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

Friday, June 4, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Hi everyone! I have taken a break from blogging because I was on a speaking tour in the USA. We were gone for almost two months. We have just returned to Poland and I have so much to blog about. So I will be posting bits and pieces of my time away in the next few weeks.

Just one note. I did get to go to Brave Girls camp and it was AMAZING! If you ever get the chance to go it will change the way you see life. I am so blessed to have been able to go. You can look it up at I will be posting more about it soon. They have sold out for this year but still have available opening next year, so get started!!

There is nothing like being in your own bed and waking up in your own space. I am thankful to be HOME!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our shop is OPEN!

Dear Friends!

This is Helka. Mama Rhonda left to the States right after Easter. I just want to let you know that our SWEET SURRENDER coffee shop is finally open. I am sure that mom will write you more about all the struggles we had to go through to open our shop and it will be a GREAT testimony of God's faithfulness.

Here is our Sweet Crew:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My girls...

I have lovely Polish daughters. They are daughters that I chose. They were not born through my body but instead they were born of my heart! When I came to Poland I needed them and God was good, he brought them to me.

This is Ania. She is my oldest Polish daughter. She is smart and lovely. She is studying to get her M.A. in English. She runs the English club at our coffee shop and takes care of so many details of running the shop. I have watched her grow into such a wonderful and warm woman of God, she brings me such joy. She is loyal and so faithful to her Dad and I, she lets us tell her what she needs to hear and is always learning and growing. One thing I love about Ania is how giving she is to others. She never hesitates, she just gives from her heart. She has been with me a long time now and she anticipates what I will say or do about something. Ania knits and for Christmas she made me the most wonderful, warm blue scarf. I trust Ania. She has keys to our entire lives and I like that way. You could not separate us from one another!

This is Helka. She is my second Polish daughter. When she came to me she had some broken places in her life. God has healed so many of them in recent days. Helka could be a supermodel but has chosen to work in the coffee shop ministry because she wants God's will in her life. She is humble and yet confident. She is so funny and makes me laugh. She loves to tell me secrets, and we can giggle together like two little girls. She is so much like me in her personality. She is usually trying to do three or four things at one time. I love watching her with Leo, her nephew. I know when I watch her with him that she will be a good mom. The thing I love about Helka is that when she chooses something she pours her whole heart into doing it. She can accomplish so much in just one day. She loves my dog Ollie like he is her own, that's why I can leave him with her when I go to the states for a visit. At Christmas Helka made me a pretty silver bracelet with pictures of our family and she and Ania are both on it. I treasure Helka. She is precious!

Just yesterday a stranger said to one of my girls that she "must be our daughter", and she said "yes".

That made me smile.

I love my girls.
Be good while I am away girls! ;)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Special Occasions

Hello, this is Helka (Rhonda's Polish daughter). Mom is so busy lately so I asked her if I can write on her blog. I wanted mom to share these pictures with you, but she had no time (busy mom!:)). It was our special party for our neighbor.

We stole some ideas from your wonderful blogs. Shredded paper is from Lissa's.

We made the birds from a VERY old music sheets (like 50 ys old)! Thanks Mr. Wagner! No one at the shop could play your beautiful music so we turned your heritage into the birds. They look awesome!

The food was made by our new cook from Kansas! Yummy!

So many parties ahead! And we open the shop very soon! Finally! Yeyyy!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The rest of the true story

I was on the way to Krakow with my sweet husband just four days ago for another business trip. We were driving down the road talking and enjoying the drive. Our cell phone rang and Daniel, one of our volunteers in Poznan, told me that a man from Kenya was trying to get hold of us on the phone. I asked if he knew who it was and he said that he had tried to give our cell phone number but the phone kept disconnecting. He never got a name.

My husband and I tried to figure out who might be calling. Most of the people we knew there did not have access to call us, and it would be very expensive. In the back of my mind I remembered the blog about Jackson. Maybe he had read the story and decided to contact us. It has been many years since we were able to talk to Jackson. He had no computer and no phone. Our contact had been mainly through other missionaries and friends in Nairobi.

