phoenix pholks: derek & valerie

when visiting a new city, one of the things i do without fail is to find the best breakfast spot (according to the locals).  normally i find differing opinions, but in downtown phoenix there is consensus: matt’s big breakfast.

a tiny, two-room diner, matt’s big breakfast boasts huge portions served from an organic menu (vegan choices available) and “the best coffee in town.”  the first day i visited matt’s it was mid-morning (10am) and there was a line to get in.  when they finally called my name, i was directed to a stool at the counter (where the guy in the purple shirt is sitting in the photo below).  normally i would enjoy a leisurely breakfast (and several gallons of coffee) with a good book but because of the logistics, reading in matt’s big breakfast is rendered impossible (and so is sitting at the counter without rubbing knees with your neighbor).  but, as it turns out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

both times i visited matt’s (and i sat on the same stool both times), i had meaningful conversations with each of my neighbors. today i want to briefly tell you about two of them.

originally from new jersey, derek is a professional musician (he supplements his income by tending bar). he is an engaging, good-looking guy in his early 30’s.  i opened the conversation by saying, “you must be an artist.”  he said, “i’m a musician, what makes you ask?”  i replied, “i was wondering what kind of job permits a guy to wear a beard and eat breakfast at 10am on a wednesday.”  then i asked where i could find great pizza in the area and the dialogue blossomed.

derek has lived in phoenix for many years and is engaged to a girl there who owns a hair salon.  derek is currently at a crossroads in his life: he has an opportunity to join a successful band, but it would require his moving to san diego.  he would be closer to his parents (they live in oceanside) but his fiance’ is unsure about it.  i asked derek about the role of spirituality in his life and he claimed to be very spiritual.  he said that he was sure that god exists, but he has never heard an adequate description of the god he believes in.  he assured me, though, that his god was not the one portrayed by evangelicals.  i promised to pray with him about his impending decision.

valerie is a stay-at-home mom who had heard about matt’s waffles and decided to indulge herself.  she told me she is catholic, but she does not attend church and she does not feel compelled to raise her children in church (“they can make their own choice when they get old enough”).  she seemed to be fascinated with my ministry and had a million questions about the how’s and the why’s (especially with how we fund our community outreach–she cannot fathom the idea of people giving regularly to a church).  she seemed especially bewildered by the idea of a pastor riding a harley (i was on my bike).

the lesson: if you get to phoenix, you gotta’ check out matt’s big breakfast.

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2 thoughts on “phoenix pholks: derek & valerie

  1. Excellent job engaging others, my Harley-riding evangelist friend!

    Now on to things nearly as important. Did you get to eat at Pizzeria Bianco? Chris Bianco is the rock star of the pizza world, having won a James Beard award for the best restaurant in the region–as a pizzeria, no less! I haven’t had the privilege of eating there, but he is definitely a driving inspiration for Pizzeria Testa.

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