"GO MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS!" (Matthew 28:19-2013 WYD Theme)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 9 The end.

Our pilgrimage is at it's completion

Greetings to our faithful followers. The summary of the last few days will be told by John(me...)

Ok.  Sorry about not posting in a while. On Thursday I went to bed exhausted after that seven hour wait to see the pope so Patty took my place, thank you Patty! And on Friday we all got back really late after camping out on the beach to get a good spot for watching the stations of the cross. And yesterday and today was the vigil and final mass which I will explain next.

   Saturday morning started out early for us because we wanted to get a good spot for the vigil. We then packed our bags using the special packing list prepared ahead of time. We then grabbed a bite to eat at our lovely hotel before heading out. Once all the groups had gathered we then heading out to were the food-boxes were located. Unfortunately for us by the time we got to the Museum of Modern Art(we really didn't get there that late) there was a massive line awaiting us. We are talking a line a few hours long. So instead of waiting I that mess for hours our group leaders decided to skip getting the food. So we ended up getting to the beach pretty early.  We set up camp with our emergency blankets and tarps under our sleeping bags then we build a wall of sand around our group's perimeter we made a claim to our territory so that the other pilgrims would not invade our spot. Once everything was settled we took turns exploring the beach because it was a beautiful morning. Since it is winter down here and the strong undertow there weren't very many people in the water. We got some nice beach pictures of the members in our group.

Since we had several hours hours to spend (we got there at 10:00 am.)  everyone took a nap and
went and bought food. When several of us returned from our lunch run we saw the streets full to
bursting with people who had just returned with their food kits. I felt so glad to have a spot on the beach saved for us. Because by now the entire beach was packed in like sardines.  Here was the worst part of it all, the bathrooms. EVERYONE was unhappy with the situation. The problem started when the World Youth Day committee moved the vigil location from Campus Fidei to Copacabana Beach at the last minute due to all the rain we have had down here. The beach was not nearly prepared enough for 3.5 million people. The 2 Real underground restroom line was insanely long and the portapotty line and smell were even worse. I heard from some of the girls that went that the portapotties even overflowed at one point! Well now that I have explained the worst part of the entire trip I guess I can move on to happier things, like seeing the pope! We saw him in person three times this whole trip. He gave the youth an incredible joy at the sight of him. People cry and laugh, scream and shout, to see the Vicar of Christ in the flesh.
     After a few hours the singing and dancing started and would not stop for a long time. We enjoyed
 it for a while and then we put our amazing earplugs in and try to sleep on that sand. You would think
that sleeping on the sand is soft right? Well I have to tell the truth here, NOT SOFT. It becomes very
clumpy underneath you and then hard and cold at night.  Some of us managed to sleep for a little bit before waking up for 10 O'clock mass. The final mass was completely breathtaking. The mass mass mostly in Portuguese, but certain parts were done in other languages too, for instance the second reading which was done in English and the prayer intentions of the faithful each one in a different language. Papa Francisco gave an awesome homily to the youth that we managed to catch parts of it due to the English translation station(88.3 fm.).  After mass was over we stayed for around an hour and traded things with people from other countries and took pictures with them also. Then we left for the hotel, and because of the millions of people on the streets we had to walk from Copacabana beach to our hotel which was around 4 miles away, a pretty refreshing hike. And then we had supper, and relaxed for a while at the hotel.

  I shall now wish you a good night and I also want to let you know that I am praying for all of you. If you could also pray for us too on our last leg of this massive pilgrimage I would

be eternally grateful. Thank you for taking this pilgrimage along with us in spirit, I hope that we have been good bloggers and pilgrims. So goodnight, and farewell. The next time I have the chance to talk or write to you it will be for the USA

Thursday, July 25, 2013

We saw the Pope!!!

Greetings all from the group leader!!! We have had a crazy,beautiful, insanely blessed day!

We started off with an early breakfast and then most our group headed to catechesis. Our faithful body guard aka Dcn Kevin headed to Copacabana beach to secure a seat for watching Pope Francis drive by. Dcn. Kevin waited a good long time to make sure our group was right up on the barricade.
Our group that went to catechesis decided to leave early and grab lunch because public transportation into the beach was closing at 1pm. We met up with Dcn Kevin about 12 and camped out at the barricade for the next 6 hours. From 2-4 we tried to keep off the pushing people behind us trying to gain our spots. The last two hours we literally couldn't move. So many people had swarmed in. By time 530 pm rolled around there were SO many people behind us pushing that actually stateted moving the barricade!

Thankfully though the had a long row of volunteers in front of us to help push it back long with the Brazilian National Guard.
I'm SO happy and proud to share our group got pretty good video and picture footage of Pope Francis driving by. Us we were very tired and exhausted. And yes the pushing behind us was unlike anything I have ever experienced (and I've traveled a lot internationally) BUT there was SuCH a spirit of excitement and joy in the end it didn't matter. Even when it felt impossible we all encouraged each other to offer it for all those we are carrying in our hearts and prayers!!! We have been hearing almost 2 million were where we were today to greet the Pope
I'm SO proud to be Catholic and to represent our parish, family, and friends!!!!

Our group was an easy 5 feet away from the Pope; 4 if you count all that insane pushing! ;-)
After the thrill of seeing Pope Francis we walked a few miles and caught some taxis to take the rest of the way home. After a hearty brazilian dinner (the food here is amazing!!!!) and group debriefing/prayer we headed to our rooms.

 Tomorrow we will have a time in the morning of some significant prayer and be sure to tine in at 915 am Detroit time to 990 AM radio for our live interview from Rio on our pilgrimage so far! Tomorrow is also the Stations of the Cross in the afternoon and then we'll begin to thoroughly pack for the vigil on Saturday.

