[Read Part 1 in this Autumn Travel Series here.] I first “met” Christine (that’s right – we haven’t actually met in person yet, but we’re convinced it’s gonna happen!) through an online group reserved for Hutchmoot attendees (the annual Nashville event hosted by Andrew and Pete Peterson). Back in February, she signed up for my travel writing class, where we spent the next six weeks co-learning about fascinating places both local and abroad. And then, of course, there was that one time she took a picture for me in front of an Owl City concert in Manila. Clearly, she’s the best. Now you get to meet Christine and her husband Trent and get a special glimpse into their world as entrepreneurs, baristas, and all around lovers of life. If you enjoy what you read here today, you can also follow more of Christine’s adventures by visiting her blog or her Instagram account. 

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City

Currently living: Metro Manila, Philippines. Hometown: Oxford, Connecticut.

Vocation / Current Job

My job right now is two-fold. Job #1: learning the language. Two to three days a week, I’m in language school studying Tagalog. Outside of class, I’m working on homework and trying to practice with friends and Uber drivers. For job #2, my husband and I are working with a team of incredible people to set up a specialty coffee shop, Narrative Coffee Company, here in Manila. We’ve been interning at EDSA Beverage Design Group and learning about the art of coffee, as well as learning the world of business as we work with our coach and team to develop branding, menu, location, finances, and all that goes into it. Narrative focuses on stories—the story of the coffee: where it came from, how it was processed, how it was roasted, and the story of the people whose lives intersect because of the coffee (the person who brews it and the person who drinks it). We desire to listen to stories and tell them too—tell the stories of what God is doing around the world and invite people to let their stories be a part of His. We’re baristas and missions mobilizers, and we’re loving it.

A book you’ve read and enjoyed lately

I have been wrestling for a while with how to pray when I am afraid. Ever since I was young, I feared the noises in our house and worried that someone would break in. Now there are times that I wake in the middle of the night and deeply fear an earthquake (we’re expecting “The Big One” in Manila sometime this year). With the reality of Christians being beheaded, refugees struggling for shelter, and friends fighting cancer, I know that God does not promise us safety or health. But dare I ask? How do I pray when I am afraid?

Yesterday I read Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza’s book When a Good God Allows Rape. (You can read a bit of her story here on her blog: Teach With Joy.) Her mom, Deonna, writes a chapter toward the end, and her words speak to my questions as she answers the questions of Joy’s younger sister. Deonna writes: “What I can promise you is that God will always be with you in whatever He allows to happen to you. We are secure not because we will have no problems, but because God is present with us in all of our problems. We can trust Him to take care of us and to use all that happens to us for good.”

It’s such a simple truth, and it’s exactly what I’ve needed to hear.

Favorite eatery or dish

I’m so thankful that I got to be in the States for a few weeks of fall this year (my brother got married!). In the Philippines, there are two “seasons”: hot and rainy. Christmas music starts playing in September, and the holiday is celebrated by music and decorations in every month ending in -ber! Being in New England as the leaves were changing and apple cider was abundant did my heart good. But here in Manila, we’ve gotten creative in our cooking to celebrate our love of fall, even though it’s still hot outside and there are no colorful leaves. I found this Moroccan recipe that surprised me with how our condo felt like fall, after making it, with the scents of nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, and coriander. Try it!

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One of our first shifts at EDSA Beverage Design Group, rocking the slow brew bar.

What’s your favorite thing about fall?

I have a new appreciation for the seasons I grew up with, now living in the tropics. The year seems to go by faster without the rhythm of those changes. For me, fall is this sense of beauty in death, with hope of future renewal. It reminds me to live in the moment and appreciate the beauty around me because something hard is coming (I’m not a huge fan of winter). On October 29, my sweet friend and mentor, Cindy, died from pancreatic cancer. About 5% of people live a full year after diagnosis (or so I read online), and she died one day short of a year. Fall in Connecticut lasted longer than usual this year, and I wonder if there’s some kind of parallel to that. Toward the end of her life, she sat on her couch, letting the sunlight pour through her large front window. There’s a big tree out that view too—sunshine and the changing of the leaves. Beauty and death. I think no matter where I live, this time of year will always remind me of these things.

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A view from the roof of our building. We live in a city of 20 million people.

 

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On our way back to the Philippines, we stopped in Dubai for a few days.

 

We went through a two week training program to become certified baristas. When we passed the test (brewer's cup, espresso, and written!) we got cool certificates. And our teachers took a photo with us. (The hand gesture is our #stopbadcoffee sign.)
We went through a two week training program to become certified baristas. When we passed the test (brewer’s cup, espresso, and written!) we got cool certificates. And our teachers took a photo with us. (The hand gesture is our #stopbadcoffee sign.)