I'm feeling ....
More to follow....
I am so annoyed! I just spent a whole hour typing a huge entry about September 11th and today on this stupid TV internet thing in my hotel room, and lost the whole lot before I'd finished!!! Grrr!!! So frustrating! And I don't want it to happen again so I will try to make this brief and just cover the basics. Humph.
Thank you Sheila for your guestbook entry. Unfortunately we are not going to have enough time to visit upstate NY, but we love it here so we will probably come back again, and do it then. Thanks also for continued prayers over us this week - God is so faithful and he enabled us to take part in things on September 11th as we wanted to. Last time I wrote this entry I was much more wordy here (!), but I'm not going to be this time as I want to make sure I can succeed at this entry (!!) and it's getting late. Yesterday when I wrote from the Cyber Cafe I said I'd write about September 11th, so that's what I did just now. And am about to do again (tsk!).
I didn't sleep that well the night before the 11th. The people in the room next door were kind of noisy till late, and then we woke up at 5am to the sound of bagpipes in the street outside. We watched from the window as one of the processions of bagpipe players, firefighters, police and family members of 9/11 victims walked by on their way to Ground Zero. This particular procession had come from Brooklyn, so they must have started out hours before, and they weren't due to arrive at Ground Zero until 8am. It was still completely dark at 5am, and I couldn't begin to imagine how tired they must all be. We went back to sleep after they had all gone by, and woke at 7 (the first time we'd set the alarm this holiday).
We got the subway to the financial district, and the streets were packed when we got out. Most of the roads to Ground Zero were closed off and people were crammed up to the blockades so deep that you couldn't see what was beyond them at all. We wandered around for a while, and I bought a pair of socks and a T-shirt at Chelsea Jeans co. which had been heavily damaged when the WTC collapsed, and is now about to go out of business after a bad year as a result. They had a display in their store behind glass, of merchandise covered thickly with dust and ash from 9/11 last year. It was weird to see that. I couldn't get my head to picture the streets we were walking around in such desolation last year, I don't know why. Everything looked so normal and busy and clean. Even though there seemed to be photos displayed everywhere of how this and that looked on 9/11, I still couldn't imagine it, even standing in the same place.
I felt dizzy and wiped after a while and sagged pathetically against a pillar of a large building for a bit. We nearly decided to go home (how strange that I keep calling our hotel room "home" lately! I really do feel at home in this neighbourhood though), but instead we walked a bit further downtown, and discovered quite by accident, a route that bypassed all the crowds and blocked-off roads, right to Ground Zero. There were still heavy crowds but not so many that we couldn't get through. I don't know if it's right or wrong that we went to Ground Zero, but I do not feel like I am here doing anything touristy - it's the whole reason we even decided to come to New York in the first place. For me, it isn't about Ground Zero being just another landmark to visit, made more interesting by the anniversary. For others there, it did seem to be that way - I noticed that a lot today when we passed through there again on our way to Battery Park. I couldn't quite believe it, but people were having their photos taken with Ground Zero in the background. That made me feel slightly sick. Also there are endless stalls set up around the tribute area, people looking to make a buck from tourists who obviously see it as part of their sightseeing tour or something. Yuck to both parts. The stalls sell expensive glossy booklets of disaster photos and the like. The vendors are pushy and try to flog them for a dollar less. It's disgusting. "I heart NY" hats, T-shirts, flags, you name it, everything is there. Amongst endless memorabilia of the WTC. If you are there to lay a tribute like I was, or if you are there to be still and read some of the tributes, or even to pray, then it's impossible to take two steps without hitting another person selling something. Yuck. I'm thinking of a ruder word than that, but yuck will suffice!
Well anyway, where was I? Oh yes, we were at Ground Zero. We couldn't see down there, but we could hear everything that was going on in the ceremony on the loudspeakers. Everyone was mostly still and quiet, and some people cried. People who had lost family members wore wreaths round their necks, of pink orchids. They were being handed out to family only on the streets. Everywhere we went there were an awful lot of wreathed people. Over the loudspeaker, they were reading the names of each person who had died on 9/11. They read them at a pretty normal pace, and never took a pause, but they started at 8.45 and finished at 11.20am. The sheer number of people just seemed more than my brain could process, it was a weird feeling. After a while, I began grabbing at the names in my head, trying to make them real until the next name was called, and wondering what made each individual unique. Did they enjoy their job? Did they talk to their mother often? What colour hair did they have? Did they take the subway or the bus to work that morning? What vacation had been the happiest in their life? I know it's silly, but I just couldn't seem to stop thinking like it all the same. Some of the names I still remembered 100 names later or so, but there were still hundreds more all the time.