It was after dark, we were still on the road and the phone rang. It was a 254# and we recognized that it was from Kenya. However, when I answered the call was lost. So, I decided to send a text in case the person was using a cell phone. I said "Please try again, we lost your call...who is this please?"

Minutes passed as we waited to see if there would be a response. My phone sounded the alarm that there was a new text message. I looked and the message read:

It is ur son Jackson Tustin. I found you on the internet and saw pictures of my sisters, they are so big now! I also saw pictures of mum and she is beautiful.

I sobbed as I read the message. While we have been telling Jackson's story for many years we have not been able to talk to him for so long. There was a piece of my heart that came back to me on that cold drive to Krakow. I remembered taking Jackson out to dinner one of last nights in Kenya. We had ordered dinner and we told Jackson that our time in Nairobi was almost over. We told him we would have to leave in two weeks. Though he knew it was coming this was a shock to Jackson. He laid his head on the table and wept. We tried consoling him but he was grieving. Leaving him was one of the most difficult things we ever had to do.

Later that night, when we arrived in Krakow, we were able to call Jackson and I heard his voice after so long. He is indeed a man now. He coaches soccer for kids and works as a guard, still living in Kibera. I am also a grandmother of a bright, beautiful young man who is 8 years old, my Kenyan grandson.

Jackson said to me "Mom, do you remember the time I got the shoes?" I asked Jackson if he had read the blog, because I had written about this story on my blog. He said no. He told me that though he had given his heart to Christ it was when God gave him those shoes was when he knew God loved him. He told me that today he still remembers that and he loves God. My mother's heart was full.

Jackson still has a very difficult life. I think it did his heart good to know that we missed him as much as he had missed us. We laughed and cried together. When we said goodbye we promised that we would not lose contact.

I guess I wanted to share the rest of this story with you because I feel so blessed. Many times people ask us what happened to Jackson and it felt so bad to have to say that we had not been in touch with him for so long. I even wondered if he remembered us, but now I know. What God starts He is FAITHFUL to and He will FINISH!

God loves us...Oh Happy Day! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What I talk about - a true story

Do you remember that I went to England to speak to a group of 100 women? My blog friend, Ange, asked me what it was I spoke about. I thought how I might answer that and I thought it best to maybe give an example. You could call me a storyteller. I tell stories about faith. All the stories I tell are true, and usually happen to me or someone close to me. The following occured during the two years I lived in Nairobi, Kenya. We pastored an inner city church. Most of our people were black and our family (our two girls were 8 and 12 at the time) was one of the few white families in the church. Our church became our family and our friends, they loved us as though there was no difference. They called me "Mama Watoto" - "mother of many children" in Swahili. We made some amazing friends in Nairobi, and still hear from many of them today.

I first met Jackson while I was standing on the steps of the church. He came through the gates of the church and headed towards me. I knew he was a street boy by the way he looked. He was barefoot, and his clothes were dirty and tattered. The odor around him said that it had been quite some time since he had bathed. He looked afraid of me, as though I might chase him away. Instead, I said "Good morning". Jackson looked at me and he said "This is my first time here, I wanted to go to church service." I told him he was welcome, and since it was his first Sunday I asked if he would like to sit with me. That morning Jackson sat with me, he heard my husband preach and he gave his heart to Christ after the service. I had no idea how much a part of our lives he would become.

Jackson was a street boy who had no last name. He could not remember ever having a family. Unfortunately there are thousands of children in this situation, dumped on the streets when they can no longer be cared for. His first memories were of the other boys who fed him and took care of him. They named him Jackson. Then as he grew older he did this for other boys, he fed them and taught them to beg. His life became one long continuous struggle for survival. He had no papers or identification and so he could be arrested at any moment, he lived in fear. As he grew older he was no longer a cute little boy and the begging became harder. By the time we met him we guessed he was almost 18 years old (since he had no birthday to go by)and Jackson was tired.

