For the second time, the Dispatch Project has sent a team of South Dakota business people to serve in another country. And for the second time, team members came back saying they were impacted more than anyone they served.
The Dispatch Project brought 15 team members, made up of mostly South Dakotans, to Jamaica to wash children's feet and give them new shoes.
"It was a great challenge. It was something that I needed personally because I do get stuck in routines," Dispatch Project team member Brady Fopma said.
The Dispatch Project encourages employers to send workers on service projects to help create a culture of service throughout the South Dakota business community.
But beyond that, reasons for coming to serve children at three different deaf schools in Jamaica were numerous. And for Fopma, his faith played a large part.
"I mean as a Christian, it's very important to have that calling to serve others. And especially with the many blessings that I've received in my life, just to be able to go out and serve," Fopma said.
More than 200 people had their feet washed and received a new pair of shoes before the team returned to the states.
And while serving in deaf schools, they saw the sign for 'thank you' often.
"Really, we weren't the ones that gave. They were the ones that were giving to us, the ones who were really blessing us," Fopma said.
And that's not something everyone was counting on receiving, at least not to the degree they did.
"I really had no expectations, had no idea what we were really going to be doing. We talked about washing their feet but it's so much more than washing their feet," Dispatch Project team member Peggy McGuire said.
"One of my favorite memories is just sitting there on the floor, looking at your basin full of water and looking up into the eyes of these people," Dispatch Project team member Tracy Kuipers said.
Kuipers says she’s leaving Jamaica as a different person.
And learning about some of the limited opportunities some of the students at the schools have had in their lives touched team member Tania March.
"I am thankful for my education; I'm thankful for my life," March said. "All the things that are just basic living skills that make you a stronger person, a stronger leader."
The list of things team members became more thankful for courtesy of this trip goes on. They saw pictures of poverty, as well as beautiful scenes. And at the end of the trip, each member called the time serving worthwhile, even necessary.
"I needed to be pushed, to go out and feel uncomfortable, at least to change things inside of me and to grow. So it was a very good experience for that," Fopma said.
And that's something some of the team members who've served before, could already claim.
The Dispatch Project has another trip in the works for early next year when it plans to return to the Dominican Republic.
Click on the player below for the closed captioned version of the story.
Eye on KELOLAND