Monday, January 19, 2009 | By: Jenna

...the lost virtue ("Honor..." continued)

I love that the title of our series right now is "Honor: the lost virtue." The word lost implies that it is something which may again be found. And that honor is a virtue must illuminate for us the transcultural weight that it actually has. Derrick Fleck and Kris Vallotton both spoke on honor yesterday--Derrick for the morning service, Kris for the night ones--and though these two speakers differed in content and style, what they both sought after was God's heart for the healing and bringing-back-together of generations. You don't even know how badly I long for this very thing.

I think about my Grandpa Mann (Richard Samuel Mann), and the mantle that he has passed onto his firstborn son, my uncle Mike. When I am with these men of God, I don't even think about the incredible things they have done for two kingdoms--the kingdom of Thailand, and ultimately the Kingdom of Heaven--instead, we go fishing at 5 in the morning, play ukuleles and rummy after lunch, and try to figure out why my uncle's Mac "isn't working the way it should" (cause it never is...) until Grandma calls us to dinner. Sometimes my grandpa teases me for growing into a "young women" and not being as excited to gut our prized catches as I used to be...and my uncle asks me five times in one day why I don't have a boyfriend... These endearing jests both communicate my place in their hearts as a forever-granddaughter and niece, while affirming my transformation into a lady whom "only REAL men are going to date." It's ok, they don't have to say it much more directly than that... I have always seen past my grandpa's gruff, tough fisherman exterior. And my uncle's stern but forgiving "no"s to our cousin-schemed-requests of visit-extensions never kept me from always feeling welcome into his hugs and approval.

When I'm with these two men of God--I hardly ever think about what they "do." But they, indeed, do treasure-bound things for the kingdom of Thailand, and they have won more victories for the Kingdom of Heaven than anyone sees. If we ever talk about theology, politics, or the state of our world and church today... it's inevitable that we disagree on a few things... but I have never felt dishonored by them nor do I believe I have ever dishonored them myself. This conviction in me that they have seen what I have not seen grows with every visit, every fishing trip, every awkward but humbling "church" talk I have with them. And when Derrick and Kris were speaking yesterday--both about the "healings" and "passings" from generation to generation--I could feel that conviction stirring my spirit... stirring this longing to receive whatever blessing my grandpa has for me!

During the morning service, I wanted to be like Joseph and bring my whole family into this blessing... At the night services, I wanted to be like Joseph's second oldest... and get something I could never have a right to on my own...something so invaluably undeserved.

Would God ever call me selfish for begging the mantle from my fore-fathers?
Or would He call me "Israel" despite what I am rightly named...

Because my spirit stirs for this generational inheritance.

And the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a God who loves to pass blessings along.


*Below is an article about (only a part of) what my grandpa has done. If you're either bored or really interested, you're welcome know some of his story...

Rural Thai coffee goes global
Tapping int’l markets with fair trade coffee


Hilly, beautiful Som Poy village was once famous for its high quality opium. Now the village is known on the world market again – this time for its coffee.

“After growing coffee, our standard of living is better than before, because people go to work and we do not care about people who use drugs,” said Ta Jabranaprivan, who has never used opium.

Sitting in a small cottage, Ta said villagers now have better infrastructure, a new water supply, a smooth road and more income. During the past, he said, many people were addicted to opium and didn’t want to work. Even housewives and teenagers took the drug.

Som Poy is a village more than three hours south of Chiang Mai, up a sometimes slippery road through thick forest and moving clouds. All the villagers are Karen, and 57 households grow coffee on about 400 to 500 rai.

It is unbelievable that coffee from a remote, small, undeveloped Thai village is gaining a foothold in world markets in such a short time. The truth is that a non-profit organization called Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP) is helping the farmers tap international markets by fair trade standards. With the help of ITDP, Som Poy coffee is now sold by Starbucks, a major US corporation, and a Japanese company called ION.

According to Boonchoo Klerdoo, agricultural extension officer for ITDP, each Karen family can produce a maximum of five coffee bags per year, with each bag equaling 1.5 kilograms. Besides coffee, the local farmers grow rice, cabbage, kidney beans and some vegetables.

