Here I sit in my new favorite coffee shop, The Sea Bean Cafe here in Seward. It’s my new favorite place because the General Manager knows my name and the barista knows me from my former life in Girdwood. It’s my “new favorite” because I’ve just been here four weeks. Outside of the church walls this is the place where I recognize the faces around me…if not the name. Over on his computer in his usual spot is the husband of one our church folks. He could be a philosopher. He’s a great conversationalist. Sitting at the table next to me is the young student, busily taking notes as she works on some project, working on her latte and bagel. In walks the older gentleman off the street. I think he likes to sit here each day, read some of the news, and stay out of the weather. It’s a place for persons to come in and use the free WiFi and the computer in the back. It’s a place where some of the old-timers gather in the morning and swap stories.
I don’t know the names of pretty much anyone at this point. But it’s still my new favorite coffee shop.
I’ve even talked with the GM about the potential of using this place to meet a community need I’ve been made aware of…a local, teen-run coffee house to try to provide a safe, non-drinking, non-drug using, place for our younger population. I’m not sure if it’s a need as much as a desire but instead of investing infrastructure into one of our churches or another building I wondered, with him, what it might look like using his space. I thought he could bring an important voice to the conversation. Whether or not either of us are part of the problem, we can be part of the solution.
As I walk the streets (or drive them because everything has been so darned icy out there) I occasionally see faces I know. I occasionally run into people who know me at the post office or the grocery store. Some of the businesses know me from stopping in. I’m making my way. I’m learning what it means to be in the town. I’m “exegeting the community” as we might say…studying the context, finding out how I fit into it. After 12 years in Girdwood, I fit into that community wonderfully. It’s going to take time around here.
This is my mission field. These are the people I’m called to be with and to love.
But wait, there’s more!