home again, home again...
So here's a recap of the events of New York City. (For any details that I leave out, see Rob's posts.) The train ride up was delayed and long. Not horribly unbearable, though. We arrived in the City Thursday night and got to see the last inning of a Yankee's game, which was cool, even for a non-sports-fan. We then returned to the hotel for a much-needed night's rest. Our hotel, by the way, was the Mariott in Times Square. You couldn't ask for better accomodations than that! Friday morning we went to Rockefeller Center where they were filming the Today Show. Some people hung around and watched that while others walked around to see nearby stuff. I had hopes of going in H&M clothing store because I've been there every time I've gone to NY and it's awesome, but they weren't open yet, so I went across the street into St.Patrick's Cathedral. I love that place. It was nice to be in there that morning... I circled the interior to admire the incredible architecture and windows and statues; I "played Catholic," as Chistina and I say, by lighting a candle near one of the statues... I really needed the prayer that was posted there... it was about being kind and patient with others... it was appropriate for that day; finally, after admiring everything, I sat down in one of the front pews and prayed for a few minutes while my group finished up. It was so peaceful. Rob and I have talked before about this, but I was reminded of it as I sat there staring up at the vast ceiling of the place: Cathedrals are cool because they are designed to awe you with their enormity (is that a word?). They're so huge, so magnificant, that you are instantly taken back by them. That's how we should be about God. Every time we're in His presence, we should just be blown away and amazed. Having even the briefest of opportunities to worship in a place like St.Patrick's reminds me of that.
Anyway, after that, we ate Chinese and then went to work at a food pantry. I like doing that type of service work because (a) I feel really humbled by it, and (b) I feel like I've really been able to help out in a big way. It's very satisfying. We then went on to do this subway evanglism thing, which was an interesting experience. At first I was really appalled by the activities that the evangelist guy was proposing to us. I mean, I'm not really big on evangelism being something obnoxious, and that's what this was sounding like. The more I heard him talk about what we were going to do, the more negative my attitude became. But we got on the subway, and, to my surprise, it worked out better than I had expected. (What we did is sort of a long story, so I'll skip that part, but to say the least it was unconventional.) We got done with the actual evangelism activities, and then we stood in the hallway of the subway station and the choir sang "I'm Proud to be an American" and handed out tracts to those who passed by as we sang. It's cool how quick people were to take something from us as long as we were singing, but if we stopped, there was no chance they would take anything. It was interesting. Friday night we saw a show called "All Shook Up" which surprised us all with how good it was. It was all Elvis music with a story line put to it. It was really fun.
Saturday morning we had some free time first thing, but most of the kids opted to sleep in. My girls went with Mrs.Nettles (PRAISE GOD FOR HER!) which left me free to go out to breakfast with Rob, Tracy, & Phil. That was by far the most relaxing point of the week. Tracy was my sanity on the trip! I'm so glad she was there. The four of us have decided that now that the craziness of their wedding is over we all need to hang out more. It's funny how well Tracy and I get along in combination with how well Rob and Phil get along. Definite potential for some good times. Anyway, after breakfast, we met back up with everyone and headed toward the harbor where we were supposed to take "The Beast" boat ride. There was a bunch of miscommunication, however, so that didn't actually work out, which I was fine with because I wasn't looking forward to getting soaked, which is supposedly what happens on that boat ride. So we killed a little time (I don't actually remember what we did) and then went to see "Phantom of the Opera." It was good I guess, but that's just not really my show. We had dinner at John's Pizza Palace, which while I am not all that excited by New York pizza, it was a really cool building. I think it was origionally an old church (it has a really cool stained glass ceiling) and may have been a theatre at one point. Immediately afterward, we went to do a church service at a Crisis Center in Brooklyn, which was by far the most awesome part of our trip. The worship was just amazing, despite any shortcomings on our part. The whole thing was just completely annointed by the Holy Spirit, and that was evident to everyone. Devon mentioned to me the verse that talks about I believe it's Isaiah's vision where he says that the train of God's robe filled the whole temple, which represents His presence, and she related that to what took place that night. She's so right. I always describe situations like that as being "thick" with the Spirit. It's like when it's really humid outside and you can feel the air sort of pressing in on you because the air is thick. The Spirit was so thick you could feel it pressing on you. It reminded me of when I was in Chicago in ninth grade. We ministered at the Pacific Garden Mission in downtown Chicago, and it was the same way. In both cases, it was the end of a long day in the middle/end of a long week, we were exhausted, and that was the last thing in the world we felt like doing. But we did it, and God moved mightily. I love it when God does that. I love that He is not limited by our meager expectations of Him. We left the Crisis Center and went to see Ground Zero. It was a very solemn time, as to be expected. That was the last event of the day, and then we headed back to the hotel.
Sunday we did a church service at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Manhattan. It went pretty well. We went to lunch at Carmines, an Italian restaurant. That was the best food I have had in a long time! I was completely impressed. We then did a prayer walk and delivered some gift boxes to the fire and police departments. That night we went to see "Stomp" in the Village. It was awesome! I have been wanting to see Stomp for years, and I was finally able to. I think what's most impressive about the show, aside from their obvious musical talent, is their endurance and stamina. That's a really long time to do what they do. They all had the arms of body-builders, and while hidden by baggy pants, I'm positive their legs were tree trunks! Also enjoyable was how they got the audience involved at the end of the show. They would clap/snap/stomp a rhythm and we had to repeat it. Thanks to Mr.Cordell and my many years of "counting and clapping" I was able to keep up quite well! Anyway, that was it for Sunday.
Monday morning started somewhere around 4:00am. We had to leave the hotel at 5:45 to go sing on "FOX and Friends" morning TV show. That was pretty cool. While there, we got to see the Oscar Meyer weenie-mobile. They also gave us free hotdogs, which really doesn't excite me at 6:00am, but all the guys were really psyched. Back-tracking a little, the first event of my morning was around 5:00 when I decided to go downstairs early in hopes of getting a Venti Chai Latte from Starbucks to help me wake up. (It turned out that they don't open till 6:00. I was bummed.) Anyway, when I was waiting for the elevator at 5am, I was weirded out to see two guys there, one with beer in hand. In my delirious 5am state, I thought to myself "who drinks a beer first thing in the morning?" But as I stood there waiting, I deciphered through their f-word-laden conversation that this was not, in fact, morning for them, but rather a very late night. The three of us entered the same elevator, and upon entering, the dude with the beer apologized to me for swearing. But in their drunken haze, I doubt they realized that following the apology, the frequency of the word in question did not diminish whatsoever. Back to the TV show. We finished singing/filming and headed for the Intrepid, which is an air craft carrier turned museum that stays in NY harbor. We got to sing for the Memorial Day service that was going on. As cheesy as it can make you feel singing in a public place like that, I thought it was cool that we didn't just sing patriotic songs, but also sang worship songs. That was the last major event of the trip. Later that afternoon we gathered up our luggage and headed for Penn Station to board the train to go home. The train was on time, and the trip home was much more bearable than the ride up.
So that's my story for now. I'm sure I will remember other little interesting things and post about them later, but this is most of it. New York is awesome, but I'm glad to be home.