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New York, NY — Wednesday, August 9 – Thursday August 10, 2006
New York City is known as the city that never sleeps. It is said that you can get anything you want in New York. But, behind the lights and allure of fame and fortune, people are still lonely, dissatisfied, and distressed. It is for those people that the Merrymakers went to the city. You find birds of every feather living together in that city, but how well do they really get along? Can you imagine a place where birds of every feather are happily flocked together, getting along with one another? Those of us who are on this caravan live in that hope every day.
We had a permit for music and dancing, but had no idea where we would be able to park. When we arrived at the park, we went over to the superintendent’s building, and told them who we were and that we had a permit. We explained we had three small buses. The first was 13 1/2 feet tall and 42 feet long. Their eyes got so big! "And the second bus is 13 ft tall and 35 ft long." Then they started laughing. "What’s the next one," they said, "47 ft long???" I told them, "No, it’s just the size of a small school bus." So I asked them, "Where are the grounds that we can park the buses?" They hesitated a minute and then said, "Uhhh… Well, I guess right over there," and pointed into the park. We brought them over to see the buses where we had them parked, and when they saw them they just burst out laughing. Then they asked, "Do you need electrical?" I told them, "Yes," and then asked them whether they had water. "Yes," they answered and said, "We’ll run some over to you." Then I said, "When’s lunch?" They answered me, "At noon and you’re buying!" "OK," I said, "we’ll buy you lunch!"
One of the men, a Haitian and a very kind man, noticed later a few of our youth walking over towards the bathrooms. "Where are they going ?" he asked Ariel. He explained and then the man warned him of the dangers. He said that it would be very defiling for our children, and that we shouldn’t go there. Ariel commented to him what a wonderful man he was.
The police, who have always been very helpful and kind to us in New York City, encouraged us to call them if we had any problems at all. The musicians quickly found the perfect spot to set up the PA. But we soon realized a woman had a permit for that very place to tell some stories to a gathering of at least 100 children. Some of us looked on as she told her lively stories while most of us were engaged in conversations as the park was steadily filling up with many people. Soon the stories were over, and we started right away to play our Israeli music and dance.
The day did not pass without some opposition, however. At some point, we realized that a few young people were handing out literature that spoke against us. We are acquainted with these types of things happening; there will always be people who do not like what we say, or who don't believe it is possible or true. We are not trying to convince them of the contrary. Several people that had been visiting us during the day were distressed about what these people were doing. They began telling people that the literature being circulated about us was untrue, and that they shouldn't waste their time reading it. Of course, many of these people were wonderful people. We shared in depth with them about our life together and the state of this troubled world we are living in.
One man told us of his experience as a young navy pilot in Beirut 40 years ago. He told the story of sitting at the end of the Beirut airport runway ready to take off during a mortar attack. His jet was loaded with bombs and missiles, and he suddenly realized that he was going to have to kill people he was not so sure were causing the problems. What if he killed someone who was really innocent? He told us he most likely had. He explained how difficult it had been for him as a young man. He said that after forty years, nothing has changed. No government on earth is going to be able to change the situation in the Middle East. It is beyond what politicians can do.
A young fireman spoke about his desire to have something more than the shallow relationships he had experienced most of his adult life living in New York. Yet, he seriously questioned whether he'd be able to escape the captivating rhythm of the city. He said he thought that perhaps he had gotten so used to the noise and activity that he couldn't live without it. However, he did express a serious desire to come to our festival in Cambridge (on Saturday, August 26).
Early on in the day, we met a man from Burkina Faso, West Africa. He stood out in the crowd with his "korah," a stringed instrument he made himself. He explained to us that he was a Christian on a mission to help people who were in need. He has a family. We gave him a little air time on the PA, and enjoyed the pleasant sound of his unique instrument. He plans to come and visit us in Coxsackie, NY sometime. Our friend Sandrine was there most of the day and stayed until we left the city. We appreciated hearing her perspective of the people of New York City, how they have a tough shell around them for protection, "extra padding" as she put it well. She talked about how they are afraid of being real. She said, "See, there's one right there," pointing to a young woman in blue jeans talking with her friends. Later she remarked, "Look! Now she is dancing with you!"
We met so many people all day. It was truly wonderful to find these treasures in the middle of this great city. It took effort to leave when it was time—to leave those groping and lost hearts behind. We were relieved to have planted the good seed in those who were willing. Around midnight, we left the park to find a spot to park the bus for the night. We found a place down by the Hudson River. As we drove through miles of tall and looming buildings with people going to and fro everywhere, the beautiful moon at the peak of its witness comforted our hearts. That full moon tells us of His faithfulness and how He waits for His precious ones to be gathered to Him where they can have a life full of purpose and true love—a love that will never ever leave them.
The next day, we went over to Tompkins Square Park where we ran into a couple right away that we had met the day before at Washington Square Park. They were thrilled to see us. When we gave her a freepaper (she was in a wheelchair), right away she opened it up and began reading about a people who loved God with their whole heart. She looked up with grateful tears in her eyes and smiled. We stayed for a few hours and went on to meet so many more, including a young man with his son in a stroller. He was not interested at first, even in taking a freepaper, but then with friendly persistence left with two papers and a smile on his face. He's gotten to know us just enough to be interested in learning more. Hopefully, he will come to Lancaster, NH and visit us there. He was very pleasant to speak with. There are so many more to tell you about… They keep coming and coming. They taste and they see something they never ever dreamed could possibly exist.
More coming soon!!!