Monday, June 26, 2017
My friend Nicole and I were constantly talking about wanting to tame the streets of NYC, visit the attractions, check off the tourist box for the city, and off my bucket list. And then, opportunity hit!
I have an older brother, Phil, who works overseas. He made plans to visit, and he wanted to see his son, who happened to live in New York City. To make this a fun, family event, I asked my other brothers, Nate and Noah, if they wanted to join us. Of course, no one wants to pass up a trip to the Big Apple, so we planned to go the last week of June. Enter my nephew.
My nephew Andy, Phil’s son, works in the city. He is the IT specialist and maintenance for New York School of Urban Ministry or NYSUM for short. NYSUM is sort of like a hostel, with many rooms, a dining hall, and classrooms for ministry preparation. Aside from handling IT and maintenance for this non-profit, Andy has the opportunity to go out with different church groups and help them minister to the New York City community. I thought his job sounded awesome!
Anyway, there were six of us heading to New York, including myself, my brothers Nate, Noah, and Phil, my friend Nicole, and Nate’s friend David. We took two cars, and started the day at 5 AM. The drive was an estimated 10 hours, depending on traffic. I was pretty exhausted, having worked the night before, and I figured I could stay up a little later and just pass out once I got in the car. I should have went to bed right away.
The drive to New York was boring (as expected). It’s not much fun when everyone is sleeping. I just put my headphones in and dozed off. We stopped a few times to refill on gas, and to get a bite to eat. Then it was back on the road again.
By the time we got into city limits, traffic became heavy. It was around five so mostly everyone was either leaving the city to go back home, or going to the city to, well, go home. I called Andy to clarify what bridge we were suppose to take to get into the city, and how to get to NYSUM without dying (kidding, but let me tell you, traffic was insane).
Once we got into Astoria, Queens, we parked in the lot and unloaded our stuff. The game plan was to meet down in the lobby in an hour, allowing us to rest for a bit and tidy up. Nicole and I went up to the room to drop our stuff. I collapsed on my bed and decided on a quick 30 minute nap.
By the time it was 6:30, the gang met downstairs to regroup. Andy, was still on the clock, so we got to see what he did as a NYSUM rep. He was scheduled to take two church groups to Staten Island on the ferry. The Statue of Liberty so happened to be on the bay, so it was basically a tourist attraction, which meant a ton of people, which also meant an opportunity to minister to others. Church groups from NYSUM will often head to a location and talk and pray with the people who are there.
I didn’t mind; I was more curious. Our small group, plus the two other church groups made our way to the subway and rode it for about 20 minutes before getting off on the New York City boroughs of Manhattan. We waited another 20 minutes for the ferry, but it wasn’t long before we were on the boat heading toward Staten Island.
The 5.2 mile trek across the New York Harbour was at least a half hour, and boy was it crowded. The gang chose to go to the top level, where we could see everything. Many tourists posed behind the Manhattan skyline or enjoyed the view as the ferry passed the Statue of Liberty. Before becoming a tourist myself, I watched as the two church groups separated and started conversations with those on board. It was interesting to watch relationship building happen before me. The chance to talk about Jesus and praying for others is pretty cool. At times most people don’t want to really listen, but sometimes you get that one person who is interested and gets saved when they are exposed to Jesus’ story.
Though I was extremely tired from the day’s travel, I definitely enjoyed myself being out on the water. The sun was setting, and I was gifted with hues of pinks, oranges, yellows and reds painted across the night sky. Many group shots and selfies were taken on that boat, and laughs could be heard as we messed around with Andy. He chose to stay with us while the church groups dispersed to go pray for people. By the time we got off the ferry and waited to get back to Manhattan on a different ferry, the night had fallen dark and the temperatures dropped. Our gang was starving, and I hoped Andy would take us to a cool place for a quick bite.
He didn’t fail. Andy took us to a small Mexican restaurant that made empanadas, and gosh were they delicious. It was a lengthy walk from our subway stop, and I figured that the farther I walked the hungrier I’d be. We didn’t do many touristy things the first night in NYC, but it was still pretty fun. I couldn’t wait for what Andy had planned for us the next day!