Slow moving traffic seems more bearable when snowflakes stick to the windows. The colors of street lights bend against the water droplets from melting snow while students wait patiently for traffic to move. Their destination is Alphabet City and Stuy Town, the site of the Lutheran Brethren's newest church plant, in Manhattan, New York.
Stepping off the bus was a slow process for the students. Like a pack of elephants the students tried to pick up their feet as they shuffled off the bus. Their legs weren't working right. As they walked further away from a place that is quickly becoming their home, the students found park benches and stared back at the bus with a unique sense of satisfaction. They were sitting in New York City.
The sun broke through their early morning dreariness. The snow was hours behind them, left in Niagara Falls. Newly braided hair bounced as girls hopped around the park, giving phones to friends for pictures to snapchat friends and family at home. The group was killing time before they prayed. It's a unique thing to wait for.
When Pastor Erick Sorensen from Epiphany Lutheran Brethren arrived the students huddled around. With many students sitting on a cinderblock wall Erick began to explain the unique atmosphere of the community he committed to reach for the sake of the Gospel. Some students have read Erick's postings on Facebook. They're eager to grab coffee with someone and talk about Jesus. They want to follow Erick's example. This is an adventurous group.
When Erick finishes his explanation the students peel away in groups of 4 to 5 and begin walking around the park, venturing into the community. They're on a prayer walk. Some find seats on benches for focused prayer. They're the smart ones. They know the dangers of praying with their eyes closed while walking in New York.
Prayers are hurled towards heaven from the 44 member choir. They pray for Pastor Erick, specifically for he and his family as he works to live out the Gospel in the community. Prayers for specific people start to flood the minds of students, thinking about people they saw while waiting for Erick to arrive. Bikers, a mother and daughter on a walk, the mailman shifting from home to home. All these people are prayed for.
The group ends their prayer time in a large circle. Erick closes the prayer walk with a specific call to heaven. Students close by huddling around Pastor Erick. Hands lay on top of hands as heads bow. The humidity from having concentric circles of teenagers surrounding Erick warms more than skin and bone. The spirit is with these students. God is listening to the cries of a music group bringing encouragement to a missionary on the front lines in New York.
When the prayers cease and the group steps away there is a sense of peace. Erick asks for a picture. He takes a selfie using his phone, getting everyone in as students leap in the very back. The picture floods instagram with a few taps of Erick's fingers as he stutters in giving some simple directions before leading the group to an iconic pizza parlor. It's a highlight.
Students board the bus and journey to the Stensruds. They find hot chocolate and sweets, a few guitars, and some great conversation in a picturesque home. The boys and girls split between two homes, each holding over twenty high school students. The slumber party is a perfect capstone on the community the Hillcrest music group created throughout the day. Visiting a church plant, praying for the community and pastor, and sharing their thoughts and memories over sweets is something that is undoubtedly God glorifying.