The Bowery made this encounter possible. The Bowery Mission has been a place of hope for homeless men since 1879. Its currently home to eighty men who have enlisted themselves in a program in order to "get off the streets," and it quickly became our home as well. Yes, its where we slept and ate most of our meals, but I believe that people are what makes a home, and the love these men showed us made the Bowery just that. Site-seeing is great and the city is beautiful, but the times that remain the most vivid in my mind are those spent in the mission.
There is always a job that needs doing at the Bowery. The best part is that you get to work along side of these men and hear their stories. We led chapel services (which they allowed us to continue even after we bombed "O Holy Night"), organized the never-ending clothing closet and pantry, and proudly sported the red Bowery aprons and hair nets as we served meals. Oh, and several of the guys completely ripped out a walk in freezer and assisted in installing a new one. No big deal.
When you go on a mission trip, you want for leave feeling like your time was well used, right? A stomach bug (which we eventually refered to as "The Plague") soon hindered some of our abilities to effectively use our time at the Bowery. It was one of those moments where I didn't understand why God would allow this. Why during this short time we had to serve? As always, I was reminded why He is God and why I am not. His strength and role as our Rock was highlighted in our weakness and inability to serve (or keep solid food down). It's clear that He doesn't need us to do His work but lovingly allows us the priviledge to be a part of His perfect plan - even if for a shorter time than we planned. Yes, being sick away from home is difficult, but atleast we had places to sleep and medicine to suppress the symptoms. For that I should be more thankful.
For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. 1 Corinthians 3:9
For your viewing pleasure...
The Bowery's chapel