Category Archives: Dominican Republic

Homemade Iced Coffee on the Cheap

Iced Coffee
A cold cup of iced coffee

The Recipe:

1 cup (8 oz.) ground coffee

2 quarts of cold water

The Equipment:

Sealable storage container with measuring marks (x2)

Fine mesh strainer

Cheesecloth or coffee filters

Beverage container

8 oz. of coffee in a 2-qt container
8 oz. of coffee in a 2-qt container

Depending on the size of containers you use, adjust the amount of coffee and the amount of water used.

Soak the 8 ounces of coffee in 2 quarts of water
Soak the 8 ounces of coffee in 2 quarts of water

After pouring the cup of coffee grounds into the container, immerse them in 2 quarts cold water.

Make sure all the grounds are immersed. It may be necessary to push the grounds into the water with a spoon.
Make sure all the grounds are immersed. It may be necessary to push the grounds into the water with a spoon.

Steep the concoction for at least 8 hours in the refrigerator. For a stronger brew, try the following: Use more coffee grounds or steep the mixture longer.

Steep for at least 8 hours in the fridge.
Steep for at least 8 hours in the fridge.

After 8 hours of steeping (or longer, if preferred), remove the mixture from the fridge. Using a comparably-sized container, strain the water and grounds mixture to separate the grounds from the liquid. Even while using a fine mesh strainer, grounds may still escape into the mixture. It’s recommended to use additional coffee filters or cheesecloth in addition to the fine mesh strainer.

Use a fine mesh strainer and coffee filters or cheesecloth to separate the good liquid mixture from the leftover coffee grounds
Use a fine mesh strainer and coffee filters or cheesecloth to separate the good liquid mixture from the leftover coffee grounds

Store the fresh iced coffee liquid in a storage container. Enjoy!

The Rest of the Story:
I was a late adopter to the love of coffee. I avoided it in my youth. I even managed to graduate from college Suma cum Laude without the help of a jolt of java. But when I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, everything changed. Why? Because I experienced a new realm of exhaustion and exhilaration on that trip. I was tired. I needed a boost. Plus, fresh Dominican coffee harvested from a field nearby was abounding. So I thought, “If I’m going to try coffee, I might as well have the good stuff.”

In the early years of my coffee consumption, I drank it black. It was quite the shock to go from no coffee to strong, black coffee. But I adjusted well. As time has gone on, I’ve migrated to creamer, half and half, milk, Bailey’s, whip cream, and even sprinkles on occasion. And I still drink it black, too. Whatever I’m in the mood for that day dictates what type of coffee I drink.

While my love for hot coffee measures high on the coffee Richter scale, my affection for iced coffee also has ample admiration.

Sadly, a delicious cup of iced coffee is quite pricey when to compared to a cup of house blend, drip, black coffee.

Although I usually reserve the iced coffee experience for the times I venture to a Starbucks, Scooters, Caribou, or some other random coffee shop, I wanted to be able to experience ice coffee at home.

So I took on a research project. Apparently there are a variety of ways to make iced coffee. And further apparent, the “cold brew and steep” way of making iced coffee is the best way.

As with most things, this required an investment up front. I did not have containers big enough to make a substantial amount of iced coffee so I had to buy them. The cost to fund my¬†caffeine habit wasn’t exorbitant, but it definitely added several pennies to the typical grocery bill.

This investment in kitchenware will save me money later on. I won’t have to go to a store to get iced coffee. After a few batches of iced coffee on the cheap, my investment will pay for itself.

I look forward to discovering new ways to flavor the iced coffee and fine-tuning the recipe. Hot summer days will never be the same. Rather than sweating through a cup of hot coffee, I’ll be chilling to a cup of iced coffee instead.

Sources:
The Pioneer Woman
Cold Brewed Coffee

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Foreign Impressions On My Domestic Life

In the previous post, you read an abridged version of what generally went down on my mission trip to the Dominican Republic. This blog is specifically about how I was affected personally. I’ll discuss what I was hoping for going into the trip, what happened while there and where I am now. I’ll try to go in order with each of the three sections so it’s easier to follow the progression. We’ll see how it pans out.