We helped Jackson get a job selling newspapers and he was able to afford his first home. It was in the slum called "Kibera", the second largest slum in Africa, with somewhere around one to two million inhabitants. It was a great step up for Jackson who had never known what it was like to have a home of his own. I remember drinking coffee that Jackson made for me in his own house, in the slum, over a little cooker on the floor. (I was sick afterwards, but I knew he really wanted to make coffee for me...) What a sweet memory that is, knowing that he gave this coffee out of his deep love for me. We were so proud.

One Sunday morning Jackson came to me after church and told me he needed to talk to me. He said "Mom, I really need some new shoes! My old shoes are just worn out and I cannot wear these to work anymore." He lifted his feet and I saw that his big toe had torn through the shoe. The sole was only held together by black electrical tape and that was beginning to give way. However, buying even used clothing was so expensive I had to tell Jackson that I had no money to buy new shoes that day. I asked him if he might be willing to pray with me about this need, to see what God would do to answer this need. Of course, Jackson would rather have had new shoes but he did agree that he would pray with me each day the next week about this and we would hope for an answer by the time we met again. We prayed together there before we left the church.

On Saturdays my husband and I had developed the habit of sending an email to our supporters in the states, an update to our work and what was happening in the lives of our new friends and family in Nairobi. I remember wishing that I had known of Jackson's need on Saturday when I wrote the last update, but instead I would have to wait another six days to write the next update and maybe ask for some help for Jackson. We had talked about him and many people had been praying for him back home.

On Monday, I got up and God brought Jackson to my mind as I prayed for his need for shoes. On Tuesday, the same thing. I prayed for Jackson to know how much God loved him and that he would have an answer to his need. On Wednesday after I finished praying for Jackson I went online (not always easy in Nairobi) to check email. I opened a letter froma sweet friend in Eagle, Idaho. The letter said:

Dear Rhonda:
This morning in my quiet time I was praying for Jackson. I heard God tell me that Jackson needs new shoes, could you ask him what size he wears and let me know so that I can send them?

I started to weep. I could not believe what I read. In spite of the fact that Jackson had no last name, no identity papers and no birthday, God cared so much for Jackson that he met this need without my ever having to talk to anyone but God. I know that the scripture says God knows the number of hairs on our heads, I know that in my head but my heart did not really understand what that meant!!

On the following Sunday I pulled Jackson aside. I sat with him on the same steps where I met him that very first day. I asked him if he had been praying about his need of shoes. He told me "Mom, I prayed EVERY day just like we talked about!" I told him that even though I had not said a word to anyone, only God, that a lady had emailed me and said she heard God tell her about his need for shoes and that she wanted to know his size so she could send them. I am sure I cried as I told him, but I did not expect he would. But there he was, sitting on the steps with me crying like a baby! We just sat there and cried a few moments until he said "Mom, you KNOW what this means!!! God knows ME! He knows who I am!! He loves ME!" He didn't cry because he was gonna get new shoes, Jackson cried because God had SEEN him, and he KNEW him. What a powerful moment that was, one I will NEVER forget!

Many of us believe at times that God has forgotten us, that He must not know who we are or care for our situation. But I have a picture of my adopted African son, Jackson, holding his new shoes that God gave him. I know that no matter where Jackson is today he will never forget the day he realized that the God of the UNIVERSE could love a street boy named Jackson.

So, this is just a sample of what I talk about. I love to tell stories that show a God who is involved with His people, and how much He loves us. I like to watch people's faces as truth changes them. AND I always end up taking away much more than I could ever give!

Monday, February 22, 2010

winter blahs

It is still grey in Poland.
I am sick. (Sniffle, sneeze, cough-cough!)
I have moved into this new apartment which is VERY small. To quote something said by my Polish daughter, Helka: "If I make strong coffee it could wake the neighbors." Hahaha! I like the new place and I am enjoying the dishwasher. The shower is actually mounted on the wall, not hand held. (This way you can actually get your whole body wet at one time, a definite bonus!) I like the parking place that is all ours in an actual garage and having a garage door opener again. But, when I am sick it still does not quite feel like home. I suppose it will soon.
So, I am getting used to this place.
One grey day at a time...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

English countryside

It has been awhile since I last wrote.

