I finally have a chance to finish my recounting of World Youth Day in Sydney. I'm really procrastinating! I have to write an article for our Catholic weekly paper and I don't want to do it.
Saturday July 19
We were up EARLY. Before the sun rose kind of early. If you know me, you know I'm not up before the sun! Since everything was packed the night before, all I had to do was take a shower, get dressed and eat breakfast. We hopped our favorite bus line--the 470 to downtown Sydney. The bus driver was nice enough to take us as close to Circular Quay as possible. We found out that we were on the same side of the bridge as Randwick Racecourse. Now, maybe I was a little delirious from lack of sleep, real coffee (hello, Starbucks) and not enough food by this point, but I really rallied to walk across the bridge! Wasn't it the whole point of the pilgrimage experience? To walk across the harbour bridge and into the racecourse?!?!?! I felt we hadn't suffered enough. We took the easy way out of EVERYTHING during the trip. It was as if we forgot the "test" of Monday's experience. I would have walked it by myself if no one else was game, but I think most everyone was sold on the idea of walking the bridge. So we hopped on two trains to get to North Sydney. The walk across the bridge took an hour. It took another three hours to get to our space in the racecourse. On our way in, we were each given a green bag of food. Little did some know that the bag of food contained THREE meals...lunch, dinner and breakfast. Already knowing that we weren't liking the food, some of us packed snacks we liked and Joann's awesome dip! If not for that, I would have truly starved! I fell asleep after I ate my measly lunch of tuna, bread and water. Upon waking up, I found myself staring at STRANGERS where familiar faces should have been. I thought someone had played a joke on me and moved my sleeping bag (with me on it) to a different area. But, I don't sleep that deeply. I moved closer to Anna and her girls. Poor Joann! Some other guy came and plopped his stuff next to her. She was thoroughly surprised when SHE woke up! We didn't do much the rest of the day...who had the energy? I fell asleep during the adoration...my sleeping bag was so comfy and cozy and WARM that who could stay awake snuggled in it?!?!? It wasn't real sleep, though. A group of people sang and danced all night long. If it wasn't for my Ipod touch and some George Winston music I wouldn't have gotten any rest!
Sunday July 20
This was the day we had all been anticipating all week (all year, really)! After morning prayer, the Pope came around in his popemobile. We were in section L. The popemobile went through section K. Love the zoom in my camera because I got a pretty good picture...not a great one, but close enough. Hey, at least the Pope and I breathed the same air! The Pope said mass (another two hours) and confirmed several people. I was so tired that I fell asleep during the confirmation. OOPS! Towards the end of mass, the Pope announced the next WYD site--MADRID SPAIN! WOW!
We had to get back to our lodge the same way we came in.........WALKING! We had to take a break in the park on our way out. The kids were real troopers. It seemed that every few blocks or so, one of them would ask if I needed some help. When we stopped at the park, I asked one of the boys to strap my sleeping bag to his rolling back. What a sweetheart!
The rest of our time in Sydney was spent on relaxing and some fun! For me, it meant Starbucks and some shopping for the family. I didn't get anything fancy for them. Just little things for the kids and Tim Tams for the adults. It's the thought that counts! They all got special blessings through the prayer cards and medals that were blessed by the Pope during the final mass.
I'd have to say that I went to WYD blindly. I didn't know what to expect. I guess you could call it having blind faith. It was very inspirational. I got to visit a city I only dreamed of visiting. I got to get to know people I see EVERY weekend at mass. They're more than just familiar faces now. But most of all, it was amazing to see that hundreds of people share your same faith in God. We were one body in Christ.
Slide show #5: