Saturday, August 29, 2015

What if the Pastor Followed You Around? | GuateJava

All photos credit: Candy Siklosi

As the campus pastor of a multi-cultural, English-speaking, post-modern, American-Style church on the outskirts of Guatemala City  I often seek advice from those who are native of this area. This past week I received some advice that I needed to invest more relationally with our team leaders. It was well timed feedback because I had been challenged by the notion in my own devotionals.

Added to this my recent resignation from the Christian American School, of which I remain a devoted advocate, I find that I have some time at hand to utilize. After some additional consultation with a couple of my mentors, I decided to reach out to our team leaders and simply devote to each of them a single day.

No agenda. No talking points. No expectations. Just a shared day, me tagging along like a shadow, walking beside them in a day of their life. After a quick email, I had my first two appointments. This is the first of those encounters: Gabor and Candy Siklosi, Journey Church Volunteers, Founders and directors of Global Community Works & GuateJava.

My day began in Gabor's office at Christian Academy of Guatemala where he serves as Chaplain and teacher. He was wrapping up a discipleship curriculum for the school, emailing it out to his team. From there we loaded up in his SUV, picked up Candy from their nearby residence, and began the high altitude, winding Pan-American Highway drive to Antigua.

We parked along the ancient street, still cobblestone like it was five-hundred years ago, when the city was the capital of a nation. A short walk along the colorful streets, rich with sights, sounds, and wonderful smells of international restaurants led us to the corner shop of GuateJava Roastery.

I was excited to be part of a "Cupping" experience for potential international clients. Guatejava warehouses coffee in the US and can roast and ship by the order. The roaster was heating up and the air filled with an aromatic burst that reminded me of holiday baking, family, and soul-warming comfort. It was the smell of Guatejava Coffee.

Gabor inspects green coffee beans
Tastings of different regional blends
Sifting for size and quality
Releasing a fresh roast
As the roaster turned, beans popped, and steam burst from the hopper, we tasted different blends of regional coffee that filled the air with hints of chocolate and goodness.

Gabor and Candy source their coffee from all over Guatemala, identifying small coffee farmers that are struggling to survive in a global market. Introducing techniques and practices to revitalize their plants, Gabor and Candy also offer relationship as they come along the families as partners and mentors. They share their faith as they commit to walking beside a family as they lift themselves out of poverty. This partnership is beneficial for the farmers, the local economy, and provides an amazing coffee experience for anyone that walks into the door of Guatejava, or orders their product online.

Afterwards I had two separate experiences that illustrated their approach of sharing faith through relationship: a weekly business meeting, and a discussion of how the lives of their employees are changed as they learn the values of the GuateJava family. It's so much more than a business, the Siklosi's are investing into families surrounding Antigua, providing stable employment, discipleship, and compassion.

All in all, it was a pretty incredible day for this pastor who needs to improve his relationships with volunteers. I learned several things today: the Siklosi's are dear friends, they have a powerful vision, they are very effective, and their coffee is ridiculously good.

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