Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New York #2

The second trip to New York went better than the first (and the first was great- read about it here). There are still some things I'd change though (3rd times a charm?)

We flew out the Sunday Daylight Savings Time began. FUN! The already awful meeting time of 5:30 felt like 4:30. Our first flight was delayed an hour (did THEY forget?). Had plenty of layover in Atlanta, so no worries... but then that flight was delayed an hour too. Very bumpy ride into ATL. I was anxious the entire flight, but I didn't have any semi-nervous breakdowns about leaving the kids like I did last year. 
Got into Newark, gathered luggage, called shuttle service... and then Louis realized he left his phone on the plane. Coach Welchman had to go back through security to find it. We waited on shuttle. Got phone and headed to our hostel at New York School of Urban Ministry. Then realized we didn't have one of Louis' bags (notice a pattern? :) 
We went to orientation then headed out to Redeemer Presbyterian. This time we visited their evening jazz/contemporary service. Can't say I've ever been to a contemporary service with a jazz flare. I enjoyed it and the preaching was the best we heard all week. 
NYSUM has a curfew of 11pm, so there were no super late nights on this trip. We had some seriously early mornings, so it wasn't bad that we had to be in by 11.
Monday was the day NYSUM scheduled sight seeing for us. I would have rather had a mission assignment, but it was still a good day. We went to Federal Hall where an excellent security guard/tour guide gave fact-filled lectures throughout the hall. Then we had lunch... and I got my awesome filafel sandwich again. I have not seen the 9/11 memorial and would not have planned that on my own since the juniors see it on the junior trip. It affected me more than I expected- seeing all those names and the massive holes where towers once stood. Looking high up into the empty air space where buildings once stood, and I once stood atop... got me emotional. 
Monday evening we lead a children's service at a battered women's shelter. We couldn't take pictures in order to protect their hidden residence. These children are not allowed to go outside at all while at the shelter- we got to entertain and love on them for an evening.  They were in the midst of a birthday party when we arrived- that's why they wanted one of us (Jaeseung) to dress like a clown. We played a game, sang fun worship songs, made a cute little sheep craft and told Bible stories about Jesus being the Good Shepherd. Would have gone better had they not been beating each other with balloon animals while Casey, Friedl, and Connor told the stories, but they did as good a job as they possibly could! We ended with some silly songs with equally silly motions :) 
Tuesday was back to Teen Challenge. Lead worship, Pastor Zach preached, went on tour of facilities, then ate lunch with them. This was the thing we most enjoyed last year and I was glad it worked out for us to return.   Always amazed by the miracles God works in their lives and am grateful to be able to help them. 
Tuesday evening NYSUM scheduled us to go to Brooklyn Tabernacle prayer service. We enjoyed it, but I think we were all unaccustomed to this type of service. I've been in repetetive worship services before, but never one where they sang one song for over an hour. I was trying to keep an open mind, experience all the different types of services of the week, and just focus on praying for all the people there rather than "AGAIN??" but it was difficult for me.  Prayed with the lady next to me- I think she was Indian.  They told the ladies to hug five ladies around you and the men to do the same. So off I go hugging all these people I've never met. Strange to me how open New Yorkers are in church- but on the street you can hardly get anyone to look at you. 
 Went to a diner right down from Brookly Tab after... super cheap and HUGE proportions. 
Wednesday was our "off" day. We split up and walked around Manhattan (Louis, Friedl and I walked up the East Side of Central Park, then across 79th to a diner, the rest of the crew went with Coach Welchman straight to a diner) then met back up for Phantom of the Opera matinee after a little shopping. We wanted to see Newsies, but they were only 30% off at the TKTS booth. Phantom was 50%. There wasn't a show we wanted to see that someone in the group hadn't already seen (or would be seeing on Jr Trip)... that made it tough. Great show though. 
That night we went to Hillsong and experienced yet another type of worship service. I enjoyed this one , though we were in the back in the balcony and couldn't see much. They had monitors, but it would have been nice to see the stage. Met a guy who was there alone, so we welcomed him into our little circle when we could.  
Preaching was about being a witness and not keeping things to yourself that you've seen.  We don't keep silent when we see things that are hysterical/scary/embarrassing- and we shouldn't keep quiet about being transformed by Christ. 
Thursday we had to meet in the chapel of NYSUM at 6am. After much preaching to the guys not to be late (yes, the girls usually had to wait for the boys), Friedl and I didn't wake up til 5:55! But, we still got to the chapel by 6:02. I was rather scary looking, but I was there. Casey wasn't feeling well, so he was sent back to bed. The rest of us headed into Manhattan to work at St. Paul's House. We lead a short chapel service then helped set up tables and serve breakfast.  We cleared their trash and left them with a "have a good day" as they left... and I wondered what their day was like. After breakfast, the girls continued cleaning upstairs while the boys helped unload and haul furniture. We were there til around 11 then went back to NYSUM. Coach Welchman stayed back with Casey and Jaeseung.  I went back to Manhattan with Friedl, Louis, and Connor. The rest of the crew joined us after some rest. That evening, I was excited to experience Evensong at St Thomas. The church is beautiful. Loved sitting there and taking in the beauty of the architecture. But, discovered the choir would not be singing. I wanted to go to St Thomas last year but was not able to fit it in. I thought experiencing a choral service would complete our variety of services for the week and would be another new experience for everyone. But that didn't work out. They sing *almost* every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Sadly, this was one of that few times they did not sing.  
We went to Greenwich Village to try to find some Italian food, but that is a hopping place and most restaurants required a reservation on a Thursday night. We were about to give up and eat pizza when Louis realized he was missing a bag... he left it at Barnes and Noble. Miraculously someone turned it in and we hopped in a cab to retrieve it. Then found a great restaurant in Manhattan (Cinema Restaurant) with lots of variety.
Friday morning after packing our things, we went to Manhattan diner on West 96th. Great place and will return. We then walked all through Central Park, stopping to sing in a little amphitheater, down to 5th avenue. Got a bit turned around so it took a while to get back to NYSUM, but we got there in plenty of time to wait for shuttle. Return flights went much better (and smoother).
We were able to help people while there and also experience vastly different styles of worship. I am always amazed at the masses of people who go into these services. They came off the same streets we did. They rode the same subs, but on the streets, no one will look at you, no one smiles. It is very easy to assume no one around you is a Christian and you are alone. But then you go in these massive church service and everyone is hugging total strangers, praying with them, praising God, singing the same songs we sing in our churches here. But the culture outside those walls is vastly different.  I know the percentage of Christians in the total population of NYC is small- but there ARE SO MANY people- the churches are crowded. 
I think next year- if there is a next year- I'd want to work at St Paul's all week rather than hopscotch all over New York.  I think they might enjoy having a little bit of continuity in a week rather than a different group leading the chapel service every day. And we could get to know them a little. 
We could possibly still do Teen Challenge if we didn't have work to do after breakfast Tuesday.  
I enjoyed NYSUM- but I have made enough contacts now that I could schedule our ministries on my own- NYSUM taught me that hostels aren't so bad. We could stay at one close to St Paul's and save a lot of time and money. 
And *maybe* the kids are old enough that David could be the male chaperone. I don't think Coach Welchman wants to go next year.  David is a great preacher and if we do St Paul's daily and Teen Challenge- that's a lot of preaching!  The kids did great with their grandmothers (my mom M-W, David's Th-F)- and next year it won't be session time. 
The year after that?  Abigail will be old enough to go! David will be in session so it will not be a family affair :) but it will be an entirely different experience with a child. 
But that is all a big if. I don't know that New York will continue to be offered, but I would look forward to going again and handling ALL the planning myself.