Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I work at Starbucks... and other stuff

Still settling in to life in Wisconsin, we’ve got A LOT going on. I started working at the closest Starbucks to our house last week. Tony and I knew before we got here that I would be putting my “career” on hold, whatever that was. We knew we weren’t coming out here to build our resumes, necessarily, but that we needed to be open and ready to do what was needed. Starbucks seemed like the perfect opportunity for me. I get to work at a place I am way too familiar with, meet some locals, and leave work at work so I can concentrate on whatever needs doing for GLC. So far, I love it!

Today, in my training, I got to taste Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend. It reminded me a lot of wine tasting when I used to work in restaurants. Did you know there’s a whole process to tasting coffee? Mmm Hmm…
1. Smell
2. Slurp
3. Say words like “nutty” or “citrus” or “earthy”

4. Take a bite of something (pairing)
5. Slurp Again
6. Say different words like “smooth”, “acidic”, “spicy”
That’s all I’ve got so far. I’ll keep you posted as I learn more about the proper ways to drink coffee. I dig it.

I’ve also met some great people. One of my trainers, after she asked me to “share a bit about myself”, told me she had heard of Great Lakes Church. She shared that she goes to a small-ish church in the area and her pastor mentioned us, asked them to pray for us, and to donate their pocket change to us in hopes of raising $1,000 in one month. Isn’t that incredible!?! She’d not only heard of us but has been praying for us. Another one of my trainers, a couple of days later, also mentioned she’d heard about us. I was STUNNED. She said she had a friend of a friend who mentioned it, and then she saw a bunch of people talking about it on Facebook (THANK YOU FACEBOOK). She said she wanted to come to the first service but had to work. Imagine that! She could have been number 175! Meeting these girls and other people has just confirmed for me that taking a job where I could meet lots of people was definitely the right thing to do. If I had gone back to something more comfortable for me like an office job, I would have probably only been around the same 5 people every day.

Tony and I just got back from Woodmen’s Grocery Store. It’s gigantic! About as big as Costco, but you don’t have to buy in bulk, it’s a little nuts. Anyway, he’s invited a few of the people that played music at the 1st Preview Service over for dinner tomorrow night. It will be our first time hosting anything social at our new place (aside from having our awesome roommate over for dinner). It’s been a good motivator to really finish moving in. I must say, it is a little strange hosting anything at all, when we really feel like everyone here is a stranger. I guess they will stay “strangers” until we get to know them, and that’ll probably just take time.

So, what I miss about home…

• Coffee dates with Katy Pratt

• Impromptu “We’re coming over to your house” plans

• Sushi

• Local wine

• Hills

• Seattle skyline from anywhere in Kirkland

• Predictable weather

• Café Lladro
• Running into _____________ (please place your name in the blank)

What I love about Kenosha so far…

• BIG SKY with cool looking clouds

• Great Lakes Church team
• Noodles & Co.
• Corn fields just a few miles away
• People don’t assume I’m in a cult, just because I go to church
• Huge grocery aisles of cheese
• Friendly, take-your-time, kind of people

• Our old house
• The squirrels that watch me do dishes from our back deck
• Working with Dave Nelson again

In other news... the Great Lakes Website is now up and running. Check it out. To those of you that go to EastLake, it may look a little familiar :) Also, since we're only having services once per month at this point, we had a couple of "Connect Events" this weekend. They went great. We had a few more people decide to help out and be on the launch team. The people here seem to love the vision and can't wait to be a part of it. We have our 2nd Preview Service coming up on November 9th and another Launch Team meeting this weekend to get organized and pray. Please pray with us that our Launch Team continues to grow and that we really connect with the community here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Great Lakes Church 1st Preview Service

Week 1 of life in Kenosha was expectedly chaotic. Tony and I were anxious to meet the local members of the launch team and help any way we could. Dave has done a phenomenal job of sharing his vision of Great Lakes Church to anyone who would listen, so it’s no surprise the people that are already a part of the team have so much enthusiasm.

