When 26-year-old Brendan Manna was invited to make a mission trip to Kenya in 2018, he hesitated.

“I told my friend Matt I wasn’t too interested,” he recalls. “When Matt said he’d go in my place, I thought that might make me look bad. We both went!”

The friends joined a group in a two-week trip that Brendan says changed him for the better. “I realized the day-to-day stuff I worry about in my life is nothing compared with what they deal with. I used to get mad if my computer was running slow. But the people there, they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. And yet, they’re incredibly happy — ten times happier than any person I know living in the U.S.!”

Brendan remembers George, their day-to-day Kenyan guide. George worked odd jobs seemingly nonstop to support his family.

“He was the nicest, happiest human being you could ever meet,” Brendan says. “You wouldn’t think anything in his life was difficult.”

It made him wonder, “What did I do to deserve all that I have?” Brendan is grateful for his new perspective on things. He also learned a great deal about the Vincentians.

“The priests and brothers and seminarians In Kenya – they are very engaged in the lives of families, ” he says. “It’s like they’re friends — very close with the community — and they worked right alongside us in the homes and schools.”

Following his return home, Brendan began a yearly tradition of directing a gift for the Vincentians’ mission in Kenya.

“It’s the absolute least I can do … and I’ll give forever, as long as the mission stays intact. I saw firsthand what they need, and I know how my gifts help.” “What happened to me in Kenya will stay with me forever,” Brendan says.

For more stories from the December 2021 The Vincentian, click here.