Prairie Lutheran Church, Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Prairie Lutheran Church is a mission minded congregation. They are committed to
support their mission partners in prayer, giving and mission trips. Therefore,
in spring 2011 a group decided to pay a visit to Spirit Mountain and Doulos
“I attended Doulos on a mission trip with my church in April 2011. It was a life
changing experience. It was very rewarding because I was able to experience
hands-on the Doulos Discovery School, meet my sponsor student (Madeline), travel
to Spirit Mountain to camp and go to the coffee plantation. I enjoyed going to
another country with a different culture. I hope to come back some day.”
The experience of picking coffee inspired her in particular:
“As I gazed across the vast mountains of the Dominican Republic my attention was drawn to the dark figures walking up the path. The men looked as though night had soaked into their skin and left its deep glow, their wrinkled, calloused hands reflected their endless work in the sun, and their perfect, square teeth looked as though they were painted with whiteout. What intrigued me most about these men were their eyes which showed nothing but kindness to overpower the huge machetes in their belt loops, the milk cartons tied around their waste, and their tattered, worn clothes.
My nervous anxiety, which I had temporarily forgotten with the distraction of the men, came rushing back when my name was called to work with Nathan. Nathan was a 20 year old Haitian coffee picker assigned to show me what he did each day from dawn to dusk. As I walked towards him, rather intimidated, he smiled because smiling was all we could do. As a Haitian, he spoke only Creole, and I, as an American, only spoke English which meant that the odds for a friendship, let alone a successful learning experience, were against us.
I never realized the importance of verbal communication until Nathan had to explain to me the rules of picking coffee without using a single word. We quickly made a system consisting of only actions and demonstrations to teach me how to do the job. As we picked what seemed like hours in silence, I came to realize that we weren’t in silence at all. I was suddenly aware of the birds buzzing freely above, the unknown creatures making the grass prick, the sound of the distant, running streams, and finally, the familiar soft singing of the song “Amazing Grace”. Nathan noticed my recognition of the song and looked at me in anticipation as if to say, “what are you waiting for?” With that, I joined in. Despite my embarrassment from my off key singing and the awkwardness of our language barrier, all our differences faded away. Before I knew it, all the other Haitian men had joined Nathan, and all of the English travelers had joined me in our song.
Nathan and I hauled our heavy bags down the mountain to the “factory”, which was actually a rickety, glued together house being used to process the coffee berries. My arms ached from reaching up high, my legs were bloody from walking through the path of unpaved brush, and my clothes were covered with prickly burrs from my ponytail to my socks. Needless to say, Nathan could clearly see my exhaustion and took my huge coffee sack along with his to carry it down the mountain. My fatigue must have been amusing to him since I had only been present for four of the eight hours he worked each day to provide his family with a better life. As we reached the bottom of the mountain, Nathan looked back to me smiling while he continued on the path which led to the shack in which his family lived. It was in that moment that I realized, although Nathan and I never spoke a word to one another, his actions, dedication to his family, and positive attitude spoke thousands to inspire me.”
at Spirit Mountain
University of Toronto, Canada