Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What is Going On?!?

School has began again and the New Year is almost a month old. I have some interesting classes this semester and plenty of reading to do. One of note is the Central Asian History course. It is basically the area in the middle of the Silk Road, including the post-Soviet "stan" states. Today is Wednesday, and in addition to studying tonight's lesson, I am going to go help Will (or Big O) move his belongs into a storage area. The project should take about 3 hours. I just completed the first Harry Potter book. I have not seen any of the movies or read any of the books till now. After completing the first, I called the person who loaned me the first book and said, "I am ready for the second." I don't consider it an addiction, but it is a catchy tale and easy to read. That is about it for now. Tune in next time.
Last Official Day in NYC

Day Four: In planning the trip weather was to be great the first three days of our visit, but rain was predicted for the fourth day. Typically, according to residents, the first three clear days were a rarity. Considering this information, we had planned to go to The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) on the rainy day. We packed up our room and took our bags downstairs to be checked and headed to the MET. Along the way, it was decided we needed some breakfast and just and escape from the rain. We found an old fashioned soda bar (for lack of better titles). We sat at the diners bar and eat a meal that was cooked in front of us. It was a wonderful experience. The rain continued, but it did not stop us. We drugged onward to the MET. Upon arriving at the MET, I quickly realized that many people had thought similar about the "rain day" and the lines of people out the front steps was evidence enough. There was a special display of Vincent Van Gogh's drawings which I would have loved to seen, but the two hour line would not allow for me to see them. Instead I was able to see some Assyrian wall art, Turkish pottery, American paintings, and some medieval armor (swords too!). We rushed out of the MET back to the hotel to catch a cab to the airport. We caught a cab and headed to the airport. After checking in we found out there would be a delay. I am uncertain of the specific, but the airport told us we would be staying in Chicago that night. With no desire to stay in Chicago, we did our best to get to Houston. About three hours later we found a flight to Houston's Hobby Airport. The twist is we flew out of George Bush Intercontinental and our luggage was headed to Chicago. We arrived at Hobby at about 10pm and rented a car to go to Northwest Houston to stay the night and retrieve our baggage in the morning. We ate some Taco Cabana and crashed. The next morning, we went to George Bush Intercontinental in hopes of getting our baggage. Thankfully it had arrived and was still there. We headed back to Milano and that concludes the highlights of our NYC trip.

*If you are trying to catch up, please read The New Year for Day One (just scroll down).

Day Three in NYC

Day Three: The first item on the agenda was the memorial to Ulysses S. Grant. He was the commander of the Civil War and also the President of the United States (remember I am getting a History degree). The memorial contained the tomb of General Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. Before arriving at the memorial, to the Southeast of Grant's tomb is the Riverside Church of New York City. It's tower reached up towards the heaven caught us by surprise. Next on the agenda, was The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Along the way, we crossed the Columbia University campus and a Theological Seminary. After a few blocks South we arrived at the massive Gothic church which begun in 1892 and is still unfinished with one-thirds of the construction still pending. After viewing the massive church, we went North to the Bronx to see Yankee Stadium. As a baseball fan, it is necessary to pay baseball respects even to the Yankees. We snapped some photos and headed back to the island. We went to Rockefeller Center to see the ice skating and live Christmas tree. After pushing and many "excuse me's", we made it through the crowd and headed North to our reservations at Tavern on the Green. On our way to Tavern on the Green, we stopped by and viewed Saint Patrick Cathedral. After walking many blocks we arrived at Tavern on the Green. The atmosphere was wonderful and it was a beautifully decorated restaurant. Central Park is somewhat famous for it's carriage rides, so I thought it would be sweet to take Kari on a carriage ride. We boarded the carriage at Tavern on the Green and enjoyed a romantic carriage ride through Central Park. The evening concluded with a subway ride home to the hotel and a last stop at a Korean grocery store for some essentials (we stayed in Little Korea).

