The image came to my mind today of a play ground with two girls spinning two jump ropes in opposite directions with another kid trying to time his or her jump just right to not hit the ropes and begin jumping fast enough immediately to keep up. That is what New York City feels like. The ropes are flying fast and every day I feel like I’m timing my jump. These are the beginning days. Perhaps some day very soon, I’ll be the one spinning the ropes.
A couple of weeks back, we had a wonderful visit from a dear friend from Clarksville, Boris Becker. We were in community group with Boris the past year and have developed a wonderful relationship with him over the last several months. He took us to great restaurant near our apartment. We had a good time catching up and just enjoying being with Boris. He loves the Yankees, and without us knowing it made a trip to Yankee stadium the day he left and bought Jack a Yankees jacket and hat. Growing up I was a Mets and a Yankees fan (you can’t do that here). So Boris acted fast to make sure the Mets were not in the running. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure Jack’s Gran got him a Mets onezie a while back. It was so good to see Boris and he was kind enough to take back a couple of boxes for us as well as a dictionary stand.
Hannah cooked dinner for our Growth Community last night. She did a great job making taco soup. We are already enjoying loving on our Growth Community.
I am fully engaged and loving everything while remaining very sensitive to Susan and Jack’s needs. I love the city and it is amazing to think that Lillie and Elliott (our twins due Dec 16) will not have any adjustments to NYC. They will not know anything different. Susan’s experiences with her doctor have been fantastic. Jack has his first appointment with the pediatrician in late November. I’ve been battling my normal seasonal sinus problems, but have felt weirdly lethargic at odd times of the day. I hope it is just adjusting to the spinning jump ropes.
More on ministry soon…
We had our first Growth Community Wednesday night at our apartment. It went very well.
I’ll be preaching the next four weeks, at least. Stoked about that!
It is getting cold in NYC. Knew it was coming.
Susan is getting more and more tired. Knew that was coming.
Loving the City, amazed at its diversity, pace, and size.
More updates soon…
The pace is full on. It doesn’t matter if your check card has come in, or if your internet is working…the city rages on…very quickly.
We sprang out of bed yesterday morning @ 5:30 to a very loud beeping noise. We quickly discovered it was our Carbon Monoxide detector. Unfortunately it was not the battery light that was flashing…it was the detector. I called the front desk and think I woke up Gregorio who doesn’t speak great English. He said he would call someone but I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying. We frantically looked through stacks of papers that we have not had opportunity to file yet to find the CM detector instructions. Reading the instructions only made us more concerned. We were able to silent the alarm for a minute by holding the button down for several seconds. I called 911 (for the first time in my life), (the instruction book said to), and then got Jack out of bed and told Susan to wake Hannah up…as if the alarm was not sufficient. 2 seconds after I make it to the lobby 3 fully suited firemen with ax type tools in their hands come in. Jack in my arms, blankie over his head, I lead them to the elevator apologizing the whole way. The elevator opens, Susan and Hannah get off, I pass Jack to Susan and board the elevator with the team of firemen. They were very kind and understanding. In a matter of moments after entering our apartment one of the firemen was able to tell me he was not getting a reading. So they said it was just the battery and took it off the wall and yanked the battery out. After sharing with them that Susan had been cooking a big pot of vegetable soup on the gas stove for a couple of hours, they changed their diagnosis and said that definitely triggered it despite not getting a reading. We love cooking on gas, but not when it triggers your CM detector 7 hours later. There was no going back to bed for Jack, so we all started our day a little early.
That launched us into the weekend that I would spend with Jack, just the two of us. I sent the girls off on a women’s retreat to the Jersey shore. Jack and I’ve been kickin it…he’s gotten to see rabbits and birds at the pet store a couple of blocks down and got to play with sticks and rocks in central park where we saw ducks. It’s pretty funny watching Jack as he runs on the track around the JKR (lake) in Central Park…you’ve got all these intense serious runners and then short little Jack running (usually against the flow). It’s good stuff.
My heart is beginning to take hold of the task in a fresh way. I find myself praying as we walk the sidewalks, asking God to show me what He sees. My heart absolutely broke last Sunday night as I walked around the block that our church meets on. There is large homosexual population in the neighborhood of our evening service. I have known for some time about this, but walking the street and being in the midst of it absolutely nailed me.
Please pray today that God grants us favor with our neighbors and the folks we’ll be meeting and engaging in the coming days.
We’ve had some internet problems and have not been able to maintain consistent access at the apartment. Lord willing that will be resolved this Wednesday and I’ll be able to supply you with more regular updates. Our couch was delivered, pictures are on the wall…its all beginning to feel cozy. Susan, Jack, and Hannah are all doing really well. Jack had a blast running around chasing dogs, and playing on playgrounds in Central Park Saturday.