The same week we moved to our new apartment, I went to England for five days to speak at a women's conference. It was GREAT! I loved England and I loved the women I met there. The countryside was lovely. I even saw sunshine, which I had not seen in Poland for awhile.

The women in England were warm and welcoming. Not at all like the stuffy, snobby women you read about! ;) I made some friends that I want to know for a lifetime. We laughed together and cried together. It was just a great time. I did not realize how much I needed a break until I returned, feeling very good about my time there.

I had heard people who visit England complain about the food. Well, being in the coffee shop business I pay attention to food. I have to tell you I had a Linzer tart on my first night there that nearly stopped my heart, and I fell in LOVE! A light almond shortbread pastry with a raspberry jam DIE FOR!( I am NOT kidding!)

Aside from that my friend Lindy and I stayed with some friends who had a large African Grey Parrot. IT was a beautiful bird. John, the owner of the bird, told me some terrible cat stories. (He is not a cat lover.) So later, when I would talk to the bird I would say "What does a kitty say? MEOW!" I said it over and over to the bird over a few days, while he just sat and looked at me. The last night we had supper the bird was in the other room. He was trying to get our attention, but when his whistling and calling did not work we heard him say "What does a kitty say? MEOW!" I laughed so hard and felt so totally victorious! John was not as amused as I was! ;)

Hope you like the pictures from the pretty Yorkshire village we visited. I had lunch with Mair and Lindy here. My Stilton and Broccoli soup was GREAT! We had such a nice walk on a cold sunny day.

Wish you could have been there!

Monday, January 25, 2010

This is Matilda...

She is the cutest baby in the world. Really, she is. Matilda is my first Grandbaby. I got to be there in the room when Matilda was born, so she and I have a special connection. She can say Grandma now, kind of. Her mommy's first word was "Seven-eleven" and I am guessing we went there too often because her second word was "cookie".

Grandkids are the best. I miss Matilda, she lives too far away. I live in Poland and she lives in Kansas. This is not good. Kisses on skype are not the same as kisses in person.
Matilda likes kisses.

I love Matilda!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

And the winner is....

The give away for the angel is over! Tonight we put all the names in the BIG RUSSIAN FUR HAT and mixed them up real good. (My husband actually wears this hat, it is sooo cold here.)

The winner of a stained glass angel is....

Leeann@encouragement is contagious!!!

LeeAnn is a great blogging friend who always has something good to say so pop on over and give her a comment. Congratulations LeeAnn! Please leave me your info and I will send this little beauty as soon as possible.

For anyone that might be interested, these angels are for sale through Sweet Surrender gifts. They are all handmade, and one of a kind. The cost for the angel plus shipping is only $10 and you will be supporting a wonderful Polish artist, my friend Renia. 100% of the purchase price will go to the artist. Renia is a single mom who raised four children by herself during a very difficult time in this country. She is a beautiful woman and someone who I count as a friend. The angels come in many colors so just specify what color you would like and we will do our best to please you.

Thanks everyone! I enjoyed all your comments and your support. I just love you!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


After winning the giveaway from Rural Revival I have decided to do one of my own!

Here at the coffee shop I work with many wonderful artists. My friend, Renia, makes the most wonderful stained glass angels. Each of these angels is made by hand and is completely unique. No two angels are exactly alike. I know that you will love them! I am posting a video of this artist at work (I am sorry, the video doesn't fit to this blog :)

So, if you leave me a comment, I will put your name in the drawing. If you become a follower I will put your name in the hat again! I will choose a winner on Saturday! Although I live in Poland I will send this angel to the winner no matter where you live.

Best wishes! I have loved getting to know all of you, and I appreciate each and every comment you leave.

You always make me smile!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Coffee Shop - The Makeover

Today I thought I would share some before and after pictures of the coffee shop. I can tell you that almost everyone seems to feel it is a warm and happy environment. I am happy that the younger generation has really taken to this place and yet the older generation enjoys the place with its vintage feeling.

