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Warm weather, warm hearts for Rosemount group

Music is a great way to connect people. For several members of the Rosemount United Methodist Church, music created a connection with people all over Jamaica.

Four members of the church participated in an eight person choir that traveled all over the small island nation performing with the jazz band the Jumpin' Jehosafats. The four included pastor Rick Ormsby, Sue Rausch, Bill Middlecamp and Lourey Middlecamp. The mission of the weeklong trip was to connect with people and by all accounts their mission was accomplished.

The Jumpin' Jehosafats has been together since 1985. Based out of the Lake Harriet United Methodist Church, the band plays all over the Midwest raising money for ministries. The band has traveled to Jamaica in the past.

Ormsby encouraged members of RUMC to get involved and take the trip with the band. Rausch and Bill and Lourey Middlecamp were the only takers. Several singers from churches in Lake Harriet and Faribault volunteered as well.

The group spent the first full week of January touring churches and schools. In all they performed at seven churches and five schools. Some days the group performed three times a day.

"Praising God through music was a wonderful experience," said Rausch.

Rausch, a member of the RUMC choir and the Velvetones senior choir, signed up to sing with the group after Ormsby nudged her to do it. Now she's glad she did.

"It was a wonderful experience," said Rausch.

At times Rausch said she felt a little like a rock star because the Jamaican people's warm reaction to the group was overwhelming.

"I sorta felt like a Beatle or something," said Rausch.

At each performance the group played a variety of musical selections. Ormsby said they played some traditional church tunes as well as some contemporary music. He said the group's biggest hit were "Lean on Me" and "What a Wonderful World."

"It was neat that everyone there knew those songs and would sing along," said Ormsby.

Getting the audience involved was a big part of the group's allure. Bill Middlecamp, who signed up for the trip with his daughter Lourey, a college student in Boston, said during many of the performances the group would get the audience up singing and dancing with them.

"To break down the divisions between people and to build community through music like that was amazing," said Middlecamp.

Although he'll admit he isn't the best singer Middlecamp said the experience was that he will not soon forget.

"I felt so connected to the people," said Middlecamp.

The group stayed at a retreat center in St. Anne's Bay. During the day the group would tour the country in a bus stopping at the various schools and churches where they performed. Middlecamp said the roads were scary but they had a capable bus driver who got them around safely.

Besides the less than desirable roads Middlecamp said the trip was fantastic.

Returning to Minnesota was a shock to the system. The group left 85 degree weather to return to the coldest week of the year. However Middlecamp said warm memories kept his spirits up.

Ormsby said the Jumpin' Jehosafats will do the trip again next year. Like this trip he said they will take a volunteer choir. Anyone interested in traveling with the group should contact him.

Ormsby got to hop right back on a plane and return to Jamaica with a second group. From Jan. 20 to Feb. 2 eight members of RUMC will work in Bamboo, Jamaica building an addition onto the Ebeneezer Basic School, a preschool that serves 90 kids. This is the third year RUMC has led a group to Bamboo to work on the project. He said they hope to complete the project this time around.