David, myself and about 6 other guys went on that first NYC mission trip. I don’t remember the other guys altogether. It was Shannon Harrell. I think Jess Revis went with us as well. There were some other guys, but I can’t remember at this time. We drove a couple of cars if I remember correctly. I do remember driving the Buick up there on one of the trips. I remember stopping outside of NYC and taking the wheel covers off so they wouldn’t be ripped off once we got into the town.
I think it was the first trip that we took a wrong turn and ended up in New Jersey. To get into NJ was not hard to do since the city is somewhat contiguous to NYC. We were in a sub-division in NJ trying to get turned around and back out and hopefully toward NYC. Actually we were going to Queens in all of these trips. When I say “NYC” I mean “Queens”. While we were in the sub-division we noticed live deer walking across the yard of this guy’s house. It was sort of surreal to see deer in a sub-division, particularly since that sub-division was in NJ somewhat contiguous to NYC. It was really weird.
We made it to Queens and stayed at this lady’s house who was a speech pathologist I think. Her name may have been Janet. She stayed upstairs and we all stayed in the apartment-type house. It reminded me of the introduction to All in the Family. The houses looked like the intro to that TV show. I think Janet stayed with somebody else while we were there. She gave us her place.
My first two impressions of NYC I was not prepared for. On that first night I was on the balcony of the apartment looking out in the street. I looked as far as I could in every possible direction and all I could see were cars. They were on both sides of the street and on both sides of the street going up both side streets on my left and right. There were no empty parking spaces. I saw hundreds of cars in that brief time on the balcony. I began to weep uncontrollably. Those cars represented people and people represented souls and souls were the reason we were there. It was an unforgettable moment. I was overwhelmed by the number of people in that city.
The other initial memory was the niceness of the people. I was expecting to see bloodshed, gun shots and more. TV had altered my view of the city. It was not like that at all.