e things to do as a family when ever we gather, which is often, is to tell stories that remind us of who we are and where we come from. Our girls were born in Santo Domingo and grew up in Jarabacoa, spending much of their time learning in the outdoors. My wife and I intentionally spent a great deal of time at the farm and a family, providing opportunities for our girls to explore, play, create and dream, and there was a fair amount of work to do, it was and still is a working coffee farm.
We have hundreds of stories that could fill many books!! Let me share just one story with you today. I remember… a long time ago, when Keren, our youngest, was 8. We had decided to spend that Christmas camping on our farm. This was well before Camp Spirit Discovery had any of the current ‘amenities’, like running water, showers, or even a simple small roof for cooking under. All we had back then was a primitive outhouse that many of you may still remember. We finally said good bye to it last year. Keren and I went up a few days early to set up camp, which was a challenge. You see, this was before we built the road. We had to set up the tents, gather firewood and haul all our personal gear up the 2 mile hike from the entrance of the farm to camp. One of our projects for the week was to build a picnic table for camp, so our family could eat Christmas dinner, “in style’! Imagine, hauling the heavy treated pine lumber to camp, from the bottom of the farm. I cannot quite remember exactly how many trips we made from the truck, at the bottom of the farm to camp, but 3 or 4 is definitely no exaggeration. That’s at least 12 miles…and for all you Doulos Discovery Alumni who have hiked to camp from the bottom, can appreciate the effort! That hike is no joke. Anyway, back to the story….
It took Keren and I an entire day to get our supplies for the week moved up to camp. The next day, it was time to build our table. No power drill, no deck screws, no power saw, or other cool shop tools. This was old school carpentry….a daughter and her father, working away, side by side, miles from civilization. We finished building the table just in time for lunch, so we enjoyed our handiwork! Krista and Kate would be arriving the following morning, so we had time for an afternoon adventure, just the two of us. Our girls LOVE horseback riding. Not the boring nose-to-tail trail riding. They love the “Man from Snowy River” style of riding. You can only imagine…. little girls, holding on as tight as their little hands can, while their mounts gallop up and down the mountain, jumping over creeks, ducking under branches and racing across meadows… This is what dreams are made of!
So, there was really only one option for Keren, round up the horses! We saddled two of our favorite steeds, Cinder, my quarter horse and Keren’s little mustang pony, Pico. We had never explored off the property, so the plan was to ride to the top ridge of the farm, which was 1,500 vertical feet above the entry, and proceed South along the ridge trail. This trail had, at one time, been the primary route to the Manabao valley from Constanza. The thought of exploring a trail that we did not know and discovering where it lead was exciting. After several hours of swift riding along the ridge to the South, with expansive views on both sides, to the East back towards Jarabacoa and to the West to Pico Duarte, we finally arrived to La Culata, which is a small farming town. For Keren, this was an amazing reality, that we had ridden all the way across the mountains to a town “far away”. Luckily, I had money, so we bought some papitas (chips) and juice and reveled in our accomplishment! Once the horses were watered and rested, we mounted up and rode back to Spirit Mountain. It was a long day in he saddle, but one that we still remember as if it was just yesterday. I believe that experience, so many years ago, has helped instill in Keren a curiosity about what lies beyond one’s view and a confidence to explore, even when the destination isn’t clearly defined.
Many of the legacy pieces Krista and I have built into our family have hinged on experiences at the farm. Community, Service, Learning, Hard Work, an Appreciation for the Environment, and a commitment to Family. I encourage you to seek opportunities to build Legacy into your family rhythm and look for ways to invite the next generation to help write your family’s story.