By: Vanessa Galdamez (Mission Intern, Harding University)
On day 10 of our journey in NYC, we went out into the neighborhood that we are focusing on so we could try to reach out to people and perhaps gain connections with those who may possibly be interested in learning about Christ. We had already gone walking through the neighborhood on Monday, but hadn't had any success at all when approaching people on the streets. Today we tried a different approach. We walked through the two main parks in the neighborhood and looked for people that may be sitting by themselves and just start a normal conversation with them and incorporate what we’re trying to do. This started to open doors.
In the first park we stopped at, there were many children playing on the playground and parents watching their kids. I found a lady sitting on a bench by herself watching her two children playing. I decided to go over and sit on the opposite side of that bench and hoped to start a conversation with her. I was not sure as to how to start, but when I got there she I gave her a smile and she smiled back, so I figured it would be okay to eventually start a conversation with her. A cute little dog walked by with its owner so we just started talking about how cute the dog was and I proceeded to tell her that I miss my own dog because I’m always away from home for long periods of time. She then asked what I did, so I told her that I was a student doing an internship this summer and we were just praying over the community and for those individuals that wanted prayer. She replied positively, and we began to chat for a really long time, just about everything. I practiced intentionally incorporating little phrases in our conversation that demonstrated my faith. We ended up chatting maybe half an hour to forty-five minutes and I asked her if she would ever be interested in a bible discussion or wanting to pray with someone. She said yes and gave me her contact information. It felt very uplifted to know someone was interested, and it was just really nice conversing with someone and finding common ground.
We then went ahead to walk a little more and found a different park where we could talk to more people. At first I was a tad intimidated that there were not any children around, it was mainly older adults. I didn’t know if I would be able to connect to them, but I gave it a shot anyway! I saw an older man sitting by himself so I went over and sat next to him. When I first when over we simply exchanged greetings and sat in silent for a few minutes. I noticed he had an accent but couldn’t tell what type it was. I started to make small take with him in English in hopes that he could keep the conversation going, but he was struggling a bit. He soon asked if I spoke Spanish, and I said "yes!" We began talking, and when his wife came over as well. I told them what I was doing there. They absolutely loved it! They are already believers, but it was nice talking about our faith and the needs of the community in Bronx. We chatted for a really long time and the man even bought some fruit snacks for me and my teammates. They were just a lovely couple, and it was reassuring hearing from them that they were glad we were doing something like this in a community that needs many prayers, especially over their young adults. It gave me more confidence and I thanked God that I had come across some wonderful people.