The Power of A Hot Beverage

I, like Sheldon Cooper, believe in the power of a hot beverage.  Unlike him, I did not develop this belief due to my mother’s insistence that anytime someone is sad they should be offered a hot beverage for comfort.  My belief stems from my personal experience.  I have seen the ability of a hot beverage to open up conversation and develop new bonds among individuals with very different backgrounds.

My first experience with this phenomenon occurred on a trip to Mexico when I was just 13 years old.  I was visiting Tijuana with a friend’s family and a group from their church along with several other groups from across the country.  Our goal was to build homes for several families who were living on as little as $2 a day.  We succeeded in this goal, but more importantly my 13 year old eyes were opened to a world beyond the comfortable American suburbia I called home.  During that trip I bonded with the 4 year old girl for whom my group was building a home.  Our bond started with something simple, our shared name - Abby, but by the end of the trip, at least for me, it became something far greater.  On the last night of the trip we prepared a “feast” for the families.  It reality it was simple meal of steak and potatoes, but for these families it was truly something special.  At the end of the night we sat under stars with cups of hot chocolate and stared up at a beautiful show of fireworks.  While Abby sat in my lap enamored with the lights in the sky, a show like none she had ever seen before, I sat enamored with this little girl who would grow up in a slum in Tijuana and probably never know much more of the world.  That night, over a hot beverage, my heart grew for the world beyond my own.  In reality, Abby was no different from me; she was simply born into very different circumstances.

Five years later I left for college.  Like any college student I bonded with new friends as we shared our lives over hot beverages in numerous coffee shops and dorm rooms, but these were not the hot beverages that truly changed my outlook on life.  The hot beverages that impacted me more were those I shared with a 13 year old girl.  I met Jasmine through a club I joined at my college.  The club, known on campus as Building Behind Bars, was an outreach of Prison Fellowship Ministries. Prison Fellowship works to bring reconciliation in the lives of prisoners and their families.  Angel Tree, the particular facet I was a part of, works with the children of prisoners, helping to bring reconciliation between parents who are in the prison and their children and providing mentoring for those children.  Jasmine was the child whom I was matched with to mentor.  For two years a friend and I regularly made the 45 minute drive to the small town where Jasmine and her sister lived.  We met and talked with them in various locations, but some of our most profound conversations occurred over hot cups of coffee at a local Panera Bread.  We talked about their lives growing up and their dreams for the future.  Over hot beverages we bonded across cultural and socioeconomic differences.  Like Abby, Jasmine was no different than me, she was simply born into very different circumstances, circumstances that shaped her life up to that point, circumstances that I still regularly pray do not shape the rest of her life.

Today, I once again had the chance to bond with other women over hot beverages.  These are not women who are circumstantially impoverished by place of birth, lack of money, or familial relations.  These are women like myself; stay-at-homes moms with husbands who are gainfully employed, healthy, happy children, and generally well-rounded lives.  The only difference is the country where we were born and the language we grew up speaking.  The language barrier has truly been my greatest barrier here in Mexico.  How do you develop a relationship with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you?  How do you have a deep conversation and truly share your experiences?  These are the things I miss most here; these are the things I’m learning to overcome.  So, when a new friend from church invited me to come and get to know some of the other women over coffee I jumped at the chance with open arms.  I know the power of a hot beverage to develop bonds.  So, today I drove off to Starbucks nervous and excited.  I sat with other women and chatted, some in English, some in Spanish.  The conversation wasn’t particularly deep, but for me it was an open door; the beginning of something new.  It was a chance to find commonality, a chance to develop new relationships, and a chance to overcome my longing for more here in Mexico – my loneliness.  Today, the power of the hot beverage once again worked its magic to begin to overcome differences and build relationships.  I pray that this is only the beginning of this particular hot beverage story.


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