All the buildings around us had huge American flags hanging from them, and messages of tribute in enormous lettering. At one point during the morning, a fire truck came past along the street. The firefighters inside were slumped in their seats and were looking at the floor. I wonder how hard that day must have been for them. People started clapping and cheering, and the whole street picked it up. Something in me had longed to do that when I saw them, so I joined in wholeheartedly. Sometimes I wonder if the people left behind feel much like heros, and whether being treated as such must be a struggle.
I love how much Jesus is mentioned in this country. I see him mentioned on the TV - openly too, completely unheard of in the UK. In the streets too. Especially at this time in NYC. Everywhere you looked at Ground Zero there was a prayer team or a person giving out leaflets about where God is in all of this. And I mean everywhere. I'm not that naive though, I know this isn't a country full of Christians, and that there are a whole lot of people in a terrible place spiritually, just as in the UK. But in England, I don't know..... Jesus is like a taboo word. Or 'Lord'. God is about the nearest you'll get, and even then you can tell it's said through gritted teeth even in print. Here it is markedly different to home. Secular newspaper articles aren't afraid to report how somebody found Jesus to be the answer to all their troubles, and how they turned to the Lord and found peace, etc. I read a lot of stuff like this in Time Magazine last week. English ones would find some way of avoiding even telling that part of the story, even if it was the pivotal section, or else you'd get one brief sentence mentioning the word "God" if you're lucky, but more likely a one-liner saying that "religion" helped this person through. Yuck. I hate the word religion - God forbid I ever become "religious"!! If I did I would have lost all the spontenaity and passion that a true love relationship with Jesus brings. Pfthth. I am getting off my high horse now. Heights make me dizzy.
And this was supposed to be brief!!! I am gonna be seriously unimpressed if I lose all this again! I am waaaay off-track now so I must get on with it!
We came back to the hotel around noon, and rested because I did not feel marvellous. I was nervous about being able to go to the tribute concert in the evening. The 11th and yesterday were not good days for my virus thing. I was weak and dizzy a lot and felt feverish. But I am feeling a lot better today and I have done a lot too. This makes me soooo happy, because it's so much more than just feeling glad to feel better, it's like, I can still do things, even with a virus. My body works. Oooh, it was such a thrill to write those words!!! MY BODY WORKS!!!! Praise the Lord!! Once, I thought I would never be able to say those words again, but now I can, because Jesus healed me. How awesome is that?
We did go to the concert. I got really flappy and scared before we went, and again when we arrived at Madison Square Garden and looked for our seats. I felt sick and dizzy and weak, and I was overcome with fear that the concert was gonna make me really ill or something. It sounds stupid now, but I was really scared. So I went to the toilet and prayed in a cubicle for a while. I did not want Satan stealing my joy any longer, and I was beginning to think he was trying it on what with this concert being all about Jesus. I felt naff till after it started, but I quickly felt better then. It was so good!!! There were testimonies from a firefighter and a NYPD officer, and a lady whose husband was killed in the WTC. I knew they were coming but they were so different to what I'd expected. These people weren't sadly remembering the disaster and saying the Lord is giving them the strength to go on. They were bold, strong, full of the power of God, preaching the message that Jesus is alive and he is all we need. They were full of joy and the Holy Spirit, not regret and nostalgia. I was amazed and inspired. This kind of thing was broken up with musical acts here and there, from all different types of Christian groups and singers. I didn't know most of them, but that didn't stop me boogying and clapping! Hehe! Some of them helped you learn the words a bit as they sang, and that was good because then I could sing along. I always love it when I can sing along to Jesus. I like to worship as well as listen. I knew Fred Hammond though - oh yeah baby! Seriously groovesome gospel music! I sang as loud as I could with my wonky throat but I still couldn't hear myself over the volume of the music and all the people around me. It was awesome. There's this fabulous band called Third Day who I haven't heard before, but they must be big out here I think. I didn't know their music but it was so easy to pick up and sing to. They played a worshipful song that I can't remember the words to anymore and God's presence was so awesome and I just had to lift my arms way up and worship him. Some other people were doing that too but not everyone around me. But I had to, Jesus was just everything, everything in the whole huge arena, and all the other people ceased to exist for a while. It was wonderful. I was so glad to be there. My heart absolutely overflowed with love and thankfulness for Becky because of how she thought to leave me a message in my guestbook to tell me about the concert when she heard I was going to NYC. She stayed on my mind a lot and I kept finding myself praying for her, which is making a lot more sense to me now that I've read her diary for the last few days and discovered she is struggling so deeply with life at the moment. God is good, and faithful too. He just knows everything!
