Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The (Coffee) Fields are Ripe for Harvest

Whew! It has been a while since we’ve “talked” and much has happened. Allen and Trish are home from the U.S. now. Russell, Iris, and R.J. have moved onto the ol’ homestead. And R.J. has learned he’s close enough to yell for Nana and Gampa to get him from his front porch. This post, however, is about The Great Sowers’ Coffee Harvest of 2016!

Harvesting coffee!
For someone who doesn’t even drink coffee and has never seen it growing, I have to tell you, I am ridiculously excited about this! If you’ve been paying attention, you know this is the very first coffee harvest for Sowers4Pastors. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that growing coffee isn’t for people who must have immediate gratification. This harvest has been more than two years in the making.

Just under 9 acres of coffee plants, which went in the ground more than two years ago, are being harvested in three separate harvests. Harvest numero uno has been completed! (Don’t let my obvious mastery of Spanish intimidate you!) Harvest numero two will happen in a month. And, number tres will be one month after that.

The most spectacular news is that the first harvest has greatly exceeded Russell and Allen’s wildest expectations. And you know how wild their expectations can be! Having done his coffee homework, Russell was hoping they would be able to harvest 2000 lbs total, this year. Um, yeah. The first of three harvests has yielded about 3000 pounds of dried coffee. The second harvest will be BIGGER and the third will be about the same size as the first. Expectations have been adjusted and Russell now anticipates a total harvest of 10,000 pounds.

Harvesting coffee

Here’s what a coffee harvest looks like for Russell:

  • The coffee cherries are picked.
  • Russell has 36 hours to get the fruit to a machine that de-pulps it.
  • The machine removes the cherry and leaves only the bean, losing about ⅔ of the total weight.
  • The fruit de-pulper is about 3 miles away from the coffee farm and Russell has been hauling it in the evenings.
  • Once it’s de-pulped, there is a gummy substance on the outside of the bean. The beans are soaked in a washbasin overnight. The next morning, they are washed and the gummy stuff falls off.
  • This year, they are using tarps to dry the coffee in the sun. Eventually, Russell would like to have concrete slabs for this purpose.
  • Once it’s dry, it’s ready to be sold to a middleman, who will possibly do more processing himself, add Russell’s harvest to that of other growers, and then sell the whole shebang to an exporter.

Since this year’s harvest has been so big, Russell is hoping to be able to reinvest some of the earnings to purchase a de-pulper. That will allow them to de-pulp on their own property. It will save time and money. Plus, it will mean they can keep the pulp to use as, what Russell assures me, is the world’s best organic fertilizer. He says if they put the coffee cherries back in the ground, it’s like Miracle Grow! This, of course, will save bookoodles of money on fertilizer.

Removing the fruit, to get to the seed (coffee bean) inside

In his modest way, Russell said, “All of the hard work and investment is starting to pay off. We’ll be putting the money back in the farm. It’s becoming self-sustaining faster than anticipated.”

This link takes you to a video of the de-pulping process, narrated by Russell:

 - posted by Christi

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Missionary Adventures: The Travels of Allen and Trish

If you’ve been following along at all, you know Allen and Trish are currently in the U.S. And, of course, excitement seems to follow them where’er they go, as Trish wrote about in this post. There are a few things she didn’t mention, though.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Missionaries

When the Sowers were planning their time in Florida, they completely neglected to factor in Hurricane Matthew. Even so, they had a wonderful time at Edgewater Alliance Church. Kim Hall was on hand for the church’s Kickoff Sunday in the Sister Church Program. Sponsors were able to be paired with the children whose lives they will impact.

Edgewater Alliance Church was hit by Hurricane Matthew. While it wasn’t as bad as it might have been, please remember them in your prayers as they deal with the aftermath.

This past week, the Sowers were at Lighthouse Church in Maryland. It was like old home week since, if you’ll recall, a team from Lighthouse Church was recently in Honduras to build a bridge in a week. They did it in five days!

November 6th will find Allen and Trish at Fredericktowne Baptist Church in Maryland for their Sister Church Kickoff Sunday. Kim and Jonathan Hall are flying in for the event. When I spoke to Pastor Tim in September, he was eager for other people to catch the vision of Sowers4Pastors. His congregation agrees with him and they will be pairing children with sponsors. Fredericktowne Baptist is also knee-deep in school supplies and backpacks, as they work to fill a container which should ship from Maryland within a couple of months. It was a thrill for Allen and Trish to see the volunteers packing backpacks for children in Western Honduras. Trish was especially touched by the reminder of how much time and effort people take to get supplies to them. Of course, she already knew that, but it was special for her to see it firsthand, since she normally doesn't get to come to the U.S. on these trips.

What else is in store for the Sowers this visit? Just as much as they can squeeze in by November 22nd, when they are set to return home! In case you miss him this go-round, Allen is set to return to the States toward the end of February.

On the Road Again (and Again)

We in the U.S. can expect to see a lot more of Allen and Trish in the future. How much more? Well, they’re still trying to determine that, but it seems most likely that they will be spending up to four months a year in the U.S. It’s not exactly a changing of the guards, but they are starting to separate out duties with Russell a bit more as they set up a new routine.

The wonderful news is that Russell has been training for this for most of his life. He’s a Sowers! He knows what to do when it comes to the day-to-day operations of Sowers4Pastors work in Honduras.

Don’t think for one minute that Allen and Trish are retiring or stepping away from their work in Honduras. They aren’t! They’re merely shifting things around. They still plan on spending the vast majority of their time working in Honduras. With most of their children grown, Ben away at school, and Russell at the helm, they have the opportunity to shake things up a little, though. Allen and Trish's work will involve finding more partners to help, as the ministry in Honduras continues to grow.

These wild and crazy missionaries are even contemplating purchasing a trailer to live in while they are stateside! A trailer would allow them the mobility they need to make their treks to various parts of the country. As profoundly grateful as Allen and Trish are to everyone who opens up their homes to them, it would be nice to be able to permanently check “find housing while traveling” off their to-do list! It would also allow them freedom from living out of suitcases. If this is something that interests you, please know there is a chance the Sowers will be looking at raising partnerships to make this dream a reality.

Stay tuned for more missionary adventures!

- posted by Christi