Manhattan Diary

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Musings from Manhattan - Looking Back on 2009 and Forward to 2010!

As I write these words we are exactly a month away from the wedding of our daughter Michelle and Bradley (BJ) Haas. Michelle and BJ met in Central Asia. BJ is from the Buffalo, NY area. They will be getting married Saturday, February 20 in St. Paul’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manhattan.

Our lives and the lives of our family have been busy this past year. We would love to catch you up on some of the main events.

We officially became empty nesters and saw our run of 16 years of having a teen-ager come to an end. Eric, our youngest, celebrated his 20th birthday in December. In September he moved to Long Island City (Queens) and has been sharing an apartment with a couple of young men from our church. At the end of August Eric was hired as a concierge/doorman at a midtown hotel. He keeps very busy, but enjoys the challenges of the hotel industry. He is very good at what he does (words of his manager!). He took it pretty hard that the New York Jets bounced his Cincinnati Bengals out of the playoffs.

So Michelle is getting married! BJ popped the question in June after our visit to Central Asia in May to see where Michelle has been for most of the past four years and to meet the young man who had created a stir in her life. One of the significant events of that trip was when BJ officially asked me for Michelle’s hand in marriage. After the wedding the future Mr. and Mrs. Haas will be in the U.S. for a few months until they return to their posts. Michelle is developing a new love for the intricacies of hockey (must be a Buffalo thing!).

We continue to enjoy having Kristina, José, Sophia and Nicholas so close (West New York, New Jersey). We had some memorable times together in 2009: watching the first year of Nicholas’ life, Grandparents Day at Sophia’s school, a rainy day at the Aquarium in Brooklyn to celebrate Sophia’s birthday, Sophia and Nicholas dressed as Fiona and Shrek for Halloween, Nicholas’ first birthday, the special times of going back and forth across the George Washington Bridge over Sophia’s favorite body of water “The Hudson River,” and of course a wonderful time together at Christmas. Kristina and José both work in midtown Manhattan. The Torrejón family was very excited about the New York Yankees’ 27th World Series Championship.

Charlotte continues her work as head nurse at a dermatology practice on the Upper Eastside. She keeps busy meeting with women of our church in a mentor relationship. Together we provided premarital counseling for several couples in our congregation. In June we became facilitators for Dynamic Marriage and led our first eight-week workshop of 11 couples in the fall. At the beginning of 2009 Gary left Barnes & Noble after five years and joined the staff of Trinity Grace Church as Pastor of Justice & Care. One of the highlights of the year was attending the Mobilization to End Poverty in April sponsored by Sojourners in Washington, D.C. Pastoral counseling, benevolence work, coordinating premarital counseling for numerous couples, and serving as an elder at TGC along with justice issues keep me busy.

Our trip to Central Asia was the first time either of us had been away from the Western Hemisphere. We learned the true meaning of jet lag and discovered that Spanish did us no good as much as we wanted to use it. We celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary in August and our seventh year in New York City.

We look forward to 2010: seeing Sophia and Nicholas continue to grow and babysitting them occasionally; watching and waiting with Kristina and José as God continues to lead them; welcoming BJ to the family; and celebrating Eric as he moves steadily into manhood. We are so thankful for the privilege of serving God through Trinity Grace Church as we gain further perspective on why God led us to this city in the first place.

We are very thankful for the love, prayers and experiences we have shared with you over the years. In spite of challenging times we enter 2010 with optimism and commitment to see God’s Kingdom come in our lives, in our neighborhood, in our city and in our world. What a great time to be alive!

Because of Jesus,
Gary and Charlotte

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Am I too busy to write?

A few days ago I determined that I would discipline myself to write consistently about life and the experiences I am having and the things I am learning. However, I find it difficult to get started. I just finished reading Donald Miller's latest book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned from Editing my Life. One of the things he said was, "People who live good stories are too busy to write about them."

In so many ways I am living a good story, and maybe I have been too busy to write about it; but truth be told, the story could be a whole lot better, and taking the time to write it down is what I know that I need to be doing. I want to live a life that truly counts for something. And just as I embark on that great adventure of life Donald Miller speaks again: "Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, and it’s like that with life. People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain."

The discipline for me will be the living and the writing, the writing and the living - allowing the one to challenge and mold the other. I'm involved in a good story. It will only get better as I take the risks and am willing to embrace the pain. So I am really to live and write, to write and live.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What will it take?

I was sitting in a meeting yesterday. We were talking about what it means to live out our call to follow Jesus. An old quote from John Wesley came to my mind and has been stirring my heart since then.

"Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Milestones of 2008

On December 7, Nicholas Miguel Torrejón came into the world to join his sister Sophia and his mom and dad, Kristina and José. We welcome this 8 lb. 3 oz. beautiful baby boy as our second grandchild. He is healthy; his mother is doing fine; and we thank God for this little bundle of joy!

Eric (19) graduated from high school this year. He is working at Barnes & Noble as a bookseller. He took a quick trip to Europe in October and is planning to go to college in the spring.

Michelle left to go back to Central Asia in April, then made an unexpected return trip home a month later when a health concern arose. After three weeks she was given a clean bill of health and is back and very busy in her multi-faceted work as deputy director of a relief agency there.

