Saturday, February 18, 2012

Coffee road

The group left yesterday back for the US. There is some more work to do on the false ceiling raise...but the lion’s share of the work they completed before leaving, we just need to finish the mud work, put the tiles back in, paint...all the hard work of moving everything is pretty much done. We can have some groups help with that in March. They completed a great deal of landscaping as well...surely there will be more to do for the next year or so, but slowly but surely we are making a greater oasis there to honor God. 
Before they left, we took several of them (while the rest stayed behind to continue to work on the ceiling and sewing) to Sampedrana for a site visit for another couple guys that came to see about bringing a group here in July. The idea was to just get to know the area, maybe see the new coffee property via the new road, distribute some corn, and head back to TGU.
The first part...went according to plan.
So did the last two parts. 
The part of visiting the new coffee property...more “interesting.” It is always interesting when half the people in your truck walk back while the rest figure out what to do.
We got most of the way there on this new road, which for the most part is wide enough for the big Ford, when we came upon some “slight rubble.” We had no tools (other than the hammer seen below) to try to break them apart. The irony was...these were not rocks, but dirt. Dirt that had never been unearthed for thousands of years seemingly until the bulldozer moved they were boulders, but most of the smaller ones crumbled when you picked them up...all except the big ones of course that even broke brother Alfonso’s pickaxe. We called for Alfonso as he was working and he came down to help us out...and got a fractured pickaxe for his trouble. Not before chopping down a six inch tree section about 8 feet long to use as a lever to move the bigger “rubble.”
With the rubble cleared...we were out of time to continue up to see the property itself, although we were 95% of the way can see here (if you blow up the picture) the clearing that Alfonso has been doing...the line that starts our property on that edge and goes up and around the bend, where our entrance would be with the road.
Next phase is to put up a fence for the 20,000 seedlings that will be ready soon...without the fence the plants will make for good food for the cattle that roam. Fixing the road...will come later, perhaps with some group help this summer.
So, instead I had to turn around. The pictures here do not do the magnitude of this job any justice. And you won’t see any pictures here of that attempt, as my mind was quite occupied with what I was doing and in prayer. Not only a tight bend, but a big rut in the road for the water to pass, and plenty of water/mud for the back tires. By God’s grace and hand we turned around and headed back...up, and down, up and down, up and down. I am relatively confident that we went from about 4,200 feet above sea level at the Church to well over 5,200 feet at the property (probably 5,600, with the top end of the property over 6,000) We are working on getting Alfonso a motorcycle to get back and forth...right now he walks the two hours up and down every day with whatever tools he will need. As he told me... “It is hard work just walking up, but I do come down a little faster knowing my work is done and I get to see my family.” Imagine how much more he will be able to do with just some basic transportation!
We got to spend some time with a few families on the way down, sharing corn, some conversation, and prayer. One of the mothers in particular reminded me how important what we are doing is when she was surprised by the corn and toys for her children and then my petition to pray for them. I asked if it was ok...and then Gender said “it is ok right? Sure!” Then came her response... “well, if you want to pray, then pray.” Not the heartiest of endorsements...but I took advantage while I had the chance. Prayer makes a difference the scriptures tell us...but many of us do not know the Scripture, let alone Who wrote it.
Some of the girls with their toys...the excitement and surprise of it all was evident, and they seemed so overjoyed.

You can see, for those that have been to Sampedrana in the past, some further improvements on the property here....the white picket fence, the windows in the building (with screens) for greater light and protection from bugs, changed the bars on the windows (they are learning how to do that) and the shift of the old Church building to a garage and bodega (storage room) plus the painting to match the Church building.


You can see the mission house from the road now! They cut down the older coffee trees to allow more room for growth for the ones planted several years ago...which won’t produce as much for the short term, but will take off...they should produce some this year, but the older plants had given their all and some were catching a disease, so they had to come down. (Coffee plants do not produce more and more as they age...after a certain age they need to be replaced anyway.) The wood from the plants is being used as fire wood for cooking. Also...Gender and Lourdes have a refrigerator! No electricity...that is true, but this one runs on kerosene! It adds the benefit of being able to keep meats and such...but they pay for the kerosene and purchase by selling chocobananos, icy pops and the like to the community, like a mini pulperia. Their daughter Alison is walking now as well!

Gender reports the Church building being well used...Sunday services now see 57 regular attenders and over 30 children! For a community this size...the growth of the Church there is amazing! They even used the Land Cruiser mission vehicle there to take 16 people to the CIY conference in January! Praise God for that, and that the vehicle that seats 13 had enough space for 16 all their suitcases for a weeks' trip!

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