Monday, November 22, 2010

Black Coffee Night

Black Coffee Night was the first time our shop held a Coffee tasting for the public. We sampled five coffees from around the world. There was a Costa Rican, Ethiopian, Brazilian,Indonesian, and Sumatran. We invited all our customers. Our volunteer Brittany did a seminar on coffee and then we had an actual "cupping" and coffee tasting.

In many ways tasting coffee is like wine tasting. There are different flavors and different characteristics of the coffee. The place where the coffee is grown, how it is grown and how it is roasted all help determine the final product. When you taste coffee you do so with a loud "SLURP" so as to help spread the coffee around the mouth for a fuller and more accurate taste. It was really fun to see our customers trying to figure out how to slurp the coffee!

During this event we had froends from the local TV station who came and shot a story on our shop. The above video is the result. Though it is in Polish you can see what a coffee tasting looks like. The narrator does say how much he enjoys our shop and it was a four minute segment that aired last Sunday on TV in our area!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I just love our volunteers

We have volunteers. I need volunteers. In fact, it is easy to say that I could NOT have coffee shops if it were not for the hard working volunteers who help run the places. I thought you might want to know just a little about them.

Katie is from California. When she got off the plane in Poland for the first time she had blue nail polish on her toes and a tan. (People in Poland do not paint their toes blue.) When she came to us I think she was a little shy. She is not shy anymore. This girl can COOK! She has recently taken the helm in Poznan as the head cook. She has proven that she is talented and creative. I love Katie and her happy smile and the way she tugs at her ear when she is thinking about something. Katie is warm and loving and FUN!

Brittany and Aaron arrived just two months ago. They are an amazing young couple who have put their lives on hold to serve here in Poland. Brit is a coffee FANATIC and is always in search of the perfect shot. She is, as she refers to herself, a "coffee nerd". Her Starbucks background and coffee shop talents have brought some amazing new drinks and tricks to our shop. Her husband, Aaron, is an amazing help anywhere in the shop. He is creative and talented at so many different things. He is a hard worker and just cannot stand to sit still very long!

These people give up their lives in the USA and come here to share Christ with those around them. They raise their own funds which means our shops do not have to pay for the benefit of hiring them. They work hard, long hours and they make themselves new homes in places far away from family. They give up their cars and homes and they learn to ride public transportation. They deal with language barriers and culture shock, but they just keep showing up.

We have a big Tea party at the Poznan shop on Saturday. It will be a great time for women in our community. Most of all it will be exciting to see our team pull together and yet another time provide a great benefit to the people who live around us.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

New shop in Krakow

OK, OK! It has been a while since my last post. Time has flown by and there has been so much to say but no time at all to say it! I have just returned from Krakow where we have begun work on the third Sweet Surrender Coffee Shop!

It is an amazing space in an old renovated flour mill. This building houses the first ever "Loft style apartments" in Krakow. The location is just a block from Schindler's Munition Factory (Do you remember the movie "Schindler's List"?)which houses a new memorial museum. We are in the old Jewish quarter which is called "Kazimierz".

The interior of our new space is old exposed red brick and cement. We went to work right away trying to bring some warmth and some life to this space. We had the help of a team of people from Pittsburgh, California who helped us. They came and spent two weeks doing a hard labor of love for the people of Poland. When they left we had lighting and plumbing and painting and that had been done.

Our shops have always existed to show people the light of the world, Jesus Christ. As I readied to leave Krakow I walked through the partially finished interior. I thought about all the people who will sit in our beautiful soft sofas and drink a warm, sweet cup of coffee. They may not be familiar with our strategy but for sure they will feel the very presence of Christ as they walk in our store.

We have prayed in each shop that the very presence of Christ would dwell within the very walls. We hope that each person who walks in the door senses a physical reaction to the place.

In Poznan our shop continues to gain momentum. Just a few days ago we had a newspaper reporter who came to the shop without telling us she was there. Then that weekend she printed a review of our place in the Poznan Gazette. The glowing review stated that she understood exactly what we were going for when she described our place as warm and so inviting, not just a coffee shop but a place of rest.