Besides adding another member to their family, Kristina and José moved to West New York, NJ. They both still work in Manhattan: Kristina at APA International and José at J. Crew. Sophia is an adorable 2½-year-old who makes “Ama” and “Papa” feel very special.

Charlotte completed her third year as head nurse in Dr. Ellen Gendler’s dermatology office. While not always an assignment, God has given Charlotte incredible favor and little by little the impact of her life is bearing fruit. Charlotte has been busy throughout the year meeting and discipling women through Trinity Grace Church where we attend. This coming year she will be giving leadership to the women’s ministry. Of course, she treasures her Fridays, the day she gets to spend with Sophia.

Gary reached the five-year milestone with Barnes & Noble in November. He has worked as a merchandise manager the past two years. It has been a valuable experience.

Seven years ago we sensed very strongly that God was calling us to Manhattan. We arrived here in July 2002, and over the past six and a half years we have had to put our trust in God that He knew what He was doing when He called us here. Almost two years ago we began attending Trinity Grace Church (then called Origins). Immediately we sensed we had found a home and a place where we could participate in building God’s Kingdom. We have both become active in loving, leading and nurturing the people who have gathered in this faith community. Celebrating three years of existence this coming April, TGC is now a growing community of 700 people. And now the next chapter of our lives: Trinity Grace Church has asked Gary to come on staff as Pastor of Justice and Care. Beginning in January Gary will be responsible initially to give direction and raise up lay ministers who will provide pastoral care throughout the city. Also Gary will be working to put feet to our faith as we tackle in Jesus’ name issues such as hunger, poverty, homelessness, prejudice, and other justice issues.

As a family we are blessed, we are thrilled with the privilege of ministering in this amazing city during one of its most challenging times.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Undecided Have to Decide

Decision 2008 is upon us. There are only 17 days left before we go to the polls to elect the electors who will elect the next president. Can I just say that there is something strange and wrong about the electoral college? But that wasn't my point...the point is that there are only 17 days and a brief moment in the voter's booth left to make a decision to help determine who will lead the country for the next four years.

I have been reading over a period of months "Red Letter Christians" by Tony Campolo. The premise is that we shouldn't vote in a bloc, but examine each issue and determine where the major candidates stand and then vote accordingly. Our voting should measure up with the teachings of Jesus found in the New Testament. The problem is we can't mix and match to create a candidate that fulfills that criteria on every issue.

As I read, study and pray I find myself only 17 days away from pulling the lever...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Same event brings new perspective

Last September I wrote about a significant event that took place on September 8, 2007. The morning of that day God communicated to my heart in a powerful way that I was right where He wanted me to be...that He had plans for Charlotte and me and that we could rest in Him and His will for us. That happened on the second day of a leadership retreat through our church.

This past weekend we participated in another leadership retreat twelve months and many incredible kingdom building, community building experiences later. What I realized is that the significance of September 8, 2007, made another date very significant in my walk with God: July 5, 2002. That was the day that Charlotte, Eric and I arrived in Manhattan with dear friends from Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, MI, who came out with two pickups and two U-haul trailers to bring us to our new home.

For several years I had looked back on that date and wondered if I had somehow missed a signal. Was living in Manhattan really God's first and best plan for our lives? As I sat in a small circle in a pole barn in Pennsylvania last weekend during the retreat God's purpose became all the more clear.

I came to Manhattan with a lot more to learn about God, me and this city than I ever dreamed or realized. On July 5, 2002, I arrived physically, but the spiritual, emotional, psychological, and relational components were underdeveloped and needed testing, seasoning and developing.

Now for a guy who's almost 52 (on Saturday), that's not always easy. I look back and stand amazed (and sometimes bow in amazement) at the mercy and grace of God. What an awesome and glorious Father who loves me, continually manifests His patience, and is willing to use me to make a difference in His world. All glory belongs to Him!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Incredible Month of August is now over

The absolute highlight of the month of August for Charlotte and me was our week away to celebrate our 30th anniversary (August 26th). We drove five hours away from the city to the Finger Lakes region of New York state. What a beautiful area and what glorious weather we enjoyed.

We spent two days in Seneca Falls, home to the National Women's Rights Museum. It was there in 1848 that delegates met in the Wesleyan Chapel for the first convention on women's rights. Seneca Falls is also believed to be the place that inspired Frank Capra when he made my favorite all-time movie "It's a Wonderful Life" starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

Other stops included Auburn, Skaneatles, Ithaca, Highland, and New Paltz. Restaurant highlights included Simply Red Bistro and The Would Restaurant. We also found some might fine bed and breakfast inns. It was just the sort of trip that suited us and one we will remember for a long time.

Thirty years!

Blogs I enjoy reading

Manhattan Diary

There are so many opportunities unfolding to partner with God in bringing in the Kingdom. I'm learning more about justice and being stretched on a regular basis. I love partnering with Charlotte to strengthen marriages and prepare couples for married life.

What I'm reading in October 2009

  • Love Is an Orientation
  • Movements that Changed the World
  • ReJesus
  • When Heaven Invades Earth

About Me

My photo
New York, New York, United States
Seeking to live intentionally; bringing the Kingdom of God to contested space!