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Janelle - JT's surprise visitor
13 September 2010

Last week's post was written by JT, a volunteer farm worker that stayed with us for awhile.  This week you will hear from his fiancé, Janelle.  She was only here for a few days at the very end of JT's stay.  She had asked if we could make her arrival a surprise and we were more than happy to oblige.

Throughout JT's stay, we heard Janelle's name repeatedly.  That was a good sign that he'd appreciate her surprise visit.  I purposely gave JT extra work the week before Janelle's arrival so he could take a few days off while she was here.  He didn't complain one bit about the extra work, he just stepped up and did the work without complaint even though there was no explanation.

On the day of Janelle's arrival, I told JT that we were going to take him out to dinner.  After dinner, when I turned the wrong way from home and JT asked where we were going, I simply said "To the airport to pick up a friend."

Knowing that we have a very small house, and he was occupying our only guest room, JT was a bit concerned about this unexpected guest.  I'm afraid the thought he might get evicted.  Still, no complaints.

At the airport I was purposely watching JT to see if he suspected anything.  Not a clue.  It wasn't until he saw Janelle walking towards him that he figured it out.  After several seconds of elated shock, his only words to me were "This isn't your friend!"  I don't think he ever stopped smiling the whole way home.

JT had done enough work to more than earn Janelle's free stay on the farm.  Still, she helped with the farm work anyways.  As she mentions below, she had a great time digging holes in our rocky soil.

Janelle Unlike most people, I traveled to Kona for the first time not for love of coffee, beaches, or the slow island pace – but for the love of one JT Peifer, aka: Intern #4.  Thanks in large part to William Shatner's amazing ability to make even a trip to Hawaii affordable to a graduate student (through the “Name Your Own Price” feature on Priceline which is equal parts terrifying and sheer awesome), I was able to scrape together enough coins to fly to Kona.  Lucky for me, Farmer Gary and his lovely wife Valerie are wonderfully kind and very adept co-conspirators.  Thus, I was able to surprise a very tanned Intern #4, my fiancé, thanks to their seemingly limitless graciousness and willingness to keep a secret for about a month.  Truly stand-up folks, those Strawns!  In my short time on the farm, I learned several things about myself, the Strawns, and farming.  For one, I suggest that anyone who questions for a second the physical and emotional intensity of working on a farm, that you go and try to plant a few trees in the world's most stubborn soil.  I mean – it's like lava rock central on Kona Earth.  I barely made it through six holes before wanting to crawl home and melt into bed.  Secondly, the Strawns are the most patient, hospitable, and downright interesting folks I've met in a while.  If you do visit Kona Earth (and I for one think you Ocean definitely should) you will be cared for with a degree of kindness and hospitality that is nearly extinct in our day.  Finally, I had the once in a lifetime experience of being in one of the more beautiful places in the world with the one I love the most in the world.  It's a beautiful place with a ruggedness and beauty that's singular and altogether fascinating.  Well!  That's a small sample of my experience in Kona and on Kona Earth coffee farm.  I hope to one day extend the kindness to others that was extended to me.  What a lovely farm, family, and experience.

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