New York, New York! 11-18 August 2009 (Chrisna)

The blessing that was waiting for us in New York, started 4 weeks before we reached the Big City. Finding no home exchange, we were forced to book a hotel for 1 week and changed our air tickets to fly out on 18 instead of 20 August. While in Georgia, we received a mail from a lady from New York, whom I contacted a year ago about a home exchange (which was impossible at the time). She read our blog and wanted to bless us. "Their family is going on a surprise-tour to Namibia during the same time that we will be in NY and we are welcome to stay in their house – no strings attached!"

Now, if that is not a miracle! We all shouted: "Praise the Lord!" Another miracle was that we could cancel our hotel booking without cost.

Although we were sad when we left Chicago, we were looking forward to yet another adventure. Our focus was on New York now - what will God teach us and show us in the Big City? Will there be more divine connections, since we already experienced so much blessing through the correspondence with Patty (the lady of the house)? Our sadness about leaving Chicago, turned into fond memories and excitement developed, also since none of us have ever been to NY before.

We had to take a taxi from La Guardia airport to our house in South Orange, New Jersey. We were shocked to find out that the cheapest taxi was US$ 112,00! We then chose to make the best of the taxi ride and see it as a sight seeing tour. We asked questions and took photos. We drove through 2 tunnels – 1st onto Manhattan island and then again to get off the island into New Jersey. The taxi stopped in front of a castle – it was our house!

The house has 4 storey's. Each boy had his own room with a desk, there was a gym, a swimmingpool...I can go on! We closed some doors – that was "no entry" rooms (less to clean when leaving!) The miracle was real and super big. Glory to God and thank you to the BC-gang for blessing us in such a way!

As everyone was a little flu-ish and behind on goals, we decided to stay home for the first 2 days. Dawie and myself only went to the nearest grocery store to buy food. Everyone worked hard, making the most of each day, but it felt like holiday all the time – because of what our environment offered. On day 3, the day that we planned to start to explore New York, the vote was to stay home yet another day. At the end we remained in our castle for 5 days without leaving the yard!

Friday evening we were invited to dinner by our neighbors. What a fantastic evening! We went to their golf club and had to wear our best clothes from our suitcases. It was wonderful food and the conversation was even better. We discussed many different stimulating subjects and knew, this was yet another divine connection God had in stall for us. That evening after we returned home, all 5 of us ended up in our huge bed, and chatted away until after 2h00 in the morning!

Here is yet another divine connection. Special friends of the BC's (our home's owners), brought us a cherry-pie, our first one in America. Boy, it was a special treat! We invited them to stay for tea and had a delightful visit for many hours. We were privileged to have 2 more such special visits with them .(We surely hope that Paul and Shelley, John and Barbara and their families will come visit Namibia real soon...)

Sunday morning, day 6 of our 8 days in NY, we left the house! We drove all the way to Brooklyn, crossing 2 long bridges and Staten island to get there. Our destination was the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Once again, Dawie did not make a mistake by the choice of church we visited. The fellowship, the choir, the message, everything was bringing glory to God and food to our souls.

Back at the house, it was time to pack and clean. We left our castle Sunday evening after a final swim. We drove 10 minutes to our hotel and in the process went from one of the richest to one of the poorest neighborhoods in New Jersey. Back to reality in our 1 small hotel room, but we were grateful to have a safe place to stay and even more so to have the memories of the miracle.

Monday morning, day 7, was the day for New York City! We decided to go on until we drop. We left at 8h30 and returned, tired but satisfied, at 23h30. We've covered NYC right from the Statue of Liberty up to Time Square – all on foot.

We really experienced the city! What's more, is that we also got our very first suntan of the whole tour in NYC! It was a hot, sunshine day and the boat trip on the Hudson river in the NYC harbour, was the right setting to "feel summer".

Dawie already wrote about some of the sites we passed as we walked for miles and miles. I want to add one personal experience: the horror of 9/11 became a different reality as we saw the gap where the Twin Towers once were, as we walked where people died and read the stories in the churches, which became havens during those days. America's face and heart was ripped open. Oh, the horror of where human minds can go to! Oh, the ability to love that people have in them to care for others in need! As we sat in a nearby small park, I had time to meditate on this. And then the terrifying thought of how often we go down that road of destruction – with a word we say, or even something we insinuate, something we do, or something we neglect to do –so many different ways how we can hit each other in the face, and then move on. A terrible, but true picture of this world we live in.

I realized that 2 things are necessary to overcome any a tragedy and to live a satisfying, abundant life in this world. The first action step is that you have to forgive to become free of the hurt of the past, otherwise you allow the horror of the past to continue to harm you. The second thing is to hold on to the Hope that there is in Jesus Christ, to walk as He has walked, to live His love to the people around you and in that way be part of the goodness that there can be in the world. I found a good summary of guidelines on how to live the good life:

Mic 6:8 The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands: "See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God."

May we all find the courage to live this way. May we be willing to submit ourselves to the Lord and be part of the solution and not the problem!

After 9/11 New York went on with life, and we also continued our journey. We walked the whole day, stopping, looking, chatting, taking pictures and walking. We had picnic in one of the many parks, we sat at the tables which are conveniently on the islands in the middle of Broadway and simply watched and enjoyed, and we walked.

We loved it. We walked till way past sunset and was greeted at Time Square with millions of lights, 360 degrees around us. There were as many people as there were lights. It was vibrant, alive, fun and so New York!

Tuesday morning came too soon, but we were up and ready. This time we went to Central park where we walked, sat, played ball and walked - enjoying this massive park in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Big City. We walked south to Penn Station, past Time Square (still as many lights, but not as impressive as during nighttime) and were on time for the 13h30 train. Our destination was our castle in South Orange. The BC's were home, and we went there to meet them and personally say thank you. The visit was a blessing, we said good-bye as true friends.

Back at the hotel, we had a short time to pack and go to the airport. It was time to greet New York, but more than that – it was time to greet the USA.

Oh, what a wonderful 7 days we had in NY and what a wonderful 4 months we had in America! This was good, very good times. We could become part of the locals, but we could also stay objective and look from the outside. We learned many different lessons: we took note of the many things we liked and appreciated and will make sure that it will be true of us as well AND we also recognized the wrongs, the mistakes and can learn from that and take extra care to avoid the wrong roads.

If my place was not in Namibia, Africa and God gives me the choice to live any place else, I,and the rest of my family, will choose America.

We were blessed to be able to live and learn there for 4 months of our lives. Thank you God for the abundant life we have in You!


  1. America would be very fortunate to have the Fourie family. How we miss you here in South Orange. We had dinner with Barbara, John, Patty and John on Saturday and toasted the entire Fourie clan. What a blessing for us to meet you and know you. We look forward to carrying on in Namibia.
    Paul and Shelley

  2. Chrisna & the guys,

    Thank you so much for your kind words and loving spirit. As you know, your South Orange home will always be waiting for you.

    Your blog is an ongoing reminder of the goodness in the world and the beauty of your family. I have forwarded it on to your many USA friends (known and anonymous) . . . and I think Barbara said it best . . . . ” Patty... I don't know if Chrisna realizes that WE were the ones who were blessed by our meeting.”

    We know that WE will be back to our beloved Namibia and hope that you too will visit our humble NJ home again . . .until then, let’s stay in touch and enjoy the journey of six teen boys together!

    All our Love,
    The Brown-Christenson Family