Today was an adventure…
Today was rainy, the first day of rain since I came to this new planet. I spent most of it sitting in the library, writing a letter to my sister, writing and working on my latest projects, and reading.
I grabbed lunch at the cafeteria (by the way, the food here is fantastic and there’s no way you can’t be healthy while you’re here; forget you, Freshman Fifteen!) and took it to eat out on the campus courtyard.
As I ate, the sun came out and the rain stopped. I observed from where I sat the commuting of students and the weaving of relationships, the exchanging of “hellos”, “what’s ups,” and even the occasional “dude!” All the freshmen, transfer, and international students seem to have found their appropriate niches. All of the Asian students (of which there are many) hang out with each other and speak in their own language; all of the glamorous fashion design majors gossip nonsense and perfect the skill of flipping their hair; those students whose hair represent all colors of the rainbow seem to also interact with one another. You may wonder what my niche is. Well, unfortunately, I have not yet found a niche on campus, though I think my niche will be found off campus in my new church family, hopefully. I’m sure it’ll be easier to find a niche once classes start and I can meet all of my fellow writers.
Meanwhile, I have indeed made a few friends who are at home in other groups though I am not. It’s okay if I don’t find a circle on campus though; I don’t mind being alone and saying “hi” to people I know as I sit back quite content with observing others. I think it’s a writer thing.
Oh yes! Today was the day that I had been invited to go to dinner and a softball game with Pastor Ray (my new pastor) and his wife (Melinda). Well, as I stated before, today was rainy AND it was humid…you can only imagine what my long, thick, brown hair must’ve looked like.
ANYWAY! The plan was for me to take the subway to the church and meet Pastor and his wife there to head out to dinner. After I finally found the subway station located not too far from the campus gate, I quickly came to the conclusion that the subway is probably the scariest, muggiest, most frightening place on the face of the planet. As I came down the steps into the underground world of New York City, I was greeted by a deafening silence; there was not one other person in the entire station. I quickly (now being attacking by all sorts of paranoia) walked over to the metro card station where I had to grab my ticket to board the train. The card station, however, was not excepting cash.
Luckily, I had my debit card with me. I stuck the card in and realized that I had forgotten my pin number. Trying to run it as credit, I was asked to plug in my zip code. Well, my home zip code has two ones at the end, and when I tried to punch in the second one, I was kept from doing so because the key was stuck. I tried again; the key remained glued to the pad so I could not put in the second one. There was a long line of people behind me now, so I canceled the transaction and stepped aside to let the people go who actually knew what the heck they were doing.
Once the line died down I tried again. Finally my zip code was able to be plugged in, for the key had fixed itself. I grabbed my card, sped to the platform, and entered the train as quickly as my legs could carry me. Never before have I been so relieved in my entire life.
As I sat on the subway, all of the most horrible scenarios were running through my head: getting mugged, getting robbed, getting assaulted in some way shape or form, missing my stop, etc. But then, thankfully, the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit soothed my soul, and God won my thoughts back over to His side. He comforted and encouraged me as I rode the subway by myself for the first time.
Stepping off at the right stop, I realized that I had no idea where I was. It was raining, it was muggy, sweat covered my face, drenched my hair, and made my heavy clothes stick to me. There’s an app for my iPod that I downloaded called HopStop, a subway version of Google Maps. I had thought I was supposed to have wi-fi for the positioning system to work, but I’m going to call it a God thing that my iPod continually showed me where I was in respect to my destination. I continued to try different streets until I was on the highlighted route again. Then I began to recognize my surroundings and I finally made my way to the church.
Once I entered the building and walked into the secretary’s office, I was greeted by two very different characters; Maria (who I’ve mentioned before) and Rosie. Both of these ladies were genuinely happy to see me, and, though I felt much like a wet dog, they comforted me with soothing conversation and many jokes. I had a great time just talking to them.
I crept into the bathroom at one point in time and fix my hair and clothing so I didn’t look so terrible, figuring that Pastor and his wife were probably in jeans and a T-shirt just like me and wouldn’t mind if I was a little wet.
However, when Pastor Ray came to the church to pick me up, I saw that he was dressed very nicely. We walked out to his car to be greeted by his wife, who was very polished and also dressed very nicely. I felt like a pigeon stuck between two flamingos.
But as our evening went on, I realized that they didn’t care how I was dressed or what I looked like or the fact that I smelled of sour rain and muggy tunnels. They really enjoyed every moment.
They took me to a Turkish restaurant. I am telling you, Turkish food, authentic Turkish food, is officially my favorite kind of food ever (I’m sure I’ll be saying this about some other food in about a week or two, but bear with me, I’m culturally deprived). Pastor Ray and Melinda ordered (it seemed like) everything on the menu so that I could try whatever I wanted. I can’t tell you how grateful I was that they were being so generous. I had lentil soup, shepherd salad (beautifully fresh vegetables like onions, peppers, and cucumbers soaked in a clean olive oil, topped with fresh feta cheese), bread dipped in olive oil, gyro sided with onion salad and rice and drizzled with a savory yogurt sauce, baklava with pistachios (which tasted like I was eating happiness), and the most pure tasting, clean, tea I have ever had. After all of this, I even had some leftovers to take back to my dorm.
All throughout dinner I was able to speak freely and excitedly about God and how He’s growing me and about New York City and how, despite the rumors, it really is an amazing place. The rain very quickly stopped and the sun came out again, making the open-air restaurant all the more pleasant. People like Pastor Ray and Melinda remind me that God loves me, that there’s hope in every situation, that Christians, no matter where they’re from or how different they are, are family and are aware that we are all part of something much bigger than ourselves.
I’ll end this with telling you about the softball game. Well, much like our dinner and our conversations, it was refreshing. I met a ton of people from the church family and talked with four women (including Melinda) who I think I will become very good friends with. I could very easily feel at home among them because of that connection that all believers have; I love the fact that I can tap into that whenever I meet someone else who loves the Lord like I do.
After the softball game I was introduced to Pastor and Melinda’s two sons. One is engaged and the other is a second semester freshman. They both seem as kind as their parents and I hope to get to know them and their family better.
So yes, today was certainly an adventure, but I feel so refreshed right now as I look back on everything that occurred. God blessed me with people I can talk to, which He knows that I desire. He could have just let me remain alone, with no one to talk to but my family back home whom I cannot see or touch, but He didn’t do that; He blessed me. He loves me and has shown me this once again.
I cannot wait until Sunday, when I get to see everyone again 🙂