February 11-15, 2002 witnessed the celebration of "Falun Dafa Week Celebrating Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance" on the Gold Coast. The Opening Ceremony on Monday, February 11, took place at the outdoor Centre Stage of the Broadbeach Shopping Mall and was well attended by the public, business leaders and some of the local politicians. A local aboriginal elder who attended was quite impressed with the "Journey of Falun Dafa" photos and the principles of "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance" that practitioners follow. She remained for quite some time and spoke with several practitioners.

Opening SpeechOpening Address by Lex Bell MP

The Queensland spokesperson gave the opening speech and wished everyone a happy Chinese New Year. This was followed by State MP Lex Bell, who has supported Falun Dafa since its beginning on the Gold Coast in 1997. Mr Bell officially opened the ceremony with a very positive address in support of Falun Dafa and the impact Falun Dafa has had on the Gold Coast over the past five years. There were several community and business leaders present, one of whom also told of his support for the principles of Falun Dafa and how much this type of practice could positively impact the older citizens of the Gold Coast. A number of support letters were received from the Mayor, several MPs and Councillors who were unable to attend due to previous commitments.

Chinese Calligraphy DemoExercise Demo

One of the practitioners did a demonstration of calligraphy and wrote the Chinese characters for Falun Dafa and "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance" on separate sheets of paper that practitioners displayed. A number of practitioners demonstrated the five sets of exercises, with children performing the fifth meditation exercise, while a practitioner explained the purpose of each exercise. This was very well received by everyone present. Local Channel 9 TV sent a crew out, and they filmed the exercise demonstration and showed it that night on the news. Then a practitioner gave a short history of Falun Dafa on the Gold Coast and how the teachings have positively impacted both individuals and the community. Following this was one of the highlights of the morning, a stirring performance of the song "Freedom" by a practitioner. Several short experience sharings were then read out and finally Master Li's "Wealth with Virtue" was read out. Afterwards, everyone was invited to join in for refreshments that the practitioners had prepared. Most of the guests remained and talked with practitioners for over an hour.

"Journey of Falun Dafa" Photo DisplayInformation Table

Thirty-four of the "Journey of Falun Dafa" photos were on display along with large banners proclaiming "Falun Dafa Week" and "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance." There were also tables of both Chinese and English truth-clarifying materials. Directly across from Centre Stage was a very popular Chinese restaurant that busloads of Mainland Chinese tourists frequented. Because there were so many busloads of tourists arriving at the same time, they often had to queue up outside. As we had permission to use the Centre Stage area right through the week, this presented practitioners with an excellent opportunity to clarify the truth to hundreds of Mainland Chinese each day. Most of them came over to see the photo exhibit or watch the VCD that was playing, including those exposing the "self-immolation incident". As many of them spoke English, even the Western practitioners were able to get actively involved in clarifying the truth to these Mainland Chinese visitors.

The evenings had the largest number of both Chinese tourists and Westerners present, so Hongfa activities were concentrated from 5:00 pm onwards. The Gold Coast has quite a number of Western practitioners, and this seemed to have a real impact on the Mainland Chinese. Each night we had exercise demos going continuously, and the Mainland Chinese often came over just to watch, take photos or shoot home movies. Flashes were constantly going off. Who knows how many people back in China will be fortunate enough to see these and learn the truth?

A number of children were particularly attracted by the exercises. One young 5-6 year old Chinese girl was particularly enthralled. Every time her mother pulled her away, she would run back and watch. Another young 4-5 year old Western girl stood for over 20 minutes looking at the exercises, closing her eyes and copying the movements and then opening her eyes to see how to do the next movement. Other young children, both Chinese and Western, just stood transfixed by the movements.

Although many Mainland Chinese refused to take truth-clarifying materials while they were waiting to eat, after coming out of the restaurant it was a different story. Most would then take the materials and sit down to read them, particularly the "Epoch Times" newspapers. Many times there would be 30 or 40 Mainland Chinese standing around or sitting down totally engrossed in the material they had just picked up.

Those who were willing to come over and talk often spoke of family members or friends who practiced Falun Dafa in China, and they knew that practitioners were good people. Most were very open and friendly, while others were quite fearful. Some of the students were actually hostile, and the teachers with them had to keep them under control. One group of students that came through had four or five very hostile members who got quite aggressive. The teacher kept them under control and then stopped afterwards and sincerely apologised for their behaviour.

On Friday night, the 15th of February, we had a candlelight vigil where all the tourist busses stopped along with a group of practitioners doing exercises in front of the Chinese restaurant. This was a particularly busy night with busload after busload of Mainland Chinese constantly pulling up. Over the week, many hundreds of Mainland Chinese learned the truth of what is happening in China and the majority were very supportive. The climate has definitely changed in the past several months and there are more and more Mainland Chinese willing to listen to and learn the truth. We will continue with these truth clarifying activities nightly as long as there are Mainland Chinese coming who can learn the truth and position themselves properly on the side of Dafa.