese. Debriefing, sermons, praise and worship were in Chinese. Most people conversed in Chinese, so I drew into a reclusive shell, speaking when spoken to only. Socialising was, needless to say, difficult. Processing incoming information, picking out keywords, translating them into English and piecing them together, was a headache. In recent years, I’ve been constantly thrown into Chinese environments. I do wonder whether God has a hand in this.

I’ve been in the music ministry for about 10 years; was in the children’s; currently in the youth’s too. BB is relatively new to me, but there’s a continuous assurance that I’d be serving in it for a substantial period of time. If God says, “This is where I want you to serve”, surely He will place a conviction in your heart. You could be quick to conclude that this is a feel-good decision because I’ve just returned from BNTS. But I’ve thought over it, and I’m almost certain that BB is where I’ll be.

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