ALEXANDRIA, Minn.-As the flames from candles danced in the low light across the sanctuary, tears were shed. Prayers were said. Stories were told.
On the evening of Friday, Aug. 18, approximately 70 people gathered for a candlelight vigil and prayer service held in honor of Jasmine Block, a 15-year-old from Alexandria who has been missing since Tuesday, Aug. 8.
Kevin Taylor, the director of the non-profit youth group Youth for Christ, opened the vigil, which was held at New Life Christian Church in Alexandria. He spoke about who Jasmine was and prayed for her return.
"This isn't a memorial, this isn't a time of mourning," he said. "This is a time to celebrate Jasmine and maybe share some stories that would welcome her home and create an environment where she will feel welcome and comfortable."
Jasmine's mother, Sarah, also took the opportunity to thank the community for the endless support, from search efforts, to printing materials, to preparing food. For Sarah, there's no question of whether or not her daughter is alive. She's says she knows she is.
"I know in my heart she is alive," she said. "I can feel it. But it doesn't make it any better. It makes it way harder."
During the vigil, community members were invited to the microphone to tell stories about Jasmine or simply to pray.
Dawn Erickson, an old neighbor of the Block family, took the opportunity to touch on the bond between Jasmine and her two sisters, Abigail and Paige.
"They were inseparable," she said. "You never saw two come over, you never saw one. It's three. There's a bond that is so significant for these girls...when I look at the girls, it's like there's a missing link. They're all supposed to be together, and they're not. And we don't know why."
Tricia Lang, a woman from Miltona who organized the vigil, spoke to what many community members were feeling. She was met with nods and agreement from others in attendance.
"In all reality, I think Jasmine has become everybody's kid," she said. "She's all of ours. And I think she's going to be all of ours until she comes home and she comes home safe."
For those who would like to help, a search for Jasmine will be held Saturday, Aug. 19, at 3 p.m. at Big Ole Central Park. An account for donations to help the search effort has been set up at MidMinnesota Federal Credit Union in Alexandria. Jasmine's family is offering a $1,000 reward for her safe return.
"We're doing everything possible to find her and we're not going to stop until she's home safely," Sarah said.
Jasmine is described as white with a tan complexion, 5-foot-1, 110 lbs, with brown curly hair. According to fliers, she has a recent bruise near the right side of her ribcage, scars on her left arm, a scar on her left ankle and a mole on her left cheek. She was last seen wearing black and red pajama pants and a top.
Jasmine's cell phone was left behind, according to her mother.
An alert from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension states that Jasmine has cognitive disabilities that make her vulnerable, which has authorities concerned for her welfare.
Anyone who knows of Jasmine's whereabouts or sees her is asked to call the Alexandria Police Department at 320-763-6631 or call 911.