I devoted two years of my life serving in Los Angeles, California as a missionary with a non-profit organization called The Culture Project. There I traveled with a team of 5-7 people and went to schools up and down the coast (UCLA, Stanford, USC, and Berkeley to name a few) to talk on the subjects that pertained to virtue and the dignity of the human person. You can imagine how many students I encountered during that time. I could quite literally write a book. Through the giving of my time, I found myself becoming fully alive through being able to connect and hear their stories. There is something about being able to simply sit and offer your ear as a sounding board for someone.
Why do I tell this story of my experience you may ask? I believe that giving comes in many different forms. Often, we think of giving and think of it as either contributing monetarily, giving our time to a cause or possibly donating items of clothing. All are very honorable and impactful, however, giving can be done in an even simpler form. While on mission, there was a video that had a tremendous impact on me. It was a video about a guy named Brandon, a park street photographer, who in New York to capture the stories of ordinary people for his blog: Humans of New York. He would go around the streets of New York and ask them “What’s your story? What’s your biggest challenge right now?” Immediately, you could see the faces of each person light up as they told their stories of strength, addiction, redemption, regret and love. He stood there, was present and did one simple thing: listen. He acknowledged their presence and made them feel like they mattered.
All too often, I find myself rushing from one task to the other, not stopping to engage with the people and the world around me. Being on mission taught me how to give of myself in a way that allowed me to intentionally encounter each person in front of me. It is not always easy to the listen or to be present, however, it will always be worth it to see and acknowledge the people that are placed in front of us each day. One of my favorite quotes sums this up perfectly: “Teach us to give and not count the cost,” – St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Krista Ingrilli is the Director of Sales at Hotel Development & Management, a graduate of Flageler College and a committe member of United Way of Marion County's Marketing & PR Committee. Krista is also a young entrepreur who has recently created Eufloria Flower Cart, Marion County’s mobile flower cart.