Wednesday was the half-way point of our trip. You could definitely see people starting to drag and in need of refresher, but you could also see God doing some amazing things through the conversations and interactions we were having with the people in the city. It was a good type of tired, but we needed a chance to just unwind.
So that was Wednesday.
It started out with two groups. One group would wander New York as the “Ultimate Food Tasting Tour.” They were going to eat lunch at Shake Shack–a burger joint that everyone loved–then walk around the city and ended up eating at Crumbs Bake Shop–twice. Needless to say, they accomplished their goal of food tasting in New York City.
They did have one moment of excitement but not the good kind. They were walking between food stops and saw a lady get hit by a car. It happened almost right in front of them. So they had the opportunity to see if she was okay and pray over her while they were waiting for the medics to arrive. They told us later that it was a scary experience, but they were grateful they were there because they had the chance to pray for her and share the love of Jesus. A bittersweet moment to say the least.
The other group–my group–did not really have a plan set in stone. We had a few different places we wanted to go or see, but we really just wanted to just go around the city.
We started out the morning grabbing a late breakfast at H&H Bagels–a place recommended by one of the leaders, Nick. He raved about the bagels a couple of days before, so we figured we would give him the benefit of the doubt and head out and grab a couple. We picked them up and walked to a park on a pier near by. We ate our brunch while looking at the Intrepid and taking trendy pictures of seagulls and each other.
After that we walked to a near by thrift store to pa-rouse the racks of formerly owned clothes in search of any pieces that were a good deal. I actually picked up two scarfs–going to New York turned me into somewhat of a trendy fashionista, though I blame some of the team for encouraging that behavior. Nevertheless, they were a deal, and the South has a poor selection when it comes to winter gear.
After that, we split with Nick, who was going to the MET to read and wander around looking at art, and started crossing off the other places we wanted to visit off our list.
First stop, the Apple store off 5th Avenue.
What a glorious sight. And yes, that is the store. Well, it is actually the entrance to the store. The actual sales floor is below the glass, underground. Hands down the coolest Apple store I have ever been to. Granted, the products were the same as any other Apple store, but the newly released iPad 2 was available to mess around with. So, I was able to get my hands on one, which was exciting after following the announcement a month earlier.
Our next stop was actually next door: FAO Schwartz.
Known for its plush animals and Big Piano, FAO Schwartz is any kid’s paradise. I could have gotten lost in the store while looking at all the different array of memorabilia, LEGOs, and stuffed animals. Definitely a store that you have to go in just to say you did. And we did.
Next stop was Greenwich Village.
It was explained to us as the trendy area of the city where the 20somethings hang out. So, naturally, it was going to be filled with trendy-wearing, hipster-looking, single guys (Remember, there are six of us in the group, four of which are girls). Tyler and I decided that we were the…bodyguards. At least that’s what we told ourselves as we tagged along.
We found a local diner to eat a late lunch, saw a Jake Gyllenhaal look-alike, and laughed about things that I don’t remember.
The given reason we visited Greenwich Village, allegedly, was because of the unique, antique stores there. We found one that the girls looked around in for a good 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, Tyler and I got extremely bored. To the point where we started shooting with my camera on manual focus and adjusting settings to get weird shots like this, or this, or this, or… well, you get the idea.
Brittney was also on a hunt for a new pair of boots, but that was about as successful as Jake Gyllenhaal’s acting career. So, we moved on.
Our last stop of the day was at a bookstore called Strand.
Their claim to fame is they have 18 miles worth of bookshelves. A bookworm’s or author’s paradise. I have never seen so many books in my entire life–floor to ceiling. I am pretty sure that if it has ever been printed, it was there somewhere. They even have a rare books collection on the top most floor that include the works of Picasso, James Joyce, and Charlotte Bronte. I ended up buying this book there for basically half-price (If you have not heard, read, or laughed at The Oatmeal, do yourself a favor and go read all of the comics on his site… right now. This post will still be here when you get back, don’t worry. It is hilarious).
We left Strand and headed back to the hostel in hopes of meeting up with the other group to go eat a late dinner. Turns out when we got back, the other group had raided the corner store–affectionately known as Hole-in-the-Wall–and bought almost $100 worth of cereal, milk, and other snacks. Two members of our group walked in on them gorging themselves. They said there were multiple boxes of cereal on the floor and various pieces of food lying around too. Not to mention the overwhelmed groans that sounded like a chorus of overstuffed bullfrogs. We tried to recruit them for a late-night Shake Shack run, but to no avail. Their food-tasting adventure left them in a sugar-saturated coma which had only recently been preceded by a breakfast cereal binge.
So out our group of six went again. It was the only way to end the day: burgers and cheese fries. We came back and went to bed almost right away because we had to be up early the next morning for an outreach opportunity we were going to have.
So that was our free day.
It was a day full of walking, riding subways, laughing, and just doing the “touristy” things in the city. Some people may say, “I didn’t give money to your mission trip just so that you could go tramping around New York blowing all your money on thrift stores and food extravaganzas!”
My response to those people would be this: Relax. No where in the Bible does it say, “Thou Shalt Only Do Mission Work on Mission Trips!” (Although, I am pretty that was on the third tablet that Moses dropped while on Mount Sinai).
If you think about it God instituted the rhythm of rest. 6 days it took Him to create the Universe; 1 day He rested. He did not have to. He’s God. He doesn’t get tired.
I think, in God’s sovereignty and foreknowledge, He knew that man would have the proclivity to work himself back into the ground. That man would not voluntarily rest without an extremely good reason. Therefore God set the precedent with a pattern, a cycle, a rhythm of how we should operate.
But, I also think that we were not created to work towards a day of rest; we were created to work from that day of rest. If we are striving for something, usually when we attain it, it disappoints us; if we live out of something, it refreshes us.
That is what rest was intended for. God intended it to refresh, rejuvenate, restore us so that we might live from that. And when we live from, and out of, our rest we enjoy the time more,
We hold it closer,
We appreciate it more,
We keep it more sacred.
I think that is what our free day was. It was an acknowledgment of rest for our souls. It was a way that we could stop our busy schedule and just say, “God, we want to enjoy these people you have placed on this trip; we want to embrace this city you have put us in; we want to receive a refreshment of our soul.”
And that was Wednesday.