Our great adventure took us into New York City the day after the conference ended. We were up and ready with tennies on our feet for walking, a camera, phones, and instructions from my friend Kim and our son-in-law's sister.
Commuter Train to NYC
The hotel shuttle took us to the train station, but the wrong entrance.... so we promptly got lost trying to find the right train into the city. Seriously. But we persevered, found help, and were able to make the train heading from Westport into NYC, which took about 45 minutes.
Subway ride to Battery Park
Getting off in Grand Central Station was a bit of a cultural shock. So busy, so many levels, so many trains and subways. All our senses were rocking from the noise, people, lights, levels!! Getting tickets for the subway from the machine was a learning process but before long with directions from my friend Kim we were heading to Battery Park. Once again we struck up conversations with people on the subway. One woman I sat by told us how far it was to our destination and then asked me what had brought us to CT and NYC. I shared we had been to a healing conference and she told me she was in the "healing field" as a person who did cranial adjustment work. It brought us into a conversation about Lyme and the many clients she treats who have not gotten the help they needed from western medicine to recover. She asked me how I had been healed from Lyme and so I told our stories. She asked me several questions and seemed genuinely interested. Life is stranger in fiction, isn't it. Or maybe not. I heard recently a wonderful statement: If you want to walk with God you need to go where He is going. Sometimes that means a conversation on divine healing in a NYC subway.
Once we got to Battery Park we walked to the ticket place for the Ferry to Liberty and Ellis Island. This is where we ran into a glitch. Major. We did not buy tickets ahead of time, so stood in line for 2 and 1/2 hours before we were able to get on the ferry. Lines to get a ticket and lines to get through the security checkpoint, lines to get on the ferry.....lines to get off the ferry...and lines to return. Frustrating to say the least. BUT we did enjoy seeing the Statue of Liberty and seeing Ellis Island from afar. (Sadly we did not have time to go there) Besides chatting with those in line we also had a conversation on our ferry ride back to Battery Park with a nice couple from Hampshire England. People are fascinating, don't you think?!!
Arriving at Liberty Island
Walking to 9-11 Memorial
Freedom Tower in background
Returning to Battery Park we took off walking towards the 9-11 memorial. Much of it is still under construction, but we were able to go through security to get inside the park where the pools and engraved names are. It was a nice and certainly sobering place with a beautiful view of the Freedom Tower. Joel had been there six months after 9-11 when he went as a representative of our synod to be a relief pastor for a weekend in an exchange program the ELCA had. Our son Matt went along and the area then was still a massive hole in the ground.
So many names
After spending about an hour or more at the 9-11 memorial we took a subway back towards Grand Central Station. While waiting for a subway we chatted with some people about where the red line would take us and this lady about my age or older said in a perfectly delightful New York accent, "Oh honey, you really need a subway map to get around NYC!" She was very helpful and told us how to get on the free Shuttle they call the "S" that would go straight to Grand Central. She did tell us where to see Time Square which I was hoping to do.
I really liked the subway experience. It was a blast! Both Joel and I thought it was great fun to people watch as we rode and were amazed with two young women who stood holding heavy college books open with one arm while hanging on to the subway pole in the other. They read the whole time we were on the subway...how, I do not know. Impressive!
When we got off the subway at the end of the line we had a choice to get on the free "S" to Grand Central or leave the area and head up to Time Square. Of course I wanted to go up and out into the throng of people, but Joel briefly had a financial breakdown as he argued we would have to pay $6.00 more to get back inside to ride the "S". I reminded him what it was costing us for the trip, and that $6.00 more was not going to break us! I was determined to experience Time Square, so up we went out into streets with people everywhere and an amazing light show. Another shock to our senses but at the same time so exciting! We walked around for about 20 minutes before heading back to the station. I suggested we eat at Hard Rock Café but Joel was worried about time, so we vetoed that idea.
Getting the "S" was pretty easy and we were able to ride quickly to Grand Central Station. Once we arrived we were once again spinning our wheels trying to find Main Concourse and Food Courts where we planned to meet my friend Kim. We would go down one area and end up at another subway...then go up the stairs and still be unable to find our way. We must have looked pretty lost as we stood in the middle of the floor with people rushing past to catch their rides home. Suddenly a man stopped off to the side and said to us, "Do you need help?" I said, "Oh , we do. We are soooooooooo lost. We need to get to the food court and we cannot find our way out of here!" He laughed and said, "You are so cute!" then quickly gave us directions and off we went.
Joel, Kim, and Renee
We were able to finally sit down and eat something before heading up yet another level to the main area where the clock is. That was where we were to meet Kim. Kim, like Katherine was part of the conference call prayer group for people with Lyme. We got to know each while in the group, then email, and phone/texting. This was our first face to face meeting! What fun. She came from work, and told us she recognized my hot pink tennies before she recognized me!! We sat and visited for nearly 2 hours and had such a good time. Bless you Kim. You are a delight! Once again we never thought we would meet in person until Heaven, but God had other plans. Only God.
Throughout our day in NYC we found ourselves repeating the same scenarios: Talking with strangers, asking people for help, walking around in circles with a lost look, searching for bathrooms, staring at the sights with amazement, and chuckling over all the things I just listed! When it was time to get on the train for CT another scenario played out that had us giggling!
Joel kept going up to the woman at the Metro North info center and asking her when the train left for CT. She would give him a time and then we would end up talking to Kim longer and miss the train so he would then go back to ask again. Finally when we were ready to go he said, we only have a few minutes to catch the 8:32 train so I better go ask her for the next one. When he walked up to the woman clerk he said, "I am back"......."Can you tell me the time for the next train as I am going to miss this one too." She looked at him and said with impatience...."You HAVE two minutes to get there" then turned and pointed her finger in the direction we were to go and said, "GO~ GO~ GO!!!!"
Joel grabbed my hand and off we went moving as fast as we could to hop on the train for Westport. We made it but had to sit separately. I soon was in conversation with a young woman who was on her way home from work....and had 1 1/2 hours to ride. Joel sat with a man who was also traveling farther than us. They visited awhile and soon I heard him sharing with Joel about how he was all alone, etc., and Joel encouraging him by saying, "There is someone out there for you. Be patient, God will send someone special into your life." Only Joel. Only God.
We were back in our hotel by 10 and in bed by 10:30 exhausted but happy. It was such a fun day for us. We took to hotel shuttles to the train station, two commuter trains traveling an hour each way, three subway rides, a ferry, walked over 5 miles and saw the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island, Battery Park, 9-11 Memorial, Time Square, Grand Central Station, and were able to meet our sweet friend Kim.
Two years ago I could not go into a store without reactions. I could not visit my family in their own homes. I could walk only 3 minutes without being exhausted. I was frightened that nothing would ever change. And then Katherine introduced us into the Word on healing. And Andrew opened our eyes. And Joel was healed overnight. And I began the process of healing. And then we found ourselves on a marathon day trip in NYC enjoying an adventure that was beyond our imagination. We feel asleep with a smile on our faces and gratitude in our hearts. Only God.