August 18th, remembering Christina through coffee stories from around the world

August 18th, 2020

I am so grateful, everyday, for Christina‘s passion for kindness, helping others, and of course, all things coffee!

This first photograph takes me back to December 14th 2007 at Urban Standard Coffee in Birmingham Alabama. This was Christina’s first Barista job and It was obvious she was hooked, coffee was in her blood. I still remember Christina’s enthusiasm while preparing her masters degree thesis on fair trade for coffee farmers. Fortunately, Christina’s enthusiasm was contagious, and thats a really good thing!

Thinking back on that day and our conversation sent me on a search for coffee related photos I’ve taken  while striving to give the ripple effect of Christina’s life a little boost. My assistance in the latter has certainly not been necessary, but there is so much joy in following her little magic trail.

Each of these photographs reflects the memory of a barista or fellow coffee lover who took the time to hear a Christina story and share their own story as well. It has been seven years ago today that I last held Christina’s hand, forty four countries later and the stories are just getting started…. ❤️❤️❤️

I will close with this little thought, something that made me smile this morning during my time with Jesus before the sun came up.

Today is the feast day of St Alberto Hurtado, a Jesuit from Chile who worked tirelessly to bring justice to the poor. (He died in 1952 and was canonised in 2005.)

Pope Francis offered St. Alberto as an example of a courageous missionary. He quotes St. Alberto’s words when he said:

“Being an apostle does not mean wearing a lapel pin; it is not about speaking about the truth but living it, embodying it, being transformed in Christ. Being an apostle does not mean carrying a torch in hand, possessing the light, but being that light… The Gospel, more than a lesson, is an example. A message that becomes a life fully lived”

Padre Hurtado wrote:  “He who gives himself grows…sacrificing what is mine, forgetting myself, I acquire more value, I am a more fulfilled human being.”

Good words to live by, I think Padre Hurtado and Christina have a little in common… ❤️

As I travel the world, one of my favorite pastimes is to connect with Barista’s who are passionate about all things coffee. Christina loved being a barista and telling their stories, I feel her close when I engage.


As I prepared to return home from Jordan there was a coffee encounter with a barista named Doaa in Amman that Stirs fond memories. During our chat I learned that Doaa had only been pulling shots and crafting latte art for just a few months and that she loves what she does. When I asked for a heart on my latte she happily obliged but was a little unsure about the results. I assured her that it was perfect!

When I learned that Doaa’s name means “a voice of the heart” everything about our encounter seamed to be ordained and make sense. I think Christina would have enjoyed chatting with Doaa…through me, I think they did.

October 1, 2018 • Pune, India

I am so grateful to Barista and Coffee Jar owner Cini Baig (far left) for remembering Christina from a photograph I pulled from my pocket dated from the summer of 2007 when Christina travelled to India.

The story is on my blog.

Excerpt from the story –
“Upon entering Coffee Jar with my friend Anu, I met owner Cini at the counter and told him about my daughters 2007 college mission trip and how there was a coffee shop she frequented in Pune. I bravely asked Cini if he knew of a shop that met that description. Expecting an incredulous laugh from Cini I was surprised when he asked if I had a photo of my daughter Christina. Feeling it to be an act of futility, but still intrigued by his interest, I provided him with a photo I had been carrying of Christina (sitting beside Preeti) during her time in India 11 years prior.

The look on Cini’s face made my heart stop as his smile spread widely.

“Oh, of course I remember Christina”, (now here is where I need your trust as I am not making this up, his exact quote was “she was special”).

I had not informed Cini yet of Christina’s passing. Tears just started streaming down my face as Cini went on. “I see two thousand students a year pass through my shop while they are on mission trips here in Pune and I cannot tell you the name of a single one but for Christina.”

“In the brief time that Christina was here,” Cini continued, “she was always asking about ways that we might use proceeds for our coffee sales to help people who sleep on the streets. Since then we have started selling bags of coffee, mugs etc with the proceeds going to help those in poverty. Christina helped inspire me to do that.”

I would not have felt any more lightheaded if God himself had appeared and told me these stories. To be honest, I felt God’s presence in a supernatural way in this store and it felt as though God was speaking through Cini to deliver a message.

Cini and I chatted and I explained Christina’s story, her sponsoring of a little boy named Sathish in India for nine years, her passing and my coming to India myself to meet Sathish. Cini shed tears of his own when he learned of Christina’s passing. Cini went on to share that he normally does not come to this store location, but today, for some reason, he felt as though he was suppose to come, in his words, “I now know why.”

