Monday, August 01, 2005

NYC Entry #4: Albert, Basketball and a Naked Frenchman

So, it was hot. It still is. Anyone who knows me knows I sweat when I think too much, so last night wasnt great... though with the fan, it wasn't that bad, honestly. Larry, sleeping in the bunk under me, had a bigger problem. Apparently his fitted sheet came off, and he stuck to the plastic mattress cover in his sleep, creating that "sscchhllllleeeepppp" sound when he moved.

Woke up early, and though breakfast was here--in the form of nutra-grain bars and Arizon Tea Orangeaide (no thank you), Larry and I walked down the block to a little cafe where he bought eggs, hashbrowns and toast, with coffee AND FRESH squeezed orange juice for $3.50. Mine was $4 for French toast, and fresh squeezed orange juice--still had pulp bits in it... the juicer was right behind the bar, it rocked.

Apparently, there is a naked french guy roaming the halls. He approached Paula in a towel, but Tim only saw him wearing the Star of David on a chain on his neck. I think his name is Jon.

Got to climb on my first fire escape ever, as the breeze felt great. If it were a movie, people would have shot at me, I'm sure.

Philip gave a little devo before we headed down to the subway station, where we were to meet up with Kendall, who works in a downtown office with Upward Basketball. She lives here in NYC, but she's really a Mississippi gal... her twang is quite intriguing. Dare I say cute with my wife reading this? Anyway, I move on.

Kendall told us that the camps were being held in Crotona Park in the Bronx, and this will be the third week in a row there. When the kids come, they recieve a shirt the first day, a Bible the next day, a watch the next and finally, a basketball on Friday. However, if a kid only comes on Friday, they get all four, which has created some issues. Kendall said last week that she saw a couple of Mamas each carrying a basketball, and a kid had three in his arms. They are trying to work that issue out.

She also told us that each week, a different church in the area has been providing help and water and snacks, but one church that was supposed to help a few weeks ago showed up the first day with four bottles of water and a big bag of chips, and didnt come back the next day. With 60 kids and a bunch of parched adults, 4 bottles dont come close to the mark. And, of course, you can guess which church is scheduled to help us out this week. Yeah, that one. Not good times, bad times, bad times.

Kendall mentioned that many kids had come before, and would probably come this week, which means that although the gospel will be presented to some of the kids hearing it for the first time, some of the kids have already got a seed planted... and we have a chance to cultivate it. She shared a few great stories about kids recieving Christ in the last few weeks, as well as some adults, including an ambulance driver that helps out nearby.

We all got our t-shirts--pale yellow (I tried to tell her that I was a winter, and I needed a darker color, but she only laughed at me.) and headed out to lunch. The group split up, and Natalie & I and Josh B went to some little diner where I got an overpriced patty melt and fries. I miss sweet tea so bad I could kick a small dog for some.

I was flipping through a NY version of Bhams City Scene, and came to the personals. I'll not share with some of you what some were, but lets just say its amazing what this world has come to in terms of God's gift of sex. Simply amazing--and heartbreaking. Moving on.

After lunch, we boarded a subway and went to the Bronx. Let me just say that there is a world of difference from the neighborhoods we saw going into the sub from what we saw coming out. The Bronx looks like a very rough place to live. Graffiti is everywhere, cars are junked up in yards, buildings look like they are going to collapse on themselves, and honestly, so many people--lost, im sure for most of them--are just there on the streets, looking as if they have nowhere to go.

We got to Crotona Park, which probably covers several city blocks in size, and saw the layout of the courts. We had been given a stack of fliers to hand out, which we split up to do. Mark, Josh B and I went off, giving out fliers, talking to people and just prayerwalking. I came across a Latino family (papa?) and told the dad about it. He was standing over a grill, with his wife at a picnic table behind him.

