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The Painter


Just this last week we wrapped up painting on our training center. What was supposed to have been a 3 month construction project has turned into about 15 months. We had to get rid of our original contractor and instead have found individual contractors to do small parts of the job.

We had a contractor lined up to paint but then a family in our village church had a financial emergency. The son in the family had taken out a high-interest loan to buy a motorbike and had no way of repaying (predatory loans are VERY common here). The loan-shark had just repossessed the bike and the family was told they had 3 days to repay. The father in the family (he’s in his mid-50’s) came to us and said they were planning to sell their land and move to another village if they couldn’t figure out another plan.

Our local partners were worried because the village they would move to doesn’t have any believers or a church for them to join. The family is all new believers. The mother, son and daughter attend church most Sundays. I’d never seen the father at church before, however we know him pretty well because his farm is right next to ours. He’s a rough older guy who smokes a lot and until a couple months ago drank a lot as well. The first time I met him was preparing for the Christmas party a couple years ago. I was working with a few of the younger guys trying to figure out how to kill an angry cow we were planning to eat. It wasn’t going well and one guy almost got kicked. The old father walks up and tells us to get out of the way. He takes a log from the fire, smacks the cow on the head, it falls over and he walks away. He’s a tough old guy.

As we talked to the father about how they needed money for the bike, he asked who was going to paint the building. We told him we had talked to someone lined up and he said he was a painter and could do it for the same price. I had my doubts, but our local friends said this would be a good opportunity to help his family out of this financial situation. So we decided to hire him on.

It has been two months of very slow painting. The first week he showed up maybe one day. The second week he showed up with a crew of 5 young guys. Turns out he’s scared of heights so he hired his nephew and friends to paint the outside of the building. As you can see from the picture, we had problems with them taking safety seriously. (And as you can’t tell from the picture, we couldn’t get them to quit smoking as they applied wood-stain/paint-thinner). Over the past month the father been slowly but consistently working every day.

After the father started painting, I started to see him at church on Sundays. It was the first time I’d ever seen him there. We also have lunch together on the farm most days and he would join in (because free food). On Monday’s we always have a meeting/devotional with lunch and he would eagerly participate in the Bible study. He has almost no spiritual knowledge and was eager to learn and talk with us. Our local partners are always asking him to pray. He was very shy about it the first few times and still often declines, but our local friends force him to anyway.

We just finished up our contracted painting with him and we’re thankful for the time. There are spots where the paint isn’t even or drips of different colors are now sealed under layers of stain because he wasn’t careful. But I’m happy with the work. The perfectionist in me notices, but I smile because I know what it accomplished.



After a long blogging hiatus, I wanted to take a moment and update everyone on our progress on this year’s harvest. For the last ten months we have been working hard building, planning, and preparing for the months of October, November and December when all of the coffee in our area is picked. Here’s a few pictures and updates of everything that has been involved:

This spring we built our wet-mill - which allows us to pulp coffee cherries, ferment the remaining coffee parchment in water tanks, and then clean/check quality in a wash channel.


We also had to import several pieces of equipment in order to process the coffee. A not-so-fun-side-note is that we had to re-wire our main electricity from the meter (over 200 meters away) because the original electrician didn’t do it correctly.


In order to dry our coffee properly we built a solar drying house. This sounds much fancier than it really is (essentially a plastic greenhouse). Because we’re trying to do everything in the village, which has colder temperatures and rain showers, the drying house has been a great addition. We spent the rainy season building all of our wooden drying racks, which keeps the coffee from getting dirty and also helps with airflow for better drying.


Finally we’ve spent a lot of time getting to know farmers in our area and figuring out what types of coffee they have. One thing we’ve learned is that our village has very little coffee of high genetic quality (at least until our seedling program takes off in a few years). We met a man from a neighboring village last Christmas that invited us to work in his village about 15 minutes away. Thankfully they have lots of high quality coffee there. We’ve been working with villagers to improve their quality of picking and we’ve been very happy with their hard work.


