New York – blows you away! (11– 18 Aug) Charlie

So much has been said about the Big Apple. Not only from my other family members, but by the rest of the world. Always when I hear about a movie, money or business, I think of New York. I wonder how many movies are shot in New York? Everything about it just shouts out size and speed. The first thing I realized when we drove in the taxi from the airport to our South Orange New Jersey house, was the haste in all the people's eyes and body language. Everywhere In NYC it seems as if everyone is always late and has got something better to do. Even in Central Park, where the idea is to relax and find a haven in all the chaos, there are New Yorkers running and racing, not jogging or cycling! A 40 hour day would not be enough for a New Yorker!

For us, New York was an experience of overwhelming pace and size but it was also an experience of soulful calmness and grace. Our whole Trip dictates that the times when we were not the ones leading and knowing, were the times that God lead us to truthful joy.

When we were still at the mountain cabin in Georgia, we had a big meeting about the coming weeks. We unfortunately still had a lot of places where we did not have accommodation, so this meeting was to fill in some gaps. By the grace of God, we could fill a lot of these gaps. One on the other hand, still eluded us, New York. We decided to book a hotel with a cheap rate for early booking. After that day, a few weeks went by and while we were still in Chicago we got a mail sent by Patty Brown-Christenson. After reading the mail, we were once again astonished by God's love and grace. She gave us her house for that week. A beautiful, huge, amazing house! We immediately rejoiced and thanked God. After that we made work of it to quickly try and cancel our other hotel. Only by grace that they were full- we could cancel the un-cancelable booking!

So we were on the plane headed towards a beautiful New Jersey house close to NYC. I knew we were headed to New York when we got in a mid air traffic jam! We finally landed and got to the house without too much hassle… The house was even better than on the pictures and we knew that we were in for a great five days. Immediately we decided to stay there the whole time and just go in to NYC when we have to go to another, closer hotel.

The time at the house was fruitful and relaxing. We enjoyed every element of the blessing. From the huge T.V. all the way to the lovely pool. Me and Tinus also made use of their weight room (gym). It's weird, but I love exercising, especially doing weights and this was just perfect. It was also nice to have my own room. It was lovely to have a bit of solitude when trying to work, because when in a small apartment, finding solitude can be quite a challenge. It was lovely to be able to see the big city lights at night, but also be able to see the stars. This house was a perfect blessing to us and I want to thank God and the BC's for being such lovely, loving neighbors. Now I know what " love your neighbor", truly means – even love your neighbors 10 000 km away!!

The Sunday while we were still at the BC house, we headed toward another church picked out by Dawie Sr. We took an interesting drive to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church . As always, we were blessed by the beauty of God's love and faithfulness. The Grammy award winning choir was one of my many church highlights.

It was sad when we had to leave the house. Not only because of the great house, but also because of the beautiful people we were privileged to meet. I want to thank them as well for treating us like family. From the other blogs you can see that they were truly blessings to us. We were headed back to a small hotel room, but we took with us the excitement of seeing NYC in the morning.

The next day, we became part of the ever running and busy New York city. We took a train to Penn station from the Brick church station near our hotel. From there we took the (classic) New York Subway! All the way down to the harbor. The plan was to walk from Lady Liberty to Time Square. I took in the immense size, speed and grace of the city. After the lovely Liberty, I began to see the story of a city that was more than money and power. I saw it as a refuge of love, taking in fledglings from afar. During the boat trip we glanced a look at a few memorable islands, Wall street and the Brooklyn bridge. After the Liberty boat trip we knew a bit more of the city. We then decided to take on our long walk to Time square, taking Broadway all the way. We passed a few hundred stands selling I love NY t- shirts before reaching Broadway.

From the moment we first set foot in Broadway, we began to see the real picture of NYC. The walk up Broadway from Lady Liberty to Time Square was one full of joyful, heart-ripping and mouth-dropping sights.

We past Wall street and the Trinity Church. It was beautiful to see the center of the Financial world topped off with a picturesque church. It just tattooed the fact in my mind that God is in money as well and does not want His children to fall short. We kept on walking and experiencing the very essence of the city. It was beautiful to see all facets of human difference gelling together in perfect harmony. For example: There were people literally of all races, people of all classes and people of all religions. There is truly something beautiful in all of us, for the One who made us is truly perfect and lovely.

The sight we saw next was one that took our breath away. Not because of beauty, size or architectural brilliance, but because of grave tragedy… The piece of land once occupied by the World trade center was definitely the biggest shock to my system in a long time. It's definitely the biggest impact "nothing" ever had on me. I walked around the large piece of land and couldn't even imagine the splendor of the buildings or the horror of 9/11 itself. As it was 9/11 2009 a few days ago, I want to extend my deepest apologies to all whom lost something or someone. I also want to encourage everyone to see 9/11 as a learning curve for all of us. Life will knock us down sometimes and it is okay to fall, but character is seen in those who dare to stand up and complete the race!

After the learning walk of 9/11 we continued with our mission. We walked past a few lovely, small parks and a few interesting buildings. The Empire state and Chrysler building being two obvious favorites, but not my favorite. My favorite building in NYC was the Flatiron building.

It wasn't the largest or the most spectacular, but it was flat and simple. It looked like a Mac book Air from the side and like a triangular prism from the front. What also makes it nice, is that it is built on a fork in the road. It just uses the very little triangular space the fork has created, making most of what it has.

As we came nearer to our destination, the sun had almost dove behind the horizon. It grew darker very quickly and we were soon headed toward a shining beacon of light! Just before we arrived, we decided to have a light NYC dinner. We purchased a few hot dogs from a hot dog stand and a few slices pizza from a pizza restaurant. We sat outside on a few chairs in the middle of the road. The meal was wonderful and a great preparation for what was to come. The moment I first set foot in Time Square, I was astonished. All the lights and signs was truly spectacular. I think I stood standing there, standing still, mouth open, for about five minutes before I blinked!

The night air that mingled with all the lights and people created a wonderful, exciting and soothing atmosphere. What was also memorable was the Toys R Us experience. Being the biggest in the world, it was admirable. It put the toys in Toys R Us.

From there, a day ended in glorious style, we took the train back to our hotel again.

The next day was the day we left America. We all had mixed feelings, but most of us felt like we used every second we had in the US well. WE ended our NYC and USA experience with Central park. Truly a haven in all the chaos

At the end, I see a beautiful miracle and lesson that this big city opened up in us. As an African, New York seemed like a fabled place. A place where hard work and a keen mind to make money is king. At the end, I saw a city that has power and prestige in earthly terms, but I also saw a wounded giant that lost a lot through tragedy. This wounded giant though is busy standing up and working together to rebuild a better future. What happens in life is sometimes hard, very painful, but God lets everything work out for the good for those who loves Him. He is always there, calling, waiting for us to make Him our number one!

I also want to thank America and the Americans that made our time memorable!

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