…And a delicious meal!
From a tiny seed a plant can grow to nourish and sustain many people.
A tiny seed of an idea was born in the hearts of our friends Christi Brown, Patsy Burdick and Shelley Speicher to open up the Mustard Seed Café. For about a year before the café actually opened they prepared the meals for Ciudad Nueva youth programs and community dinners as well as volunteered in our after-school programs, building relationships with kids and families in our neighborhood. In addition, Christi and Patsy participated in the Border Fellows class.
“God had worked in my heart for four or five years to bring me to the place where I was ready to step out of my comfort zone and serve Him in a radical way,” says Christi. “We worked for two and a half years in the planning and preparation to open the café. God used these experiences to renew our minds and prepare us for the work ahead.”
“Feeding the hungry and caring for every heart that comes through our doors”
The Mustard Seed Café opened in December of 2013, partnering with local vendors, restaurants, farmers, food pantries, chefs, and, of course, Ciudad Nueva. The café kitchen is a community kitchen. Guests come from every walk of life: they are the privileged, those who are struggling, and everyone in between.
“We are a pay-what-you-can café where every person is valued and treated with respect and dignity,” says Christi. “We serve and welcome all. Guests may volunteer an hour with us in exchange for a meal, make a partial payment for their meal, or pay it forward to help keep our doors open.”
They serve delicious, nutritious food that focuses on locally grown produce and donated items. In addition, the café is a training ground for young community members. Six of the Ciudad Nueva high school students involved in Catalyst completed a summer internship at the Mustard Seed this last year, learning about many aspects of running the business. Other students have also had the opportunity to serve with Christi and Carmen (the café manager) during community dinners and summer food program for kids.
A tiny seed of an idea grows into an outpouring of love
“We watched the way that the Ciudad Nueva staff, mentors, and volunteers interact with the beautiful people that they serve,” says Christi. “Ciudad Nueva’s focus on community development efforts played an impactful role in the shaping of our work.”
“We knew our work would be development work rather than relief work — a hand up, not a handout,” says Christi. Other ways that Christi describes how Ciudad Nueva influenced their approach to Mustard Seed Café:
- Value the individuals and their cultures and traditions.
- Don’t assume that you know the needs of the community. Be humble. Listen and learn.
- Focus on people — not programs or projects.
- Invest yourself in the people, in developing relationships and earning trust.
- Embrace differences in genuine humility and Godly love.
More growth means more change
Mustard Seed Café will be moving to a new location this spring at 201 E. Sunset Road, El Paso, Texas 79922. Even though they will no longer be in our neighborhood, we are grateful for the time we served together in our downtown community and hope to continue partnering with the Mustard Seed team as we can, looking forward to the growth and change that will bring new blessings in the future.
Are you looking for a way to get involved with Ciudad Nueva or Mustard Seed Café? We would love to partner with you! Please call 915.521.2951 or contact us here.