Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Seventeen Hours and Still Kicking

Seventeen hours seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye as our group prepares to get rested for tomorrow. I had the opportunity to set out with the St. Peter breakfast crew at 6:00 AM, which is the earliest I have had to get up since the 5:00 AM marching band practices. After a couple cups of coffee and a spectacular New York bagel, I managed to drag myself to the subway and enter the tunnel toward uptown. After Stephanie's comic display of what not to do at the New York subway station and an encounter with the NYPD, we were on our way.

As soon as the breakfast crew arrived at St. Peter, we were immediately welcomed with open arms and a list of duties. I started out with Luke, Ellen, Tianna, Lina, Andrew and Pastor Kate putting out donated clothes for people to grab. After a lot of folding and organizing, we were called down to the basement to help with the food production. The whole process began to lock in and flow nice and smoothly. All in all, we were told that we served breakfast to over a hundred people! After the breakfast, it was nice having people come up to us and thank us for the meal. Between the breakfast and the clothes, felt glad to have served so many people, knowing that I made a positive impact on their day.

The breakfast group was able to wrap things up by ten thirty in the morning, and the group unanimously decided to use the extra time to explore the city of New York. We started our exploration at Central Park. Although I was not thoroughly impressed with the "nature" of NYC, I realized that you have to take it for what it was. Without Central Park, there would be nothing but buildings in New York. We proceeded to split into two smaller groups, both heading to Rockefeller Plaza to see the 30 Rock building. After seeing the cast of 30 Rock (including Tina Fey!), we went to an Irish pub to grab some lunch. After making a quick pit stop at Times Square, the breakfast crew headed back to Seafarer's to join up with the rest of the group.

The most emotional, thought provoking portion of the trip thus far came with our tour of Ground Zero at the World Trade Center site. We were led on a Faith Walk by our wonderful guide, Lisa, and we learned many specific details and ideas that none of us had thought about the attack that occurred on September 11th, 2001. Regardless of where we came from or what religion we believed, we all agreed that God was at work in all the men and women who died trying to rescue the lives of innocent people. We should not come away from this event with the ideas of revenge or anger at one another, but rather see how we can come away from this with an even closer sense of community and strength.

Park 51 was a very unique experience to see, since we were finally able to get behind the rumors and figure out what the controversy was all about. Despite popular opinion in other parts of the country, Park 51 was not some "mega-Mosque" built on the site of the World Trade Center. Rather, it turned out to be a proposed nonprofit community center similar to a YMCA, except that it would have ties to Islam and host many Muslim community events. This community center would be open to anyone regardless of their faith, and the building would be used for a variety of interfaith events. I saw this proposal as an inspiring opportunity for the Muslim community to reach out, and gain a greater sense of belonging in the city that they call home.

After such a long day filled with so much action and adventure, I will be very glad to finally catch a break. I certainly look forward to the new opportunities to have fun and to serve that will arrive tomorrow. As of now, "Peace NYC!"

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