There was an altar call later in the evening. So much amazing stuff was spoken about, of God and of lives changed miraculously by him. And then was the call, "Who wants to know Jesus?!" And hundreds of people started streaming down from every aisle. There were too many people to fit in the area in front of the enormous stage. Hundreds. I clutched myself with joy and watched with misty eyes and a grin that made my face ache. For ages these people kept coming, wanting to know Jesus, wanting to open up their hearts to him for the first time. Whhyyyyy do I never see scenes like this in England?!!!! It's starting to bug me. First of all, where are the altar calls? It's almost as though church ministers are afraid to ask these days, incase nobody responds. But it's surely got to be about the Holy Spirit, moving on people and leading them to want to be close to him, and then when the question is asked people are thankful that somebody finally asked! I do see this kind of scene at Stoneleigh Bible Week, not that it exists anymore though, and people ARE asked if they want to give their hearts to Jesus in England - this is how I came to do so on October 15th 1995.
Well anyway, getting rather high on that horsey again (!!), so I'll get back to what I was saying. The response of the people to the altar call was amazing anyway. It filled me with praise once again. I was a-bouncin' by the time it all finished - 3 hours later! And we came back to the hotel and brought dinner to our room before falling into bed. God is so good. Did I mention that already?!
Yesterday after I wrote the entry from the Cyber Cafe, I did not feel well so we didn't go to Old Navy after all, we came home and rested. I got worried about the whole holiday getting put on hold while I felt ill and tired, and I was also worried about Neil having to come off his drugs that were sort of helping his upset tummy, like the doctor suggested. I just thought, "Oh man, we're just gonna be ill for the whole holiday!" But today has been better.
My appetite is improving! I had a serious cooked breakfast this morning, the first one this holiday! And then we went on the subway to Ground Zero, where I laid a tribute that Laura-Ann sent me to lay somewhere in New York. And then we walked several blocks to the ferry terminals at Battery Park. We found out that the Statue of Liberty is closed - don't know why - so we decided not to take the ferry trip to Ellis Island and Liberty Island. We have already decided we like it here so much that we'll come again, so we'll do it another time. We had to walk miiiles back to find the right subway home, because most of the stations there on our line are closed or under construction since September 11th. I had a weary moment and got kind of irritable *sigh* But we decided to do our Old Navy shopping instead and stopped at 34th Street and had a pizza at Sbarro. That perked me up a lot! And then we went crazy in Old Navy. Completely. But the stuff is soooo nice and suuuuch good value!!! I bought so much though. Neil did too. It's our only shopping spree. We left hours later (!!), tired but excited with our purchases and keen to get home and try them all on! Hehe! I got several long-sleeved tops (don't seem to own much other than shirts and T-shirts so this is good!), and the most scrumptious fleecy waistcoaty thing - okay so I'm not making it sound very scrumptious, but it really really is, honestly! I got a jacket too, a red windbreaker which is really warm and I can't wait to use it when we get home (where it is probably midwinter already :( ) I also got a New York City baseball cap today at Battery Park, and a rather exciting last purchase from Old Navy - my first maternity outfit!!! How bizarre do I feel buying something like this?!! But it's a nice feeling, because I'm buying it for a reason in preparation, and that's exciting. It's a v-neck jumper, with enough space in it for the pillow off my bed (you know I tried it!).
Then after shopping we came home and took showers because it was soooo hot in the city today. It is going to be another hot one tomorrow and we are going to "do" Central Park (at last!!). We're going to the American Museum of Natural History, and Central Park Zoo, and spend the remaining time lying in the park I think. I am really looking forward to tomorrow, it is something I've been waiting for since the day we arrived here. After that is Sunday, and the weather is supposed to turn thundery which will be our first bad weather I think. Except for September 11th - it was sunny and everything, but sooooo windy!!! We were getting the tail end of Tropical Storm Gustav, and I sometimes couldn't stand up straight when a gust of wind hit me. When I took a shower that evening I found dust and grit in my ears from where the wind drove it!!! It was very dusty at Ground Zero so I guess it must have come from there. But other than that, and the way it was overly hot earlier in the week, it has been just gorgeous weather.
I must finish this now, because it's way too long and also it's 12.30am!!! That's what happens when you have to rewrite an entry and you get even more long-winded the second time around!! Oh, I forgot to say, we have a really friendly waiter who knows us by name now at the diner. He treats us special and gets us the nice window seats and makes sure the water boy fills his "friends'" glasses frequently, etc! It is lovely to go to dinner there every night. We are really loving it here. I don't want to go home :(
Cameron's first anniversary - 2004-09-24