First, let me clear up a few things that I missed...
The reason all the kids were gone today wasn't a church event, it was a nonprofit org. called Childrens Aid Society. They had something going on today (and will have it tomorrow) that prevented the kids from coming back.
Also, it was Jenny, not Monica, who was only here because her mom made her come. But Monica is still "too cool for school".
Finally, something I missed yesterday in telling, and when I remember it, I was in bed, so I wasn't coming down again. When we were on the bus yesterday leaving the Bronx school we were in, Staci sat next to a girl who was also working in the school with us. Turns out her group is staying in the hotel we had orginally planned on staying in... and its a real hostile, not just a "sorta" hostile like the one we have now. What I mean is, this girl said she and the only other girl on the trip are staying in a large room with eight other women they dont know, all in bunks. She said the night before, people didnt stop coming in and out until around 5am, and she had to be up an hour or so later. There is a good chance our girls would have had to stay in this large room had we stayed there... so praise God for the West Side Inn. Did I just say that?
So, this morning was so difficult to get going. I have the alarm on my phone set for 530, but somehow hearing "September" by Earth Wind & Fire just sucks that early. I rolled out of bed, got a shower...
...so this shower tub thing going on... Its got a sliding door to get in the shower, but the top of the door & the rail barely touches my head (meaning Larry had to duck under it). The door also doesnt really close from the inside, so you have to pull it as much as you can leaving a slight crack big enough to get your fingers in to open it. And after looking at it today, I'm estimating the opening to be about two feet wide. No kidding. The toilet is also by a window that people like to leave open, and if you aren't careful, people in the windows about twenty feet away can see you, sitting or standing...
...and then got ready. I met Chuck & Daniel, Larry and Mark, and this time Staci joined us for breakfast at the West Way Cafe. Paula and Brandon came stumbling in a few minutes later. Breakfast was good, and we met everyone in the lobby at 7am to leave (except for Natalie, who overslept and came down about 705a), then trundled off to the 103rd Street Station.
I have two blisters on my right foot, and they hurt like crap. I walk with a limp at this moment. Yes, I've treated them. They still hurt. But I digress.
The most exciting thing about the morning--other than the fact we're in NEW YORK CITY BABY!!!--was that little Josh B let Staci get off in front of him at our Bronx stop, upon which the doors closed on him and the train left, Josh still on it. We all had previously done a plan, however... if you get left on the train, you get off on the next stop, and someone will come to you and you come back together. Paula hopped on the next train, and a few minutes later, they both showed up.
Im tired, so I'm going ramble. There is this Mexican grocery store right around the corner from Crotona, and for whatever reason, all their stuff is really cheap. I can get a bottled water there for fifty cents, and 20 oz Cokes for $1, no tax. Their bathroom is a little sketch, with the fly filled flypaper hanging down from the middle of the ceiling, but other than than, its cool.
After I got my water, we all joined up at Crotona, meeting Kendall there again. Manny arrived with his big truck of supplies, and we unloaded and set up for Day Two of Upward Basketball. Most of the kids that were here yesterday are with the Children's Aid Society, so we only had about 40. It could be considered disappointing, but know with that few kids, we can build much more personal relationships than if each coach had, say, 12 kids of their own.
One of our coaches didnt even have any of kids show up, but a few more had all of theirs and then some. From 10 to noon, kids just showed up and signed up at random, which was great. We had two guys, however, that you have to know. Carlos and Sammy. Carlos is a special needs kid that, to look at him, looks perfectly fine. I think Natalie said "he's a little slow". Anyway, this guy has won several special olympic medals in swimming and basketbal, and his little brother, Sammy, who has down syndrome, also was there. Their mom, Beatrice, said that Sammy hates the summer and the hot weather, and has refused to go play outside all summer, until this morning.
Carlos asked Staci, "Does my name sound english or spanish?" and before she could answer, he said "cause i know more english than i do spanish." Good for a laugh, I thought.
Pray that Carlos and Sammy come back, with their mom, so that we can go a little more in depth with them about God.
