Whenever I leave a church event (like the softball game or a service) or even an occasion of some sort of Christian fellowship, I always feel like Lucy when she she comes out of the wonderful land of Narnia only to be greeted by a frozen reality; only I see the signs that time has passed.
Today was my first attendance of a church service at International Baptist Church of Brooklyn, New York City. Thankfully, I arrived safely (with much less hassle than my first commute, I might add) and I was greeted by people that I knew the moment I walked in the door (though I walked in rather clumsily because the front door is very heavy and it felt the need to trap my arm, thus disabling me from walking like any normal human being).
Maria and her husband Sam were standing inside the foyer, folding programs, and their smiling faces brought a great warmth to my heart. Then Charlene came up and hugged me, asking how I was and such. The two of us then made a run to Dunkin’ Donuts to buy two dozen of the delicious pastries for her little people Sunday school class. For some reason, when we were ordering the donuts, I suddenly was reminded of home…maybe because when my mom, Gracie, and I ever went out on errands or what not, we would scrounge up enough change to buy a sweet tea from Dunkin’ Donuts. The flashback was much needed and much appreciated.
Speaking of things that are much appreciated! When we came back to church, Charlene guided me down to the college and career classroom (this is one of those much appreciated things because at my home church, I was the only “college and career” person in our entire church family) and introduced me to most of the people there.
I almost sat by Rosie during the class, but I from how she spoke and how she portrayed her attitude, I chose against it. It’s not at all that she was being rude or anything, but she speaks in a quick and low monotone (which I find unique considering not many women I know do this) which makes me feel like I’m in some underground cafe where emotional poetry is read with great animation and wild gestures, where snapping is the form of applause, and where coffee and tea are served black with a complementary chocolate colored barret. Though I don’t particularly dislike that feeling, I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to feel during Sunday school. So I sat near the front with no one sitting directly on either side of me, ready to listen and to learn.
Sam was talking finances and budgeting from a biblical perspective, which I found incredibly helpful, especially since my funds are limited. During the lesson, Maria came and sat next to me, laughing excitedly without a care about if it was appropriate to laugh and sipping her coffee as if it were twenty below outside. I officially decided then that I really like her.
After Sunday school, we traveled up to the sanctuary where the service was being held. I again picked a seat near the front at the far end of a pew so I could observe and form an opinion properly. I was just about to start writing to God in my journal when one of the guys from Sunday school came up to me and asked if he could sit next to me. Considering my present appearance with no one sitting anywhere near me, I consented. He scooted past me and sat to my left, immediately controlling the conversation.
If any of you know my testimony, you know how I feel about guys being nice to me. It’s very difficult for me to trust guys, especially ones who are kind and gentle and confident when they speak to me. Rather than focusing on the manner of this particular figure, I focused on his appearance, noting in detail the characteristics of his face and how he communicated what he was thinking. He had dirty blond hair, unkempt, rough; his eyes were a faded blue, widened with excitement and a crazed sort of feel that I couldn’t quite describe, as if they were colored with adrenaline or a solid form of lactic acid; his stance was one of average height (though he was taller than me, but most guys are nowadays) and lankiness.
By the end of our conversation, he had basically told me his entire testimony, given me a flyer to this church that he really liked (apparently he attended like, three services a day in three different parts of the city), and invited me to join him in his trek across the city. Obviously I was going to say ‘no,’ since I had just met the guy and also I had already planned to stay for the second service at 2:30pm. But it was nice that he was so open and friendly.
After the service, Maria and Sam bought me lunch, which they didn’t have to do but they offered to do anyway (quite honestly I had brought a granola bar to eat between the services). Lunch was very nice; the senior class (for the church also doubles as a k-12 school) was selling hot dog and cheeseburger meals for lunch, which made me feel at home once again because of the casualness of it all. Burgers and chips; thank you much.
The second service, I thought, was even better. There were fewer people and it was easier to focus without the one guy sitting next to me. Lots of people in the church very eagerly came up to me and introduced themselves and welcomed me to their church; I was sure they probably did this with everyone, but I didn’t care; each person who welcomed me made me feel very special and very loved.
There’s a deaf population in the church, so many people speak sign language (I shouldn’t say speak but you know what I mean). I was told before today of this fact, so I did the modern-day-teenager thing and went on Youtube to learn some sign language. I think the deaf members who greeted me appreciated the fact that I sort of knew how to communicate with them. Granted, I could only ask “how are you,” reply with “fine,” “bad,” or “good,” and I could tell them what my name is, but I still could see that they appreciated my effort…personally I thought communicating with them was a lot of fun. 😀
After the second service, Sam and Maria furthered their generosity by offering to drive me back to campus. Maria confided in me that she didn’t want to appear as the overly protective new mom, but I told her that I appreciated her protectiveness…I didn’t tell her just how much (which was a lot, to know that someone nearby really cared about what happened to me, that I was eating enough food, and that I was well taken care of).
On our way back to campus, we stopped at a tea shop (a shop. For tea. Come on people) called David’s Tea (spelled, DavidsTea). I had said that we didn’t have to stop for anything but that we should continue on (for I felt overwhelmed with generosity and friendliness and love), but Sam (who was driving) claimed that because there was a parking spot across from the shop, then we were meant to go in. New Yorker logic.
We went in and were greeted by a strong scent of strawberry honey and a wall filled with canisters containing over fifty different kinds of tea. Now, normally I drink just plain ol’ Lipton, or maybe, when I have it, the simple lemony flavor of Earl Grey. There were three or four different types of Early Grey, plus all of the other flavors to pick from. I eventually (after having to smell and inspect many different flavors including cookie dough and salted caramel) settled on the earl’s garden flavor of tea, iced. Without sweetener, the brew knocked me off my feet and I required three or four or maybe it was five squirts of the honey-like sweetener they used to make the tea a little weaker.
Haagen Dazs (I didn’t realize that Haagen Dazs has shops, just like I didn’t realize that Scholastic has bookstores) was apparently up a block, so that’s where we headed next, because the caffeinated, sugar-blasted, beverages that we were drinking just didn’t have enough of a kick.
After careful deliberation (since there was over fifty flavors at this shop as well), I decided on a Rocky Road Dazzler. This treat was diabetes with a side of would-you-like-a-heart-attack? Rocky Road ice cream layered with crushed Oreo cookies, smothered in whipped cream and topped with some type of chocolate crumble, I gained five pounds just watching the thing being made.
We had great conversations and God once again (ONCE AGAIN I TELL YOU) provided for me in a way that I could never have predicted. It’s as if He was planning this all along, this sudden inundation of love, kindness, refreshment, and fellowship, behind the scenes while I sat on stage twiddling my thumbs and biting my nails ten hours before dress rehearsal.
I realize that this is a cliche and I’m sure that this is a poor summary of this past week, but…
man, God is good.
Tomorrow, the real adventure begins, because I begin the process of adding the actual school and learning part of college onto the social aspect. It should be interesting, to see how everything is going to come together…
Wish me luck!