Barista DTS YWAM New Zealand

On September 15, I'll be in New Zealand, beginning a 5 month long Barista Discipleship Training School through YWAM ( The DTS consists of two parts: a lecture phase and an outreach phase. The lecture phase lasts for 12 weeks in New Zealand and is designed to encourage personal growth, deepen intimacy in a relationship with Christ, and prepare for a cross-cultural outreach in Thailand. During the outreach phase, our team will be trained by professional baristas, harvest coffee beans, and live with the Akha tribe. After spending 4 weeks in Thailand, we'll be split into smaller groups and sent to surrounding countries to serve as baristas and apply everything we learned in a café setting. Overall, the trip encompasses and intertwines growth, outreach, and coffee. (

"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

For the past 6 months, I've been a barista at Flood City Cafe in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. That's where I ended up shortly after deciding to take time off of school in January. I made the decision to take time off because I needed rest. The past few years led to a build-up of emotional exhaustion, and it took reaching a breaking point to realize that I needed to pay attention to that.

Being a barista at Flood City Cafe has been a beautiful and obvious answer to prayer. I had no idea what I would be doing once I got home from school, but I knew I had always wanted to work at a coffee shop. Being a lover of coffee and a musician, I hoped to someday be a barista at a place that would allow me to share my music. That's exactly what Flood City Cafe has been - and so much more. We have open mic nights every Friday and a "Give A Joe" fund that serves as a "pay it forward" and way to give back to the city. I'm so thankful for the cafe - my bosses, my coworkers, the regulars I look forward to seeing every day, and the love and laughter that floods the place day in and day out.

Another passion of mine - international missions. Backing up to last year, I spent the majority of June in New York City with Bridges International, a branch of CRU (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) geared towards international students. We met students from over 35 countries, and I left NYC with treasured friends from China, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Japan. I gained a new perspective and growing passion for different cultures - learning about differences, respect, and love. I was humbled by seeing a glimpse of God's heart for his world - how diverse he made it and how extravagantly he loves every part of it. Johnstown, PA doesn't encompass many different cultures, so I've been hoping and praying for opportunities to channel the passion that started growing last year in NYC.

Since I left school and started working at the cafe, I've told God that I'll do the same thing for this chapter of my life: stay where I am until he opens and directs me towards something and somewhere else.

I've always wanted to go to New Zealand. I've only seen pictures and the Lord of the Rings movies - but that's been enough to know that it's beautiful and a place I'd love to experience. While sitting on my grandparent's couch the other week, I lightly mentioned that it would be my dream to be a barista in New Zealand. And then I began to wonder if I could be serious about it. I've had multiple friends mention YWAM to me over the past few months, and a few of them asked about my interest. When one of my closest friends told me that I should look for a YWAM program in New Zealand, I started the search. Not even 24 hours later, I was sitting in Starbucks (God seems to like making significant things happen there becuase it goes against my love for independent coffee shops), searching for New Zealand trips. I decided to search for all three of my desires rolled into one, not thinking anything would actually exist. I typed "New Zealand international missions coffee" into the Google search bar and clicked "enter". The first thing I saw: "Barista - DTS - YWAM New Zealand". I immediately went into a fit of excited giggles while frantically trying to explain the trip to my friend who was sitting across from me.

From there, I saw that the start date is September 15, a little over a month away. I contacted someone at the Barista DTS and asked if it was too late to apply. Not even a week later, I'm sitting here (in Starbucks again...haha), asking for your support. I ask first for prayer - for provision, peace, safety, and a humble heart as I'm led into the new chapter God is opening. If you're able to give support financially, I want you to know that anything helps. It's an intimidating amount of money to raise in a month, but I know that God is more than able to provide. I'm excited to see how he does - through ways that are undeniably from him.

Either way, I want to thank you in advance - for taking the time to read this and for allowing God to make you a part of this new chapter. I trust he's going to use it to lead others to his love and teach me more about his heart. All through experiencing New Zealand, Thailand, their cultures, and lots and lots of coffee.

For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:36
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Laurel Chanel Harrison 
Johnstown, PA
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