Written by: Maggie Dannenmueller
Hello friends! It’s been a while since I wrote my last espresso, much has stayed the same, but much has changed. I’m still working behind the counter at the cafe and loving on as many people as I can. Which isn’t always easy. I’ll be the first to admit that I get so frustrated and bent out of shape, but it’s because I love so hard. I genuinely love and want the best for all of my cafe friends. A few weeks ago one of our regular cafe friends came to the door at 6:30 am before I even opened. All he had on was just a hospital gown and a pair of hospital socks. The gown wasn’t even tied in the back, and he had Nothing on underneath. No shoes. He is standing at the front door. I let him in early before I opened the cafe because it was cold outside and he was basically naked.
Now I’m getting annoyed. I’m not open yet. I have other stuff I have to do that’s more important than taking care of this grown man. This grown man who could get help if he wanted it. But I guess he doesn’t. And this frustrates me everyday. I’ve made it out of the trenches of addiction, I know the way, and I can help! But you have to want the help. And not everybody wants it. I didn’t want the help myself for a long time. So as I’m working I start asking if he was in the hospital, and if he is okay. He says he just got out of the hospital and he had nothing to wear and nobody to help him and he didn’t know where else to go so he came here.
HE DIDN'T KNOW WHERE ELSE TO GO SO HE CAME HERE! He KNOWS! Just like so many of our other friends know. We are for them. I start to think about when I was in addiction. I didn’t have anyone or anything. All I had was the clothes on my back and the gift of desperation to want to get clean. I didn’t have a place like this to go to. He came here for help, because he knew he could, and he knew we would help. I poured him a cup of coffee and I went downstairs and found an old pair of donated jeans, a shirt and a sweater, a coat and an old pair of boots. I hand him the pile of clothes and his face lights up.
Instead of going to the bathroom to change he just undressed right in the cafe. But this is who we are. This is what we do. This is who we are for. These are the people that are generally counted out, forgotten, not included, the “extras” in the scene. But more than that these are our friends, our cafe family, our neighbors, our brothers and sisters. They have value and they have dignity just like me and you. This cafe friend helped me more than I helped him that day. And he doesn’t even know it. I’m reminded of how blessed I am, reminded How grateful I am. Reminded how i need to remain grateful even when I don’t feel it all the way. A little bit of love goes a long way. And that’s all any of us really need.
Written by: Marla Duncan
One day, my dad told me that I am like an onion you have to peel back one layer at a time. He said he watched it in a movie and immediately thought of me. Now that my volunteering days are over at Uncommon Grounds things are different. Things have 100% changed for me for my life and for my spirit. It has been a kick to my ego. It terminated my cockiness. It made me completely humble myself.
As the days go by, God gives me a new challenge. To speak the truth in love, to love unconditionally, and to love in ways that I never knew to love or wanted to love in my entire life.
Hate, bitterness, and anger were always something that I lived by because of certain situations that happened in my life that put me in the position to just want to hate. But I always wore a smile and put an I'm okay in front of everything that I did wishing and hoping it would change things.
Every morning before work, I would look in the mirror and say "Ok Marla time to put on your happy hat". And day after day after day, I would become more and more exhausted. And more and more sluggish to the point where the spiritual warfare was unbearable. And the layers slowly started to peel back.
When I grew up my mother was a Jehovah's Witness and we lived by rules: no holidays, no sports, no doing anything that would hold you from studying the truth. Then when I became a fruit of Islam, you had to live by the rules of Allah and the honorable Elijah Muhammad. And that's the thing, there were so many rules but one thing that was never taught to me is that God loves me unconditionally and as long as I have that relationship with him and I live by his word, pray without ceasing, and open up my true heart of who I really am, things will look up. And things will get better.
I am just rejoicing at the fact that I can now be me because I got exhausted from always being someone I'm not. And knowing and understanding that it’s okay that I don't have it all together. Because I started feeling as if I've been exposed kind of like standing in a room with no clothes on. I was hurt, I was embarrassed, but now I'm confident in knowing that I "GET TO" love on the weak, the strong, the big, the small, no matter the gender color, or the race. But most of all, I get to do all of this by just simply being simply who God created me to be and that right there, my friends, makes me excited about learning who I am as a person and who I am in ministry. Thank you, Father God for putting me in the position to learn who I really am and helping me work on the imperfect person that I am and still love me unconditionally. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
We are only a few weeks in to 2019, but it has truly been a blessing here at the Cafe. This month has been the first time that I had the chance to interact with a missions group. Through our short time together, my heart burned for more. My heart longed for more groups of young people to come and see our ministry in action and hear about the amazing stories of God's provision and power in and through our ministry.
It was such a blessing to see a group of young adults and college students come to Aliquippa to serve the community however they can. The group was so open to serving and I watched as they joyfully reorganized rooms in our Cafe basement. They took down every box and item on the shelves and went through all of them and separated the trash and unusable items with items of use.
At first, I felt so bad because I wanted them to have an experience of something substantial, but every time I would apologize to them, they responded with saying they were enjoying it and did not mind being in a dusty basement going through bags and boxes of donated items. I was worried before they arrived that they would be a group of young adults who did not want to do any physical labor and would do the bare minimum, but I was so wrong. They enjoyed every moment and worked so hard. They laughed the whole time and had amazing attitudes. My worries and apologetic feelings ended up dissipating because I knew that their hearts were in it for the Lord and they didn't mind the labor.
The time with the group made me realize that ministry happens best when the ones serving are doing it with a grateful and thankful heart. It made me realize that the capacity to serve others should be measured by how much someone is willing and how much love and joy the person is pouring out. This is meaningful ministry.
We want more groups who have this capacity to come and do some awesome work for the Lord. Why don't you come join us this year?
Written by: Herb Bailey
Our theme this year is CAPACITY.
Blessings to you and yours! It’s a new year and things are already heating up! We are so grateful to be engaged with community development by developing the very members of the community. Part of that development is offering our Philosophy of Ministry training to you and your organizations. Often people will see what we do, be encouraged, but not sure what the next steps are, and some are not sure if they have the CAPACITY to do it. Let me be the first to encourage you to come to our Philosophy Training January 18 th and 19 th , Friday 6-10 and Saturday 9-1. Lunch and refreshments are provided. 20 dollar suggested donation. Those that have gone through the training have been blown away at how powerful and transformational it has been for them. I encourage you to make this a priority….
One of the things we are doing is being a warming center during the cold months. We have the CAPACITY to be a sanctuary for folks when it’s too cold. We are one of 4 places in the county. We are honored to do so. If you or your organization has a desire to volunteer, but need to know where, we will have opportunities for both Church in
the Margins, which is a weekly meal that needs meal prep, and our once a month Veterans Appreciation Breakfast in partnership with Aliquippa Diversity Council. If you would like to participate or your organization would like to make a meal, send me a note and we will add you to the calendar.
Finally, we are looking forward to the park being leveled and seeded. If you would like to volunteer to be part of the maintenance for the property, let me know. It will be basic yard work and great for a youth group or other active group to manage. Here’s looking at 2019 as a year we GET TO walk more fully in loving the community we are blessed to live in and provide tangible experiences for engagement and investment in the lives of our neighbors. We have the CAPACITY with your help. Praying you all experience the presence of the Lord in your day to day lives.