Monday, November 30, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
A couple of years ago my brother surrounded his Christmas card picture with the many different faces of his kids taken from all the attempts at getting the perfect Christmas card picture. I guess pictures never fool anybody. We put on our best clothes, take about a hundred shots, and then we pick the best one. Is that really a good representation of us? We know that the smiling faces in the pictures are generally screaming of boredom and frustration on the inside. What is it about a Christmas card picture that is trying to display our best that brings out our worst. For us, we have already taken several hundred picks and we may even try again. Anyways, I put together some of my kids faces from our first round of pictures. Enjoy!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
We gutted the room. The process of destruction was quick and fun. We tried to salvage everything as to reduce the cost of the remodel.
As you can see, it was a cluttered mess with no airflow and not alot of light.
Next, we built some chicken boxes, added feeders, and plumbed in automatic waterers.
Here is the finished product with the chickens checking out their new digs. The project was virtually free as we reused most of the material out of the old coop. We only bought 2 sheet of ply for the boxes and so we hope the project is very cost effective.
Today, one of the kids who is responsible for the chickens knocked on our door and told me that he collected 46 eggs. So, we hope this is a good sign of the chickens producing better in a better environment. We will give thanks and maybe we can call some good work with the kids and 46 less eggs the school has to buy a ministry to the deaf. Praise the Lord!
P.S. - We will hopefully be posting an update of the vegetable progress as well. With the apparent success of the pictostory about the coffee, we will try this a few more times regarding the farm.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Just to keep everyone up to date. Here are a few recent pics. Some older pics of Drew at school, the kids playing on campus, etc. I added the picture above of Truitt and Daisha as everyone comments how much they resemble each other. In some of the other pics, you will notice how Daisha is developing some eyes that can kill. Also, some pictures from Sunday afternoon at the playground. Enjoy!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
It all starts with the picking. Drew loves picking coffee and I find it very therapeutic. It is monotonous and labor intensive, but that is nothing that an ipod full of good material can't fix.
Here is what we hauled home. Not alot, but maybe thirty minutes worth of picking.
I made a drying pan out of some old zinc roofing and here it is in the pan on the day it was picked. As you can see, the berries are supposed to be red when they are picked. I picked all of these berries off of the same tree that is under full shade.
After sitting for a day, it is "floated." Floating determines if the beans are good or bad. The good beans sink and the bad beans float. As you can see, there were only a few bad beans that floated. From the outside, it is impossible to tell, but the test sorts the "sheep from the goats." Yea, I think that will preach.
Maybe day 3. The beans are drying in the pan. As you can see, they are losing their color. As they dry, they turn black.
Day 14. It is hard to get good information on home processing coffee. The best I could come up with on recommended time for drying is 14 days. It may been a bit "wet," as compared to more commercial processes, but I was getting impatient. Here, I am "hulling" the coffee, taking off the skin. There are several layers to the bean, but at this point most of it has dried against the bean or against the skin.
Here is half way through the "hulling" process. The skins are on the left and the dried coffee beans ready to be hulled are in the corner on the right. In the middle of the pan is the beans that have been hulled. This was a ridiculously labor intensive process. Commercially, it is done by machine, and it took me a couple of hours to work through the beans. I had a second set of beans drying at this time, but after hulling these I decided to throw out the other beans.
After hulling, they are ready for roasting. Here they are in the roaster ready for around 400+ degree heat.
About 10 minutes later, they are roasted. They go from smelling like wet grass, to burnt wet grass, and eventually to smelling a little more like coffee.
Off to the grinder. They roasted pretty light, I think due to their wetness, and therefore I tried to grind the coffee pretty fine as to get a little stronger taste.
Ready for brew. Into the basket waiting for the cup.
Ahh, a thing of beauty. Here it is in the cup. Approx. 17 days after being picked. It would be hard to get a fresher cup of coffee anywhere in the world.
This was the freshest cup of coffee I have ever drank, but was it the best? No! Freshness in coffee generally refers to the length of time after it was roasted and not how long after it is picked. Green coffee can be stored for a long period of time. Anyways, they say there is over 700 flavor characteristics in coffee that can be affected by where it is grown, how it is grown, and processing. So, I have no idea how my processing affected the coffee. It was drinkable and I finished the cup and brew all of the coffee I processed. But, it wasnt the best.
Was it worth it? Yes! Would I do it again? Maybe next year. Once for this year was enough. As the kids get older, maybe they can start doing more of the work and then it may be worth it. It was fun and educational. And, it added an educational aspect to this blog which we hope is becoming more well rounded by the day. Thanks for checking this out and let me know if you have any suggestions.
