first things first

A blog about whatever crosses my mind, ordered by importance.

Refreshed and Ready

It’s always great to go home. I’ve had multiple definitions of “home” over the years, but right now the place I most identify as “home” is Dallas. Having just spent 5 weeks there, I can totally confirm that is still the case.

Since I’ve committed to a second year here, I felt the need to go home and ask my supporters to commit to a second year with me. This was the perfect time to do it, since my cousin was getting married on June 4. The only other opportunity I might have would be in August, and who really wants to go to Dallas in August?

Of course the first thing I did was get mexican food. Torchy’s Tacos has the best guacamole. I’m glad I got some sleep on the plane so I was able to enjoy it. Several of my friends came out to meet us there. I’m so thankful for my friends back home who have supported me since the beginning.

As a thank you gift I treated them all to barbeque. Unfortunately not all my supporters could come. This was definitely the best brisket I’ve ever cooked.

Some delicious meat

Brisket is actually a pretty easy recipe, if you have a good smoker. The trick is being willing to put the time in.

How to cook a brisket

  1. Buy a USDA Prime packer brisket
  2. 1 hour before it goes on the smoker, rub it with a BBQ rub. In texas you can buy these at any grocery store. Let it sit at room temperature.
  3. Heat your smoker to ~225 (~105c)
  4. Put the brisket on the smoker ~12 to ~18 hours before serving time depending on the size of the brisket. Calculate about 45 min per pound, and add an extra hour to let it sit. It’s OK to put it on early, a cooked brisket can sit in a cooler for up to 4 hours before serving. Remember to put it fat side up.
  5. 1 hour into cooking time, add smoking wood and continue doing so for 2-3 hours. The more wood, the thicker the smoke ring. Suit to your taste.
  6. After you’ve added enough smoke, you can either leave it to cook on the grill or put it in the oven at the same temperature. If you put it in the oven make sure you put a drip pan on the lower rack with a layer of water.
  7. When the internal temperature of the brisket reaches ~190f (~90c), it’s cooked. Remove it, wrap it in foil and let it rest in a cooler until serving time. If you leave it in the oven too long then it could dry out. You have plenty of flexibility here, it’s ok to be off by an hour or so. This time I also added a BBQ baste that I found at the store. You could also baste it in BBQ sauce which will caramelize.

There you go Joseph. I want to see pictures of your first brisket.

Feeling pulled in 2 directions

Being back in Dallas reminded me how much I miss it there. I miss my friends, my old bachelor pad house (you guys haven’t used the ping pong table since I left? Seriously?), The Porch, going to Baseball games. It’s much more comfortable for me. But it also doesn’t last. Part of me wishes I could stay in that place forever. But I know that everything on this earth is temporary.

There’s lots of opportunities for ministry in Dallas. I could easily be a cross-cultural missionary there, even as I work a full time job. The Porch just opened a second location in south Dallas. I could get a job closer to downtown, live in south Dallas, and invite my neighbors to know Jesus through The Porch. Maybe I’ll still have opportunity to do that in the future.

Btw, did you guys know that there’s a Muslim yellow pages in Richardson? The muslim yellow pages

For now however, I’m committed to this mission here in Tirana. While I was gone I saw on facebook many exciting developments in the ministry. The night I returned to Tirana I attended one of our seminars & saw how our young professionals are really stepping up to be leaders. I’m excited for the direction this is going! And I’m excited to be part of it. This is one of those times that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

And I know that amid the discomfort of living in a foreign country, God is here. He quiets my soul, He soothes my anxieties. He is giving me more and more joy. It’s hard to describe the experience because it’s always just under my consciousness. But nonetheless I know He is with me.

Is it too much to ask for the ability to live in 2 places at once?

The future is better than the past

When you try too hard to hold on to things, often God takes them away from you. I can’t go back to the exact same life I enjoyed in Dallas, and in truth I don’t want to. I likely will still go back to Dallas after my 2nd year here, but I’ll be going forward into a new adventure there. All things change, and the God who makes all things new always turns that change into an opportunity for His glory. Knowing that He is in control gives me peace for the future, however it turns out.

West dallas towards ft worth