We had a few troubles this morning--Devon and DeAngelo come to mind (they kept coming over to get water as an excuse to not participate, and then proceeded to make fun of the other kids--these guys are like, 12 or something)--but mostly it was a very smooth morning, as you would expect with 40 kids and not 110.
Jason, the 16 year old, came back. He wandered around again, jumping in here and there. Pray for us that we'll have a chance to break through to him, and get him involved somehow.
Another kid, Juan, was kind of a punk at times, but he speaks fluent spanish, and we used him to talk to some other kids. We are hoping that by making him feel needed, we can keep him around.
Also, some of the girls wanted to have their prayer requests known... Lorin (sick godfather); Mylady (said "meh-lady") and Jenny's dad (needs a job).
Around 12, we handed the kids their prizes (an upward watch) and said bye, and settled down for a lunch that Geryl had gone and gotten us. Turkey & Ham sandwiches, with cold soft drinks and chips, and the sno-cone man coming around made it just perfect.
While Chuck and Daniel departed (headed off to the Bronx Zoo with Anna Lynn, Josh B & Brandon) because they couldnt be in the school, Geryl & Paula graciously agreed to do laundry, which I needed very badly. The rest of us went to PS 63. After waiting at a bus stop for a bus that never came, we continued on the several blocks, then up the 5 flights of steps--each flight had 26 steps to it... it was evil.
Philip, Colby and Tim had worked together on a room, but Jimmy told them that their room was being treated for asbestos, but they could still go in. They made the call to work in the other classrooms with us, Tim with me, Larry and Josh, and Philip & Colby with Mark, Staci and Nat. Our room was farther along then there room, having done much prep work yesteday. Their room needed more prep than ours, so halfway into the work time, we had gotten to the point where we could paint. Tim started off by doing nothing but caulking cracks and spackling holes in the wall... yeah, it was that bad. We primed a few areas, taped off some more, and then Josh and Larry grabbed long arm roller brushes to work on the top of the walls, while I poured some paint into a small bucket and began to do trim work.
Tim was still caulking.
I ended up climbing on top of a high cabinet, taking short steps as I was unsure of how steady the cabinet would be, and whether I'd fall through or not, and painted up high and around corners.
And Tim was still caulking.
Josh and Larry put two coats in many places, getting all the wide open spaces on the walls, and then did some trim work too.
And Tim... yeah, still caulking. Actually, he did that from around 120pm to about 430 or so. His hands were gross. However, the group I mentioned before, staying in the real hostile with the large women's sleeping quarters? They were working on the other side of the building, with no air conditioning (we had two of the large metal fans and two box fans blowing full strength) and their room was twice the size of ours, and the walls were in much worse condition.
Finally, around 430, we stopped and began to clean up.
Okay, its midnight right now... let me tell you what happened in short form:
--Came back to hotel, where Paula handed out our clean, folded laundry, which in my bag included two pairs of Hanes tighty whiteys, which I dont wear, and no other guy will claim, making me think they are lying or some strange guy left his laundry in the dryer and I ended up with it.
--Rode to Rockefeller Center as a group, with plans to see St Patricks Cathderal.
--Cathderal plans nixed, smaller groups form to go eat dinner.
--Josh B, Paula, Brandon and I go eat at Carnigie's Deli, where I have a roast beef sandwich that literally was four or five inches thick, and a piece of genuine NY cheesecake that would just make you slap your memaw and ask for more gravy. Good times, good times.
--Our planned return subway station was closed, but we made it back around 11pm. I'm tired now.
Now, let me conclude by saying this... thank you for your notes of encouragement. I've read Steph's, Tebe's, Daniel & Jen's, Mrs Lynn's, and this morning I read Amy's and this evening I read Mikey's. You guys rock. You dont know how much I look forward to reading them and how I've fought the urge to open them all up. Thanks for praying for us, and for me, and thanks for diligently reading this like I know many of you have.
Until tomorrow, I say...