I had an incredible encounter today. As I took an unusual route home, I came across a young undocumented woman with her baby, a boy named Hussain. I initially walked by but the Spirit of the Lord was thickly upon me! I bought a snack and some water for them and turned around to go back to them. Sitting on the ground with her, I learned that because she’s undocumented, she can’t find a place to stay. She can receive food stamps for her U.S. citizen baby, but nothing for herself. She told me where she was from and because of that and her son’s name, I assumed that she was Muslim.
Her precious baby, Hussain, was crying a lot, but the moment he saw me, he smiled so brightly. I called his name and he giggled, putting his finger to my lips. I kissed his finger. He reached out both of his arms toward me. He wanted me to hold him. Me! A stranger! I believe he saw the face of Christ through me.
Before giving this woman the names of some faith-based places she can go, I asked if we could pray together. I wanted to put my hand on her shoulder, but she wanted to hold hands. Well, we held hands and prayed to FATHER God through Jesus the Messiah and Son of God together! This was the first time I EVER prayed to Abba, through Jesus, with a Muslim person. Please pray for her physical needs and salvation!
Photo used is for representation only. They aren’t the people I met.
Well, it’s been a week since I’ve been back in NYC. I’ve done so many things:
- Saw Miss Saigon (I’m obsessed. See it NOW!)
- Indulged in happy hour at a hipster bar in the gentrified part of town (it’s still cute, doe)
- Got my first massage (I’ve been missing out!)
- Frolicked around Spanish Harlem (PR food is the best)
- Ate lots of arepas (#VenezuelaLibre)
After all of this fun, with my friends back to their normal schedules, I’m left sitting on my new bed, a couch in an apartment that belongs to a friend of a friend. I have no private space of my own in this place, but I like it. It’s spacious and in a “good” part of Washington Heights. “Good” means there are fewer PoCs and more hipster bars.
As I dash about the city from doctor appointments to job interviews to laundromats to Target (I need cheap furniture), I think about the past few months. My life was essentially on hold while living in Georgia. I was stripped from all familiarity, so to come back to NYC, my home, should be thrilling right??
Yes and no. I love NYC. My heart beats with the chug chug of the A train as I zip uptown to Wash Heights. I enjoy buying pastelitos and piraguas from the street vendors. (Support Latino street vendors!) I love being with my friends again.
But, something has changed.
I’m older now, not in number but in wisdom. I’m wary of this city. I know this city has the power to build but also to destroy to the point of desperation. I was there.
I pray that this city is kinder to me this time around. I ask God to expand my friend groups and to grow my faith community.
I’ll keep you guys updated.
She was a typical Puerto Rican woman in so many ways that pain me to explain:
- She never went to school and was illiterate.
- She had ten children and raised them alone.
- She lived in Brooklyn, NY in her adult years.
- She was taught to serve men.
- She sacrificed her entire life for her children.
My grandmother was a warrior. A luchadora. She passed from pancreatic cancer when I was 11 and therefore I really don’t know much about her. I’ve been taught that she had a difficult life but she always kept a smile on her face. She believed that no matter how little you have, you always have a plate of rice and beans to give someone. That’s love.
As I transition back into NYC, the place my grandmother called home for so many years, I’ve decided that I have to collect her story. I will go back to her old apartment in Downtown Brooklyn and find neighbors who remember her. I’ll book a flight to Arecibo, Puerto Rico and learn about her island years, the years that shaped her beginnings. I will write her story because she deserves to have it known to the world.
I love you, Abuela.