How long would it take you to paint the ceilings and walls in every room in your house? A month? A year? The painted surfaces in the new Centre are equivalent to 20 houses, and they are all being painted by volunteers, saving an estimated £15,000. Most of the work is being done by the enthusiastic folk from Sofia Baptist Church on Wednesday and Saturday work-days, but equally keen volunteers from UK recently helped move the job forward.
We were a happy bunch, Mark (doctor), Barbara (nurse), Mary (teacher), and Geoff (engineer). On our first day we put on hard hats, gloves and dust masks in homage to the ‘Great Elf’, (‘Elf and Safety’) but I have to admit mine were abandoned within the first half hour as I was too hot in the sweltering Bulgarian summer which this year has been very dry, unlike ours in UK.
Like most new buildings, the Centre is being finished from top down so we launched into the vast expanse of top-floor offices whose rental income will help pay for the Centre’s humanitarian services. There are eleven rooms, most with wonderful views over the city of Sofia to Mount Vitosha beyond. We masked up, de-dusted, sprayed, brushed & rollered, endlessly moved ladders, perspired, and gesticulated and joked our way through the language barrier.
Tsetsa, Steffi and Maria from Sofia Baptist Church, provided the essential morning and afternoon tea and coffee, and wonderful lunches of Bulgarian cold meats, cheese, fresh bread and freshly-picked blue plums, grapes, apples and soft, sweet peaches the size of grapefruits. Really delicious!
After three days we had applied 2 coats of emulsion paint to four and a half rooms, made new friends, and came to appreciate what a caring, visionary bunch of people we were working with. Whatever they brought to the tasks, strengths and weaknesses, it was always with great enthusiasm. But their vision is much wider: to improve people’s lives, physically, mentally and spiritually, just as Jesus did. My lasting impressions are of the joyful commitment of these lovely Bulgarian Christians!