Mission Week and the Coffee Shops of Durham
A yummy smoky homemade burger dinner at the neighbours’, with roast chillis stuffed with feta, washed down by vintage cider, the night before.
And after a full Sunday that included popping into the Chinese ministry’s Chinese New Year celebrations to hang out with some Singapore visitors (despite understanding very little of what was going on),
fought driving winds and sleet to get to Victoria Coach Station in good time for the overnight National Express bus to Durham.
Wandered around the town at 6am-ish, enjoying the quiet cobblestoned streets and the cold,
then, when it opened, a hot pot of tea at Esquires Coffee (22 Silver Street, Durham) and a reviving square of the brownie some very kind person had baked for my journey, followed by a whirlwind of getting to know almost a hundred new faces and incessant chatting over ubiquitous milky tea and cold hot cross buns.
And then, to use the specialist terminology of mission weeks, mornings were for First Contact, lunch for Lunch Bars, and evenings for Evening Meetings. Michael Ots was particularly helpful, i thought, on the question “Why Should God Limit My Sexuality?” (mp3 here on the See For Yourself website). Long talks with some students who were curious about the evidence for the Christian faith.
Spent downtime with John Stott and other CUGs at various coffee shops around Durham. The company was stimulating, and the delightful character of the cafes a better reason to visit than the coffee:
Flat White (21A Elvet Bridge, Durham) – probably your best bet for a somewhat decent cuppa. The smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel was appropriately chewy and therefore, excellent. Typical indie decor consisting of ephemera and quaintness.
Treats Coffee Shop (27-28 Silver Street, Durham) – relatively generous portions and so, popular with students. One group got two unequal slices of a tea cake, the larger of which being a quarter of a loaf. Loads of power sockets, a good clean loo. Despite the presence of an espresso machine, the “flat white” they served up was coffee from the heating pad with frothed milk.
Leonard’s Coffee House (1 Back Silver Street, Durham) – The Pidgin’ Loft upstairs was a nice place to sit and chat, while looking out windows.
Vennel Café (71 Saddler Street, Durham) – two floors of old Singer sewing machine tables, creaking wooden floor boards, dried flowers hanging from rafters, real fires in fireplaces, loose teas in vintage china, and scones in the morning.
Kind strangers took me into their homes and lives. Comfy beds and hot showers, great conversations to midnight in freezing living rooms (there being no money to fix broken radiators) about the challenges of being a Christian teacher, and of being Geography or English majors (professors with entrenched postmodern mindsets penalising those with Christian worldviews and those who read the text with the goal of determining authorial intent).
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:29-31)