At this my heart sings! :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Travel is not so glamorous

I was reflecting this morning on our tour in the USA. We recently left Poland for almost 7 weeks! When it was time to leave I felt unprepared and not ready to leave. There was just so much work to do, I was uncertain of how our staff could manage without us. (They did just GREAT, by the way!) I got on the plane with that nagging feeling of so many things forgotten, you know how that is...

Our time in the states was, at best, rushed and hurried. We were in Maryland, Texas, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. We did try to spend time with family. In fact we had several days with each of our girls (and the grandbaby) and several days with each of our parents. In between these days were speaking engagements, flights and road trips, LOTS of hotels, and some very uncomfortable beds. I have to say that free breakfasts in most hotels today offer EXACTLY the same fare...waffles, powdered eggs, some cereals, yogurt and coffee that tastes like bad tap water. The first day you are just so happy to see someone else prepare a meal. By day 49 you are ready to forget the word breakfast.

Planes and airports have gotten increasingly more difficult. They continue moving the seats closer together to accommodate more people. (I guess they think we don't notice, though your nose is almost now touching the head of the person seated in front of you.) Most airlines are now making you pay for baggage, which greatly increases the cost of your flight. Negotiating security in some airports demands that you walk through security with no shoes, while others actually missed a pair of forgotten scissors with four inch blades, thus negating the term "security".

When people hear that we live in Europe I sometimes feel as though they envy our "glamorous lifestyle" of travel and experiencing foreign countries. To be sure, there was a day when people probably dressed up to fly, there was an air of elegance about being able to travel, and air line attendants actually felt what they did was a privileged and appreciated job. I thought a great deal about this while the flight attendant on my flight home was pouring water down my back while trying to assist a passenger behind me.

Traveling is not so glamorous anymore. Still, there is only one way to get from Poland to the USA. You have to get on that bird and fly! I am just lucky that when I arrived I had this sweet little person waiting for me!

I got to be next to her bed the day she woke on her second birthday!

We sang happy birthday and played all morning with pink balloons while she danced about in her little pink tutu.

While the travel was not so good, what waited was certainly worthwhile!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Brave Girls Camp

I still cannot believe that I was able to attend Brave Girls Camp in May. Because I was traveling in the USA at the time I had no way to reflect at that time how much it meant to me.

When a group of over 20 women get together who have never met there can be complications. You know, personalities and differences of opinions etc. There was no such feeling when Brave Girls May 2010 got together. Sure, at first we were nervous about what it would be like. Every woman has her insecurities. (Did you know that?)
We all worried whether we would be accepted and whether we could contribute.

Arriving at camp, I will never forget, the staff gathered outside the lodge to greet us. They giggled and screamed and clapped as we all made our way off the van and into the lodge. They greeted each of us by name and welcomed us in the truest sense of the word. Some of the faces I will never forget from Brave Girls Camp will be the lovely faces of the staff as they served us in such a beautiful way. They became part of the experience.

For me Brave Girl Camp opened up a place in my heart. I allowed myself to see others in a different way. It was very freeing and therapeutic. My cabin mate, Maureen, made the comment that we had received about $40,000 of therapy in just four days. SO TRUE!

By the way, my roommate was amazing and I really loved the time I spent with her. We connected on a deep level and I will always be thankful for her. I have thought about her every day since I left camp.

It is impossible to explain just how much fun I had and yet how much I grew from this experience. I have sent some people to the moon, and made some new Starbucks friends. I have restored my house and cleaned house. (All Brave Girl terminology)
I have found a new love for every day art in my life. The simple expression of myself and who I am through art is something I will never put aside.

For now, I am back in Poland. You know what? I talked to Mel and she said she would like to bring Brave Girls to Poland. I think this is amazing! In fact Mel is planning a trip to Europe in July. I can't wait!

If you have a chance please go to camp. Your family will thank you for it, and you will NEVER BE THE SAME!

Sing along with me now... "Everybody, everybody wants to love! Everybody, everybody wants to be loved.. :)

all the pictures come from Brave Girls Facebook fan page