Freaky Phone Calls
| ||Here I am, Christmas Eve, all alone at home. Unlike the movie "Home Alone," nothing exciting is happening here on Christmas Eve... Why am I alone? Well, my younger siblings are at church with the youth group, and my parents are probably at church, too. My older brother was here a moment ago, but he left to spend time with his friends who happen to be a newly wed couple. I figured it would be too awkward if I tagged along. So now I'm here just sitting at a desk (which isn't even my desk, because I don't really live here - I live in LA - but I've setup my iMac on my younger brother's desk). Part of me wish that I had gone to the party that I was invited to... Well, why didn't I go? That's a good question, because it's an interesting story. I think I will kill some time by writing this story.|
It was a week and a half ago, Thursday. As I was walking on campus, a guy stopped me asking for help. Or I thought he was asking for help at first, because his facial expressions seemed to say that. But he told me that he wanted to invite me to this party, so he wanted my name and number. Ok, I know that's just weird, because you don't just go up to a random guy and invite him to a party, and it's even weirder to get asked by a stranger to a party. But he said something about the party being sponsored by a church. He was very vague though, because all he said was that it was a party for college age people and high school students, there's going to be loud music, and it's going to be great time. Yeah, sounds really great... I mean, greatly vague. But I figured since it was a church sponsored event, it is probably evangelical in purpose. I'm all for that. So I gave him my number, walked away, and went about with my life. In the back of my head, I wondered when I would get a call, and thought about what it was all about. But I didn't think too much about it.
That night, I got a call. It was from a restricted number (number didn't appear on the caller ID). When I get calls from restricted numbers, I don't hesitate to pick up, because I usually want to know who called me, and if the number doesn't appear, and if I don’t answer the call, I would never find out who called. I had just entered the De Neve dining hall, and was standing in line for some pasta. I picked it up. It was a woman's voice saying, "May I speak to Simon?"
"Uhh, you mean SunMin?" I replied.
"Oh, Simo... SunMin? May I speak to SunMin?"
"Yeah, This is SunMin." At that moment I knew this was a call related to the guy I gave the phone number to. I remembered he couldn't pronounce my name right, so he probably told this lady that my name was Simon.
"Hi! My name is Marina. A friend of mine gave me your phone number, and I wanted to invite you to a party!" She sounded very excited, but she also sounded like one of those telemarketers who read their spiel behind the phone line. She continued, "It's a party for young people from high school to college students, for guys and girls. There will be loud music, free food, and it will be a great time!” I think she also said something about a free pint. She repeated herself as if saying it once wasn’t enough. Well, in fact she talked too fast that I didn’t catch everything she said even though I think she said the same thing twice.
"What organization is this sponsored by?" I had to interrupt her, because she was going so fast. I also had the feeling she wasn't going to ask if I wanted come, but just assume that I wanted to come.
She answered, “Uh, well, it’s sponsored by a church. So it’s a party with lots of young people, loud music, free food...” She was repeating herself without really answering my question. So I had to interrupt her again.
“What church is it?”
“Oh, uh, it’s a church right near the Staples Center in LA. Oh and it’s a Christian church. So it will be great time, and there will be lots of fun, and...”
“What's the name of the church?” I hate to interrupt people when they’re talking, but I had to.
“Uh, well it’s a Baptist church. So what are you doing Sunday?” She still hadn’t answered my question, but I didn’t want to deal with this right now, so I decided not to push it. Besides, she asked the perfect question for me to bail out.
“Oh, I’ll be busy this Sunday.”
“Well, will you be busy the whole day?”
“Yeah, I’ll be busy the whole day” I was being totally honest.
“What are you doing on Sunday?”
“I have a fraternity business.”
“Oh, ok. Well then I guess I’ll call you some other time” She said something about free pint again, which I couldn’t understand. I simply said “ok” because I didn’t want to talk on the phone anymore (I was getting food for dinner, and I didn’t want my friend to wait around too long). And then she hung up.
After the phone call, I felt very weird. Very uncomfortable. Why wouldn’t she be straight forward and tell me who they are? I think it’s great that it’s a party sponsored by a church, but she sounded too aggressive and was so vague about the party. But I decided not to worry about it.
Then two days ago, Thursday, December 22, I got a call from a restricted number again. As I usually do, I answered the phone without hesitation since it was a call from a restricted number.
“May I speak with Simon?” It was her again. That uneasy feeling came back all over.
“Uh, it’s SunMin.”
“Oh, is your name Simon or SunMin?”
“On ok. My friend told me you were Simon. I’m sorry.”
“This is Marina, I talked with you last week. We’re having a Christmas party this Saturday and Sunday. It’s for young people from high school to college students, for guys and girls. There will be loud music, free food, and it will be a great time!” I felt like I was on the phone with a prerecorded telemarketing spiel. The voice and the words she said sounded too familiar to me. She told me that there will be a “world renown author” and that he will give a motivational speech. I asked her who the speaker was, and she said something like, “Oh, he’s a world renown author, he wrote several books...” Basically what she had already said before I asked the question. When I saw that she wasn’t going to answer my question, I interrupted her and asked what he was going to talk about. She said, “about the spiritual condition of our nation.” Still very vague as usual. She went on, “Which would you like to come, Saturday or Sunday?” Great, she didn’t even ask if I wanted to come... I felt pressured to give an answer.
“Uh, probably Saturday would be better.”
