We continue to share a series of reflections made by Vincentian Lay Missionaries and Vincentian Mission Corps participants about their experience serving, how it has impacted their lives and how they continue to live the Vincentian Charism today.
I have so many special memories! I’ll never forget how welcoming the Sisters and entire community in Jimma were to us. Ethiopia is where I learned how to “just be.” Our culture always has an agenda or goal in mind. To “just be” might be considered a waste of time here, but I learned to value it so much in Ethiopia. I could sit and enjoy the company of people who I didn’t even share a language with. I’ll never forget the energy and love that our students had, despite many of them living under very difficult circumstances. They would wait at school for us and then come running towards us and walk us the rest of the way to school, every day! One day in particular that blew me away (and still does) was the morning after a big rain. It was sunny enough when we left so we thought the road to school would be dry; and we left our rain boots at home. It was a MESS and we could barely walk through it. The kids came running and literally held us up the whole way. Their shoes (if they were even wearing any) were worse than ours for the mud, but they were so determined not to let us fall down and get completely covered in mud. I was blown away by how important it was for them to take care of us. As if that wasn’t enough, when we arrived at school a group of kids pulled us over to a faucet and proceeded to get down on their hands and knees and wash our feet until all the mud was cleaned off. I’ve rarely felt as close to Christ as I did during my time in Jimma, and what’s amazing is that I could tell you more stories just as powerful as that one!
VLM and the Vincentian charism in general continue to affect the way I teach and the way I parent our three children. I try my best to look at my teaching as a service and I try to teach morality and compassion as much as I teach reading and math. I’ve started a service club at my school and I love watching the kids starting to learn that when they do good for others, they are often benefitting and leaving the experience a better and happier person. I’m trying to raise my children with Vincentian values and often share stories about Ethiopia with them. I look forward to doing more service with them as they get a little older, and my oldest son says he even wants to go back to Ethiopia with me someday when he is not so afraid of getting shots.
Krissy attended Niagara University, spent a year of service in the Vincentian Service Corps West (2004-2005), and was in the first group of Vincentian Lay Missionaries to serve in Jimma, Ethiopia, (2007) and returned to serve again in 2008. She is a Montessori Pre-K/Kindergarten Teacher in Albany, New York. Krissy and her husband Alex are the parents of three children.