What I Was Hoping For Going Into the Trip

* Greater clarity for my future
* Build better relationships with the other Frontline young adults
* Grow in compassion for missions and evangelism
* Reduce my dependence on convenient, comfortable living (i.e. sleeping and food conditions)
* Become a more proficient Spanish speaker
* Grow in greater intimacy with the Lord

What Happened While There

* Greater clarity – I received clear evidence that I speak prophetically in the Spirit and that I hear accurately from the Lord. It was confirmed time and time again that the Lord speaks to me and what I share from Him resonates with other people.
* Better relationships with fellow Frontliners – That definitely happened! I was with the same group of people consistently for 12 days. We shared everything, much like the church of Acts. I had several wonderful conversations with numerous different people. While in the DR, the group of us became a family. I love seeing everyone now. Every time we meet up, it’s like a little reunion. We’ve moved beyond surface friends and entered into endearing family.
* Compassion for missions and evangelism – Walking actively in missions and evangelism for several days in a row makes a person grow in that area. I did grow in compassion naturally. It wasn’t forced and it wasn’t arduous. Because of the Holy Spirit, it was easy to serve together with the rest of the team in these areas. Yes, I got tired sometimes, but I enjoyed all of the evangelistic things we did.
* Convenient, comfortable living – After showering in cold, contaminated water, I slept in my own sweat on a thin, foam mat in a non-air conditioned room. I ate a bunch of strange food. I couldn’t flush my toilet paper. It wasn’t convenient and it wasn’t comfortable. But I did not complain. Rather, I just accepted it for what it was and continued on.
* Spanish speaking – I didn’t know a lot of Spanish before I left. I still don’t know that much. However, it was great to use all the stuff I’d learned in my Spanish classes in a real-time. I am continuing to study Spanish as often as possible. We have lots of Spanish channels on TV. Sometimes I watch the programming. Not the sappy soap operas, though.
* Intimacy with the Lord – Check, check and triple check! My personal time with Jesus was amazing. Our group devos were wonderful. I journaled, worshiped, and…simply…grew. It was great to walk in personal and corporate intimacy with Jesus. Truly awe-inducing.

Where I Am Now

Different. I’m different. I realize how spoiled Americans are. I realize how much money I have even when I feel like I have nothing. I appreciate my pillow top bed immensely. Continuous, hot showers are a celebration. I would go on another mission trip. I don’t feel called to be a full-time foreign missionary. But I do know that I’m constantly on mission with the Spirit wherever I am. I now have better relationship with my Christian brothers. I need a healthy balance of men and women in my community and now I’ve got it.

My perspective has permanently shifted. Thank You, God, for that!

Dominican Republic Mission Trip Recap

After much waiting and anticipation, I am finally blogging about my mission trip to the Dominican Republic. From here on out, I will most likely shorten Dominican Republic to DR. You with me so far? I hope so.

From July 2 until July 14th, I was on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic with 22 other young adults from my church. We are part of the Frontline Ministry at New Song Christian Fellowship. Our trip was unique in that we were all involved with Frontline and we are all very similar in age. Chalk one point up on the side of unity for that. We also stayed in the same house (on varying floors and in gender-specific rooms). We were together constantly. Make that two points in the unity category. And as a final and glue-like third point, we were all walking obediently in the Holy Spirit. Consequently, we were later told that we were the best mission team to come from our church in over 10 years. The unity that we experienced was phenomenal! The Holy Spirit gave us unity and we worked together to sustain it. That was one of our greatest team testimonies.

New Song is a network of churches all over the world. We have several campuses in the Nashville area (we’re hoping to have 9 in Nashville by the end of 2009). We also have congregations in Mexico, India, Nepal, Africa and of course the Dominican Republic. All of the congregations in our network have the same values and teachings. It’s very cohesive and very nice.

A few brief, interesting things about our trip…

We could not flush the toilets very often. The plumbing was not very good so we had a motto: If it’s yellow let it mellow; if it’s brown flush it down. Simply put, if we peed, we didn’t flush. If we pooped, we did. Also, we didn’t flush the toilet paper also because of the plumbing. We used the toilet paper to wipe and then put it in a trash can “sunny side down.” In other words, we turned it over so no one could see the yellow or brown on the paper. Toilet paper was not provided in every bathroom, either. While we were traveling around, many bathrooms didn’t have toilet paper. So, we carried our own with us most of the time. Also, the water there is contaminated so we drank special purified water the whole time. We were not to ingest any of the tap water. Thirdly, we didn’t always have electricity. In fact, every day, the city of Santo Domingo cut the power in a grid form around the city. So, between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. every day we lost power. They cycled the power cutoffs around the city.

While we were in the DR, we spent the majority of our time in the capital city of Santo Domingo. However, we did spend three days in Pedernales, which is a town on the border of Haiti. Pedernales is only six minutes from the Haitian border. Two United Nations officers were staying in the same hotel that we stayed while we were in Pedernales. They chose to stay in the DR because it’s safer than Haiti.