I rejoined Anu and her two daughters and Carissa at the table to catch my breath and savor this special moment, grateful that I was with friends that deeply understood this unusual path that God has me on. Anu and her daughters’ own story was one that I had fully embraced upon hearing it in Thailand two years prior. I came here to tell their story and God was gracious to add meaning to my own.”

My most memorable #cupofmornings ever… ❤️

May 2016 • Lisbon, Portugal

A afternoon latte was next on my list, so I googled “latte art” which is a good place to start ones quest for good coffee, especially when exploring a city of coffee unknowns. My search turned up Copenhagen Coffee Labs which was amazing. Susan, from Denmark was my barista and is also one of the owners here.

I loved hearing Susan’s story of how she developed a passion for starting her own coffee shop in Lisbon while being a barista in her home town of Copenhagen, pulling shots from a LaMarcozza equipped Tuk Tuk in Denmark. Sharing stories with Susan about my daughter Christina’s passion for coffee was a memorable way to round out my twenty four hours in Lisbon.

At the end of my trip I had a couple of nights in the ancient and historic city of Antigua, in a hacienda that God graciously provided; a much appreciated sanctuary of peace. This 18th century Hacienda felt more like a living museum than a home, with sections of the floors covered in glass, affording views of archeologist digs that lie below. Active volcano Fuego could be seen from my bedroom window with its plumes of smoke emitting every few minutes like clockwork. It was the perfect base for my long planned tour of nearby Finca Filadelfia, a coffee bean plantation from the 1800’s. With my daughter Christina’s passion for coffee this was a very special part of my journey that allowed me to feel like I was with her on yet another of our adventures.

Story on my blog
September 2014 • Antigua, Guatemala – Finca Filadelfia coffee farm

I will never forget the thrill of being awakened 14 hours into a 15 hour flight from the Philippines as we approached San Francisco, I knew exactly where I was heading when I landed at SFO…. San Francisco’s mission district for one of mine and Christina’s favorite treats…. a Four Barrel coffee latte at Dynamo donuts. I did and it was amazing. “Food is memories”

Wanting to see more of Chennai India the day after I met with Satish, I took a tour of the city through Story Trails. Our tour was of the temples as well as the forts held by the British during their occupation of India. Akila, my tour guide, was wonderful, her story telling brought indian history, customs and traditions alive. I enjoyed sitting in the Kapaleeswarar Temple at Mylapore and having Akila explain “Sastanga Namaskaram” (Total surrender of oneself) as people at the temple would lay flat out on the temple floor. Her personal interest in the story that I was here to tell caused us to become friends rather quickly. We shared a delicious indian coffee and Akila taught me the Indian way to drink it. Here are some of the photographs that resulted from our day.

Story from my blog.
From my travel journal – with Akila Raman
Friday, January 30th, 2015 • CHENNAI, INDIA
February 2015 •Dubai UAE – Returning from India

A sweet exchange of stories with a Barista in Dubai led to the kind expression that adorned the top of my latte

June 2015 • Ethiopia

I always chuckle when I see this one… tired and exhausted in Ethiopia during my time there in 2015. At that time I would have told Christina stories to anyone that would listen (Okay, Not much has changed ?). This sweet Ethiopian lady invited me to sit in her hut for a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Before long, I pulled out my favorite baby photo of Christina as a visual aid to my story told in English. I have no idea what she thought I was saying but her kindness was genuine and tears welled up in her eyes as I told my stories. The little Jimena (see next photo) she used to make our coffee now sits on my shelf at home due to her kind hearted insistence. ❤️❤️❤️

The little Jimena she used to make our coffee now sits on my shelf at home due to her kind hearted insistence. ❤️❤️❤️

The coffee ceremony is an integral part of social and cultural life in Ethiopia. An invitation to attend a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship or respect and is an excellent example of Ethiopian hospitality. Performing the ceremony is almost obligatory in the presence of a visitor, whatever the time of day.

Story on my blog.
August 2015 • Lusaka Zambia

A laughter filled #cupofmornings while photographing for my dear friend Gary Schneider and Every Orphans Hope.

August 2015 • Istanbul, Turkey

Cupofmornings from istanbul, lovingly prepared by my new barista friend Ibrahim.

January 17th 2016 – A snowy #cupofmornings
In and around the Yosemite National Park Wilderness, photographing the stars with Marcus Bowen

Story on my blog.
February 18th, 2016 • Thailand near the border of Burma

Wednesday night arrival into Phami Village, near Mae Sai, Thailand.
After a bus ride to what seamed like nowhere, I arrive to this. I was greeted by the village barista who made me a V60 pour over with beans grown, harvested and roasted right from the village…. surreal. I Slept in a tree under the stars facing some incredible mountains that I will be crossing tomorrow as I venture to the other side of the Burma border.

