This past weekend in New York City was just exhilarating. I loved every minute of it. Mom and I had MWE's (multiple wonderful experiences) throughout the two days we were there. Mom chose the best hotel on the Internet (sight-unseen) which happened to be on 47th Street less than a block (about 200 feet) off Times Square. This Hotel Edison was an old classic, had everything we needed and was, for New York, cheap. The parking lot for our car (which was just $40 for 24 hours) was only 100 feet away. We bought tickets to Lion King (which neither of us had ever seen) from a scalper who told us we were just a few rows back on the Mezzanine and only 22 rows back (in total) from the stage. He lied through his teeth and we were dead center on the very back row of the entire theatre. At least we were dead center. We still loved every second of the show. We found this wonderful part of New York, South Seaport by Pier 16 and 17, that was just so very fun. We had been there many years before shooting some shots for Parley, but it has since become a major redevelopment and tourist attraction. We loved our time there. We visited the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art Gift Shop and replaced Mom's 8th Century Celtic brooch necklace that we had lost somewhere in England last summer (seems appropriate to have lost it there), got a couple of scripture journals and some classic frig magnets. We visited a Stationer's Shop that was beyond charming. I could have spent the rest of the day there. We walked around the piers and loved observing the myriads of people. We had been watching so many people on the outside and then we went to the Bodies Exhibition which we had never seen. It was wonderful to get an inside look of the marvels of creation. We read every caption and made multiple observations. The exhibition made me want to live a very healthy life.
In the evening, based on Mariah's recommendation, we went to Ellen's Stardust Diner on 1650 Broadway. It is an old-fashioned diner with wantabe Broadway actors and actresses who are waiters and waitresses. They sing for you the entire time you are there, one after another in succession. Most were really good, some were excellent, one, Dana, was fabulous and should be the next lead in The Little Mermaid. We sang along with most of the songs--so yes, we have sung and performed on Broadway now. How could we have so much fun? There's just nothing like doing all these things with someone you adore.
Sunday we hurried and got ready (after a late night before) to attend the Manhattan Ward, assuming that we would hit the 9-12 block. We got there right at 9. I was surprised how few people were attendance and figured that maybe the meetings started at 9:30. We sat down by a couple and started talking and found out it was Stake Conference Sunday and would start at 10:00. It was nice to be there an hour early, because you know Mom and me, we talk to everybody and, in fact, could hardly stop talking by 10:00. We made multiple new acquaintances and also found dear friends from the past, Brent and Lorinda Belnap (the just-released stake president). The meeting was off the charts full of the Spirit. I felt like every talk had been written and designed just to talk to me and to penetrate my heart. The new stake president spoke. His talk was so good we talked to him afterwards and we're going to publish it on Meridian (that happens a lot). The Temple Matron and President spoke. A young elder who just got his call spoke and was full of the Spirit. The 1st counselor in the mission presidency and his wife spoke. Elder Richard Maynes (of the 70) and his wife spoke. Every talk was stellar. We felt personally blessed and lifted and prepared for the coming days ahead. I felt so drawn to the Savior and His atonement. I just was so happy.
We took a cab from conference to the hotel to pack out and stow our things in the lobby storage room and head off to Carnegie Hall to hear Michaela perform. What a great blessing for us to have this experience. We had talked to Michaela by phone about 12 times in the past couple of days but we hadn't seen her yet. We finally had our rendezvous right before the performance, just outside Carnegie. It was a joyous moment for us and we were thrilled to see her. (This was taken on 56th just outside the back entrance of Carnegie). The thrill of us being able to actually witness this event was so wonderful. Michaela's choir (the Fairfax Chorale Society) joined with others totaling 232 voices, with a 50 piece orchestra and two guest soloists. They performed John Rutter's major piece called "The Mass of the Children." It was so moving. I felt the Spirit. I felt so happy. Mom will post the picture of the setting. Carnegie Hall (which I had only seen from the outside to this point) is everything I ever dreamed it was--magnificent, stunning, moving. I loved being there with all that went with it. We met Michaela afterwards and gave her lots of love (I think that's the only picture I've ever had taken of me in my glasses--because I NEVER wear them--except for performances in Carnegie Hall or Lion King). This was a joyful moment.
On the way from Carnegie Hall on 57th to our parking lot on 47th, as we walked down 7th Avenue, I had such a rush of love for each of you, my children. I truly was filled with gratitude for the blessings that have come into my life by having each of you in my life. I felt a rush of the Spirit that gave me such happiness and joy. It was a wondrous feeling and I felt like I could fly. There we were in this, one of the greatest cities in the world, walking down 7th Avenue, surrounded by thousands of people and a cacophony of sounds and a windstorm of smell and all I could think about was how happy I was to be a Dad. Oh, how I love each one of you precious souls. I know, it sounds like I'm talking to a bunch of little children (and most of you are adults now), but you are our children and I rejoice in this gift you are to us!
Mom and I left directly after the performance and headed home to Virginia. We had listened to the Tabernacle Choir's new CD on the way up--Called To Serve--which is beyond wonderful. On the way back we just talked up a storm, had a million ideas for Meridian, loved being together and felt joy and happiness. And to top it all off (no pre-pun intended) we passed every gas station from Fairfax to New York City and back--no fill up required. Our little Toyota Prius performed at a whopping 55.1 MPG--we went 513 miles on 9.3 gallons of gas! That was a kick and a half. Mom and I really do love this little car (as much as you can "love" a material thing). We really thought that was smashingly great. All in all, this was a perfect weekend and I am filled with gratitude and thanksgiving.