Every year our struggle continues with Hill Climber coffee. That is not a frowny face struggle, just an honest one summing up the situation. How to properly use this ministry opportunity is something we are growing into, and finding. It is taking longer in some ways than we want, but for some things you have to wait on God, and I have found overwhelmingly that God's timing is better than ours, no matter how much we may get confused on that point from time to time.
We are seeking to use this coffee ministry as a way to provide employment, some land for community/Church use, and yes eventually make enough money back to put that into the other ministry efforts of the mission without requesting more US funds (helping the clinic, plant more Churches, grow the Milk Project) Providing employment is certainly there, and more in the November to February rough time frame when so much labor is needed for harvest.
The work in these farms is hard stuff, not for the faint of heart. Gustavo and his family leading the work currently in Las Botijas...it is hard on them. They are from Tegucigalpa, but have learned tremendously working there...but being so isolated and with so much to do and so much to keep going, it is difficult. We have been praying about a pastor to start a Church here...the building is already there for meeting, but God has not opened that door yet.
The work in Sampedrana has the advantage of where the Church is as well...but the main farm property there is quite a distance from the Church building, at the end of the road (that we had to have made.) It is beautiful...and as is often the case here, beautiful means hard to reach.
Both are above 5,000 ft.
Alfonso working in Sampedrana has the main property up top, but also the plants at the Church and the small 1 acre field just down the river (that you need the log bridge that the CIY team helped build last year to get across when it has rained recently.)
It is hard on him though as well, and hard for Oscar to help them both being so far away on a daily basis. He gets to visit, not as often as he or they would like, and things have definitely advanced considerably in the past few years, but there is still much more to do.
Not just planting more coffee...but continually seeking how to use this opportunity we have to honor Christ and share His love along the way.
Be praying for us in 2017 and going into 2018 for God's direction on the staff, their safety, the seed planting (physical and spiritual) and the long term plan how this can grow to do much more than just help the mission be a little more financially self sufficient.
It will be hard. It is hard.
But often times, good things are.
Pray we make the right decisions, wait for God's timing, and are wise about taking steps in the future!
Oh and if you are coming in a group...try to buy as much Hill Climber coffee as you can!
Seriously, while we sell almost all our coffee at the local markets here (as you might of heard, at not the greatest prices), the more we can sell as our brand means the more money we can put right back into the work...and all the more great coffee you can drink at the same time. We call that "win-win-win" trade coffee. It is high altitude, specialty grade (we have had it cupped a few times in the US to scores of 87-88), robusto/arabica hybrid coffee. (Why the mix? Much more resistent to diseases is the main reason farmers in our areas tend to plant this. We may experiment with other varieties in the future when can afford to do so.)
Now that we are roasting in very small batches, we can almost guarantee what you order before you come...will be roasted only a few days before you arrive to pick it up! It is sooooo much better this way!
The picking of the coffee is just step one. Separating the "cascara" from the bean inside, cleaning, and drying take time...and space
Gustavo washing the beans after separation in Las Botijas
Alfonso with one of the seasonal workers helping with the harvest
Look like fun? Try going back with a big bag of coffee!
Coffee farms are usually horizontally challenged. You can see our neighbor's big farm across the valley, a member of the Church in Sampedrana that many in groups have met, Don Escoto
The Fords primary service role is group hosting, but this time of year it is all hands on deck to help transport coffee, supplies, workers, etc. Here seen at the entrance to the big farm atop Sampedrana
Sherwood Oaks Christian Church helped plan these trees in May of 2013 as tiny little things...this year the harvest will be big! (Sampedrana)
Transportation is a big need/problem/issue. Here we are taking the Sampedrana farm motorcycle down for maintenance...again. Pray we could get more reliable transportation soon for Alfonso.
Right now all the main cleaning/drying in Sampedrana has to be done at the Church...but sooner rather than later we will have to build facilities on the farm itself. Here pastor Henry's son David checks out the coffee waiting to dry