So every afternoon about 4pm we drive over to the neighboring village and buy the coffee cherries that the farmers pick during the day. A lot of this time is spent sitting around waiting on farmers, so this has given us a great chance to talk to people in that village. We have met dozens of new people and look forward to getting to know them more throughout this next year.

We arrive back at the mill around 5:30, run the coffee through our pulper and let it sit overnight in the ferment tank (thankfully our local guys in the village run this part so we can get back to town at a decent hour). The next morning we empty the coffee out of the tanks, clean the coffee of the remaining sticky mucilage and float it in the wash channel to help with quality. Finally it goes onto the drying racks for 10-15+ days of drying.


After all of our coffee is dry and has time to level out moisture inside of each bean, we’ll run it through our coffee huller to take off the parchment. Then we’ll hand sort all the coffee to remove defects and bag it all up. Thankfully all that will be a job for the spring.

This year has been a great year of learning, implementing systems and also figuring out what are our capacities and bottlenecks. We’re looking forward to more coffee in the coming years and getting great coffee exported to the US.



We've been back in South East Asia for right at a month now and I wanted to give everyone a current update on many of our projects that we shared about while stateside.  

While we were gone the team here did a fantastic job of keeping things moving.  It was great to be able to leave for two months and have the team here not skip a beat.  While we were gone, thousands of coffee trees were planted on our farm and the new seedling share program was implemented.  Ten families received a total of over 10,000 seedlings.

But here are some of the current happenings:

-Training Center Progress:  If we saw you while stateside, I'm sure you heard the story about our contractor here and the headaches that he's caused.  In April we tried to fire him (it didn't work), so I knew the conversation with him would not be easy when we returned.  We had also been told that he hadn't paid any of his workers during the project.

When we arrived back in South East Asia no additional work had been done to the training center, so we called the contractor and told him we needed him to come talk to us.  He refused to come out and said that he would no longer work on the project because he is losing money. He claimed the workers stole money meant for materials (the workers hadn't been paid, but minor detail...), and he doesn't want to lose more money on the project.  So after several months, one five minute phone call solved our contractor problem.

Over the last few weeks we've interviewed several contractors and decided to have the village leader in the next village complete the walls, flooring and ceiling on the second floor.  His crew had already done a nice job with the one wall they finished before they realized they weren't getting paid.  Please continue to pray for good progress and hopefully this will lead to having a good relationship with some village leadership.  

-Team Truck:  We bought a truck!  After several months of waiting, KIA finally found the only new four-door cargo truck in the entire country (literally).  We quickly put down a deposit and paid it in full last week.  We've been enjoying much more spacious rides to the village and the ice cold air-conditioning.

-Seedling Followup:  This last week our farm manager (and village pastor) started following up with the ten families that received seedlings.  He understands the goal for these seedlings is not only checking on coffee but seeking ministry opportunities.  Just last week he was able to visit the first two families, with the goal to visit all of the families each month.  Please pray for open doors though as he follows up.

-Village Leader Health:  Not everyone knows about our village leader, but I have shared his story with many of you.  For over three years now, we have gotten to know him and he has been a big help to us.  He is not a Christian (yet) but has always been kind and generous to us and the local church.  He has help us establish our business and allowed us to have open access to the village, which can be a rare thing here.  He has also always come to Christmas parties and other events when the church has invited him.

Back in January the village leader had a massive stroke.  For months he was only able to lay on a mat on his floor and not move or talk.  I honestly thought he was going to die.  During our weekly meetings we made sure to pray for him.  In March, our village pastor visited him and was encouraged that he was able to sit up and eat solid food for the first time in months. 

Last week we were driving out to the farm (in our new truck) and passed by his house.  I was surprised to see him sitting in a chair on his porch.  I waved, he waved back, and so we stopped and talked with him for a few minutes.  He still has almost no use of his right arm, his right leg is shaky, and his speech is slurred, but he has made amazing progress since I last saw him.  Please continue to pray for him and that we might find some ways to get him access to physical therapy.

Thanks again for all the prayers.  We're excited to see continued progress in all these areas in the coming months!