by: Mega Lestari Purba Girsang
My little neighbours in Krakow
When I heard that Magis Gathering and WYD 2016 would be held in Poland, I decided to take part. I really wanted to participate because I knew that Poland was the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. For me and my big family, this was not an easy decision. It would cost us a lot of money we couldn’t afford. Thus I was very grateful that God – through His kind fellowship – had helped and supported me to participate in these events.
During the preparation, I surrendered everything to God. I was grateful for God’s help. God gave us – the delegation of Magis Indonesia – a smooth process of visa filing. My workplace was also willing to give leave-permission for 3 weeks.
Finally, for the first time in my life, I arrived in Europe (transit in Amsterdam). I had a wonderful morning on another land. Seeing the natural beauty layout of the city made me realized that the world is actually beautiful. I remember back in the past, I once had a desire to suicide. It was because I experienced a terrible childhood, my aunt and my brothers had treated me wrong. Seeing the beauty of this country made me think that I have to be aware of the beauty of my surroundings and be conscious that the world is actually beautiful.
I had always felt unworthy. I used to think low of myself; I felt that I am a not good-looking person. Physically, I have flaws in my right eye. During the events of Magis and WYD, friends from various countries has showed me humanity, kindness and caring. They did not look at my flaws, while in my country some people do. I then realize that my flaws were not a barrier to make connection with others. Although I was not perfect, God had always shown me that I was accepted and loved by the friends that I met.
During Magis and WYD 2016, I realized a lot of God’s goodness in my life – my family, the decision to become a Catholic when I was in junior high, self-improvement, work-friends, church and community. The kindness of the people in Poland has helped me to realize that God’s kindness was manifested in my life through the presence of others.
Ria (Magis Yogya) once accompanied a Polish couple while they stayed in Yogyakarta for holiday. When we were in Poland, one of them accompanied us to walk around the city of Warsaw. This experience made me understood that the kindness we do to the others, will be returned to us even more.
I was in 7th experiment group. We visited a nursing home. Going to a nursing home was a new thing for me. There, I met elderly people who were still passionate in life. I realized that one day I want to be like them.
One thing that really made me looked back to myself, was a nurse who took care the patients. One question arose in my mind, how could she take care wholeheartedly the elderly whom were not her parents. I reflected on myself and I realized that I had been careless to my parents, who often fall ill. I was too busy to take care of my family. I was aware of my mistakes and I regret it. I realized that my parents are not going to always be there for me. I wanted to change my attitudes; I wanted to serve both my parents sincerely, as they are growing old. The clock keeps ticking. I don’t want to have regret.
Different languages were one of the things I was worried about the most while in Poland. I was not brave enough to talk, because English was not my first language and I was afraid the others couldn’t understand me. During the experiment, there was free time – between lunch to dinner time. One day at a free time I decided to go with French friends. I was trying to be brave as I went alone, without the Indonesian friends. Along the way, all of them were kind to me. I felt happy because they were not arrogant, they shared me stories about themselves.
All the participants of my group experiment
One day of the experiment, we had time to visit the museum Auschwitz. It’s a historical museum when Hitler was in power and killed so many Jews. Actually I did not know exactly about this museum, but hearing its history, I felt sorry. I imagined how difficult life was in that moment. Dark period, a period in which there was no bright light for the victims. I realized that life is temporary. I realized that behind the beauty of the city and this country there was a heavy past. I also realized the fighting heroes in Indonesia might not faced cruelty like the victims of Auschwitz, but they were the chosen people, who had a high sense of love fighting for Indonesian independence. My prayer for all the victims of war, may they all rest in peace.
Returning from Auschwitz I went by myself to a mini market. As an introvert, I was very happy to be alone. I had been a week in Poland and I had not had communicated with my family because I did not have the local sim card to call them. I went looking for one and buy some phone credits. But I did not know how to install the data packet. A middle age man tried to help me. Although he was not able to fix it because he also didn’t understand, I knew that he sincerely wanted to help me. I again reflected, sometimes I was too afraid to help others. I was afraid because according to my experience helping others could cause me trouble. At this point, I realized that helping others might cause me troubles but when I kept on doing it sincerely, it would reflect God’s love for others.
The closing part of Magis Gathering was placed at Czestochowa. It’s a holy place in Poland. Polish Catholic and other European believe that if they have something to ask to God, they can pray in a place named Jasna Gora. The icon, depicting the Mother of God with the Christ Child, was known as the Black Madonna of Częstochowa or Our Lady of Częstochowa, which is widely venerated and credited with many miracles. It is credited with miraculously saving the Jasna Góra monastery during a siege that took place at the time of The Deluge, a 17th-century Swedish invasion. I surrendered my wish and hope to God in this place, believe that God will answer my prayers.
The last day at Czehowice-Dziedzice, at lunch, I ate in the same table with three religious sisters, one Portuguese Jesuit brother, and one Polish young married woman called Sabina. It was my first and last time meeting her. In the same time, Sister Helena told me that Sabina is a volunteer in this experiment who has prepared all things we need. It was really great to know that, so I could express my appreciation for her. Other thing about her is she has been married for two years, but last month in her second month of pregnancy she lost her baby in her womb. I felt sorry about that. I hope God give her a baby soon. As she had prepared all with whole-hearted for our experiment, it’s showed me she’s a good person. I believe God will do best in her life. God is good.
During WYD 2016, where we stayed, we met a very kind woman. She gave a friendly welcome and generousity. She gave us food, snacks and drinks after we walked in the rain from far away. She helped us dried the clothes. She showed her compassion and love in everything that she did. She helped us to wash our clothes. She’s an old woman, grandmother of two little grand-children and a mother of three men. Even though we are strangers, but she helped us a lot. A night before we went to Warsaw, she send a love letter for us. I felt grateful for her. From this experience I learned a lot from her, how to give and not to count the cost.
The meeting with the Pope was the greatest experience; I could see the pope really close. Even though I was not able to speak directly, but I was very grateful I could see the Pope closely. During the meeting with the Pope, which attended by millions of young Catholic people from all over the world, Pope gave us message. The message that I mostly remember was, “If you want to change and feel like everything is changing, it is you who must act, not anybody. You, young people are the key.” I realized that I was the one who have to work to change things for the better. I would try to do everything better.
The WYD closing Mass was led by the Pope and there was one message that I remember “As a young child who has a dream, begin to move, NOW“. The word ‘now’ stroke me. Times go on, and never regret the past. I realized, the encounter of young people around the world with the Pope had shown us that we – the youth – owned the church. We belong to the church and we belong to God. God greeted us young people through the Pope.
One day after WYD ended, we were invited by the house director to wander around the city of Krakow. I was grateful for that. The most attractive thing was their service for us. They were so friendly and kind to us. I realized again, that I was different and again I felt that I had to serve good too. I had to improve myself to also be able to provide the best for others.
On the last morning in Poland, I was grateful to God. I attended the daily Mass. During WYD I attended the Mass in Latin and French. Even though I did not understand the language of Polish, French or Latin I felt grateful as a Catholic. Thing like this was the most distinctive feature of the Catholic Church, one and a common (universal) way so wherever we are, Catholic and Sacrament will be served the same way.
I’m grateful for the encounter with friends from other countries. Their compassion made me realize that life should be lived with passion. Never give up. With God’s help, I would be able to love others more sincerely.
For the greater glory of God. AMDG.
With the director of the school – where we stayed for a week in Krakow during WYD