Missionaries Sherry and Jim This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   For most people, the mention of Africa conjures up visions ofgrassy savannas and deep jungles, of towering elephants andthundering lions. But my vision of this continent has alwaysbegun with my cousins. "My cousins live in Africa," I wouldproudly say when I was young. "My aunt and uncle aremissionaries there." Every three years, they return from theirwork in Ghana and are once again part of our familyget-togethers. Between visits, we have to content ourselveswith letters and occasional phone calls. They have beenworking in Africa for as long as I can remember, and have somany stories.

Snakes have always been a popular topicof their conversations. My brother always eagerly asks if theyhave any new snake stories, and they always do. We pass hoursin my grandparents' living room listening to hair-raisingaccounts of run-ins with cobras and mambas. But I havediscovered that snake stories are not the only stories UncleJim and Aunt Sherry have. While they are in Africa, they sendletters. As a young girl, I found these letters rather boring,since they described things I did not really understand, likeministry projects. As I grew older I began to understand moreabout their work.

They are there for one purpose only:to help people. Their work as missionaries brings them intocontact with the citizens of Ghana, who lack the many comfortswe take for granted and live in a less developed country thanour own. As I have come to grasp fully their work and what itmeans to those it touches, I have developed great admirationfor their resolve and dedication. Courage is believing in acause and staying with it, even if it means giving up comfort.My Aunt Sherry and Uncle Jim have dedicated their lives to abelief which has taken them to the other side of the world, toa people far away, and a culture very different from ours.

Recently Aunt Sherry was visiting our home, havingjust spoken at our church. As she was leaving, I rememberthinking about how optimistic and understanding she alwaysseems, and I thought, That's how I want to be, that's theattitude with which I want to live my life. Very few peoplehave the ability to inspire the way she inspires me.

Iam often told that heroes are people who fight, are virtuallyinvincible, or even superhuman. In regards to the people in mylife, nothing could be further from the truth. It is theirvery humanity, their ability to connect with others and helpin whatever way they can, that makes my Aunt Sherry and UncleJim heroes to me, as well as their dedication and courage.Without either of these, the beliefs we each hold cannot beacted upon, and are no benefit to those around us. My aunt anduncle have lived a life of courage and service to others,giving many, including me, someone to admire, and inspiringthose around them to live a worthwhile and fulfilling life.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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