Scout Brigade, town of Stara Zagora, 03-09.05.2021

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“Our goal must be infinite, not ultimate, ” Why do people care so much about the beauty of their own bodies and not worry about the beauty of their own souls? ” With these words of Blessed Carlo Akutis began the sermon of father Martin on the third day of the labor camp in Stara Zagora.

In the newly built building with three wings: a school, a residential part and a church, we had gathered about 15 volunteers from Sofia and Plovdiv, three Salesians, two volunteers from the Czech Republic, an Argentine, a contributer and a dog. We had all gathered at exactly 8 o’clock in the morning before the start of the working day. We sat and listened to the story of the “Apostle on the Internet” – born in 91 in London, Carlo Akutis completed his earthly journey at just 15 years old.

At the end of last year, this young boy was beatified by the Vatican because of his strong faith in God and in the Holy Eucharist, but mostly because of his kindness and noble deeds towards the poor and rejected by society. The story of the young Christian came to remind us that just as Christ became part of the world to bring us closer to the Truth, so Carlo Akutis was one of us, and through his example we witnessed how youth can be lived in more complete way. Instead of remaining captive to the thousands of temptations and possibilities of the modern world, let us leave everything and follow Him.

Like the apostles who, according to the gospel of that May morning, two days after the Resurrection, left everything and followed Him. “He said unto them, Come and see.” (John 1:39). He then added, “Very truly I tell you,[a] you[b] will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’[c] the Son of Man.”(John 1:51). All of us who had come together went to help realize an ideal, a noble cause to which the Salesian fathers had devoted much of their lives. During the days of our stay, everyone had their own task according to their strength, experience and skills. The boys were involved in building a fence around the future school yard, the girls were painting, the volunteers were cooking, and the fathers were helping wherever help was needed.

We got up early in the morning, gathered to pray for strength, good spirits, and hard work, and scattered each one according to our task. At noon we gathered again to rest and gather strength, and at the end of the day, after a job well done, we had time for a walk, games, songs and pleasant conversations. The evening prayer ended the long day, and everyone hurried back to their rooms, because the next morning we had a lot of work to do again.

In one of these prayers, father Donbor described the plight of the people in the neighborhood. How many families live in extreme poverty and how parents cannot educate their children. Entire generations are left without education, and opportunities for a better life are very limited. “Any help in building and creating a place where these people have the opportunity to change direction and live a more dignified life is extremely valuable,” said the father, sincerely thanking us for our support. “Sometimes even just one call, a Facebook message or a nice greeting is extremely valuable for us to continue this mission, because it shows that we are not alone in this difficult endeavor,” he concluded.

And so with each passing day the fatigue became greater and our joy doubled. According to their employment, some of the young people left earlier, others joined later, and others managed to stay for the whole period. Regardless of the length of stay and the physical work, no one complained or wanted to leave because the joy of fellowship and the satisfaction of what was done were so strong.

For days after the labor camp, the smile never left my face, and the feeling of lightness and serenity filled my mind. Like the words in the gospel, I believed, followed Jesus, and saw the “heaven” open before me. At the end of this story, I would like to return to the beginning, ending with the words of Carlo Akutis: “Our goal must be infinite, not ultimate. Infinity is our Motherland. ”

Let us not forget that the Roma are part of us, of our Motherland, and that we must not abandon them. If we want to live in a healthy society, we must learn to lend a hand to those most in need, as the Salesian Fathers lent a hand to us more than 20 years ago. ”

Victoriya Petrova, 04.06.2021


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