It was not an easy process, but we did manage to keep it on the cheap side for such an endeavor.For around $25,000 USD we transformed the space you will see into the coffee shop. The money was raised by friends in the USA and we had special work teams from Chicago, Texas and Denmark who came to help work on it. The only part of the job that was done by professionals were the electrical and interior walls that had to be built. The entire design was "schemed" by my hubby and myself, and the work was all volunteer.

Room by room

The bar:
Before renovation this space was a small apartment used as a residence. The bar was built in the living area of this one bedroom apartment. There were some walls built in the kitchen space and the bathroom was renovated to become the staff bathroom. We used some existing cabinetry and removed the doors. We added scraps of wallpaper behind the cabinetry. Two small fridges were purchased and we built the bar around them, because we could not afford an expensive refrigeration unit. We "shabbied up" the bead board that we used around the bar and hubby framed out the entire project. We added a nice thick bar top of dark wood (the most expensive part of the bar area) and it made ALL the difference! Our friend Klaudia had just closed her coffee shop and so we were able to purchase her coffee machine and many other items for the shop at a very discounted price.
Above the bar you will see a tryptic. It is our friend, Spencer Green, a young musician and pastor's son. He inspired my husband and myself to develop the thoughts behind coffee shop ministry. We had so hoped that he would be able to be the first musician to play at the shops. He died of cancer, at the age 23, before the first shop was complete. We named the shops "Sweet Surrender" after a song that Spencer wrote about his faith.



The crazy wallpaper room:

Before renovation this room served as an English as a Second language office and classroom. It was a fairly institutional environment, and a bit sterile. While in Copenhagen I was in a coffee shop that had a wall of mismatched wallpaper and I had an inspiration of doing such a thing in this room to warm it up. The night before our volunteers hung this paper I had second thoughts. However, because I had already purchased twelve kinds of mismatched wallpaper, and hauled it all the way home, I decided we should just take a chance and go ahead. As it turns out this room is one that everyone talks about! The plates on the ceiling are cheap white plates from Makro (our Polish Costco)and they cost about $2.00 each. I saw this in a magazine somewhere. We cemented them with bathroom tile cement to the cement ceiling and it would take a hammer to get them off now. I do seem to remember that Katie, our amazing volunteer, had quite a time getting them to stick until we decided to tape them to the ceiling after cementing them. I love the way they pick up the light from the chandeliers. We did have to replace each light fixture in the whole place and we chose to use six completely different fixtures throughout the space. Another thing I love about this room are the vintage furnishings which were purchased at the local Flea Market. Our poor station wagon has looked like a gypsy cart more than once as we left the market, but we saved a TON of money by going vintage. I love the clock faces on the old mirror. I think I paid maybe $3 for the clock faces and then hubby found the mirror for $3, we put it all together and think it looks pretty special.



Music room:
This is the room where we have a small stage area for musicians. Part of our business strategy is that we want to reach out to musicians and have them play at the shop in a very intimate and friendly environment. The stage was built by a volunteer, James from Texas, and hubby carpeted it. The walls were all painted a very dark color called mulled wine by Dulux. It is a stunning color, very dark but warm at the same time. The bead board was applied by a group from South Texas, who also installed the art lighting and the art shelves. All the bead board was painted first with a gray green color and then whitewashed and distressed then waxed. The tables were an IKEA "hack" idea and were worked on by women from South Texas. They started out as just plain unfinished IKEA tables. We used soldering irons and burned the tabletop with patterns which were then painted and distressed and then topped with glass. No two tables in the shop are the same, and underneath each of the ladies who worked on the tables signed their name with a soldering iron. They are works of art! Again all the furnishings were flea market finds including the old sofa, which we bought for the equivalent of $70 USD.



The conference room:


Some part of the kitchen


The ceilings in our shop are amazing and have intricate plaster moldings and beautiful plaster floral details. We have worked very hard to maintain anything in this historical building which was original to the house. The space is still heated by the original radiators and at times in winter we must use extra heating sources.

There were so many days when it felt we would never be finished.

Then one day...we were! :)

Thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers who made this place happen! God bless you for your gifts!