Update from Jody Bartee

Today started with breakfast and devotions and then all piled into the bus for the ride to the village of San Jose. Our arrival was announced with honking horn and people who were not already waiting, scurrying to greet us and to escort us to the community center. We started our time today with devotions and song. At the end of our morning devotion time, two of the young girls led us in a song and dance. They were quite good and delightful to watch and sing with.

We then headed out up the steep hill (very steep to this ole’ gal) to pick the final coffee beans from Moises’ field.

We were given instructions how to pull the bean from the bush without disturbing the tiny buds, then given baskets to place around our waists and told to get to work. Rosa (Moises wife) escorted me pointing to bushes that still had beans to pick. I was very slow and the adults and some of the kids were laughing me along the row, and with Pastor Bill who was on the other side of our row.

Happily, that job “done,” we hiked back up the hill past a frijoles field–being careful not to step on the plants, nor fall into the wire fence. Back at the top of the hill is the local beneficio (place to process the coffee beans.) Today they had us pick green and red beans from the plants, so the first part of the processing is to sort the beans. After sorting, the coffee cherries (beans) are placed into a sort of pipe to be deposited into a hand-turned machine that breaks the outer layer of the coffee cherry from the “bean,” called de-pulping.

Then they are rinsed and another layer removed and then the beans are dried. We only sorted and did some de-pulping. I now know that I will have an even deeper appreciation for my morning cup of coffee than before.

After this, an awesome game of baseball began with Erin and Mike, and Scott and several of the children — with a makeshift bat and an old plastic water bottle scrunched down for a “ball.”

We then traveled back down the steep hill (my favorite direction) with sun shining and some of us slipping and sliding in mud caked shoes and rocks. After we returned from the coffee field, we waited for lunch to arrive to take with us to our host family to share. Back up the slippery hill and part of the steep terrain to arrive at our host family’s home, where a table with lovely table cloths was set and chairs waiting. Lunch always seems kind of quiet but after lunch we had a great time with Eloy and Ufemia.

He was open and shared about his many different jobs and his love for the Lord. He is obviously a one-man crusade for Jesus. Eloy was saying he never had any kind of education, but I gotta tell you, he is a very wise man. His crops did not do as well this year. He is hopeful for next year. We asked his wife, Ufemia about her and what she did and she said she sewed blouses, skirts, and shirts for income. Her sewing machine is electric and, according to Cathryn and Trish, is a lovely model.

Their daughter got sewing lessons and a sewing machine. The daughter tried teaching the other kids of the village, but no one seemed interested. When the daughter went to live in Costa Rica, she left the sewing machine with her Momma and it is used well, and helps provide extra income for the family. This couple was very warm and welcoming and delightful to share with.

We had to exit lunch and return via a muddy trail, to the community center to meet with one of the AGROS representatives, who would then lead us back up the muddy, slippery trail to another home where Lucia lives. Lucia is the person one goes to for first aid. She has a cabinet full of different kinds of medicine and she was trained in how to use and administer said medicines.

She bought and has paid for this cabinet and restocks with the money she earns from the sold goods. She and several others monitor the height and weight of the children under age 5, I think. That way, they have a good idea on how the children are thriving. She also indicated that she is looking into another business venture to sell school supplies. More power to her. She seems to have caught a vision and is working her way up.

Our final assignment today was to help the AGROS representatives check the homes of the village for some basic “housekeeping” safety concerns. We broke into three groups and each group accompanied one of the representatives to the homes on our list.

We had “happy and sad” stickers as the representative checked for things like: is the water supply covered; are chemicals stored safely; is the garbage being disposed of properly; are the chimneys in working order (many are in disrepair and money is tight, however, two of our groups families had their chimney in working order.)  There are 7 items on the checklist. A happy face sticker is given for meeting the requirement; a sad/tearful face sticker is given for a missed requirement. It seems the chimneys are the biggest problem, however, I understand most everyone now has their own latrine/outhouse, which improves their living conditions immensely.

After this, back down the muddy path/hill to wait for the rest of our team members at the community center. After more visiting and attempts to communicate with very limited Spanish language skills but a very good phone dictionary, we all said our goodbyes until tomorrow and headed home for our hotel—exhausted but fulfilled, and brimming with ideas and questions.

Tomorrow, it seems, we will be filling bags with soil to plant new coffee seedlings — and I am pretty sure it’s going to be up the very steep, muddy hill. Huffing and puffing all the way.  Gasping and laughing at the thought right now.

Please remember Bill in your thoughts and prayers. He has come down with the sickness going around and isn’t at the top of his game.

He fakes it pretty well, but good rest and healing would be our request for his health — and that no one else comes down with this stuff — and that we all manage to get home healthy.

Prayerfully yours,

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