Katianna Parisis, of Stockton, CA, participated on the 2019 Kenya Youth Conference Mission Team to Nyeri. She is a member of the St. Basil Orthodox Church in Stockton.
Lord, I thank You for calling me to a blessed and unique mission in life. I choose, this day, that which You have given to me. I promise to say “Yes” to You throughout my life and to never tire of fulfilling Your Will. I love You, Lord. Help me to love You with my life. Jesus, I trust in You.
KENYA. What a trip! SO humbling! SO beautiful! SO enlightening! Praying and worshiping together with people who speak a different language was incredible! We couldn’t understand each other some of the time, yet our motives are the same. We are praying to the same God and worshiping the same Father. Through all the barriers and difficulties of being in a different culture, we are able to connect in a way that other people aren’t able to. We are all one in Christ and nothing can separate us.
We used the term ‘culture shock’ and for sure that’s what I was, in – shock. Once I empathized with the people, specifically with Angelica (my Goddaughter), my heart just broke for them. It wasn’t that I was sad or felt pity for them, but I tried to put myself in their shoes. Overall, I would say that after all the shock and processing of it all, I came to the realization that we were all serving the same God, the same Jesus, and the only difference I felt was our language barrier. But even then, God knew our hearts and our prayers. I quickly learned that they are happier than we are with so much less. It is crazy to paint that picture, but it is the reality. Western culture has taught us to want more materialistic things, and that is what makes painting that picture so crazy - because things don’t make people happy.
I felt loved by the people and children, even though there is such a large language barrier. It made me realize how much love and happiness shows through body language and a simple smile and ‘hello,’ or a hug that overflows with thankfulness and happiness. All the children are so happy to see you and seem so happy, and it’s so easy to see them for only that, and not think of what is behind the smile on their faces. Then to later talk about their stories and past tragedy and trauma that they have been through makes me realize how strong they are to still have genuine smiles on their faces.
I eventually would love to go back and am so blessed to have been able to partake of this journey. I appreciate all the efforts that helped me get there. I really enjoyed my time there but next time I would like to see myself doing more behind-the-scenes work, i.e. serving food, cleaning, etc. I noticed how hard the staff was working to make us feel comfortable, and it made me just want to jump out of my seat and help them. We were treated like pure royalty - I couldn't believe it. I met some of the sweetest people on this trip and got to make some solid connections. I also really enjoyed my team members! Thank you to everyone who made this possible for me. I look forward to giving back.
Visit https://www.ocmc.org to apply for an OCMC Orthodox Mission Team.