We were fortunate to get into Mahone Middle School on Saturday for a few hours to set up for Sunday service. There was quite an energy as we worked together to figure out where everything belonged and what we still might need. Fortunately, several families who have kids brought some great toys and baby items for us to borrow. We did as much as we could for a sound check, although Tony would have spent all day in that room trying to get it all just perfect. We spent the rest of Saturday running errands, doing whatever we could to take care of the last minute details.

Sunday morning arrived, for me at 3am. I could not sleep. I sprang out of bed realizing, “WE HAVE NO PRODUCER!” For those of you that haven’t been a producer, or worked near one, the Producer is really responsible for running the service, especially the timing, on Sunday mornings. Certainly neither Tony nor I had ever been in this role before, but we did our best to exchange notes on what we could remember about the Producer Role, so that I could do it/recruit someone to do it.

By 7:30am, the members of the music team were in our living room practicing the music for the morning. It was surreal that this team who had only practiced once before were so cohesive and so receptive to Tony’s direction. Tyler and I just stood by and watched for a bit, enjoying this behind the scenes look at what was about to happen. We arrived at the school just before 9am, hoping they might open the school just a tad early for a few more preparations. The whole team was there on time, if not early, ready and eager to work their tails off. It was incredible! By 9:30am, everyone was ready and in their positions praying and hoping people would actually show up. Pretty soon our guests started to trickle in.

I’ll share with you the teams impressions of the day as well as what some of our guests said in the surveys we sent out.

GLC Team Responses
Q: What went right?

• I guess everything went ok since all the cars got in to the lot unharmed!
• friendly people, Dave's "talk," weather, enough help, positive attitudes, the list goes on and on...
• The coffee timers went off as planned and my child was kept alive in the nursery.
• In my humble opinion, I think almost everything went right. Like I said yesterday, it almost seemed like we had been doing this for 5 years already.
• The Kids Workers did a great job keeping up with the kids demands. I think we had a great amount of toys, and things for the kids to do. I didn't hear any of the Childrens workers say there wasn't enough to keep the kids occupied. I think that's a great Feat right there!!!!

Q: Overall Impressions? Any Good Stories?

• I was very impressed that we FILLED the parking lot, only the handicap spaces were left!
• I couldn't be more thrilled with the opportunity to help out with Great Lakes Church!
• I am biased because I have been waiting for this church since we left San Diego, but I thought it was Outstanding!
• I thought everyone did a great job and worked well with each other. I feel like we had great feedback from the guests in that they felt very welcomed and the service was easy to follow.
• GREAT! I think it was amazing to see all the team members pitch in and help in ALL areas, not just the areas they were responsible for!
• The kids were fun, and I cant wait until next time
• It was great and exciting and I can't wait till next time
• Better than expected Preview Service. The “kinks” were not noticeable by those attending. Everyone was super friendly which made for a great atmosphere. Dave’s message was killer.
• Everyone was sooooooo helpful and friendly!! I was going to fill my car up at the end and literally 10 people showed up and started carrying my stuff to the car for me...it took us 3 seconds to pack my mini-van!! Go team!!
• I remember a friend of mine came up to me and said she invited a friend of hers that used to be friends with another one of our volunteers but because of some issues in the past they had not talked for over 6 years and when her friend walked into the auditorium and was greeted by (other volunteer) with the bulletins, they hugged for about 15 minutes and made up after 6 years! It was so awesome for me to see the joy on these girls faces after that.
• I thought it was so cool Dave's mom had jeans on! My wife is more on board now!
• My boys were in "sunday school/kids' church" for the first time IN THEIR LIVES (without mom or dad), even though they've grown up in the church, and they talked about it all afternoon and are so excited for November's service!

Guest Responses

Q: What did you notice first? What was your overall impression? How can we pray for you?