“Oh, do you go to church on Sunday?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Ok, that’s great. So you can come on Saturday, right?”
“Uh, I don’t know. What time?”
“It’s going to start at 6 pm.”
“What’s the address?” I asked.
“Well, what we’re doing, since it’s very hard to find parking around here, we’re going to try to pick people up and carpool.” Great... Not only did she not answer my question, I had to get picked up. This meant I couldn’t leave when I want to.
I asked her (once again) what the name of the church was. Like before, she said it was a Baptist church near Staples Center. She asked me what the name of my church was, and I said it was a small Korean church in Orange County. Then she said it’s like that for them too, that it was just a small church...
So basically I told her I wasn’t very comfortable going because I didn’t know who they were. Then she was like, “Oh, it goes both ways. You don’t know us, and we don’t know you.”
“Well, but I’m just one person...”
“Um, there will be other college students just like you, and they’ll be here for the first time, so you won’t be left out” she said. I didn’t really see the logic in that statement... She went on, “Are you a college student? How old are you?”
“Perfect. We have a friend who is just your age. His name is Wesley. Let me give the phone to him, so you can talk to him.”
“Ok...” So she handed over the phone to Wesley. Wesley had a deep voice, one of those that football players have... If you know what I mean. (I’m probably wrong though, because I don’t know much about football, and I don’t know any football players...) Anyway, Wesley and I had a little conversation. He was much easier to talk with than the lady. He would actually answer my questions, and not repeat stuff too much. Little by little, I found out that the name of the church is Baptist Tabernacle, and the speaker’s name is Dr. Hymers. For some reason, Wesley sounded hesitant when I asked who the speaker was. I immediately looked him up on the internet and did a little research about him while I talked to him on the phone.
I found a website about him, and the site was full of his sermons, just pages after pages of sermons. He used some terms that I didn’t even understand. What I understood was that he is a fundamentalist, and he “proves” that Rick Warren is wrong in one of his articles called “Learn to Love Yourself”, an article about self-esteem. I skimmed though Dr. Hymers’ sermon on Rick Warren, and found that some of his logic were completely flawed, and that he was debating apples and oranges. Obviously, since he is a fundamentalist, he has a lot more conservative perspective. I also find it strange to ridicule a fellow pastor in a sermon. It made me wonder if Dr. Hymers even talked to Rick Warren about this, because I couldn’t find anything in the sermon that talked about Rick Warren’s response to what Dr. Hymers thought. It was also interesting because Rick Warren’s article was from a secular magazine called “Ladies’ Home Journal” and Dr. Hymers criticized Warren for not mentioning Jesus Christ... Well, I’m not writing this to comment on Dr. Hymers, since I hardly know him. On with the story now...
As I said earlier, it was much easier talking with Wesley, and I could understand the situation better. So I decided to go, even though the whole thing sounded a little shady. Since I lived in Orange County, a little far from where they were, they gave the phone to a guy who used to live in Cypress. I forgot his name, so I’ll call him Mr. Chapman. Mr. Chapman told me that he used to work in Cypress, so he knows all about the place. I gave him my home address, but I didn’t give him the apartment number (for an obvious reason) so they could pick me up at the street. Then he asked me if I was talking on my cell phone. I said yes. Then he said I need to give my cell phone to the driver while I’m at the party... Now, that just freaked me out! I asked him why, and he said if they ask people to turn off their cell phones, people just won’t turn them off (which is very true), and that it would cause a commotion if a cell phone goes off while the speaker is talking, so it’s just easier to ask everybody to give their cell phones. Does that make sense to anybody? Not to me. I told him firmly that I was not going to give my cell phone to someone I didn’t know. Then he said I should leave my cell phone at home. So I was a bit outraged, and told him I wasn’t going to go to a strange place with a bunch of strangers without a cell phone and a way to get back home when I wanted to. Then Mr. Chapman replied, as if he didn’t want to deal with it anymore, “Just think about it. Ok? Bye.” and he hung up!
I was so frustrated and didn’t know what to do. So I called Eric, a brother from my fraternity and my bible study leader, and told him about the situation. He suggested that he will go with me to the church to check it out. But since he wouldn’t be able to go this Saturday, Eric said I should tell them that a friend of mine wants to go, and I would rather go with him and not alone, and since he cannot go this Saturday, I want to come some other time. Eric said if it’s a legit church worth checking out, they should let us drive there, and leave our cell phones in the car. I guess I could understand why they don’t want cell phones to go off during the sermon, but I think it would freak anyone out if they had to be picked up and dropped off without a way of communicating with the outside world. So I called them back. Wesley had given me the lady’s phone number, so I asked her for Wesley and told him what Eric had suggested. So I ended up not going to the party. Later I found out that the lady was Mrs. Hymers. Wesley told me that we’ll keep in touch, so I’m expecting a call from Mrs. Hymers again sometime in January... It should be another interesting conversation with her.
So that was the story about the party. If you know anything about Dr. Robert Hymers or his church Baptist Tabernacle, let me know. Google “Robert Hymers” if you want to look him up. It’s the first thing on the list. I wish I just knew whether they were legit or not. If they are legit, I would have loved to go to their party. But I guess it’s too late now. I’m sure they’ll have more “parties” coming up though. So far it’s been two weeks in a row.
| ||Posted 12/25/2005 12:43 AM - 5747 Views - 24 eProps - 21 comments|
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