I will be in Texas July 1 – 19. I will speak at Lighthouse Fellowship in Azle on July 3 and be in Midland/Odessa the following weekend. I hope to see as many of you as possible while there.
Our export channels are developing nicely with the first shipment of our Nicoya Coffee and now we are turning more attention toward the development of our small farms projects. Yesterday, Sunday June 26, I visited our friend and advisor Santos Lopez and had the privilege of worshipping with his church, Iglesia Jehova Jireh. After the service I visited our plantain farm with one of the workers, Luis Moreno.
The farm is a huge success as one of two prototype projects. This farm was begun in August 2006. It has seen two crop failures, one from fungus and one from high winds. It has fully recovered from both from its own profits. This project began producing again in May and is about a month away from full production from 2500 plants on just over 2 ½ acres. This kind of recovery is built into our model but this performance actually exceeds our expectations.
The farm provides income to Santos’ growing church and helps them advance their work in city of Leon and of his ministry as he works with Pastors throughout the country. In addition it has supported a number of workers over its nearly five years of operation.
Luis, for example, lives with his mother and young sister. He is their primary means of support and they are sustained by his salary. I’ve included a photo of Luis with his crop. He is so pleased with the fruit of his labors. He would represent a “hired hand” on one of the family farms we will establish in the near future. There are three such hired hands on this one farm plus a boy who is about half time. It dawned on me yesterday that our two prototypes are the perfect place to prove our first program participants. When I return to Leon in about a month, I will talk to Santos about finding some land and helping me oversee the placement of 3-4 families on small farms of about 7 acres each.
We need to start raising funds for that purpose so please start praying for us in that regard and considering whether you might participate in the sponsorship of a farm. It will cost approximately $4,000 per farm and is designed to repay over a seven year period. As the funds are repaid out of the profitability of the farm, they will be used to start new farms in various locations around the country.
In addition to our two prototype farms in Leon and La Conquista, we are in discussion with another ministry for the possible use of up to about 200 acres near Tipitapa (east of Managua). We have great advisors in each location who are more than capable of overseeing the development of these three locations.
This letter was provided to an friend who wanted to know what we’re up to in Nicaragua. I thought more of you might enjoy reading it too.
Thanks for your interest in our work and our wonderful coffee.
I am in mountain city of Matagalpa, Nicaragua (10 degrees cooler than Managua, yea!) to facilitate a vision for a Christian mission that will help the poor of Nicaragua. We hope Cynthia will be able to join me in a few months and that we will be able to maintain our home in Azle. We make our plans but he directs our steps.
Nicaragua is the second poorest nation in this hemisphere with half the country living on less than $2 per day. It wasn’t always that way. Nicaragua was once known as “the breadbasket of Central America.” The vision for our work was birthed in the heart of Byron Easterling, a friend and confidant since the mid-90s, while he was in Nicaragua in 2000. At the time he and I were serving as elders in Trinity Fellowship in West Fort Worth. He had traveled to Nicaragua with a team from James Avenue Baptist Church. Byron served me as a spiritual confidant and counselor during my service as Mayor in Azle and through the experience in church and with the city we learned to deeply respect and trust each other.
After incubating his original vision for three years he called one day to say he had an opportunity to share it with some church leaders from across the nation and wanted to know whether I would like to go with him. He, Paul Brownback, and I along with two others went to Nicaragua for the first time in November 2003. It was on that trip that I saw God had given me some skills and experience that could help. I said, “Lord, if you want me to do this for the rest of my life I will.”
Essentially the vision is for the restoration of the agricultural economy in Nicaragua with the Christian community as a key facilitator. We have spent the past seven years developing the program structure and guidelines, which of course are always under review and being tweaked. It was very important not to simply export an American plan. What was needed was a program that is consistent with the nature of the present culture and the Nicaraguan heritage, and something in which the Nicaraguans can take ownership. We met several times over the next few years with groups ranging from 3 to 25 to consider the vision, applicable biblical principles, and how those could be put into a solid business structure to affect the change that is so desperately needed. The result is a holistic ministry that brings the influence of wisdom and principles of the bible to bear on the every aspect of life, work, family, etc. The core element is the development of small family farms in co-ops of 7 to 10 farms in a given locale. We have tested our economic model on two farms and found it be very successful. One prototype plantain farm has experienced total loss twice, once due to fungus and once due to hurricane, and has been able to start again from its own profitability without the infusion of new capital. We are now approaching the time for full implementation. Our model will allow us to partner with an impoverished family and help them move from poverty to economic sufficiency within 6 – 12 months.
To begin we have been working for almost a year to develop avenues for exportation so that when our farms have exportable produce and we have customers in the US we will be ready and able to affect the delivery of those goods. That’s where the premium organic coffee comes in. An industry journal reported last year that Nicaragua is the 12th largest exporter of coffee in the world. Ours will be what is called high grown organic Arabica, and represents some of the finest coffee in the world. We are partnering with Silvio Mendez of Café Kilambe’ in Matagalpa to produce Nicoya Coffee and have just released our inaugural Special Blend No.1. Nicoya is intended to honor the heritage of the region which bore the name in pre-Columbian times from El Salvador to Costa Rica, including the mountainous area of Nicaragua where our coffee is grown. A minimum of 20% our net sales will go directly into the development of the program and we hope it will support me and my wife, Cynthia, so that gifts given to the ministry may have maximum impact. As we are able, we will increase that percentage given from Nicoya Coffee.
Nicoya Coffee is a blend of 4 select Arabica beans roasted to perfection to give an exquisite coffee experience. It is now available from our online store at www.NicoyaCoffee.com.
Again, thank you for your interest. Let me know if there is anything else I can provide.