Greetings Blog Readers! This isn't something we at Lanna always do, but we thought it would be great to share the perspective of a couple who traveled to visit ITDP (our partner organization) in Thailand recently. This is their story:
(Written by Jared Young)
Thailand & Coffee. For me, there is a lot of emotion and history that comes with these two words. This summer I had the privilege of closing a chapter in my life and it felt like pouring the last cup of coffee from the pot (in a good way). I have a storied history with Thailand and although a majority of that story is not the time or place for this particular blog post, I do want to give you some insight as to why Thailand and coffee are very near and dear to my heart.
Thailand is most commonly known as “the land of smiles”. For my wife and I it is more like “the land of transformations”. Before talking about our most recent trip to Thailand with The Well Community Church and ITDP (Integrated Tribal Development Program) I would like to give a little background on how my wife and I ended up on the trip and how God has consistently provided for us and our family.
My wife, Jessica, and I attended missionary training from 2006-2010. During our time in training, the Lord laid on our hearts to go and serve as long term missionaries in Thailand.
After we finished up our training in 2010, we spent the next year and a half raising support in order to move to Chiang Mai, Thailand. During that time I was able to go on an exposure trip with The Well to an undeveloped Lahu tribal village to help install/start a water project with ITDP. This trip was my first exposure to ITDP and Lanna Cafe and the incredible work that Mike and Becky Mann are doing among the unengaged peoples of Northern Thailand (and surrounding countries). Even though my wife and I were on the path to serve with another organization, I felt drawn to and interested in what ITDP was doing and wanted to be involved with them in some capacity.
In the beginning days of Lanna, I was able to help in a small capacity to get them off the ground from a technological point of view and I learned how to roast coffee and helped package & promote the brand as well. As our time in the states was coming to a close I had to change gears and focus transitioning our family of four from Fresno to Chiang Mai. We arrived in Thailand in March of 2012. Our time in Thailand was difficult and ultimately God brought us home later that year in October of 2012.
It took us a few months to get back on our feet after selling our belongings twice within seven months and moving across the globe with our two young sons. I dealt a lot with feeling like a failure as a missionary. I had a lot of bitterness towards my situation (much like an over roasted cup of coffee) and was mad at God. I had a very narrow view at the time of what God was trying to do in my life. As time passed by, healing took place and almost 2 years to the day of us moving back to the states, it was suggested that we return to Thailand.
My initial answer was no. My wife’s initial answer was the same. But that seed, that thought of “what if?” kept on scratching at that itch of returning to Thailand. We knew God was going to have to provide if we were to go, and He did in miraculous ways. So in June 2015 we returned to Thailand with a small team of 6 people to see what God had in store for us.
It was a lot to take in at first and there were sights and smells and sounds that immediately became familiar. When we arrived in Thailand we stayed in Chiang Mai for 2 days and had an orientation with Mike Mann of ITDP. It is really neat to see the work they are doing there in the Northern area of Thailand and bordering countries. It is hard to summarize all the intricacies of ITDP, but their largest projects are bringing clean water to remote village areas and with that comes sanitation, education, and farming. Along with the farming comes coffee. Really good coffee. So good in fact that they sell beans to Pacific Rim Starbucks and it is used in the blend “Muan Jai” which sells in Starbucks stores all over Asia.
Our goal on this particular trip was to go into an established area, MaHoJo, and do a few ‘upkeep’ projects (build a reserve water tank and fix furniture for the school). This area has been developed over the past decade or two and is the crown jewel of ITDP’s work. It was great to see the development in such a remote area of the world. By remote, I mean we drove 3 hours out of Chiang Mai, and then 3 hours of driving on unpaved roads through the clay mountains of Northern Thailand. We were paired with host families that allowed us to stay in their huts for the 7 or so days that we were there. Overall the trip was a success. My wife and I were able to close that chapter on our lives and God, once again, proved His faithfulness and showed us His provision.
One thing that stuck out to me once I returned is that I had the awesome opportunity to see where my coffee comes from. We even walked by some of the coffee plants that are used in this cup of coffee I am drinking right now and can be in the coffee you can purchase from Lanna Coffee Co.