Story on my blog.

Lying in my tent in a tree, suspended in space with only God and the stars for company, I pondered the story that I came here to tell. It is a story of intrigue and romance: a former drug-runner and heroin-addict-turned-minister named Ahmeh falls in love with a girl of means from Hong Kong. Milky, his wife-to-be, left her successful business career to marry this boy with a tumultuous past from the mountainous Akha Tribe. The result was a Phami Village wedding in traditional Akha tribe clothing that made the pages of Marie Claire magazine. The elements of this story were too intriguing for me to resist.

Years ago, the coffee plantations that now produce some of the finest coffee beans in the world were harvesting opium instead. As a teenager, Ahmeh was caught up in the smuggling of opium and heroin across the Burma border into Thailand, an activity that led to an addiction that became more than what Ahmeh could control. After attempts to get clean in a traditional rehab facility failed, Ahmeh came to know Christ in a Christian based rehab program that changed the course of his life. Ahmeh’s life was changed by the love of Jesus, leading him to the life he now leads. Pastor Ahmeh is now a minister with a church and orphanage that transforms lives here in the mountains where I now lay my head.

Story continued on my blog.
February 19th, 2016 • Mae Sai, Thailand, in the Phami Village near the Thailand/Myanmar border
May 2016 • Ethiopia
#cupofmornings near the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Africa
Stories on blog.
July 2016 • Zanzibar

Sharing stories with my new friend on the island of Zanzibar, just off the coast of Africa

August 2016 • Nepal

Sharing stories over coffee in the mountains of Nepal, between Mugu and Jumla

August 2016 • Nepal

Our kind, coffee making host in the mountains of Nepal

August 2017 • Paris France

Preparing to document Gennadiy Mohenko’s circling of the globe with his 32 adopted boys led to this moment in France. I was about to photograph their passage on bike from Paris to the Atlantic Ocean… but first , coffee, of course!

This sweet memory of storytelling with my two new friends from China was the result of a tiny Parisian coffee shop that could hold no more than three and had just the one table…. ❤️❤️❤️
Boot Café, one of my all time favorites

I loved this #cupofmornings with dear sweet Anastasia Korniyko after photographing for Fathers House in Ukraine. I wish i still had this cup ❤️. Looking forward to returning for another.

Stories on my blog.
August 2017 • Kiev, Ukraine
August 2017 • St Petersburg, Russia

My first #cupofmornigs in Russia… hopefully not my last ❤️
Photographing for Orphan Outreach

Stories on my blog.
February 12th, 2018 • Kigali Kenya coffee shop

An interesting time of storytelling with one of my new friends from the Maasai Tribe in Kenya.

From my time in Kenya.
September 17th, 2018 • Cambodia

Thank you Barista Rithea for making my latte special in Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Barista Rithea’s heart topped masterpiece….

October 7th, 2018 • Manali, India

Barista Mingmar Sherpa

House of Grace Founder Aunty alongside one of her graduates and success stories, Barista Mingmar Sherpa

His story from my blog.

From my time photographing for Orphan Outreach in Manali India – Capturing Grace on a 16 flight, 5 week journey throughout Asia

For most who grow up in the mountains of Manali, survival is the goal, dreams and life choices are something only the few who are rich can afford. Many of the children who have grown up at House of Grace, have lost their parents due to unexpected illness leading to death. Life here is hard, even under the best of circumstances it is a struggle for a family to survive.

During my time in northern India, photographing for House of Grace, I visited Kilta Cafe, managed by House of Grace graduate Mingmar Sherpa. Mingmar loves his job as barista and I enjoyed chatting with him about the coffee business. My own daughters coffee passion has given me a love for Barista stories.

Though our conversation I learned that Mingmar was brought to House of Grace as a toddler, his parents too sick to provide care. He learned at a young age that his father and mother passed from tuberculosis, a disease responsible for 10% of all deaths in India that occur between the ages of 25-69.

At he age of 27, Mingmar is a House of Grace success story and considers himself to be fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow up with the love and support of those who are the hands and feet of Jesus.

When I asked Mingmar about the difference House of Grace has made in his life he replied “House of Grace played a very important role in my life. I received an education that normally only rich people receive. As a result, I have options in my life that I otherwise would have never had.”

I thought about Mingmars words afterwards, I was inspired how he carries a sense of gratefulness for what he’s received in life rather than bitterness over what has been lost.