Monday, November 9, 2009
“Don’t waste your life is not a catchphrase for me; it’s a cliff I walk beside every day with trembling.” When these words first jumped off of the screen of an article I was reading, I loved the dichotomy this idea presented. I quickly wrote the quote down to sit on it and as I learned from my dad, “to sleep on it.” After some considerable sleeping on this quote, it has only become more real to my life. Not the idea of “Don’t waste your life,” although I think that catchphrase holds its own merits. My thoughts regarding this phrase were transferred to our family’s catchphrase and I found myself asking if our catchphrase is anything more than just that, a catchphrase. For anyone who has read even one of our updates, you have noticed a consistent reference to God’s blessing on our life. We have come to see God ridiculous blessing on our life and are trying to understand our subsequent responsibility. So, for us the quote would read, “Blessed to be a blessing is not a catchphrase for me; it’s a cliff I walk beside everyday with trembling.” Our prayer is that we are walking deeper into this truth everyday. We feel the dichotomy. We know that our focus on this idea holds an inherent risk that we will become overly saturated with the idea and walk too close to the edge of the cliff such that we lose focus and fall off. Conversely, I think we feel the very natural tendency to step away from the risk of the edge of the cliff of blessing and take everything for granted. I think we all know from any experience in the mountains that beauty is most fully realized on the edge of the cliff with the full expanse in view. We know this is also true as we dance on the edge of the cliff of understanding the reality of God’s blessing on our life. We pray that the trembling keeps us on the edge of the cliff. Pursuing blessing, taking in the full beauty of the blessings, and using these blessings to encourage others to step to the edge of the cliff to share in this call of our Father. Please help us in our pursuit. We ask for accountability and that as a community we may press towards that mark of our high calling. To Him be the Glory.
Maybe we said this in the last update, but we have never been this “settled” in life since August of 2007. We have had 2 straight months of life in a “routine.” Ok, maybe we had a routine before as we found ourselves routinely moving every few months, but is not always a healthy routine. We have both really enjoyed having some semblance of consistency in our lives. We pray that we can maximize this blessing for His purposes. During the moving, we feel like we were able to meet the needs of the ministry that required our moving. We are thankful for that and now feel a similar call to use our consistency as a way to be a blessing to the ministry.
Keri continues to threaten to take a picture of me in my Jamaican farmer garb. Trust me, a picture of her would be twice as cute as she fulfills her daily roles, welcoming Drew home from school, teaching Truitt his ABC’s, and being a wonderful mother to Daisha. This is what we are doing. I am trying my best to be a Jamaican farmer as I work to put together a sustainable agriculture program for the school. What this looks like in a picture is a man wearing tall rubber boots with his pants tucked inside the boots, red hands from the dirt, and a machete in one hand. It is a funny picture, but I guess that is the cost of contextualizing our lives to the culture. Keri continues doing a great job with our kids, our home, and her teaching the little kids chapel for CCCD. What her picture lacks in humor is made up for in cuteness as she goes about her duties dressed in kindness, love, and joy. We praise the Lord for the sense of teamwork we can feel in our lives together.
The kids continue to do well. Drew is becoming more deaf everyday. For the most part, we are excited to see his growth and to see how much he loves school. On the other hand, it comes with some mixed feelings. It feels like he is growing up too fast. And, we are beginning to deal with “things he learned at school.” Other than Truitt being lonely when Drew is gone, Truitt is doing well. If you know him, you know that he is special. While he follows directions dutifully from his leader, he is his own man and has his own way of living life. Daisha continues to do well. We had her 4 month doctor appointment last week and the doctor was pleased with her progress. It was a funny feeling to go in and see her doctor again. We have kept her with the same doctor that managed her care in the hospital here in Jamaica. So, the last time we had seen her was when we rolled Daisha out of the special care nursery on the gurney at the Mandeville Hospital on June 18th. We continue to be so thankful for His provision for our little girl. He has blessed our family in ways so far beyond our understanding.
We continue to try to learn what it means to live a life of faith. One of the profound ways that we have sensed our blessings has been through our struggles. I always forget what I have shared with who and in what forum, whether through the blog, reports, phone calls etc, but we have continued to pray for God’s direction in the future of our ministry. As a result of differences of opinion and administration, we have had our struggles in understanding God’s call remains for us to continue in Jamaica. We have continued to pray that He will be the lamp to our feet and a light to our path. The Lord has not opened any other doors at this time and so we remain in service here. We ask for your continued prayers for our understanding and sensitivity to God’s calling and direction for our lives. We again thank you for your support. The invitation remains open for anyone who wants to visit; just contact us let us know when you want to come. We also welcome your phone calls and emails in providing for us accountability and fellowship.
Kirk, Keri, Drew, Truitt, and Daisha