Cupping Notes: Sweet Lemon, Deep Chocolate, Cherry
I met Ronald and Jean Uyeda in 1987, when they were visiting their daughter Laura on Maui. It was after church one Sunday when I was the guest speaker, and I was headed to the parking lot to make plans with my windsurfer friends- whom were all professional women windsurfers, and two were actually world champions. I had become friends with them when I arrived on Maui that May.
Suddenly my path to the parking lot was blocked by a line of Japanese people. It was Laura, whom I had met a few months earlier, and who was a hair cutter at the salon below our church office.
She said “Michael, I would like to introduce you to my family.”
My first thought was “I wonder why she wants to do that? I hardly know her. The sermon was not that great.”
But this was to be a historic meeting that would affect the rest of my life.
You see, there was one time when I actually heard the audible voice of God. It was in 1982, shortly after I had decided to commit my life to Christ, largely because of my cousins Kean and Shelly who pulled me into their Christian community when I moved to Maui in the fall of 1981. My life took a very positive turn, and many things began to change. One day in the summer of 1982, they took me to a concert in Lahaina, and we stopped at the Wailuku-Lahaina-Kihei intersection to pick up one of their friends who was catching a ride with us to the concert. My cousins introduced me to this Japanese-Hawaiian local girl, and as I was shaking her hand, I heard someone standing about 5 feet behind me say “Your wife is going to look like this.” I physically turned around to see who had uttered that baffling statement. There was no one.
But I had heard The Voice.
Now, standing in front of these Japanese people, I was about to hear The Voice for the second time. But let me backtrack a moment.
In 1984, I went to Honduras to work with Miskito Indian refugees. It was meant to be a two-week trip to deliver relief supplies, but turned into over a year, and in the process, we helped a refugee start a school. I stayed on, and we started more primary schools in the refugee villages. By 1987 we had 12 schools. Amazing things were happening. Our Hope Chapel pastor Craig asked me to come back in the summer of 1987 and spend three months on Maui helping him teach three classes, and I joyfully agreed.
Right before I left Honduras, something strange happened. I was sitting in the garden of my house in La Ceiba, talking to my Lord, when I suddenly had this strong impression that I was going to meet my wife on this trip. I liked that thought, as I was 36 and had often thought of that audible voice that had said “Your wife is going to look like this”. However, I was living with indigenous Central American people, and living in the Spanish speaking part of Honduras. The only Asian that I had met during those years was a Chinese girl who worked with World Relief.
When I arrived on Maui, our church had a singles campout at the Seven Pools in Hana, and that night the reigning Women’s World Champion Windsurfer rode her bicycle 50 miles from the other side of the island into our camp. My first thought was “OK, these windsurfers are very athletic, hardy, ladies. They could live in a refugee village with no electricity and running water.” Thus my desire to get to the parking lot on this Sunday and go to the beach with my friends.
Laura was wearing a blue flora dress, had her hair and makeup in exceptional order, except for a smudge of pink lipstick on her front tooth. She was with her mom and dad and two young brothers.
“These are my brothers Sheldon and Todd, and this is my mother Jean……,”
As I as shaking their hands, I could see my friends in the parking lot getting into their cars. I knew I had to move fast.
“And this is my father Ronald.”
At that point I was looking past Ronald to the parking lot, but I shifted my gaze to his face, noticing a look of irritation at my inattention. I grabbed his hand and gave it a few shakes. That is when it happened.
Suddenly I heard The Voice: “You better pay attention here because these could be your in-laws.”
I was shocked! My In-Laws? I hardly knew this girl. Suddenly the girls in the parking lot didn’t exist. My focus was on Ron. Lamely I asked “What did you say your name is?”
“Ronald” he replied in a very samurai manner.
I began looking at this Japanese family closely, and we began to chat. Over their heads I noticed the parking lot had emptied. In a few more moments, Laura and her family turned to leave.
I was standing there alone thinking, “What just happened?????”.
As it turned out, this was a Word from the Lord. A month later, I heard The Voice again. This time it was when Laura invited me into her home on Kihei Road. As I stepped across the threshold of her front door, The Voice told me “Here’s your wife.”