Barista Mingmar Sherpa (on the right)

May 2019 • Latvia

From my journal – Loving Liepāja, Latvia ❤️.
Thank you Barista Marta for making it special.

July 2019 • Prague

Thank you Marie for treating me to hazelnut Ice Cream as we made our way to the tram to climb Prague’s “Eiffel Tower”. The view of Prague from the top was so beautiful. I loved your secret coffee shop and will always remember our time together.

Stories from Prague.

Marie’s secret coffee shop… see previous photo


My favorite #cupofmornings during my time in Hawassa was at Fila Coffee. The owner’s name is Kawisso and he is also the chairman of the board for Ajuuja and teaches at the local university. I enjoyed our time exchanging stories and his interest in the places I have traveled. He especially appreciated the heart in my logo and what it represents.

Story on my blog.
October 2019 • Chiang Mai Thailand

Thank you Joy Mazahreh from Amman Jordan for the memorable coffee chat and barista Pai for making it special. My favorite #cupofmornings in Thailand.

❤️ #thailand #chiangmai #WWO #worldwithoutorphans #37815miles #circlingtheglobe #8countries3continents34days #China #Thailand #malaysia #SriLanka #India #israel #Jordan #Dubai

October 2009 • Sri Lanka From my travel journal

I found this cool coffee shop in Sri Lanka for a #cupofmornings before heading to Israel. My time here had been amazing and I couldn’t wait to tell stories about City of Hope. Thanks barista Buddika at The Commons Coffee House for making it special. ♥️ Capturing Grace around the world on a 34 day, 8 country, 3 continent trip, photographing for organizations in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Israel and Jordan. . .

37815miles #circlingtheglobe #rdmtakeoffsandlandings #8countries3continents34days #China #Thailand #malaysia #SriLanka #India #israel #Jordan #Dubai #compassionadvocate #ngophotography #humanitarianphotography #humanitarianphotographer #capturinggrace #canonphotography #canon5dmarkIV #canon_official

October 2019 • Jaffa, Israel

From my travel journal.
Dana was our server at Alma Cafe, both on our late night arrival and for breakfast. Gary Schneider nd I appreciated her suggestions, tips and kindness. Her accent reflected her time living in Budapest but she was born in Isreal and has now returned.

In Isreal with Gary Schneider – Capturing Grace around the world on a 34 day, 8 country, 3 continent trip, photographing for organizations in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Israel and Jordan.

From my travel journal.

During the last couple of days hiking the Jordan Trail with Ghassab, he figured out that I was more interested in the bedouin culture and people than was I in historical facts and dates. Today, our most memorable time in the Jordan desert was meeting up with Ghassab’s friend Awde.
Awde is 75 years old and has a smile that beautifully reflects his kind and compassionate heart. Awde has a lot of love in his life, three wives, fourteen children and camels that he affectionately calls by name. My cup of tea was never empty as Awde and Ghassab conversed in Arabic.
I enjoyed viewing the relationship that Awde has with his camels through the lens of my camera. Awde’s gentle Arabic commands resulted in one of his camels kneeling to the ground and laying his head in Awde’s lap. I watched as Awde stroked and petted his camel much as one would the family dog. I had never witnessed camels acting so much like pets. Awde’s camels responded to my affectionate hugs to the neck, leaning into me to show thier appreciation.

As Ghassab and I made our way on through the desert, I learned that Awde had known Ghassab all of his life. When Ghassab was a baby, Awde use to carry him on his back in a sling, building a bond with Ghassab that has endured. .

Stories from Jordan.
October 2019 • Jordan
Hiking the Jordan Trail from Dayan to Petra
March 2020 • Temsalet in Addis Ababa Ethiopia

While photographing for the Adera foundation in Ethiopia I had the pleasure of photographing for Temsalet Kitchen in Addis Ababa.

Upon arriving at this restaurant with a purpose, I was more than a little exhausted, having already worked a full day. However, as soon as I met Feteh and learned her story and vision for Temsalet kitchen my energy rebounded.

The rest of the story.
1 Comment
  • Billy R Caldwell
    Posted at 16:55h, 07 January Reply

    It was great to see Christina in the hospital when she was born. Seeing her grow up
    was wonderful, and also, we attended some of her programs when she was in school.
    She was sweet and kind, like her mother. I especially remember attending one program
    called “Dare to say no”. She was a speaker and leader for her class. Her death was tragic, but you
    have been able to spread her message throughout the world. The Good Lord is blessing
    this work, and Romans 8:28 really works. Keep up the good work.
    Billy Caldwell

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