What was once a distant horrific event that we only saw on TV 10 years ago had become real to us even when we just came here 8 months ago. Our New Yorker friends told us people had to walk home from work that day because all the trains and buses stopped operations, and all bridges were closed, just in case there were other planned bombings. Our friend's husband who works in Manhattan borrowed a bike from the gym of his office and rode two hours to get home. Most people had to go on foot. For many days they would burst into tears whenever they watched the news reports every day as the city dealt with the aftermath.
As I walked home from church that day I remember pondering why am I here? Exactly four years ago I came here to send my son to his university and my sister and her family drove me to Virginia for a visit. On the way there we dropped by Wash., DC and I saw the place for the first time. It wasn't just the "touristy" places that impressed me. We passed by some residential suburbs and I saw the most beautiful and impeccably-landscaped townhouses I have ever seen. I thought, this must be the most beautiful man-made place on earth and the cost of living here must be among the highest in the world. Of course, I was right, especially about the latter. I remember thinking, "Wow! It must feel like a dream living here!"
When I went back to Malaysia I told my family about Wash., DC. I said I would love to live in a place like that, just to feel what it's like, even for just a few months or even days. But it must be the most dangerous place to live in, with the Pentagon and the White House sitting right there. When I was there we actually drove by the Pentagon and my brother-in-law showed us the part that had a gaping hole from the bomb that was dropped there. It was only "fortunate" that that part of the building was not really occupied that time and thus, nobody was hurt.
One year later, when my son came back to Malaysia for his Summer break, I told him the same thing, that DC is so beautiful, but I wouldn't want to live there, even if I could, in the light of 9/11. After 9/11 the world has changed.
In Feb. this year, my son was short-listed for 2 jobs, one with a consulting firm in Manhattan, NY and the other, a job with a bank head-quartered in Wash., DC area (Arlington, VA). We were hoping he would get the one in Manhattan so he would be near us, even if he decides to get a place of his own right there, rather than stay with us here in Bayside. But the consulting firm was taking too long in making their decision about hiring him whereas Capital One Bank offered him at once a business analyst position, and they gave him a deadline to decide. Thus, he took the latter offer and now he's living in Wash., DC. And now, I am wondering, in the light of 9/11, why are we spread in these two most dangerous places - Wash., DC and New York City?
When we moved to NZ three years ago, my family in the Philippines were saying we'll have a relaxed life and we'll be far from the political turmoil, NZ being so far and isolated from the rest of the world. I called it "the edge of the world," and "the last stop to the South Pole." So, I said, "Yeah, while the rest of the world bomb each other, we will be sitting in front of our TVs watching, together with the seals and the penguins." And I actually felt good about that, although I reminded my brothers that NZ actually sent peace-keeping troops to the Gulf War. In the event that a similar thing happens again and NZ would draft men into military service, my own sons may not be exempted.
But now, I am truly pondering, "How did we end up here in the most dangerous cities of the world, when I had actually expressed the fear of living in these places before?" Of course, the obvious answer would be to think that probably, God didn't mean us to be by-standers and spectators in the sidelines. He probably really meant us to be where the action is!? Exactly 3 years ago we were packing and getting ready to leave K. Lumpur for Auckland. Months prior to that my friends had doubts whether it was God's will for us to move to NZ. But I assured them that I had prayed about it and God clearly showed me it was meant for us. I would have a "refreshing" in NZ. And I did. NZ was "paradise" compared to this, and looking back now, we were really meant to come here, too, eventually, although of course, at that time, we didn't know it. If we had known, I'm sure we wouldn't have made that move to NZ. But God really meant to give me that respite in NZ, at least from my younger daughter's homeschooling, albeit it was very brief, before bringing us to this cauldron.
So now, you ask me, is God really with us? Sometimes I wonder, too. After all, this is not really the best of economic times for America, and as my high school friend who also just moved here puts it, "America is no longer the land of milk and honey that people once thought it was." Of course, I agree. But I believe that God brought us here for a purpose. (Jer. 29:11). I will never be sure whether we are in the center of His will but He continues to take care and provide for us.
Last month, when Hurricane Irene was here, my sis and her family in NJ had a few hours of power interruption, and so did our friends who live, just 15 minutes away from us. Our cousins in Lincoln Park, NJ even had it worse. Their house got flooded and they had to evacuate for a few days. My other cousins in Lafayette, NJ also had flooding in their basement. Just a few blocks away from us here, some people also had power interruption. As for us, God heard my prayer when I told Him, "Lord, I have a full house. My sis-in-law and her family are here. We can't take any more inconveniences like water or power line cut offs on top of this over-crowding." (My younger daughter, i.e., special needs child went hyperactive in those 4 days they were with us and we had to take her to a doctor and my in-laws had to move to a hotel!) Thus, I believe, we were miraculously spared by God. And I continue to believe that because He brought us here He will continue to care for us. I continue to put my hope on our truly merciful, faithful and loving God.