Bad Blogger!!! NYC Stories

I have been a little busy with the first week of school under my belt and other adventures. I am taking nine hours this semester at Texas State. I attended Kari's sister wedding in Cameron, TX this past weekend and have successfully assisted Kari in her move to San Marcos. Now to the NYC Stories...for those who just happen upon my page or don't check it often, I went to NYC Dec. 26-29 and have only wrote about Day One. Sit back and enjoy another of my NYC tales...

Day Two: Our first stop and first full day in New York City was Battery Park. It is the southern tip of Manhattan island. On the West Side of the island overlooking the Hudson River, we looked at and took pictures of the Statue of Liberty. Moving north, we encountered a hot dog stand and ate a late morning breakfast. Continuing on foot, we passed by the Trinity Church on our way to Ground Zero. The area is completely fenced off, but on the East fence is a timeline of the events that took place on September 11th and the names of those lives that were lost on that tragic day. Prior to September 11th, the subway stop was in the World Trade Center, so subway traffic needed to be re-established in the area. After clean up, construction yielded a new World Trade Center subway terminal which we gladly took a train from Downtown to Uptown. Arriving at Columbus Circle, just Southwest of Central Park, we took a look at the new Time Warner Center. With plans to eat at the Tavern on the Green and than go see the Rockettes, we hiked our way North to the Central Park restaurant. Unexpectedly, we were informed that we needed reservations, so we found a little restaurant that did not need reservations. After dinner we made our way to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes. The show was wonderful, Santa was late for Christmas and the Rockettes did some high kicks and somehow Santa delivered all the presents. I think the wonderful part of the show was after the conclusion of the show and live nativity and the presentation of the birth of Christ was presented. It was delightful to see the Lord Jesus honored at Radio City Music Hall. To end the night we went to Ellen's Stardust Diner for shakes and chili. Much to my surprise, the wait staff performed Broadway music in between serving their tables in a dramatic fashion. Not too forget, on the walk back to the hotel we went by Time Square. That concludes Day Two adventures, tune in for more stories from NYC.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sarah's Story from New Orleans

Sarah is a resident of New Orleans how lost everything. We had an opportunity to serve Sarah and her seven year old son last week by cleaning out her damaged stuff and ripping the sheet rock out of her home. I am going to try and re-tell what she told us.

Her and her son were able to get out of the city and fled to Texas. Eventually they ended up on Waco. Through some Baptist organization, (I would guess a local Baptist church) she got a teaching position at Baylor. Sarah enrolled her son in a local school and began living out of a hotel. A lady by the name of Doris from the Baptist organization encouraged Sarah to find a home. Sarah insisted she did not have the time, nor the desire to even make a new home. Doris offered to apartment shop for Sarah. After viewing 40 different apartments Sarah narrowed it down to 3 apartment, but told Doris she would just take the smallest. Sarah told Doris that she did not want anything bigger because with the items she had the apartment would seem empty. With this in mind, Sarah went to move in and upon arriving at the apartment she was meet by several men with trucks full of furnishings. Couches, lamps, beds, and food were among the items given to Sarah. In tear, she thankfully accepted the items. Uncertain if she is a Christian, these people stepped in at a moment when she most needed it. Sarah earned $9000.00 and she told Doris she would like to tithe to the church. Doris told her if Sarah wanted to tithe to do it at her home church because Doris explained Sarah was the churches offering to God. Sarah commented that if she was God's offering that she should be a better person. She is going to remain in Waco for the end of the school year, but is already trying to rebuild in New Orleans. She contacted First Baptist New Orleans and the Texas State BSM went to her house willing to serve. She sat on her front steps of her destroyed home and told this story. She was overwhelmed by the way God was taking care of her and that we were standing in her front yard ready to help her some more. It was so awesome to see how God had provided some many Christians to help her along her journey. She expressed her thanksgiving of us being there and felt no anger towards God, but blessed by His protect and blessings bestowed by generous Christians.

