Finally, my World Youth Day 2011 blogging shall commence! I did take my little old journal and pen, which is a good thing, since many of the details of the year of life that was packed into two weeks somehow elude me now. So, using my journal as a starting point, I'll devote the coming days to recounting the events of World Youth Day, and my reflections on the places, people, and journey of faith. Let us begin!
Wednesday, August 10/ Thursday, August 11 --
After a lovely Mass celebrated Fr. Jim Gibson, CR and Fr. Alex Gamino (the two priests traveling with our 27-member parish group), family and friends saw us off as we departed via charter bus from Our Lady of the Desert Church, Apple Valley to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). Herman, the kind and humorous bus driver from H&L Charter, provided us with a comfortable and relaxing ride to LAX, where we checked in, and grabbed a bite to eat before passing through the security checkpoint, after which you could not purchase any food. (Is this something new? And only for international flights? It seemed rather strange to me to have to buy our food before getting near our gate.) At the food area, we ran into Fr. Tim Keppel, CR (the pastor of our parish) and Fr. Marcello (the vocation director from Fr. Tim's community); then at our gate, I saw Mr. and Mrs. Santos, the parents of a friend of mine from Franciscan University of Steubenville. It seems that Day 1 was already the first installment of the Catholic version of "It's a Small World" that is World Youth Day!
We enjoyed a direct flight from LAX to Madrid, which included breakfast (at 3:45 am PST), which featured a mini-Milky Way candy bar -- nice! The zipper on my money belt of questionable quality broke before we landed in Madrid, but Lupita (one of the young adults in my group, who clearly has taken some lessons from MacGyver) was able to fix it. After landing in Madrid, we retrieved our luggage (which, in a miraculous turn of events, was all there!), and traveled via charter bus to Toledo, where our driver dropped us off at Parroquia de San Julian, or Saint Julian's Parish, who would be serving as our host for Days in the Diocese, a week long experience of living in family homes and participating in events put on by a local parish community.
We spoke with the coordinators from the parish to learn our housing assignments, which was an adventure since my Spanish is rather limited. By the end of the trip, it was much better, since I had to use the little I did know out of necessity, and learned a lot along the way! Host families came to pick up all of our group members, and so our adventure officially begins!More to come! As always, thanks for stopping by, and be assured of my prayers.
Peace and all good,