It is already dark when I press the bell at the old wooden portal that leads to Ute´s house. The neighbor’s dog walks with me up the stairs to the open front door, where Ute is already waiting.
With the step over the door sill, you will begin to sense the spirit of the house – a feeling of security and coziness. The warm light and the way the house is furnished and decorated create a calm atmosphere. Every little piece of the tasteful decoration seems to hold a memory or tell a story. A smorgasbord of different chairs, stools and other seats is arranged in a circle, among them, a woven hammock and a sofa – in the middle, a round table with a teapot and small china cups on it, often also a little sweet something.
Ute has always opened her house for people. There have been times where more than 13 people actually lived with her. How many stories have been told in these four walls? How many thoughts have been exchanged? How many ideas developed? Even though many years ago Ute changed the location of her home, its soul didn’t change at all through all the time. You feel immediately welcome and maybe a little bit homey.
After carefully choosing the most comfortable seat, we are waiting for the last one to arrive so we can start. What happens in this place of encounter?
It can be an active exchange of thoughts between Ute and the volunteers on a topic that has been brought by someone by accident or on purpose. Ute is very open-minded about every kind of subject. If there is anything that you are engaged or stressed with, here is the place to talk about it. We also have had the honor to meet with a former history professor. She managed to give a better insight not just into the past of the country, but also into current political occurrences.
Sometimes we are just listening. Listening to Ute´s relations, to anecdotes, to her story and the one about Monte Azul. Or we invite well-known people from Monte Azul, who are willing to share their stories, beautiful and unique, about desperation and hope, challenges, hunger and sickness, humor, contentedness, love and humanity. Whenever someone starts to tell the story life has written, I feel thrown back to my childhood, when my parents or grandparents sat down at my bed to tell me about former times. And like the child back then, I am hanging on their lips, absorbing every word they say. Listening to these life stories will leave you stunned and emotionally moved and helps to get a better understanding for different cultures and generations. Maybe sometimes you will recognize yourself or one of your own challenges in the tales, let you seize hope and leave a smile on your face.
When you leave Ute´s house, you feel regenerated. It is a place for the soul to calm down and for the mind to wander, a place to talk about god and the world and at the same time there is room for silence. It is a wonderful opportunity to get to know interesting personalities and affecting life stories and it is a chance to broaden your horizon and learn for life. I can only recommend it warmly to every new volunteer, who will be welcomed in Monte Azul.