I really did say that quote above, probably some 10 years prior to our trip to Norway, while an aspiring Barista living off Division street in Portland, OR. When Katy and I left the Sneglebo wwoofing (willing workers on organic farms) opportunity behind we didn't have a backup plan in mind. We were making it up as we went, hoping to find a cycling path southward around all of the snowed in mountain passes and restricted 20+ kilometer tunnels. Going to Ålesund was a way of passing the time until we figured out these logistics and I never expected any opportunities to arise from our visit. In truth I was actually rather nervous about visiting this art nouveau town, because our budget had just tightened considerably and the expense of such a visit would be costly. All of the towns and cities came with heightened expense, because in the country we could camp for free most of the time. However, there would be no better opportunity than this to see Ålesund, and so we did, little knowing of what blessings awaited us there. This was the point in our story that a dream, really a dream and so much more, came true.
Ålesund Acquainted: July 07, 2015
When I had written to my mom that we were leaving the farm and traveling to Ålesund, she said that perhaps the Lord had something greater than what we had planned for ourselves in store for us.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25
This morning Katy and I booked a camp / tent site for one night more, though we intend to stay for several days here, and I was taken off guard to find it cost a mere 80 NOK (as opposed to the standard 150 NOK elsewhere, and the 640 NOK we spent for a “room” the night prior). Having established camp at 12:30, we made for the city center, and having finally established an internet connection on our way out allowed us to first locate Jacu, so we made them our first stop.
Their door was unlocked, despite not being open, and we went in not knowing this was the case. I asked for Anne and Gunnar, but only Anne was there with Oliver. Mentioning Emilio caught their interest, but even more did my tattoo. Anne immediately professed their faith, while Oliver made us several coffees. They then offered us to stay [for coffee] while they worked, and then said we should stay in their upstairs apartment! What!!!
The Upper Room: July 08, 2015
Tonight I am nearly left without any words.
The rain did not fall on us as expected while striking camp, but came later in the day in a beautiful, curtain misty fashion as seen out the 25 ft, floor to ceiling windows of Jacu, as I espresso bar trained for working on Friday from 10-2. I served, and honed in my skills, cappuccinos to Anne and Oliver, who helped me to perfect my skills. I also served Katy and cappuccino, something I’ve never had the privilege of doing before, and one other patron who said it was the best he’d ever had. A confidence boosting day for this out of practice man. Katy meanwhile learned [coffee] production, and later I joined her.
Oliver and Anne invited us over for dinner and desert, and we shared much more about our lives, faith, sermon recordings, and their daughter (12 years old) even played us a beautiful song with her friend.
Now we are going to bed in their [spare] apartment above the Roastery. Home.
Ålesund and Jacu Up Close: July 09, 2015
Awoke early and went for a run up the stairs to the stadium. Back in time for lunch with Oliver, Anne and the intern girls. Katy then took to production while I kept at the barista training–served a few “customers” even, despite not being open. It’s just their way of exceptional hospitality.
Ate a simple dinner at the conference table. Tried to see a movie at the theater, but it didn’t work out. Came back to Jacu and got to watch a couple of episodes of Daredevil on Katy’s phone. : )
Barista Reunion: July 10, 2015
The cafe was officially open today, and I was a barista again after a two plus year hiatus. It felt quite good. Many customers were excited to meet with me. Tony Hall, one of Norway’s biggest photographers, was one of these patrons, and a friend to Oliver and Anne. He was quite the character.
Later we bought a bottle of wine, and enjoyed some pasta to the tune of Batman Begins. Today felt like Ålesund was our home, and that we have a place in this fine city.”
In Tip Top Town, But Not Shape: July 11, 2015
We slept in, read a little, then took a nap afterward. We were quite tired today.
Eventually we got out at 2pm or 3pm, and by 4pm were on our way to hike Sukkertoppen [Sugar Top], Ålesund’s highpoint. From the summit were spectacular views in all directions–the Atlantic to the west, a fjord wall south, dotted islands north, and snowcapped sawtooth peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps to the east. By nightfall we bacame quite exhausted, and slept some more after watching Rounders.
Katy’s Turn On The Couch: July 12, 2015
Katy awoke with a fever. As such we rested a lot, drinking tea and napping on the cafe’s couches. Opting out of church, we instead pulled up a DOH [Door Of Hope] podcast on Hell, by Tim Mackie, from a June 14, 2015 service. I then helped with dinner in the usual windowsill spot, and we finished the wine to another, but different, pasta dish.
