September 2013

Planes, Libraries, and Automobiles

I made it safely to the states with our three kids.  If you happened to hear the story of our departure, you know that it was not the easiest of trips.  We missed our international flight and were totally rerouted (this happening after all the drama with Ana’s passport).  Greg posted that people pray for less stress for me, and I want you to know that if you prayed this prayer, God was gracious to me.  Though stress was going to be a factor (I was traveling without my husband with THREE kids for crying out loud), everyone was overly helpful, we got on a flight THAT night out of Lima, and my sister made all the connections with me (there was a chance she wouldn’t with the crazy delays out of Arequipa).  So, thank you for praying for our travels.  I returned early with the kids to participate in the festivities of my best friend’s wedding.  Greg will join us the end of September for a one-month furlough.  We will hit Tullahoma, Memphis, the Dallas area, and Tyler in a whirlwind trip.  It has been a blessing to already be spending time with my Tullahoma family.  We look forward to seeing so many more of you!

My article is short this month.  First of all, Happy Five Year Anniversary to Team Arequipa.  If you have supported this work in any way, we consider you part of the team.  It is an absolute blessing to see the faithfulness of God as we look back on what he has done in the past five years.  For me, I am in awe of how he has blessed the Living Libraries program.  Lucia (the Peruvian in charge of the program) and I have worked so hard this year to see how the program flows in all grade levels serving an entire school.  It has been a great year, and our plan is to open three more libraries next year.  It will be a lot of work, and CUDA saw the need for us to hire another employee for the program.  I am honored to introduce you to our newest Living Library team member, Felicitas.  She is a Christian with a passion to teach.  She is gifted in working with the children, and I am so excited to see how Lucia and Feli work together in these months that I am not present.  Please pray for our library team, and pray for the schools that we will enter next year.  We will be in contact with so many teachers and students.  It is a huge blessing to be in a place to influence so many toward the glory and work of our God.

One Way to Look at It: Solid Ground

The other day, our youngest was sitting on my lap, facing me. As we interacted, I shifted my position, which resulted in my legs moving in such a way that she couldn’t quite feel their support anymore. She panicked, grasping my arms tightly, crying out in fear that I might not catch her in time. 
I chuckled, because I knew what she didn’t...that if she let go of my arms and settled back down into my lap, she would have lowered by an inch or two and nothing more. It struck me as comical that she was so frightened, when all she had to do was sit down. But it was behind her, so she couldn’t see, but only felt the open space below her that had previously felt solid.
I tried to pull my arms from her clenched hands, tried to help her find her seat again, but she clung even tighter and continued to cry. Her fear prevented her from realizing that I would not drop her to the floor, prevented her from trusting my hands to guide her safely.
We do that, don’t we? We feel solid and safe, then something shifts, be it ever so slightly, and suddenly we are certain that a free fall awaits us. In our panic, we grab hold of whatever feels secure, screeching for help. We plead with God to help us feel safe again, to feel that the ground is solid beneath us rather than too far away to reach.
I know, sometimes the situation warrants the reaction. But other times, I bet that God chuckles, knowing that our fear is completely unfounded, that we can sit back and find ourselves comfortable again with minimal adjustment in our position. He sometimes gives us a gentle push, encouraging us to sit back and be okay, but we refuse to give in, trusting instead in our desperate handholds. 
I am certain that we are not meant to dangle in a panic from sources of partial security. I am certain we are meant to stand on solid ground. I am also certain that it is only by trusting that we can learn just how close that certainty may be.

Finding a Coffee Farm

When we decided to open a coffee shop we did our research on what coffees were available to us in Peru.  Right away we weeded out anything that wasn’t certified fair-trade and organic and from there we began testing for the best tasting coffee.  Well it didn’t take long to pick the winner.  Tunki coffee, produced by a small producer co-op near Puno, has been an international award winner (1st place in 2010) and maintains high quality taste year over year.  For almost two years now we have been purchasing Tunki coffee through for use in our cafe and for sales in the US.  While we have wanted to take a trip to the valley to visit the coffee plantations and operations an opportunity just hadn’t arisen; until this month.  Greg, Alfredo and I were able to arrange a trip to visit the main coffee factory in Juliaca and then travel on to Sandia (the valley) to visit one of the co-op’s headquarters and to visit with some of the owners of the hillside coffee plantations.
The journey was an interesting combination of excellent and harrowing.  The harrowing part was the travel out to the valley from Juliaca.  Sadly I don’t have pictures to do the description justice but just imagine yourself in 15 passenger van going downhill around sheer mountain cliffs on a one lane road while needing to pass cars or make room for cars coming up the hill.  On top of that there were hairpin turns aplenty and a driver who loved to drive at breakneck speeds.  We were all very thankful to arrive in the valley safely.  We stayed in the small town of Massiapo where the Inambari coffee co-op is located.  One of the members of this co-op submitted a sample to the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) this year and was ranked 3rd best in the world.  The co-op president took us out to visit two different plantations about an hour outside of town, high up on the side of the mountains (about 1800 meters up).  Though we arrived post harvest we were able to see quite a lot.  Plants still laden with beans, beans laid out for drying, a newly developed area with recently planted coffee plants, and more.  Back in Massiapo that afternoon we were treated to a cupping seminar by the co-op’s resident coffee specialist, Rigoberto (a licensed Q grader).  He prepared five different coffee samples for testing.  He talked us through how to officially cup (test) the coffee and how to officially score using international scoring guidelines.  The lesson was very interesting and Greg especially enjoyed himself as he graded the coffee samples with Rigoberto.
We were so grateful to CECOVASA (the parent organization of the various co-ops) for hosting us at their factory and for arranging our guides in the valley.  As we prepare to ramp up sales of CUDA coffee through exporting to the US we felt it necessary to gain a deeper understanding of the coffee we sell.  This trip was an eye-opener and has given us a lot of ideas for our business going forward.  Enjoy the pictures!