It’s funny how one day you look at the calendar and think, “Thanksgiving is in two days. I guess I should finish that post I started in August.”
All the things you hear about Louisiana are probably true. My expectations were that I would spend a year in a swampy, bug- and alligator-infested place, constantly being hit by hurricanes, eating delicious food, and enjoying some lovely Southern hospitality. To my surprise, all of these expectations have been met except for the alligator sighting. We still have nine months to go, however, so I’ll keep running like a crazy person to and from the trash can at night, praying under my breath that my leg doesn’t become alligator dinner.
This is a legitimate concern, y’all. We live on a BEAUTIFUL piece of 25-acre property, and yes, it does have a small swamp. So far I have seen cranes, seagulls, owls, deer, raccoon, possums, and, last week, had a small heart attack when I walked out to my car at 4:45 AM and had a fox yowl at me and nearly run through my legs in his haste to get away. If you’ve never heard a fox bark, you may not understand how terrifying this can be when you’re still half-asleep.
The people of Baton Rouge are so lovely. I’d forgotten how normal it is to have a conversation with a complete stranger in the grocery store until I moved back here. Our church has been so welcoming and warm, too. Within the first few weeks of living here, we had been invited to dinner at least five times. I love the South. It feels good to be back where people hold the door open and wave when you let them into your lane.
During the first week of living here, Ted and I took a walk around our beautiful, borrowed property. We had this conversation:
Me: “Do you think we’ll have a hurricane while we’re here?”
Three days later, I was sitting in my car, crying in frustration as I tried to think of another place that might still have bottled water in stock. Hurricane Isaac himself wasn’t too bad (as far as I could tell, anyway) in Baton Rouge, but we did lose power for almost a week. This, not having our St. Louis community around us, and the nearly two months it took me to find a job really made our transition rough.
God is always faithful, though, even when I doubt. One might think that I would understand this on a deeper level by now, but I don’t. I’m beginning to wonder if I will ever be able to make a grocery list or (halfway) fill up my gas tank without getting stressed. God seems pretty bent on building up my trust in Him, and I’m thankful for that, even though it makes me sweat bullets.
His provision made for a crazy October. I agreed to help run the church’s pumpkin patch fundraiser in late September, and two days later, I landed a job as a barista at the local coffee house. I was working 60 to 70 hours a week for awhile, which gave me immense respect for anyone who works multiple jobs. I had never been so happy to see November 1st in my life.
Turns out working at Community Coffee House (or CC’s) is much like riding a bike for me. This cafe has its own unique challenges (a drive-thru and a finicky, hand-operated espresso machine), but the atmosphere is so oddly life-giving for me, despite my introversion. Since my time working in Christian organizations, I’ve missed the real world of people who cuss and party too much and have such varied, colorful opinions about everything. Being there at 5 in the morning, downing black coffee and having a conversation with my manager about his experience with the church while we stuff the pastry case with blueberry muffins makes me happier than I’ve felt at work in a long time. I didn’t know it when I first tied on an apron at Starbucks all those years ago that I was going to love it as much as I do, or how much it was going to change my view of ministry, but I am eager to see where my education and my job experience will finally collide. In the meantime, I’ll tamp espresso grounds and steam milk and use my employee discount for free caffeine while I write.
This is our Louisiana life so far, and it’s good.