Jan. 15, 2007

Church group from Dassel to go to Dominican Republic

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

A group of people from the Church of Christ in Dassel will be leaving Feb. 27 to go to a mission in the Dominican Republic.

A congregation of about 80 Haitians have been holding worship services in a two-car garage in a village near Santiago. The Schue family and the Rev. Marc Grindle of the Church of Christ in Dassel, along with Jeanne Oliva of Howard Lake, who is a nurse at Hennepin County Medical Center, will stay in a mission house there for a week. They will help the congregation in Amistad build a one-story, 50-foot by 80-foot concrete church.

“They are meeting in a shack right now,” said Jonette Schue, a secretary at both HTI of Hutchinson and the Church of Christ in Dassel.

Also, about a quarter of the space in the garage is a hole in the ground and unusable.

“We have the footings or foundation,” said Dan Schue, an engineer at HTI. “We want to pour the floor.”

This will be the third trip for groups from the church. However, for the Schue children, Ben, a 10th grader at Dassel Cokato High School, and Sam, a ninth grader, it will be their first.

The group will stay in a Kingdom Builders’ mission house, big enough for 20 people, on a sugar cane plantation in a mountainous area of the Domincan Republican. The pastor of the church is a Haitian named Paul Waldech.

Dan Schue said he is looking forward to the warm and sunny Caribbean weather. However, his favorite part of going to the mission is the people, he said. Although, the Dominican Republic is a very poor country, the people are cheerful.

“They’re not downtrodden,” he said.

“They’re praying for us,” Jonette said.

The biggest challenge has been communication. The Haitians speak Creole, which is similar to French. A Haitian missionary, Jean Paulite, can speak both Creole and English, and translates for them. The people of the Dominican Republic speak Spanish, complicating communication even more.

Since the mission began in April 2004, the church has raised approximately half of the $50,000 it needs to complete the project. The new church is being built directly on top of its current location, which is also being used as a school.

Other Church of Christ congregations in Minnesota are participating in the mission. The Rev. Mike Gerhardt, former pastor of the Dassel church, is involved also. Justin May from Albert Lea is considering going with the Dassel group, as well as a couple from Madelia, Minn.

In addition to the church building, the mission also is trying to get a used van for the mission.

“This would free the Haitians up for much greater ministry as none of them has access to anything other than public transportation,” Gerhardt said.

The mission needs $2,000 more to reach its $10,000 goal for a van, he added.

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