• It’s been years since I’ve been to church. Please pray for healing from the past.
• I noticed lots of people waving when we pulled up. I had a good time and most importantly, my kids want to go back.
• I am wanting my whole family to be involved in the same church and I believe this is going to be the one.
• I noticed the friendliness of parking attendants and greeters. Great Job!
• The whole service was great for a “first run”. Dave is an awesome speaker and the band sounded great. We will be praying for you and will return on the 9th for the second service!
• I liked the greeters – very helpful. Dave is a good speaker.
• I am so excited that you are doing this in Kenosha. I have been living in K since 1989 but we attend a church in Zion. I love my church, but there are almost no young people (20-30’s). My kids (23 & 21) have all but stopped coming. I think this might be the church to reach them again.
• I noticed the parking guys smiling and waving at us. Everyone was very friendly and enthusiastic. I love the message and my kids loved “Mr. James”!
• I noticed people in JEANS!!!! Everyone was friendly.
• Please pray for my son… he doesn’t like music at the church we are attending and uses that as a reason not to go. He came with us to your service on Sunday and he said he liked the music!
• It was very friendly and down to earth service. I loved the amount of volunteers you had helping with the service! I am not too fond of most churches, but I will definitely be back to this one.

We had a total of 174 in attendance, including volunteers and kids. That is far and away more than we could have hoped for. As you can see from their comments, it seemed to go well. Now we just pray that we can be good stewards of this momentum, help people get involved and connected, and really help accomplish for this community what we believe God has already started.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Road Trippin’: A Shared Experience

We made it! We now, officially, reside in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We finished our last minute packing, errand running, and breakfast on Monday, 9/28 and headed out. The first 20 minutes of the drive were really the hardest for me. It was the last of the “Good-Bye’s” and “See-you-soon’s” we would have for a while. I was definitely teary-eyed… can you still call it “teary-eyed” if the tears are actually rolling down your cheeks and creating a sort of bib on your hoodie? Anyway… I was truly comforted when Tony grabbed my hand as we left Kirkland and said, “This will always be home.”

Day 1: Monday – We popped in THE SHACK (audio book courtesy Karen Jussel) and made it to Spokane in time for Tony’s dad’s (Allen) incredible cocktail sauce before dinner. It was a great evening! Tony played some of the song’s he and Ryan have written on the Larrivee, and we talked about what little we know of Wisconsin. They shared their adventures of the early years of their marriage, Allen’s days in his own rock band, traveling the world and leaving their families behind. They were very encouraging to us, and still ORDERED us to keep in touch. We’ll do our best.

Day 2: Tuesday – We left the Peterson home just before the sun rose on Tuesday morning, hit up Starbucks, filled the tank, looked at a map, and headed out on I-90. The northern parts of Idaho and Montana were spectacular at that hour of the morning. I had no idea it would be so beautiful. We were still listening to The Shack, pausing every once in a while to talk about it. It made for an amazing trip. We got to the northern entrance of Yellowstone Park around 4pm, but we’d forgotten to buy firewood for camping. It took us much too long to find a store that was still open AND had what we needed, which of course included the essential ingredients for s’mores. We found a spot to camp and finished setting up mere seconds before it got dark. It was an incredible time. We ate hotdogs and the pasta salad we made before we took off. It was our first time camping just the two of us, I LOVE married camping. I can’t imagine anything better than a clear night with my best friend talking and singing and eating s’mores. We got into our very warm sleeping bags and before long realized I might not have inflated our mattress completely. Of course, way too cold to get out and fix it, we ended up sleeping on a V-shaped bed, rolling obnoxiously into each other all night. It wasn’t until the next morning that we realized we basically were on the ground… ah well.

Day 3: Wednesday
– Had some camping style French press coffee in the morning and some nifty cereal-in-a-cup for breakfast. Broke down our camp and headed deeper into Yellowstone Park. I was confronted with two realities: 1) Buffalo and Bison are the same thing. 2) Neither are extinct. No, seriously. We have video to prove it. They’re real and they still exsist. Also, of note:

• Geysers are really cool looking and really stinky.

