Today Tamara, Jim, Johan, Amanda & I–along with several APOT board members–loaded into the CATIE bus at 7:30 a.m. By 9:15 a.m., we were in a small Cabecar community, high in the mountains, called Grano de Oro (which, translated conceptually, refers to the coffee bean as “gold,” since it’s one of the main crops they sell for cash).

We were hosted by one of the women, Kimberly, most frequently in communication with Emilce, APOT’s president. She and her two children led us to the community building where they planned to hold a meeting for local Cabecars who are interested in becoming APOT members. Most of the Cabecars speak an indigenous language; some of them speak Spanish. We were pleasantly surprised when seven Cabecar producers arrived for the meeting. Although we were late in getting started, we got a lot accomplished in a short amount of time. After everyone had introduced themselves, Don Jorge (one of the APOT board members) made a presentation to the Cabecars on behalf of APOT, explaining the organizational structure and the administrative committees that they could join. We asked questions to elicit specific responses from the Cabecars, like “What do you want/need from APOT?” and “How could the APOT Board of Directors best work with you?” I was surprised at the openness of these producers (both men and women) to express their needs for training about organic production methods, improved ways to distribute their products, and information about APOT meetings. At the end of our four hours in Grano de Oro, they had formed a small committee to communicate with APOT about meetings that would be hosted in Grano de Oro (an hour-and-a-half drive from Turrialba). It’s a foot in the door to a stronger working relationship. “Paso por paso” (step by step), we’re seeing the work that’s been doing–and being done–here result in more capacity for APOT.

Speaking to the local residents, I discovered they’re desperate for ways to learn English. They work or take care of children all day, and they’re searching for assistance from local universities or the government to bring an English night school up into the mountains (into Grano de Oro) two or three nights a week. Kimberly has been working diligently on this–and several of the local producers also approached me asking about English classes. I’m going to do what I can to help them, especially via online courses for those who have computers. I explained that I teach English two nights a week in my little “pueblo” of Frankfort, and as we discussed common issues, this strange new place suddenly felt very familiar. We connected with the local missionaries and the local Peace Corps volunteer, so that we could continue a dialogue to bring more resources to the Cabecars of Grano de Oro.

Kimberly, with her one-year-old and six-year-old, reminded me of myself with younger children. She is a very watchful mother, yet “muy bombeta” (very busily involved in the community), as local Ticos would say. Though a wife and a mother, she’s obviously instrumental in the success of this small community and its people. I gave her a hug, told her what a great mother she is, and wished her much success with all her community endeavors. No doubt her diligence will bear fruit.

Back in the bus, driving down the mountain this time (instead of up), watching the magnificent scenery pass, I prayed blessings on this small community of Grano de Oro. Amazing how one small “grano” (grain) can make a difference in the lives of so many! Amazing that with the dawning of every new day, we each have the opportunity to be that “grano de oro!”

–Bendiciones, Melinda