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Lakeview youth travel to Jamaica

By Staff | Jul 18, 2014

Lakeview youth group members (from left to right) Rylan Graber, Devon Olson, Jonathan Slaubaugh, leader Rylan Yoder and his wife, Beth, Tonya Slaubaugh, McKenzie Johnson and Alyssa Graber.

Members of the Lakeview Mennonite Church youth group traveled to Jamaica for a mission experience.

The trip came after fundraising and a year of coordinating with Reality Church – a Papillion, Neb., based church that had been working in Jamaica for the past four years, according to Lakeview youth group leader Rylan Yoder.

Yoder and his wife, Beth, along with Rylan Graber, Devon Olson, Jonathan Slaubaugh, Tonya Slaubaugh, McKenzie Johnson and Alyssa Graber left on June 27 and arrived in Jamaica the following evening. On arrival they met up with the group from Reality Church in Montego Bay, where they split time helping care for children in orphanages and helping build churches. The church-building group helped build walls and mixed concrete with shovels, as most buildings in Jamaica are made of concrete.

Their tasks weren’t without challenges, one of them being the weather.

“One of the things we had to deal with over there was the heat,” Yoder said. “It was pretty hot and humid. I think the coldest morning we had was 77 degrees with high humidity. We worked through that heat. We went through so much water.”

Lakeview and Reality Church youth group members help mix concrete and build walls for churches.

The heat continued as the group attended church services; services that were a source of culture shock.

“One of the things I noticed with church services is they (Jamaicans) really get into it,” Yoder said. “They don’t sit there for 40 minutes, listen to a sermon, stand up and go home. They sit there for an hour, stand up for an hour, sing, move all around, clapping and yelling. That was really cool.

“They don’t have as much amenities as we do. There was no air conditioner, there were a couple fans, which you couldn’t feel. It wasn’t bothering them, while we were sitting there sweating and just trying to get cool.”

The group had a break on July 4, which they spent climbing up waterfalls and swimming in “glowing water.” Yoder said the group’s tour guide told them the water was a mix of salt water and fresh water that contained traces of phosphorus. When agitated, the water would glow a shade of neon blue.

While in Jamaica, the group also gained exposure to local merchants.

“There are some pretty good salesmen over there,” Yoder said. “They let you barter, but if they see you walking around they don’t let you just look at stuff. They’ll walk up to you and ask, ‘Are you interested?’ or they’ll say ‘Hey, yeah we got that for you,’ or ‘Oh, I can do better than that price.'”

“It was a really good experience, I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I’d definitely go back,” Yoder said of the experience. “This was my first time in a different culture, so it was really eye-opening to see how blessed we are and see how they live over there.”

Johnson added: “It was a really fun experience. It was really eye-opening to see how they live down there. It was really cool to see how happy they are with how much they have, even though it’s not as much as we have.”

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