• The crows in Yellowstone are of pre-historic size.

• All Coldplay and the Garden State Soundtrack are the best CD’s to listen to while driving through Yellowstone.

• The Grand Tetons do not get nearly enough fame and attention for how amazing they are.

• Pictures CANNOT contain the amazing things you actually see.

We finished driving diagonally through Wyoming that day. Of course, couldn’t get through this great western state without an “up-close-and-personal” with a couple of hunters stuffing a dead dear with ice on their tailgate at the local gas station. I was in sincere shock!
We ended the day by arriving in Ft. Collins and having dinner with a couple close friends. Thank you Grant and Natalie for letting us stay with you.

Day 4: Thursday – Woke up and went to Grant and Natalie’s favorite breakfast spot. After a huge cinnamon roll and a little eggs benedict, we went to their favorite coffee shop, which was just a little outside of town. The coffee shop was called Loodles and would definitely be our favorite shop if we lived locally too. It’s owned by Mark Ludy (a childrens book writer/artist) and is decorated with Mark’s art. After Loodles we went and checked out their church / Natalie’s work. There was an awkward moment when we met their pastor and he shook Michelle’s hand for about 30 seconds, staring her directly into her eyes, but it turns out he’s just like that. Natalie does for that church what Michelle did for EastLake… Groups. Natalie has been using the EastLake groups method, and has been successful in implementing it… I think that’s why the pastor had heard of Michelle and was a little ga-ga in person. We left there and headed back to their house where Natalie and I swapped music vision… she taught me a few songs her church does, and I taught her one of the songs EastLake does. It was really fun, and Michelle was enjoying every moment. We ended the day with dinner in, and of course, video games!

Day 5: Friday – It was another early riser… we woke up and hit the road at 6am. On our way to Starbucks to get our morning fuel, we were almost tracked down and shot by an angry local who wanted to make sure I knew that I was in the wrong lane. Today was the day we were going to get to Kansas City, and have some awesome BBQ. We hit the freeway and finished The Shack audio book (which I can do a whole blog about… so I’ll just leave it at “we finished”) and started Blink. This was the first and only night that we stayed at a Hotel… so after hours and hours of driving, we made it to our hotel and went out to eat. Knowing that our friends Matt and Emily Cox are from the Kansas area, I called and asked Matt what place has the best BBQ. We found the restaurant, but just driving by we could see that every table was full and there were about 20 people standing and eating inside as well… really congested. We decided we wanted a more personal dining experience and ended up at a place called Café One80. It was fine, but I’m really disappointed we weren’t able to eat at Matt’s favorite spot.

Day 6: Saturday – Sleeping in is a blessing from God! Michelle and I spoke, and decided it would be so cool to show up early and surprise Dave… so we spent the whole day driving from Kansas City to Kenosha. We did stop at St. Louis for lunch, and of course had to try the local BBQ spot. We stepped into a little place on the outskirts of downtown called Smoki O’s. We were coaxed into trying the local delight called Snoot, which is the cooked-to-a-crisp snout of a pig. Not bad… kinda like a thick pork rind… but now that I’ve had it, I’m good with not having it again. We took our BBQ to-go, and ate lunch literally underneath the St. Louis arch. We finished Blink somewhere in between St. Louis and Chicago… another good book that would take too long to talk about. Chicago is AWESOME! We’ll prolly spend a lot of time there. We ate dinner (per the Stennetts advice) at a deep dish pizza joint called Lou Malnati’s… AMAZING PIZZA! Thank you guys for the awesome suggestion. In the end, we rolled into Kenosha and our new home around 11pm.

We’ll tell you all about our adventures here in Kenosha in different blogs, but we wanted to let you know that we’re here… we’re busy… church was AWESOME… and we were feeling bad about not letting you all know where we were and how we got here. Stay tuned!