When deciding whether to take part in Salesians Out Serving I had no idea what to expect. After talking to some friends, I felt it would be a good idea to try something new, learn more about the Salesians, to meet new people and to help others . Upon arriving at Brettargh Holt I was still unsure what Salesians Out Serving would entail. The mystery of the programme added to the excitement.
When walking into the hallway at Brettargh I felt slightly nervous seeing lots of unfamiliar faces. The hospitality of the sisters at Brettargh was immediately obvious, and I was soon made to feel at home. The first night we were given the opportunity to chill out and get to know each other. There were participants from all over Europe , speaking different languages.
Over the next few days we participated in team building events, as well as having a mass to welcome us. The team building entailed many fun tasks helping us to overcome any language barriers and to get to know each other better. There was lots of laughter and fun throughout team building, with a personal favourite been football with the goal keepers wearing beer goggles.
Day four brought our first proper day of work. For me this entailed breaking down chairs and moving furniture. The work was made fun by talking to the people we were working with and learning songs from all over Europe. Meal times were always a time for us to share and laugh about the events of the day.
The next day of work was spent painting and decorating rooms within Brettargh. This again was a great day working with lots of different people. The results were amazing with the gratitude of the sisters making the work very worthwhile. A highlight of my week was the evening when groups from every country had to prepare an activity to teach everybody else. We learned dances from Brazil and Scotland, as well as games from Hungary, the Czech republic and Slovakia, and a song from Poland.
On the Friday we set off early to head to Bootle in the big yellow bus. We started off doing some work within the parish and then went out to work in parishioners houses. This was an amazing day for us all. We went and helped a lady with her garden, and absolutely transformed it in the end. The happiness on the face of the lady for me summed up what Salesians out serving was all about. Later that night we retired to Savio house.
The day working at Savio house for me was the hardest as the backache and tiredness had set in. The outside Morning Prayer however started the day off well and gave us all a bit of a boost. We all worked in the gardens at Savio and listened to music as we worked. This was when the team spirit really kicked in as we all needed each others encouragement to get the job done.
Sunday brought a well deserved day off. We went to Sherwood Forest and for a BBQ. This was a great day for us all and we all enjoyed relaxing and socialising together. Monday was back to work again. We had the opportunity to help parishioners from Kendal this time. Again this was amazing, with the gratitude of the people we helped being enormous.
The last couple of days were spent back at Brettargh both working and preparing to take our experience back home with us. Saying goodbye was sad as we had all made many new friends. We however focused on the positives and looked at how the experience had helped us. For me SOS allowed me to meet many amazing people, to learn to serve both God and others in different ways. I am also now able to go to Slovakia and ask for a vaneshka (paint tray) and a drabina (ladder) so should have no worries if I ever visit.
To see videos from 2009 visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/salesiansoutserving/videos