Give 'what you can'

When Sara Bemel came back from a week-long mission trip to Jamaica, she brought back a new accent.

"I couldn't help it," Bemel laughed, explaining that "Yah mahn" was the phrase-of-the-week.

Bemel traveled to Jamaica with Rochester's Bethany United Methodist Church in July to teach Vacation Bible School and paint a school building.

"Just to know that you're making a difference in their lives, and you're touching them, it's huge," Bemel said. "It's hard to actually explain. It's hard to find the right words."

The group taught  more than 50 local kids, ranging in age from 2 to 16. Each day included songs, a Bible story, crafts, snacks and outside games.


"You wouldn't think it, but their favorite game to play was 'Red Rover' from America," Bemel said. "That was the most popular game. It was really cute."

And the Jamaican children loved the attention, Bemel said.

"They were so craving to be with us and learn," she said. "Some of the kids would run up to you, hug you, and run away. It was just so touching."

The Bethany United Methodist Church team was made up of 15 people of all ages. The youngest team member, Jessicka Salley, is 12 years old.

"My favorite part was getting to know all of the kids there," said Salley, who made friends with some Jamaican children at the Bible study. "They're all really kind."

The mission trip had been in the works for a couple of years, Bemel said. The church contacted a church in Jamaica to plan the trip, and also had help from OC Ministries, a nonprofit mission of the United Methodist Church in Minnesota that ministers to people in developing countries.

"It really was just an idea and a jump-and-go," Bemel said. "We planned it and went for it."

The goal was all about charity, Bemel said.


"We really wanted to impress on our youngsters that you give to other people what you can," she said.

And Salley said she learned just that.

"I learned that everyone lives differently," she said. "I saw that some houses were actually made of scraps of metal. And many of them weren't finished. Even if we have luxury here, other people don't."

Salley's brother, Jerrick, also took this mission to heart, Bemel said. The 16-year-old noticed a man who had holes in his shoes. So Jerrick took off his shoes to give to the elderly man.

"I told him, 'You just proved our entire mission trip,'" she said. "He didn't think twice about it. He just knew the man needed new shoes."

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