Mission Accomplished

by DanWolgemuth on June 14, 2013

“…therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.”  ~ Genesis 3:23

Jesse Dourte is turning 90 years old. Jesse is the son of Monroe and Susie Dourte of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Jesse is my mother’s brother.

The Dourte family had four girls and four boys. My mother was the third child and third daughter, and then some boys came… including Jesse. Today, only four of the Dourte children remain. As was often the case, my mother went on ahead of the family to make certain that everything will be just right when we see her. This time in glory.

Jesse was a farmer, but he also pastored, preached, raised pigs and nurtured six children to adulthood. He had fields of tomatoes that kept his kids, as well as a crew of summer workers, busy, tired and resourced.

Jesse had hands that you could have sold to 3M for sandpaper. They were strong, wise, powerful and productive hands. With them he pitched bale after bale of hay; he birthed horses, ponies, milking cows and pigs, and he thoughtfully flipped the pages of his Bible. With those hands Jesse welcomed a young nephew from the suburbs of Chicago. With those hands he welcomed me.

I don’t believe that my parents, both Lancaster County and farming natives, ever gave Jesse and Wilma a job description for my time on the farm, but there was a single objective… “knock the city out of this boy.”

With great precision and excellence, Jesse complied. Early morning milking, hours of picking tomatoes, roaming the grounds with a 22 caliber rifle, mixing and delivering food to the pigs, and meals that went on and on and on. Meals that included homemade catsup and root beer.

No TV. No wifi. No fast food (unless you ate a freshly picked tomato).

Just loads and loads of family, and love, and respect… and reverence to a God that made the corn grow and the cattle calve.

Just loads of life.

I remember wearing clothes home that smelled like the farm. I remember being in awe of the power and faith and diligence and courage and discipline and rigor of a farmer.

Mission accomplished. For at least a short period of time – “the city” was blasted out of the life of this little Chicago boy – because of Jesse and Wilma and six wonderful cousins; because of the dirt and milk and tomatoes and cow poop and root beer.

In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, family members needed each other. They relied on each other. And they prayed to a God that made plants grow, and made pigs give birth, and who turned tomatoes from green to red, and who sent His son to love Pennsylvania farmers.

I was a city boy with a pliable heart… that now reflects with gratitude on the lessons from Jesse and Wilma – and the entire Dourte clan.

It worked.

Happy birthday, Uncle Jesse. Thanks for showing me how to pray, how to hope, how to trust, and how to shoot a 22.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Matt Schwartz June 14, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Happy Birthday, Grandpa. Whether it was “down on the farm” in PA, or during your Kansas years, we always enjoyed visiting Grandma & Grandpa. I miss the farm & regret my own kids never really got to experience that environment and all the little things you learned how to do without ever really even being taught. And the tons of space to have tons of fun. Congratulations on #90 and thanks for being a great teacher!


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