By RAVEN MARAGH
When Scott Parsons left for the Eurasian country of Kazakhstan for a missions trip on Aug. 20, 2009, he mostly only planned for the next 10 months of his life.
Almost a year later in late June, Parsons has returned to Columbia with two new commitments. The first had to do with his ministry.
“The year (in Kazakhstan) helped me decide that I want to be a missionary for the rest of my life,” he said.
The 2008 MU graduate went on two mission trips to Jamaica in 2006 and 2007 before the one to Kazakhstan, and he said he was really interested in developing a lasting relationship with the people wherever he went next.
The campus ministry, “One More Friend,” which Parsons and his team of about 10 began at a local university in the city of Almaty, intrigued many ethnic Kazakh students who mostly had been exposed to Islam instead of Christianity, he explained.
Trying to introduce Christian faith to “a forgotten part of the world” had its obstacles, Parsons said. Many Kazakhs were generally open to his message about Jesus, he said, but ultimately they were rooted in their Muslim traditions. For this reason, he decided that Kazakhstan was a place he needed to invest his time and life into for more than one missions trip.
As he described his future plans, Parsons’ eyes lit up, revealing a glimpse of his passion for Kazakhstan as he spoke. Parsons said that he plans to return to Kazakhstan in October for another nine to 10 months to help further the ministry and “connect with the people even more.”
A second commitment
While ministering in Kazakhstan, Scott Parsons formed meaningful relationships with the Kazakh locals, but he also formed a personal attachment.
Elisa Facetti, a native of Italy studying in Kazakhstan, was the first girl to become a Christian in the growing campus ministry, Parsons said. He said that she was at first skeptical of both his Christian group and his tattoo that read, “Love Your Enemies.”
Parsons admired Facetti’s adventurous spirit and intelligence — she speaks seven languages.
“She’s more than just a beautiful girl,” he said.
On June 20, before Parsons returned to Columbia, he devised a plan to marry Facetti. While Skyping with friends in Columbia, Parsons and Facetti discussed their future plans together.
“I think we forgot something,” Parsons said and slipped a green piece of ribbon on Facetti’s finger.
“She didn’t want a ring,” he said, so he found a ribbon in the house that Facetti worked as a nanny and planned to ask her to marry him before he left Kazakhstan.
“There were several moments when my heart was beating fast, and the moment was finally right with my best friends involved (through Skype),” Parsons said. He plans to bring Facetti to Columbia as she is interested in the journalism program at MU.
Before returning to Kazakhstan, Parsons said he will be spending as much time with family as he can. One of his first priorities when he came back to the U.S. was not only seeing his family but also going straight to a Mexican restaurant after leaving the airport.
“I missed chimichangas so much,” Parsons laughed.
In October, when Scott Parsons leaves the local Parkade Baptist Church to continue his ministry, he won’t have many choices of Mexican food but said that he knows this is what he is supposed to be doing with his life. Obstacles still arise, however.
“My heart is in different places,” Parsons said, referring to his fiancee who is now studying in Holland, his family in the U.S. and his friends and ministry in Kazakhstan. He knew, however, that he would be returning to Kazakhstan about two months into his stay there last year, he said.
“The fact that I loved what I was doing never went away,” Parsons said in a matter-of-fact tone.