A Quick Update from Malaga.

I was hoping to update a couple more times whilst here in Spain, but our schedule has been full and our time has been filled with joy, excitement, and new experiences. Thank you for praying for us. This trip has been huge for us. God has been at work, that much is clear. We have spent a lot of time praying, exploring Malaga, and having critical conversations that have gone a long way for us in the discernment process. I will update more when we return next week. But until then here are a couple of things that we’ve experienced whilst here.

Overlooking the neighborhood of Pedragalejo in Malaga. This was taken while we prayer walked the neighborhood. This is the neighborhood we could potentially move into.

This is a picture of a vineyard in the Malaga Botanical Gardens. Here we each went our own way, spending time with God praying and reading Scripture while enjoying the beauty all around us.

A cafe in Pedragalejo with Deric Moen and Shaun Sheehan. The coffee here is nice and strong.

La Cala Church in East Malaga. Sunday gathering for one of the very few Protestant churches in the area. 

Our first time in the Mediterranean Sea with Shaun and Maria Sheehan. Beautiful!!

Thanks again for all your prayers. I’ll write much more when we return. We are so thankful to be here and thankful for God’s guidance and wisdom as we seek to follow Him. Malaga is a beautiful city with so much history. We’re thankful for the hospitality of the Moen’s and the many conversations we’ve had with them about this site here and the vision for ministry here in Spain.

Emerson just turned 1!!

This past Friday we celebrated our son Emerson’s 1st birthday. It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by. As a general rule we don’t post too many pics of our son on the ol’ information superhighway, but many have asked that we share some pics of him from this past year. Here are a couple of him from this past year. We are so thankful for our little guy. What an amazing blessing he’s been to our family. God’s taught us a lot from Emerson even in this year and we know there’s much more to learn. Anyways, without further adieu. Here’s a couple pics from his first year of life!

April 5, 2012 

About 3 and half months

His first Christmas!
10 months
11 months – loving his food!

Easter in San Diego

Happy Birthday Cupcake

What a year it’s been! We’re so thankful for this guy. Love him tons! Thanks for keeping all of us in your prayers!!

Things I’ve Learned as a Starbucks Barista

I apologize for the lack of updates here on the ol’ blog…I’ve been sickly for about 3 weeks now and I’m just starting to come out of the fog that was sinus troubles, at any rate, this one’s been…wait for it…”percolating” for some time (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

So this past December I picked up a part time job at Starbucks. I picked up the job for two reasons. One, as we continue to be in the process of raising support, we needed to supplement some of our income from another job of some sorts. And two, I wanted to work in a job that kept me in and connected to our neighborhood. Enter Starbucks…it’s literally two blocks from our house and has been an amazing place to put the things we are learning in our apprenticeship into action. God’s been teaching me quite a bit through this little part time job.

Our neighborhood Starbucks

A couple of months ago, while working an early morning shift, I was asked a question by a co-worker whom I had only ever worked with once or twice before. Out of nowhere, she had said that she and our manager were talking about me and wondering if I meditated. She said, “Jeff do you meditate? Because it seems like you are always calm, cool and collected; no matter what’s going on, you’re pretty laid back.” I was a bit surprised by her question. “No,” I said, “I don’t meditate, but I do pray. And I think what you see in me is Jesus. I’m not always calm, cool and collected, but I do try my best to love people, regardless of what’s happening and how I’m treated, cause that’s what Jesus’ does with me.” “Hmm…,” she responded,”I need to learn from you. I have a hard time dealing with a lot of people.” And just like that the conversation was over. As I’ve reflected on that time, and that question, I’m more and more aware of the reality that people are always watching us. The way I respond to others, the words I use, the actions that I take with others are being watched. My desire is to point those I come in contact with towards Jesus both in words and actions. I am reminded that even when I working, I am called to be on mission for Jesus. To be a follower of Jesus means I am on mission wherever I go; work, home, throughout my neighborhood; I’m to live out the realities of God’s kingdom. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be able to live this out day to day in the midst of so many different neighbors, friends and coworkers at Starbucks. But it’s not always easy.

One thing that working as a coffee barista teaches you is patience. I’ve been learning through my experiences at Starbucks how to be patient and loving to those who are really difficult. Spend any time in a coffee shop and you know what can happen. That one patron in front of you who can’t decide what they want to order, and so they take their good old sweet time, while the line behind them continues to build all the way to the door. Or that patron who has the craziest and most intricate little drink that you make for them but it doesn’t taste quite right, and so you make it again…and again…until you get it just perfect…and then there’s not even a thank you at the end, they just huff and puff out of there, frustrated that you didn’t get their drink right the first time. Some days can be tough at Starbucks. Some days are filled with non-stop “go-go-go” busyness, others are filled with ungrateful and terribly rude customers, and still others are filled with coworkers who are having bad days that tend to spill over to everyone around them. Those days can often times challenge you. Let’s face it, it’s not always easy to love those who aren’t nice to you, or those who don’t treat you with sincerity and patience. In fact, it’s a lot of those situations where I find myself struggling so hard to show love, patience and kindness. It’s in those situations where it can be difficult to find joy. But what I began to notice on those days is that my joy was tied up in how my work days went. When I had a “good” day, I would find myself in a “good” mood. However when my day was particularly trying I found myself frustrated and would classify it as a “bad” day. At the beginning I found there were a lot of frustrating days replete with frustrating people and situations. I decided to begin praying specifically that I’d find joy day in and day out regardless of what was happening around me. Now, it didn’t necessarily happen over night, but over time I began to see that as I turned my focus on Jesus and my call to serve, love, and show grace as He himself does, my joy shifted, from joy based on circumstances to joy based on Jesus regardless of circumstances. This was a huge shift for me. When I find my joy in Jesus, I am joyful regardless of what’s happening around me. Huge. And so I continue to pray and ask Jesus to be my joy each early morning as I walk to work. And as I do that, God is so faithful to help me find joy sometimes even in the smallest things.

One thing I continue to be reminded of when I interact with my customers, coworkers, and neighbors is that we (ALL OF US) are needy and broken and want to be loved and accepted for who we are. What a joy it is to be in a position to remind people of the reality that they are indeed loved and cared for, even if it’s just with a smile, or a free cup of coffee when they’re having a rough day, or a word of encouragement when they’re struggling to even get words out of their own mouths. I can rejoice with my coworkers when they succeed in their lives and their studies. I can mourn with my coworkers as they lose parents or struggle to find who they are in life. I can pray for my coworkers and regulars as I see them each day. I can work and serve with excellence even when I don’t feel like it, because I’m not just working for my Starbucks manager but for God himself. I can remind others of reasons to find joy even when they struggle to do so themselves. The reality is people matter to God and therefore they must matter to me. Pointing people to Jesus, through words and actions is a joy. When we live with an understanding of the gospel, we will serve selflessly, because that’s what Jesus did. We will love, even when it’s really hard to do so, because that’s what Jesus did. We will point others to God, because that’s what Jesus did. When my life is focused on doing that, I find true joy and peace. What a privilege we have to serve others. I don’t know about you but I need to continually be reminded of my call to be on mission wherever I am at. And I’m thankful for a job that is seemingly inconsequential on our culture’s scale, but has unbelievable opportunities and value on God’s Kingdom scale. Whatever we’re doing, wherever we find ourselves, we represent God to those around us and that’s a big deal!

I’m not gonna lie; getting free coffee is kind of sweet too!!