We just rented our 27th apartment since arriving in the New York South Mission and feel so blessed. It is is such a daunting task, and without the help of our Heavenly Father, we could not do it. If you don't know New York, you will not understand the obstacles we have to overcome to find and rent a missionary apartment in the name of the Church. The City is full of apartments and you would imagine it would be easy. But, finding an apartment in the correct area, good access to subway and bus systems, newly renovated but not too expensive, close to the chapel, and that will rent to the church, is unbelievably difficult.
This last week we drove approximately 500 miles looking for one apartment in the Dyker Heights neighborhood of North Brooklyn. We say 500 miles distance, but, in stop and go traffic going between 5 and 15 miles an hour.....it takes forever. To help you understand, the other night on our way home, we were about a mile and a half from our apartment, and I told Richard I was going to get out of the car and walk the rest of the way. I was home 5 minutes before he arrived! Now, you might understand New York traffic in rush hour, or maybe I should say "rush day" because there is only a small window of time in the middle of the day that traffic lightens up.
The most wonderful blessing happened in finally renting a Dyer Heights apartment. We made such a new friend in the landlord, whose name is Jose. He is such warm and accepting man. We called him Saturday morning to let him know we were at the apartment measuring for mini blinds and he came right over to help. He told us about a store a few blocks away where we could purchase the blinds, and then walked to the store with us. As we walked the few blocks to the store, he was greeted by all those we passed with a kind word. He has lived in the area since the 1970's, after immigrating from the Dominican Republic.
After purchasing the blinds, he insisted on all of us going out to lunch for some of his native food. How could we resist, you cannot tell Jose "no." We all got in our car and we were off. The food was great, rice, beans, roasted chicken, and avocado salad. He insisted on paying for lunch, and during the meal we received a Spanish lesson. It was delightful. He has invited us to come to the Dominican Republic to his home. He said we buy the ticket and he will provide all the food and the "big bed." We were not sure what the "big bed" meant and then he explained. The big bed is the floor! We all laughed.
Jose owns two homes we know of in Brooklyn and one in the Dominican Republic. When we got home Richard researched the home we rented and found Jose had bought it in 1991 for $129,000.00 and it is now worth $1,027,000.00. His career was working in a music store as a salesman, he is married with 3 sons. He is a great man and we are blessed to be counted as one of his friends.