Today the sun was out in all of its splendor, but alas, we stayed indoors. It was for the best.
More Favor & More Changes: July 13, 2015
A bit of morning reading before a solid production day in the Roastery. Katy and I cleaned [Jacu’s] storage area, and did a lot of packaging for Jacu’s wholesale customers in Geiranger, Hellesylt, and elsewhere. Again, Oliver and Anne hosted a magnificent lunch that was later topped by Anne’s parents, Arnon and Britt, who made us an authentic Norwegian potato ball dinner at their wonderful home. Dessert was also incredible.
The hospitality continues.
Also, Oliver told us that Jacu is one of three main [art] gallery spaces in Ålesund, alongside, “The Cube and Ålesund Art Museum,” and that Jacu has generated the most income. He also told us that the stone roof tiles [seen all around town] last 100 years, and are mandatory in the city for heritage preservation.
At dinner we planned a new bicycle route. Exciting!
Jacu’s Big Production Day: July 14, 2015
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” – 1 Peter 4:9-10
“Tuesdays are Jacu’s biggest production days, and this time around I was helping alongside Katy. In some ways the work felt like that of Water Avenue’s typical shifts, but in many ways it felt like what I imagine those shifts to be like when I return. Overall Jacu has a better system, with vacuum sealed bags, and a large amount of automation.
The main area that has need for improvement is with when wholesale deadlines are placed when they order their coffee. A 12pm / noon cutoff for an order to then be shipped 3 hours later is simply not sustainable, but all this stems from their generous hearts of overflowing hospitality. A thing we have been blessed by in great abundance.
Linny-Loo: July 15, 2015
My kid sister turns 23 today; my-oh-my how the time flies by. Hopefully I will be able to call her later tonight and hear about how college life has been treating her–I’m excited to learn how she is doing.
As a whole our time in Ålesund is also flying by quite fast. It is hard to believe Katy and I have been in Norway for a month already, harder still that it’s been over a week here at Jacu. Oliver and Anne are now like family, as a result.
Currently I am writing from the top of a La Marzocco espresso machine, awaiting customers, and, in contrast to everything I have just stated, it is rather slow. Oliver is roasting, Katy is on production, and the girls are making signs to tell the town that Jacu is open special today. There is a smell of chocolate and wood burning as I prepare a mocha, and Ingvold burns the Jacu logo onto a wood panel.
… of course I barely wrote, “panel”, before an onslaught of customers and friends came pouring in. Four house, and countless cappuccinos later, I found myself nearing the end. It was a very good day, however, and the night wasn’t half bed, either. Katy and I ate a cheap, but homemade chili dinner, and moved on to Anetta’s cake with earl grey tea while enjoying our now movie date night together.
Also, the tall ships came in today, but since we are no longer tourists [joking], we’ve chosen to not care as much.
Weather Like Day & Night: July 16, 2015
The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, and as for the wickedness of the wicket, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins.” – Ezekiel 33:12
“Waking late after a late night of watching / vegging out on t.v.; our brunch (almost) routine continues. We were actually quite surprised by how intense the rainfall was coming down outside, and it woke us a little earlier than normal, I suspect. The rain continued to fall heavily during our breakfast and throughout the day, bringing about grateful hearts in Katy and myself, that we were not out camping and riding today, again.
Rain alone, however, stops neither locals nor tourists in Ålesund from getting out, especially during [the] tall ships racing week, and thus Jacu was very busy. This in and of itself was no problem, but not knowing when we would actually close proved difficult for our psyches. Eventually the shop did close though, and we were then invited to Oliver’s parents’ home to celebrate his nephew’s 8th birthday. It was very special to be a part of. While visiting we met Oliver’s brother, Peter, who is a base jumping fanatic of sorts, and a real nice guy. He invited me out for a hike, but I stayed and watched Elias jump into the frigid fjord instead.
Tourist Town - Sunny Side: July 17, 2015
So many people have come into the shop these past few days despite the rain, but today it was sunny. It felt like there were fewer patrons today, but perhaps they were more engaging, and thus more draining? Many people came in specifically to see Katy and myself, since our interview the day prior with the local broadcasting people, NRK. By the end of day I was seriously weak, and felt Katy’s cold was finally catching up to me. We bought some wine and scotch along with dinner, and Katy made a most delicious mushroom soup.