We arrived in Santo Domingo on time and very tired on July 2nd. Our call time that morning was 3:45. I can’t sleep effectively on an airplane so I was especially tired. After we landed in the DR, we made the hour-long trip to the house where we were staying. The owners of the house were the national directors of Youth With a Mission (YWAM). They were on furlough (a mandatory visit back to their home country to maintain proper missionary residency requirements). Basically, every missionary in a foreign country has to leave the country they are visiting (missioning in) for a specified amount of time.

We were supposed to stay on the YWAM base, but it was full of other mission groups. Instead, we were blessed to stay in the director’s house. It was three floors, had at least three bathrooms, numerous rooms, a glorious view and a nice patio. It was truly a gift from the Lord to be able to stay in La Casa de Norell.

The second, third and fourth day of our trip, we were in the city of Pedernales on the Haitian border. We made a six hour drive to get there. We drove from one coast of the DR to the other. On the way, we saw glorious beaches! While in Pedernales, we planted a church, which happens to be the first international church multiplication in the New Song network. We loved our time with the children in Pedernales. Many of the people on our team wanted to stay in Pedernales with all of the kids. The first night in Pedernales, we showed the movie ‘Facing the Giants’ in Spanish with English subtitles in a neighborhood where the church members lived. The second day there, we had a kids’ ministry day/construction day. Most of us worked with the kids and a few people went to build a patio roofesque wooden structure on the pastor’s house so vines could grow on it and create shade. The second night, the pastor spoke, we led worship and also presented two of our dramas. The third day was a Sunday. We went to the Pedernales church, which met in a meeting room of the local hospital. We led the service there and presented a dance. The girls of the Pedernales Bible School also presented a drama and dance for us.

One of my favorite things about the Pedernales section of the trip is my experience with a girl named Kenifer. I met her my fist day there and asked her every question in Spanish that I could think of. i.e. What’s your name? How old are you? Where do you live? Where are your parents? Do you have any brothers and sisters? After I ran out of questions, she moved on to talk to others.

As the weekend progressed, Kenifer kept approaching me. She introduced me to her mom, aunt and uncle. (Her aunt and uncle were the first people to convert to Christianity at the Pedernales church.) She came up to me and gave me a hug during one of our ministry times. During that particular moment, we were praying for people. As she stood there hugging me, I prayed for her and prophesied over her life. I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to pray that she would know God as her Father and would find a husband that honored her and that she could stand alongside in ministry with. I also saw that she was a leader among her peers so I pray that she’d be an influencer for good and not for bad and also that she’d pursue God wholeheartedly.

After I’d prayed all those things, I felt led to tell her the things I prayed for. I was praying in English, so she didn’t understand me. I asked one of my Spanish speaking friends from the trip to translate for me. She gladly agreed. So, the last day in Pedernales my friend translated everything I’d prayed. Soon after that, I approached Kenifer’s mom to tell her everything I’d prayed for her daughter. Her mom said that Kenifer’s dad is gone a lot (I prayed that she’d know God as her Father…that turned out to be important since her earthly father was often gone.) Her mom also said she was one of the top students at Bible School. I’d prayed that she’d be an influencer for good and would grow in the knowledge of the Bible. It was great to see such an immediate clarity for the things I’d prayed for.

After Sunday church, we headed back to Santo Domingo. The next two days of the trip were work days. I worked on the house that the student interns would be staying/learning in. It was hard work. Lots of manual labor. I left the first work day with two blisters on my right hand. I was working with a crowbar and breaking up cement so we could put in underground plumbing. A combination of water, my leather work glove and the repetitive concrete breaking led to the blisters.

The fourth day of that week was a tourism day. We toured Santo Domingo and did a little barter shopping. I was very sick this day. I felt like sleeping the entire time and I had no appetite. Perhaps some of the bad water got into my system. I’m not sure. I started taking medicine that day to make me feel better. That night we hosted one a church service at one of the network churches.

The next day we relaxed a little/rehearsed/set up for the Alabaster Heart conference. Pastor Dale Evrist, the lead pastor for New Song Nashville was the key speaker for this event. He shared a series of messages about growing in deeper intimacy with Jesus. Writers from New Song wrote original songs for this for our original Alabaster Heart Conference in Nashville. The songs were translated to Spanish so we could sing them in the DR. We had four of the top singers from the country singing those songs and those of us that were not in the band or doing tech arts sang in the choir.

The Alabaster Heart Conference was very successful! Many people received prayer and were healed. Everyone was definitely ministered to. I learned new things from Pastor Dale’s message that I’d not learned while in America. He brought new perspective and a refreshing viewpoint on the series.