I will leave you with this thought, helping someone, smiling at someone and any loving action to your fellow neighbor comes straight from God and with this love we can share the love of Christ. NYC stories to come...tune in later.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Home for a While

Not only have I returned home, I planned to have one of my wisdom teeth pulled this morning at 9:30am, so I am recovering from the tooth pull this morning.

New Orleans is a mess. I remember when the hurricane happened and desired to go down to the area and help however needed, so when the opportunity arose with the Texas State BSM to go on a Mission Trip I was all in. I attended the meeting and after hearing about what the trip would entail, I decided not to take any cameras, but hope to get pictures from some of the other people who went (upon receive I will post some pictures). We left San Marcos at 6:45am on Monday, January 2 and returned on Friday the 6th. It was a day of travel there and back, so we had three days of work in the city. On Tuesday we got our assignment from First Baptist New Orleans and tackled our first house. These houses were we working on were damaged by the flooding due to the levee damage. According to the "Disaster Pastor", the First Baptist New Orleans pastor coordinating disaster relief, these homes were under about 10-12 feet of water for almost a month. Inside the sheet rock was soaked and almost everything was covered in black mold. The plan was to tear out all the sheet rock from top to bottom allowing the studs to dry and eventually be bleached in an effort to save the existing structure. We completed this first house in one day. On Wednesday and Thursday we spent our time at a lady named Sarah's house. Similar to the last house, but this time we were able to meet the home owner. After cleaning up lots of tree damage, moving a car, and many potted plants the home owner arrived and expressed the desire to search her house for things she wanted to keep. Respecting her wishes, the Disaster Pastor, Travis, took our group on a tour of many of the damaged areas. We saw the West End near the lake, the 17th Street levee, which was being repaired, and many, many, houses just torn apart by the sheer force of the water rushing in from the broken levees. We returned to Sarah's house to learn that she only wanted a few things done to her house, but later in the afternoon choose to have us do the entire house. Sarah was very thankful for our willingness to come a serve and shared her story with us. It was a great blessing to me to go and serve in New Orleans and thank you to everyone who lifted us up in your prayers.

NYC tales and Sarah's story will be posted later, I am going to rest a bit. More to come, tune in later.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Louisiana Trip

It is finalized. I will be leaving for New Orleans tomorrow morning at 6:45am. We will be de-mudding houses in the New Orleans area. The director suggested "clothes you don't mind ruining." I will be taking some old clothes and boots. Also, we will be required to wear a breathing mask and goggles the entire we are at the work projects. Dead human bodies should not be around us, but there is a possibility of dead animals. We will be staying in what was formally a homeless shelter, but has been converted to housing for people who come and work in the area. It will be a rigorous four days, but I am looking forward to it. I do have some worry, but I know the Lord will take care of me. Prayers for our group, the people of First Baptist New Orleans, and all those who will be touched by our opportunity to serve the Lord, that they might be blessed as well as us while we work. I should be back on Saturday evening.
The New Year

It is now 2006 and I have a moment to sit at the computer because I have no other engagements to attend. I survived New York City and have many tales to write from the trip. It was time well spent and plenty of pictures taken to show off.

Day One (Monday, December 26, 2005): We flew into LaGuardia about 2 pm and took a taxi to the hotel. We stayed in a La Quinta Inn on 32nd and 6th, which is just a few blocks from Time Square and the Empire State building. The weather was wonderful, but did not see any snow (unless you count the week old snow piled up on some of the sidewalks). We took the train up to about 100th Street and Broadway to visit some friends of Kari's sister. We spent some time with that family and headed to Bloomingdales. After at least 3 hotdogs (throughout the day), Kari and I found the furniture floor and sat in the massage chair for a about 20 minutes. After Bloomingdale's, we found a little Italian restaurant called Patsy's. We had the classic favorites spaghetti and fettucine alfredo. That concluded our first day in New York.

As I realize how much time I just spent in Day One, I have come to terms that I will have to due this writing in multiple sittings. I have a 7pm meeting at the BSM. The Texas State BSM is going to Louisiana and in order to go on the trip you have to attend the meeting. be continued.