WARREN - One thing about being a missionary in South Africa: It's not hard to learn the language.
Warren native Kandess Dunewood Malau, who was the speaker for the annual Community Concerned Citizens Juneteenth celebration in Perkins Park Saturday, said when she served in Kenya she had to know 13 languages.
But since most people in South Africa speak English, she said she can spend more time on her ministry than learning multiple languages.
Malau is a 1971 graduate of Western Reserve High School and has been a missionary for 22 years. Her home church is First Church of the Nazarene on Parkman Road.
She has been in South Africa for 10 years, and this is her first trip to her hometown in three years. She served as a missionary in Kenya from 1991 to 1997.
It can be difficult adjusting to a different culture, but she said the climate in South Africa has been good. One of the topics she spoke about at the festival was starting churches, which missionaries call "planting" churches.
South Africa is craving more things Western and American, which is a mixed blessing, Malau said. She said while it makes them more open to outside ideas, it also tends to make them want to forget their heritage.
''They need to keep a bit of their African culture,'' Malau said.
However, wanting to be more like the West has made it easier for her to do her work.
''Now they're getting used to other types of people,'' Malau said.
She said she has no idea how long she will stay in South Africa.
''I'll stay as long as the Lord wants me to stay there,'' Malau said. ''This 10 years has been a great experience.''
Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. It commemorates the announcement in Texas in 1865 of the abolition of slavery.