Last week we had the surprise opportunity to see Ron Samuels up from Tennessee. It was great to see Ron as we spent a little time together. Yesterday, also up from Tennessee, Jimmy and Piper Bell took Susan and Me to eat @ Tavern on the Green. We had a great time with them! Thanks Ron, Jimmy, and Piper for giving us a taste of Tennessee!
Day four was sweetly blessed by God. I woke early in the morning to meet Aaron, Paul, and Brad Cruse (a dentist who moved from Louisville to help with the church), at 3 Star Coffee @ 7am. 3 Star which is four short blocks from our apartment is actually a diner with a Seinfeld feel, not a coffee shop. We had a good meeting making sure we were all on the same page for the Sunday morning service. I walked back to the apartment and changed and then headed to the school that we meet in. It is cool that we meet in a school, because people are not tempted to walk by a building and say, “that is my church”. The fact that we have no building helps our people know “we” are the church. The morning service was full of energy! Paul and the band were really on it, the people sang out, Aaron and I co-preached and it went really well. Jack did great in Gallery Kid! That afternoon was an adventure. Hannah and I were going to head down to the evening service that meets in a school in Chelsea down on 18th street. I called Tim (assoc pastor) to confirm the address and he asked if we could drive the forerunner down to Chelsea. So Hannah and I embarked on my first driving experience as we drove about 60 blocks (only 3 miles) in New York City traffic down to Rustin High School. Hannah helped out and met some new friends as we loaded in. The evening service went well and the community/hang out time afterwards was electric. We had a handful of first time visitors which was really encouraging. Susan and Jack came down with Carmen, Ezra, and Meredith about the time the service ended for the hang out time and Jack absolutely had a ball. He was in rare form marching around and then running up and down the isles in the huge auditorium we meet in. It was a great first Sunday. I was really encouraged by the people’s reception yet also felt the weight of the task before us. There is enormous work to be done. We are in the right place.
On Monday, Susan, Hannah and Jack went to a birthday party for Masie Simpson, Tim and Brigette’s daughter. She is 10 months younger than Jack. I caught up on email and was then on a mission. We sold all of our living room furniture and our TV at our moving sale, so I was set to find some furniture. It was a great day exploring the neighborhood as I searched in different furniture stores. I called Susan and Hannah to meet me about mid afternoon and we went to the store where I thought we’d find what we were looking for. Indeed we did and ordered a couch, a chair and ottoman. On the walk back, we found an store where we bought a TV. When we got back home Susan cooked spaghetti and green beans. The stove is a gas stove…we both enjoy cooking with gas. Slowly but surely, the apartment is coming together.
My second day was much, much better. As I gained my energy back and felt better as the morning progressed I began to try to get the apartment in some kind of (wont freak Susan out when she sees it) order. Corey Boyd who will be moving up this way with his wife sometime in the next several months told me it was going to be extremely tight as he helped me pack the truck. He was adding the square footage of our boxes compared to our apartment and well…it was scary. So my work was cut out for me. Aaron Coe our lead Pastor, came over to help me out. We made great progress. Susan, Jack, and Hannah arrived around 3:30 on Friday. I greeted the girls each with a flower from a bouquet that I bought 2 blocks from the apartment. Hannah had just driven into New York City for the very first time…I think she liked it. Susan was exhausted and was ready to get out of transportation mode. Jack was chillin and when I saw him all the woes of the first day immediately dissolved. It was so good to see them. I prepped them to think “small” right before we entered the door of the apartment so they’d be pleasantly surprised, and they actually were. We didn’t do a whole lot that afternoon, but that evening we met a group at Ruby Foos restaurant for Aaron Coe’s birthday. It was great to be out on the town, and it included sushi, so how can that be bad. Jack on the other hand was not extremely thrilled to be out. He had just flown for the first time, two flights (connection in charlotte) and walking out into a Manhattan intersection for Jack is like being immersed in his four favorite books, yet its all real and moving. Just a bit overwhelming, just a bit exhausting. We took a cab to the restaurant. You are not required by law to wear a seat belt in a cab nor is there any law in having kids strapped into a car seat. Interesting isn’t it. Jack’s mommy was less than thrilled…but are you really going to lug a hunkin car seat around every time you get into a cab? We had a great dinner but headed in early because Jack had hit his limit. Day two was awesome…I was with Susan and Jack in our new city.
