Leck, what are you doing in Nicaragua?

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.

Edwin,

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.

For a presentation I gave to a men’s group just before leaving, and to see our first roast as it occurred, go to Men’s BBQ and Nicoya’s First Roast.

Again, thank you for your interest.  Let me know if there is anything else I can provide.

Thank you,

Leck