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Sunday, September 20, 2009

New York City

Our church has been going to the Bowery Mission in New York City to have a service every year since about 1975. I don't remember when we last went along but it was not in this century. Leroy was saying the last couple years he'd like to go again but there was always some kind of schedule conflict. This year we crossed off other things and joined the group on the fully loaded bus to make the trip.
We got on the bus at 7 a.m. and arrived at Battery Park in New York City around 10. Our group walked to the Staten Island ferry and rode it both ways back and forth from Manhattan. We sang four or five songs on each trip. At the end of the first crossing one of the passengers told me our singing was beautiful and asked where we are from. Someone said they saw another man taking a video of our singing. We were not doing it to get attention for ourselves but to point people to the Lord as their hope and rescuer. From the ferry we had a good view of the NYC skyline. The ferry passes close to the Statue of Liberty and Leroy got a good picture of it. Someday I want to go up in the statue but we did not have time yesterday.
After we got back from the ferry we ate our lunch in Battery Park and explored the park a little afterward. The weather cooperated nicely and gave us a beautiful day to be in the city.
There is an old circular stone fort in Battery Park which was built in 1808. It was the last of a series of forts which guarded lower Manhattan, beginning with the one built in 1624 by the first Dutch settlers. Just across from the fort is a monument to the Walloon Settlers (Belgian Huguenots) who sailed with the Dutch on the ship Nieu Nederland (New Netherland) in 1624. The momument was dedicated in 1924, the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the settlers in New York (then called New Amsterdam). We are rapidly approaching the 400 year mark! This is the entrance to the fort. On either side it curves outward to begin the circular design. (You know I will find something historical everywhere I go, don't you?)

After lunch the bus inched toward Bowery Street where the mission is located. Traffic was heavy and some streets were closed for an Italian festival. We saw Ground Zero where some construction was being done but it is a long ways from being anywhere near finished. Because of the traffic we were late getting to the mission where our group conducted the 2 p.m. service (which didn't start until 2:30). Things have changed on Bowery Street since we were there last. The piles of trash and junk have been cleaned up and the drunks that used to line the sidewalks as they slept off their hangovers are gone. The neighborhood looks much more respectable now. The parts of the city I saw yesterday are cleaner and greener than they used to be. I saw quite a few rooftop gardens and flower beds planted in islands in the streets.

After the service ended at the mission, the bus again inched its way out of the city. It took an hour to get to the Holland Tunnel. We stopped for supper somewhere in New Jersey and got back to the church at 8 p.m.

As I looked at the streets of New York teeming with people I could not understand how so many people would be attracted to living in such cramped quarters. We saw all makes and models of people dressed in all sorts of ways and speaking a multitude of languages. I guess we were just one more variety added to the mix. I noticed the inquisitive looks we got from passers-by in the park while we were eating our lunch. Leroy heard two men discussing us and one of them identified us as "A-mish." New York is a nice place to visit but I'm a country girl to the bone. We had a good day in the city but I am thankful to be back in the quiet country again. I need my space!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoy your 'historical writings' even though I live in Canada. Mary H