How do I describe what it’s like to see a dream fulfilled… or to see the faces of those I’ve heard of for so long, or the ones seen only in photographs? It’s been a whirlwind of joy and so humbling to be here in Ma Oh Jo, Thailand. I’m humbled by God’s faithfulness, by the belief in me that my friends, family and co-workers have, by this opportunity and by the people who truly believe in partnering with me to make a difference in this world.
Each morning as I head out of my hut down the dirt pathway toward the cafeteria, I am in awe of the beauty that surrounds me. I take a moment and pause on the trail in the valley of rice fields to look up at the sky while the sun is rising, jungle is all around me and the quiet of the morning is beginning to come alive. The moon was out this morning on my right and the sun was rising on my left, and all I could think of was how good our God is. He brought me this far; He will get me wherever it is I need to go.
For almost two years I have worked for Lanna Coffee Company, hearing stories of Thailand and seeing pictures of people, and knowing that even in the mundane everyday job duties it is important to someone, somewhere in Thailand, because what I’m doing can actually, maybe, someday change a life (at least I hope), and being here seeing these people and learning their stories, I know it is truer than ever.
One dream of mine came true yesterday when I met a woman we simply call “Crazy Grandma.” (This is not a name we gave, but one she has been given and calls herself, so it is not disrespectful.) She is an elder in the village, but she is also a face I see every day in Fresno, California, whenever I arrive to work. Naturally, she has no idea where Fresno is and no idea how famous she is contextually, but I think she knows she is loved by us. I could see it in the way she greeted Darlene and Eric, and how she went to each team member and shook their hand and smiled. I could tell we meant something to her, and yet she had no idea what this moment and the next would mean to me…
We were all at a Christian wedding together (ask our team about that experience in-person sometime), and she decided to sit next to me! When she saw me, her eyes lit up and she smiled like she knew me. She hugged me and then kept her hand on my knee as a sign of affection. I was quietly surprised and thrilled at her display of affection. I had wanted to meet her for so long, and here she was loving on me. It was like a small gift, and I was full of humbled gratitude for our time next to one another. What blessed me even more was watching her as she prayed together with the pastor. Head bowed, eyes closed, hands clasped and nodding in agreement. An example for many to follow.
Although her age is a mystery, one can infer that she has many, many, many grandchildren in this village, and she may not know it, but I think now I’ll call myself one of hers as well.