Well this is it. The final morning. No subway rides, no trips to West Way Cafe for some french toast, no adventures at Crotona Park, nothing. God seemed to bless us a little extra after a long week, as when I woke up, I was only partially covered in sweat, not completely, due to the breeze slightly blowing through the open window.
The time was 5am, and we were to be outside with our luggage at 545, so we could catch the bus. I had cleaned up most of the room last night, but Larry picked up a few things I didnt get. We had about seven half filled water bottles just laying around the room, so I poured those out the window, and dumped them in our garbage bag. He got a quick shower, then I did right after. The last time to use the cubby hole shower stall... didnt feel bad about it. The water was actually kind of cold, and it felt really good.
I put on my ESPNZone shirt and threw on my backpack, put my drivers license in my pocket, grabbed my celly and was ready to go. Just a sidebar: When doing missions anywhere there will be heavy walking, like NYC, take luggage that has a handle on it. Not a 'pick up' handle, but one you can roll the suitcase with. Learned this lesson the hard way. Just a tip from your ol' Uncle Dave.
Larry was sitting outside when I came out with my luggage. I told him I was going to walk up and find a 24 hour drug store or something for something to nibble on, but when I did, there was nothing open. The City that Never Sleeps, my booty. When I came back, standing outside was Terry (he introduced himself), smoking a cigerette and drinking a beer. Mind you, this was in fact 530 in the morning. Mark was out there as well, and we talked to him for a little while... Terry, and his pal Keith that joined him soon after, were from Dublin, Ireland, and they played soccer. They had to end up in LA in two months, but until then, they were going to see the sights of the USA. Mark mentioned to me that he was thirsty, and I relayed my fruitless search for beverage, but Terry came through with a solution. "You guys wan a coupla birs? I can git them for ya if yuh'd like et" in thick Irish. We both decline, saying that we dont drink this early. Or ever.
Had a black dude come up and say "So, I see you guys are drinking early in the morning! I got one thing to say about that..." and then he began to rap some jibberish that ended with (paraphrasing) "I ain't got no money, I'm hungry, can you spare a buck?" Terry gave him a few bucks, and Tim, who had just come out trying to pawn off some extra food, gave Rapper J (as he called himself) a big bag of BBQ chips. (You cah't fult tha guy fer tryin, Terry would say when Rapper J walked away).
A cab then pulled up, and another guy got out... and I promise, be it my magic or immaculate beer conception, Terry immediately materlized a beer out of thin air and it was in the new guy's hands before he fully was out of the cab. It happened in about 1.25 seconds. This new guy was Trevor. They all stood talking to us for a minute, dropping the "f" bomb a few times--Terry said cursing was so normal in Dublin no one thought about it. Daniel and Chuck were out there by now, and everytime the "F" word came out, he'd turn to Daniel and Chuck and say "oh, I'm sorry", then continue on. "So, my and my boys ur travelin the stits, and for f*$&--oh, i'm sorry--goodness seck, we try to f$&%--oh, sorry mate--do what we kin to..." and it cracked me up.
Terry said he and his guys would love to visit Alabama, so I gave him the number to Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) and told him to call and try to contact someone on the NY trip. Really, I just wanted to envision Lori or Donna Land taking that call--that thought alone amuses me to the point where it would be worth it, but if they actually do call, thats a 100 out of 100 on the unintentional comedy scale. Finally, the time came to walk away from The Palace. Sadly, no more un-airconditioned rooms, no more jacked up showers, no more money hungry internet computers that barely work... of course, the sweat was still there. We went a block out of the way to our stop, which was okay for everyone with handled roller bags, but me carrying my suitcase by its handle.... not good times. Bad times.
Our team was the only one on the bus for a while, though by the time it passed Shea Stadium, it was pretty full--our luggage probably took up 1/3 of the bus room alone. We unloaded off the bus, got in line at the Delta desk at La Guardia (where Mark swears he saw Jake Gyllenhaal a few people behind us in line. Natalie and Paula disagreed. I was torn.)
I had a breakfast combo at the airport Burger King that cost me $6, when in B'ham it cost me $3.02 (joke of the week... what does Jackie Chan order at BK? a Whah-Pah! Do hand chopping motion for full humorous effect). Then I bought a $4 Sports Illustrated and a $3.50 People Magazine. Thats really it. Then what happened?
We came home.
Nothing more to tell, really. The flight was uneventful, and I got to sit next to Natalie again. Neither of us really said a word to each other or anyone else on the way back, but it wasn't an uncomfortable silence--it was more of a "hey, you're tired, i'm tired, we're friends enough now that we won't bother each other" which was good. The plane lifted off, then two hours later, landed in Birmingham, Alabama. After a week in the big city, our town seemed small and definately different.
Ken Mackey (Paula's hubby) was there to pick us up, along with another guy (Dave Harris?) that I dont really know... Philip's wife was there to get him, as was Colby's wife. Everyone else got off at the church, just in time for the 11am service. When we got to the church, everyone grabbed their luggage and went different ways--we'll say our "thanks" and "see yas" another time, I'm sure, because I didnt see anyone else after I went inside.
And up in the choir was my love, Stephanie, singing. I could tell when she spotted me, because a big smile came on her face, and it was sooooooo good to see her.
Well, thats all she wrote. Our New York City mission trip has been blogged, and is over with. I know I've written a lot (trust me, my extra money was pinched for it), and I appreciate you reading even some of it.
I'll have one final blog for NYC to write, which will be more of my thoughts and reflections on the trip, but this blog site will continue on, so don't forget about me. I plan to continue doing thoughts, prayers, movie reviews, encouragement and other fun things here... check back in a day or so for NYC Entry #11--The Conclusion.