Faces of Cafe Mac: Jesse Barber

By Karen Weldon

“What am I supposed to do?” was Jessie Barber’s immediate thought when she saw the first snow at the beginning of the winter. As a Georgia native who moved to the Twin Cities last summer, the Grille employee had little experience with snow. The only time it had snowed in Georgia, Barber veered off into the ditch while she tried to take a picture of the snowflakes. Due to of her lack of experience, she was a little anxious but also excited for her first northern snowfall. “When it first snowed, I was at work. Joanna, one of the student workers, said, ‘Why don’t you play out in the snow during your break?’ And I was like, ‘Okay!’… It was an exciting experience, and it was good to see that others could be excited for me,” Barber said. In addition to getting used to the snow, Barber had to adjust to life away from her family and friends, an adjustment that was made easier by personal connections. “I love [Minnesota]. It’s not what I expected; people are a lot nicer than [my friends and family] said they would be,” said Barber. In particular, Barber’s coworkers at Bon Appétit have helped her with the transition. “My coworkers are awesome. I love hearing what is new in their lives, and they always ask how I’ve been,” Barber explained. Her church community has also helped Barber feel at home in the Twin Cities. Since she and her husband Sam moved to the cities this summer for him to finish his degree at Bethlehem College and Seminary, the couple has been attending Providence Reform Baptist Church in Minneapolis. They have become particularly close to the pastor and his wife. “The other day, the pastor and his wife said, ‘You’re basically our adopted children,’” Barber said. Throughout her life, a religious community has been quite important for Barber and even led her to meet her husband. As Barber explained, she and her husband Sam were casual friends during high school because they both played tennis. When Sam realized that Barber’s church didn’t meet on Wednesday evenings, he invited her to join him at Emphasis Church, the church he attended. Although they didn’t start dating until Sam left for college in Minnesota, the experience of going to the same church brought the two closer together. “Sam even paid for me to go to a church camp so we could go together,” Barber said. Today her faith-based community at Emphasis Church still remains important to Barber. “The church is like another family,” Barber said, looking forward to her return home. After her husband finishes his degree at the end of the semester, this community will continue to play an important role in her life when she and her husband move back to Georgia. Sam plans to take a teaching position at Emphasis Church and, while Barber has other plans, she may end up working at the church as well. “When I go back, I’m hoping to work on my friend’s farm raising grass-fed cattle,” Barber said, sharing her excitement about learning from her family friends about how to run a farm. To save on transportation costs, however, Barber may take a temporary secretarial job at Emphasis Church. While the work may not be ideal, because of her closeness to the people at both work options, either path will probably be rewarding, she said. Both choices will help her live out her values of learning from those she cares about. “I like learning from people and gaining wisdom from the people I know,” Barber said.