He said he wanted to bring his kids--in broken english--and I looked over, and there lay granny on a blanket. I said hi to her, and she smiled and called out to the man by the grill. He then waved me over and opened up the grill, offering me some of the shish-kabobs he had cooked. I first resisted, but he insisted, with the wife running over and shoving a handful of napkins in my hand. I am not sure what it was, but it looked like bacon. He said his name was Albert, and that he would try to see me tomorrow morning.

I smiled at Albert and walked off with this big skewer stick covered in meat. Mark and Josh saw me and were both surprised at my findings, but after trying a bite (and getting some juice on my shirt, no doubt) I gave it to Josh.

We covered the park as best we could, then met back at the central location by the courts. It seems Josh C met a guy in his walkings that went to a church that had just built a gym, and he seemed excited about doing something like this at his church. He said he would be there. That is a good thing, because it seems that Tim met a large group of kids--about 60--that all were pretty excited about it. So the plans that Philip and Josh made, planning for 60-100 kids has now turned to planning for 100, 150, 200 kids. Good problem to have, really.

We broke off into smaller groups and then prayed on and for the courts, the nearby empty court, and the park area surrounding it. God is ready to do a mighty work, we can all feel it, and we are pumped about it.

The next plan was to go to the West Side Inn and change, then have dinner, then head to the Empire State Building. However, it was decided that it would be easier to go to Times Square, then have dinner, then ESB it. So we did.

I love Times Square... its an amazing place of hustle, movement and people watching. We split up once again, this time just to sight see a little, shop a little and so on. Again, Mark, Josh B and I went out, visiting Toys R Us, Virgin Music, the MTV store and a few other shops... including The Hershey Store. Holy carumbas, batman. The overwhelming scent of chocalatey paradisial goodness hits you, and its almost too much. But I resisted. We went into a gourmet popcorn shop, with my intentions on buying The Lovely Steph Leann some good popcorn, but they only sold the popped corn, not the kernals. At least I was thinking of you, honeysmacks. =)

I met a guy outside of Toys R Us who was handing out little fliers for an upcoming film. I took one, and read the title: Understanding Scientology. I smiled, handed it back and said "yeah, i dont need this." The guy smiled and said, "Okay". Then I replied, "However, I have a Bible in my backpack if you want to discuss the Truth." Suddenly, a little apprehensive, he nodded and said "Uh... um.. okay" and quickly walked away. I smiled big. Thought I'd share.

Dinner at Sbarros was greasy (but the cheesecake I split with Nat was good) and so we went to the ESB. The original plan was to break into fours, and pray over NYC from each corner of the building at the top. After an hours wait, however, that plan was thwarted as we could barely stay together at the top... the place was slammed with people. I managed to work my way through, and prayed silently over the north and south sides of the city, including where the Twin Towers stood. It was strange not seeing them, because the other time I was there on the top, in 98, they stood out so vibrantly.

The line was such that we even had to wait to get out. Anyway, sweaty, funky, hot, tired, and thirsty, the team stumbled to the subway station, and caught the train back.

Here's what you can take out of today...
--We might need more coaches than expected. Dont get me wrong, this is a great problem to have, but--and this might sound funny--pray for me, because I might have to coach. And thats not a great thing, because I can't play basketball worth my socks (which are right now sweatily glued to my feet). If I have to coach, I can imagine some kid will school me, and I'll end up letting him teach while I learn.
--Pray for this church that is supposed to be helping us. Not only that they come through, but that they do it with gracious hearts and since they will be the ones getting the decision cards at the end, that they'll be willing to follow through.
--Pray for the kids. Some will fight. Some will listen. Some will only be there for the prizes, but pray for the new kids that will hear Jesus' name for the first time, and pray that the already planted seeds in some kids will continue to cultivate.
--Pray for us. We're tired.
--Pray for Paint the Town, as I haven't a clue what we're doing with it.
--Pray for Albert and the naked French guy.

And my time is almost up! I love you guys for thinking of me, and praying, and I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU THE LOVELY STEPH LEANN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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