Monday, July 30, 2007

Fantasy Fiction Tour Day Nine (July 17, 2007)

We left the spacious, beautiful home of Bryan's friends after a wonderful breakfast, and headed to New York City. I rode with Christopher and Jennifer. We were constantly rearranging who was in each car, for optimum mixing and fellowshipping during the drives. More shop talk about the work of writing, but also lots of great discussions about God stuff and ministry.

Our destination was a mission in Brooklyn. Driving into the "Big Apple" would have been exciting anyway, but on the outskirts (when traffic was still blitzing along) we had some extra excitement. A car in the left lane had to brake suddenly, and was hit by another, and smashed violently by a third. Christopher (in the second-to-left lane) had no time to brake, and so accelerated past the sparks, crumpling metal, and scream of burning rubber. If the accident had slid further into our lane, we would have had nowhere to go.

Once we reached the burroughs, Christopher really showed off his New York driving skills. Yellow cabs dart in and out of lanes like minnows, and Christopher did the same as we wove our way toward the mission. I loved the music of the car horns. They were a constant conversation.

At the mission, Jennifer and I trekked up to the third floor girls' dorm, to find the bunks where we'd spend the night. Then we relaxed with the rest of the team (who again were jumping at a chance to update their blogs and answer emails...and practice bad Rocky impressions and Brooklyn accents). Soon it was time to navigate to the Timeless Treasures bookstore attached to the Brooklyn Tabernacle.

The time at the store was warm, wonderful, and uplifting. I loved the staff and the folks I got to chat with. But the highlight was the prayer service. We were given a quick tour of the Brooklyn Tabernacle at around 5pm - and folks were already gathering, kneeling at the altar, preparation for the 7pm prayer service. When we joined them later, the music and heart of worship carried me a couple steps over the threshold of heaven. Tears ran down my face as I praised God, and had one of those "close encounters" with His heart. It was so deep, that I felt like it was a precious gift that washed away a year of some very tough circumstances. Hard to put into words--even for someone who makes a living as a writer.

We weren't able to stay long, but I savored each moment.

One other thing spoke to me that night. The night before in Delaware, we'd enjoyed luxury. Huge rooms, comfy beds, and even a basket of toiletries in the bathroom. I felt welcomed and cared about. The hospitality was palpable and such a blessing.

As I made my way into the bathroom on the third floor of the mission, in this rough building being transformed by love and hard work, construction material was propped in the corner. Broken windows leaked in the rain. Duct-tape held down the edge of the carpet. But on the bathroom counter was a basket of toiletries. The love, the hospitality, the welcome of our vagabond group was every bit as palpable and every bit as much of a blessing.

Since I'd been sick and was overtired, I crashed for the night while Christopher and Jennifer visited with our hosts who run the mission. But the next morning I got to meet them and learn more about their work. Pastor Ron shared that one of the biggest needs if for volunteer staff - folks who can raise support and come to work with them. If you have a calling for urban ministry and God has been nudging you to find a place to serve, email me through my website, and I'll give you their contact info.

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