“Now we’ve got a secure market in the US and Japan. Soon we will expand the market,” explained Boonrat Kijaroonchai, manager of the Thai Tribal Arabica Coffee and Marketing Project for ITDP. “ASEAN countries and New Zealand are included on our list of potential markets. Eight countries in Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan and Korea, comprise ITDP’s targeted market area.”

Som Poy has its own brand name, Muan Jai, which means “happy heart” in Thai. European countries like Netherlands, Switzerland, France and Australia have become new clients.

“Before Starbucks, we sold coffee berries for 6 baht per kilo,” said villager Nam Malakir Khao, 45, who grew opium for 20 years before switching to coffee. “And then Starbucks came in 2003 with the help of ITDP. We got a skyrocketing price and sold at 12 baht per kilo and now 15 baht per kilo. Starbucks is good for us. I got a total income of 10,000 baht last year.”

Tachou Boranath Prayvan, 59, has had similar success.

“In the opium age, I earned a total income of 10,000 per year,” he said. “Now, in the coffee age, I get a yearly total income of 13,000. But neither coffee nor opium is my main source of income. Actually, we grow rice to eat.”

ITDP was launched over 16 years ago by an American agricultural expert named Richard Mann. He worked with the Thai government to create alternative crops to opium for ethnic Karen minorities residing there.

ITDP was also lending a hand to other villages in this region to grow opium-substitute coffee. The region has nine villages – eight Karen and one Hmong – constituting a total population of 675, according to the data provided by Starbucks and ITDP. Ethnic groups from elsewhere across northern Thailand are also working together to grow coffee with the help of ITDP.

In developing countries, farmers’ livelihoods hinge on the rise and fall of crop prices. Fair trade promise farmers fixed prices for their products, whatever the fluctuating prices in world markets. Fair trade guarantees a minimum price.

Starbucks started to buy Som Poy coffee in 2003. Three thousand kilograms of coffee berries were exported by plane to Seattle, where the publicly listed US company is based. Starbucks bought 33 tons the following year. Small coffee shops in Bangkok and Chiang Mai also buy another four to five tons of Som Poy coffee.


*And this is the beginning of my uncle Mike's story. I put a link at the bottom if you want to read the rest...

Arriving by boat from America in the late 1950s with his parents, Michael Mann followed in his father’s footsteps 25 years later. From playing with ethnic tribal children in his preschool days to studying business and agronomy in America, today he is an international consultant for rural community development programs- even in Italy!

The first Arabica coffee trees were planted in Thailand’s northern provinces in the late 1960s / early 70’s under His Majesty the King of Thailand’s & the United Nations’ original opium eradication/crop substitution program for Thailand’s northern Hill Tribe communities. Michael Mann’s father was one of the advising figures behind the initiative. The inspiration to continue his work lives on in Michael, helping resource-deprived villagers through various projects under the Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP). Michael started the program in 1990.

“My parents came over here in 1959 supported by the American Baptist churches to work with ethnic hill tribes in the areas of development. My father’s background was agriculture, agronomy, working with plants and integrating this with community structures.” Arriving in Thailand at that time, the 1960s and 1970s saw Thailand at the height of its opium production, farmed solely by hill tribes as an income to live.

(Continuation at)


Bryan said...

Oh... my... goodness. I haven't read this one yet, but if word count has any correlation to greatness, I couldn't be more excited.

Eric Wilkinson said...

Wow... This was a really great blog entry Jenna... I enjoyed it very much.

Sarah said...

I love the Kingdom of Thailand!..such a great place!:)

I love you too!

Christian said...

thank you Jenna.

Kandice said...

what a perfect way to say what i've been thinking for weeks and months....

i'm longing for this generational blessing. And Jesus wants to give it to me!

you're good at saying what you think!

Christine said...

Hi Jenna honey,
You are quite the writer and you make me proud of what's in your heart on paper. That was pretty awesome what you wrote about your grandpa and your Uncle Mike!