So I'm fresh off the plane back from a quick visit to Asia. Jet lag is awesome. If anyone is bored at 4am, feel free to give me a call. The last two weeks were spent with Luv-Luv going around and viewing some of the villages he's been working in during the last six months. We also met with villagers and planned out some next steps. The hope was to spend some time encouraging Luv-Luv and crystalize some plans in our move to the north. It was a good time of encouraging Luv. As far as crystalizing plans, the overwhelming need in this country muddied the waters and gave us some things to think about.
Over the past eight months, we've been looking at two different places that we can use coffee as a way to economically help villagers so that we can build inroads to share the gospel and plant churches. One town the north and one in the south. On the trip I spent time in both towns (and another town in the north which is also suitable for coffee and has huge need, basically adding a third option). There were huge needs in all places, both spiritually and economically. The amount of poverty and lostness was overwhelming at times.
In the last town we visited, Luv and I rented a four-wheel drive truck and went up to visit some of the coffee farmers in a small village. An American friend sent us out with a girl that works in his office. She is from that village and helped provide some relationship and credibility when we talked to people. On the one-hour drive to the village we were able to ask her lots of questions and realized that there were no believers in her village and that most had likely never heard of Jesus. Later, as I sat in the village leaders house (see picture above) I asked him about the biggest needs in the village and what he would like to see. He told me that the village had no access to basic equipment needed to process the coffee they grow and didn't have any access to the market. Basically a big conglomerate sends employees to this village to buy fresh picked coffee from the farmers for pennies on the dollar. Because the farmers have no means to process their coffee to a product that can be stored and there are no other buyers for their coffee, they are trapped in a cycle of poverty. This village is just one of many.
We're continuing to pray and think through where we're going to land in this country. The calling is there. The need is there. We just need to work out a few details on location. As someone who is a planner, it is hard to not know all the details upfront.
This morning, I read through some of Abraham's story. It is comforting to notice that when God called him in Genesis 12, there was no specific location. God called him to go to the land that he would show him. And Abraham went. I'm all for planning (although sometimes I wonder if God really is), but at some point we have to step out on faith and trust that God will show us the next steps. And that's where we are at UCI. We're looking at the next step and praying through if it is to the left or the right. In the north or in the south.
Probably some of the best advice I got while I was on the trip was from a long-time missionary who said, "If God is calling you here, just get over here and let him lead you the rest of the way once you're here. When he shows you that step, take it."