A year later, on October 1 1988, I was standing next to Craig, with my father Forrest and mother Mabel in front of the Monanlua Gardens Missionary Church while Ronald and Jean walked Laura down the aisle to marry me.
In the process, I discovered that The Voice had spoken to Laura that day at Hope Chapel when the missionary from Honduras was speaking. Sitting there with her family, she realized that "If I'm going to marry this guy, I should introduce him to my family."
The next year, Ronald brought Sheldon and Todd to Honduras, and they spent a few weeks living with us in Auka, a remote refugee village in the extreme eastern part of Honduras. Ron said he had to see where his daughter was living. That was a courageous act. It was the first episode of many where Ronald and Jean began playing a very significant part in the ministry of Seek The Lamb.
Ron and Jean became very good friends with my parents Forrest & Mabel, who were older. They made many trips to Florida to spend time with then as well as us.
Jean had a career working in the Hawaii State Government as an office manager for Neil Abercrombie, who later became Governor. She knew how government bureaucracy worked. Ron had served in the Air Force, and had a civilian job with the Navy, but his real passion was the stock market, and his gambling instincts paid off well. He was a real student of our economy and made many wise investments. The only one he regretted was when he was offered a partnership in the first McDonald’s in Hawaii, which he turned down. “Who is going to eat a piece of meat between two pieces of bread?” he asked. That was his Japanese culture speaking. But his investments grew to where he was able to help each of his five children purchase their home. In fact, the house we live in in Vero Beach was picked out for us by Jean and Mabel while we were in Honduras. When we got back, they had not only found the house, but arranged the loan. That was a game changer for two missionaries with no visible income.
Photo: Christmas 2000: (top row L to R) Aunt Polly, Ron and Jean, Keith and Cynthia Larkin (Sky Larkin), Forrest & Mabel Bagby,
Seated; Mikaela, Laura, Lukas, & Michael
Jean was a shopper, and was always thinking of others when she saw things on sale. Her resources were legendary. One day I arrived in Honolulu and realized that I had left my slippers (flip-flops for you mainlanders) on Maui. So I asked Jean and the conversation went like this:
"Say might you have a pair of rubber slippers that I can use while I am here?"
"10 or 11."
Jean disappeared down the steps to her rooms below. In a few minutes she handed me a pair of size 10 blue rubber slippers in the clear bag with drawstring that still had the Long's Drugstore sale tag of $1.
She did stuff like this all the time.
When my mom was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, Ron and Jean began spending more time in Florida, helping us with her. Jean took care of all the Medicare documents for my mother’s care. When my Aunt Polly began needing help, Jean was there for her as well, taking care of all the forms needed for her medical and living expenses, taking her to her doctor appointments, etc. Jean helped us so much.
When we began making our trips to Israel for the study tours, Ron and Jean came to Florida and took care of Mikaela, Lukas, Arielle, and Moselle. My children were very impacted by spending this quality time with their grandparents. She is famous in their eyes for her curries, fried rice, and Butter Yaki. In fact, we are using some of Jean’s recipes in our Rio Coco Cafes.
Ron began giving me financial advice on our coffee business. He helped me understand the commodity market and get ahead in my green coffee purchases. Because of him, we saved thousands of dollars over the years. When it came time to open the Rio Coco Café on Utila, Ron was very helpful in guiding us through the purchase and building of our property there.
As I look back, we could never have done many of the significant things that has made our lives successful without their assistance.
When I head The Voice tell me to pay attention, that these two people could be my in-laws, I didn’t realize that they would become my valued ministry partners, my dear friends, and my other mother and father. These two have impacted so many lives through utilizing their vocations for God’s purposes.
Along with Papa Jack, Java Jake, Truman (Negro Fino), Global Jones, and Sky Larkin, Ron ‘N Jean are modern day Heroes who are worthy of honor.
I know that you will enjoy this incredible blend of Colombia Mile High Dark Roast, Honduras Blue Mountain Light Roast, and Sumatra Rain Medium Dark Roast.
The combination of flavors is exquisite, as are it’s name sake!