On day three Susan began to work like an ant to get things situated in the apartment. I had pretty much gotten all the big stuff where it needed to go, and now she just needed to sort things how she wanted them. The Church had a mission team in that was helping put on a Fall Festival by the school we meet in on Sunday morning. Paul and Meredith Ramey (the Gallery’s new worship leader and wife) flew in late Friday night. Aaron and Paul came by and help me load my boxes of books in “the forerunner”. “The forerunner” is the lone car among the Gallery’s team that was donated. We each can use it as we may need it. (grocery shopping in NJ, etc…) Many of my books will go in the church office space. That helped clear the apartment out pretty good. Then Carmen (Aaron’s wife) and Meredith came by and invited Jack to go to the park with them…so Jack and Hannah went to the park with Carmen her son Ezra (who is about 6 months older than Jack), Meredith, and Hannah headed to the park while Susan and I continued to make sense of the mess of boxes. That evening was a good evening as we all ate at the Coe’s place about 8 blocks from our place. Aaron said a few words before we prayed and my heart exulted greatly in God as we prayed. It was one of those sweet confirming and strengthening moments as our minds and hearts could only imagine what is ahead.
My first day in New York City was not what I expected…at all. My parents drove me to the airport and we said a tearful see you later/goodbye. My stomach had begun to feel a little queezy the night before and continued into the morning. This kind of frustrated me because I thought it was nerves. A day I had been looking forward to for several months now was here and my stomach couldn’t handle it…ugh…what a wimp. I made my connection to Charlotte not feeling much better, but thought it might pass if I ate something. Not the case. On the flight from Charlotteto LGA I sat next to Amir a very philosophical, former Muslim, entrepreneur, who I had the privilege of sharing the gospel with. A few minutes after we got through discussing the gospel he said “Jesus Christ” about something upon which I was able to really press the claims of the gospel upon him. He had a very keen insight on how people become followers of Christ. He couldn’t explain what it was, but he knew there had to be something powerful possess people to become Christians. Amir seemed to be puzzled by it, so I delighted to share with him about the conviction of the Holy Spirit and how Jesus said the Father must draw you unto Himself. He understood, but not really. Then we began to make the descent. What was probably a normal descent and landing felt like one of the worst I’ve experienced. My stomach was in a war with me. Upon landing I visited the LGA bathroom and heard the f-bomb 6 times by the same dude in a matter of 10 seconds. Seriously. After my second trip to the bathroom I quickly found my luggage and got in a taxi. I was kind of frustrated that I couldn’t shake whatever was going on in my stomach. I was thinking, “this is ridiculous!” I called Susan as I left the airport and whined a bit about how terrible I was feeling. She was encouraging…but my stomach continued to churn. Susan, Jack, and Hannah were not set to arrive until the next day. I could hardly enjoy the sights of my new home as we entered the city. I was praying hard that I would not have to throw up. No, was the answer to that prayer. I asked my cab driver if he could pull over if I had to be sick. He said yes and just to let him know. Less than a minute later I found myself walking toward the sidewalk on Central Park East vomiting with great noise on the sidewalk. I had enough awareness to get closer to the street before round 2. “This is absolutely unbelievable.” I was thinking. It was 3:15 and the street was packed. My cab driver tried to round up some water for me, but to no avail. I get back in the cab and 5 minutes later pull up at my apartment to the sight of several from the Gallery Church team unloading our moving truck. There was absolutely no way I could show up first day and wimp out so before I could drink anything, I jumped in and began to help unload. Probably after my second or third trip, I got some water in the sink of my apartment. And then back to moving…but it quickly became evident that I needed to stay close to a bathroom, so I stayed in the apartment and directed. Yes…this was my first day living in New York City. The team finished unloading. We put the kitchen/dining table together along with the master bed. The rest of the apartment was a mountain of a maze of boxes. I tried to get some rest that late afternoon, and went down and grabbed a sprite from McDonalds to try to ease the stomach issues. Later that evening I found out that many in my family back in Tennessee had the same bug. I was up every couple of hours that night…I was miserable…it was difficult to get excited about anything…and that was Day 1.
This is the first time I’ve been online since I’ve been here…I’m using Hannah’s computer. Despite getting a bug the day before I left and having to ask the cab driver to pull over so I could get out and throw up (seriously, I left that stuff on the East Side), things have been amazing! Susan, Jack, and Hannah are both doing GREAT! The apart is almost cozy…we’ve just got to go buy a couch and we should be good to go. I have so much to share, but very little time tonight to do so. The services this morning were amazing! God gracious hand is upon us and his confirmation is gentle and sweet. I will post more about each of our first days, Lord willing in the morning. Till then, know all is well…Hannah and I are sitting outside next to the Starbucks @ 86 and Columbus catching a little free wi-fi.