After the Alabaster Heart Conference, we made our way to a resort for a few days of relaxation, reflection and rejuvenation. The majority of the trip, we didn’t have air conditioning, beds or even enough water for a full-length shower. It was also wonderful to share a bathroom with just one person and not five other people. The endless buffet was a real treat too. The beaches on the resort were beautiful. The water was very warm as well.

This is a lengthly blog, but there are so many things that I didn’t even mention. For example, what exactly I got out of the trip. I’ll post this as is and come back later with my personal thoughts on the trip and what it meant to me.

The Audience Responds

Did I mention that I’m back from the Dominican Republic? Ha! Well, I am.

I do need to blog about that. I realize this. I will work on it eventually. It will be a lengthy, process and I do not have enough energy to devote to that particular activity at this time. In short, the trip was amazing! We moved in wonderful unity. God is great!

Forging ahead…

I don’t know if you are avid comment readers, but I received a few rousing comments on my post ‘Captive Audience.’ I do not know if the people who commented on that post will read any of my future posts–or even the comment I left them after their comments. Whether they do or don’t return to my blog again, I still want to respond. Plus, for any future readers, this may apply as well.

In the blog ‘Captive Audience,’ I talked about testifying to the truth. Some people find that offensive, binding, and annoyingly religious. I tell you honestly that it is not. I am not in a religion about God. I am in a relationship with Jesus. I realize that phrase may be considered over-used to some, but it’s true. I’m not in a hollow, repetitive activity that involves worshiping an unknown Being known as “The Man upstairs.” No, I’m in a dynamic, epic, deeply transforming relationship with a real, very much alive, redeeming man. His name is Jesus.

My relationship with God is not a set of strict rules and wrath. It’s a grace-filled, love-driven, tender, powerfully refining relationship. It’s not a freeloading, do-whatever-I-want-and-still-go-to-heaven sort of thing. God does instruct very specific things in the Bible. And I obey them. I follow Christ and obey God because I want to. Not because someone is forcing me into a relationless religion.

When I go to the Murfreesboro Writers’ Group, I testify to the truth in my life. That truth is Jesus. That truth is that I’m single and want to get married. That truth is that I am a song writer and am learning to play the piano.

When other people speak and read their work, they are also testifying to the truth in their lives. Their brother died. They are writing a novel. They are working on a short story. Everyone who ever says any opinion is just testifying to what they believe as truth.

I’m not a narrow-minded religious zealot. I am, however, a person who reads the Bible, conforms my mind to what it teaches and grows in my relationship with Jesus. I don’t see Christianity as a list of things that I cannot do. I am free in Christ. I walk in liberty and victory. I like it that I love Jesus.

I know that not every person in the world is going to agree with me, what I believe, or how I live my life. I also know that the name of Jesus offends people. I expect that. The Bible even says it will happen so I’m totally ok with it.

I don’t want to be irrelevant to this world. I don’t want my faith in God to cause people to instantly shut themselves off to me. But I will not compromise what I believe just to appease someone else.

I will write that DR blog sometime. I will. I will.

Off to the DR

So, it’s finally here!

Tomorrow at 3:45 a.m., I leave for the Dominican Republic! I’m excited! I know God will do a marvelous work in me and through me while I’m away. Please pray for me/our team while we’re gone. i.e. team unity, safety, protection, etc., etc.

Also, for updates while we’re in the DR, read our team blog at http://newsongdrteam.wordpress.com.

I’ll post when we get back with lots of pics, stories, testimonies…

The Funds Are In

Hola,

I have great news! I am fully funded for my mission trip to the Dominican Republic! I received two checks yesterday that put me over my support-raising goal! I am so thrilled! God is so faithful to provide!

*deep breath* My mind has not totally wrapped itself around the fact that I will be traveling to another country in July. I have another Dominican Republic team meeting on Friday. I also start rehearsing the drama we will be doing on Saturday. I think things will become more real when I start the drama reherasals. It gives me something tangible and concrete to do. It takes this concept from discussion to application.

If you donated to my cause, thank you. If you’ve prayed for me, thank you. I ask that you continue to pray for me as the trip draws near. And please, definitely pray for me while I’m gone from July 2-14.

Dominican Republic Support Update

Hola!

Good news! I received three support checks early this week. God is faithful and He has now provided a large chunk of the money I need to go to the DR.

I am still short on the total amount of financial support needed. But I am so excited for the financial boost that I’ve received.

Praise God!