Please be assured of our many prayers and sacrifices for all of you we carry in our hearts and minds!!!
Unfortunately we cannot seem to load pictures tonight because the Internet connection just seems to be kind of weird...be sure to stay tuned for our pictures of Pope Francis!

Love to all you in the States!!!

PS a very very happy 19 birthday to a pilgrim in our group the lovely Bethany Gilchrist...we love ya sweetie!!!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 5 yeah!!!

Howdy everyone!

What a wonderful day in Rio. The backpack fiasco is finally over! And the U.S pilgrim gathering was tonight. So let me start out by saying that John is back to go through all the details with those who follow our wonderful blog. 

   Today started out at 10:00 A.M. so very nice to sleep in after that 5 O'clock rise and shine yesterday. We opted out on breakfast to sleep in a little longer. When we met up in the lobby with the other pilgrims we decided that our fearless and wonderful leaders: Fr. Daniel and Ben, would go out and try to get us our pilgrim packs that are so important, because without them we would not be able to get into the vigil site.  And while that was going on our little group of 6 decided to go to the subway to get to the market( the underground one not the food place). When we got there we realized that this market was not the "farmer's market" that we visited in São Paulo but, rather more of a shopping mall in the streets only 10x more people and 100x less room. We looked around for a while but decided that we didn't need to buy anything. It's not that they were expensive( most everything was priced very well) but because we were s prepared for this pilgrimage even before we got on the plane in Detroit. I swear that out little group of five people is the most prepared out of all 5 million pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro! After we decided to stop walking around aimlessly we got a little hungry and went back on the Subway to get some pizza front the very good and now familiar pizza parlor near our hotel. 

  But before we boarded the Subway we got a call from Ben saying that they got really lucky( or blessed) and that they finally had our pilgrim packs.  Oh man if only I had my camera out when Patty heard about it! She can make the most surprised expressions ever! We all jumped for joy and should in the middle of the subway station. After that we broke into an Our Father and thanked God for his blessings. The awesome thing about it was that us jumping for joy and praying loudly did nothing to phase those around us, a priest from Argentina even crossed himself and joined in queitly nearby. We then went to grab some lunch. When we returned to the hotel we got out packs and then hopped on taxis to take is to Vivo Rio which was a gathering of  all pilgrims from English speaking countries. When we first got there I have no idea how we managed to slip by and get into the Austrailian part of the event without even realizing it. Later on we found out that another group of Americans had done the same but had gotten kicked out. When the Aussies cleared out it was time for the US gathering to commence. There was a awesome Christian band that played some of our favorite Christian music. And then there were special guest speakers. There was a married couple who talked on the vocation of Marriage, a Religious Sister who talked about that special calling, a religious Brother who shared with us the story of his vocation, a priest who shared his vocation, and finally the Bishop from Juno Alaska. 

   Then there was Eucharistic Adoration with a special monstrance that was one of 6 blessed by Pope John Paul II for the use of Adoration with vocations as a focus.  It was very special and that experience with God was in my opinion the best part of the trip so far. Everyone got a little emotional and the music and jumping almost shook the building to pieces. We rode the subway back and now we are prepared for an awesome day tomorrow. Because tomorrow WE GET TO SEE THE POPE! (Hopefully!)  good night everyone, I will be blogging again tomorrow night and I will be doing sort of an interview with all the other pilgrims in our group to share their personal experiences with you. 

So Chao and Boa Noite! 

- John WYD pilgrim Rio 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 4

Hello from Rio!!! I'm Bethany Gilchrist, professional World Youth Day Pilgrim and first time blogger. We had a wonderful and very rainy day today in Rio. We woke up at 5:00 am to tour Corcovado, and despite the rain it was absolutely beautiful! If anything, the rain and the wind only made great memories, and God's grace was definitely among the many pilgrims at the statue. At the base of the statue we were videotaped by a local news station with our American flag talking about how blessed we are to have this experience, and with God's perfect timing we caught it on TV at the restraunt where we had lunch! We met some very musical Perisians on the train ride down the mountain which was a great chance to celebrate through song (and I for one had tons of fun brushing up on my French speaking skills). After Corcovado we had some lunch and then went to Copacobana for mass and the opening ceremonies. We didn't end up staying for too long though, because although we tried to tough it out, the sideways rain soaked us to the bone so we went back to our hotel for some R&R&DO (Rest, Relaxation, and Drying Off). We had a minor setback today when Ben and Fr. Daniel traveled 50 miles to try to get our Pilgrim backpacks, only to find that they ran out! Have no fear! We are going to try to get them tomorrow and see what we can do until then! Pilgrimage is all about making sacrifices, right!? Thankfully, everyone has been very flexible and understanding during the Great Backpack Fiasco of 2013. We send our love and prayers! Love you and miss you! Ciao!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 3 of Pilgrimage

Rio At Last!

Hello all my fellow countrymen from the United States! Later in the post we will have another blogger who will share with you the World Youth Day experience through his eyes. For now though It is I, John, who will be bringing you along for the recollection of a lifetime! And forgive me if this post is a little short (we have a very good reason we have to wake up and have breakfast by 5:15 AM... we have to be eating and ready for the whole day by 5 IN THE MORNING!!!) 

 We begin with a very early breakfast at about 7ish. My host Family was almost in tears to see us go. We then went to the church. I found out that we were not actually going to have mass at the local church but instead we were going to have it at the Aparacida (yes I misspelled it yesterday). Father Daniel, one of the leaders of our group(and a native of Brazil so he is our translator) told us Sunday night that we all had to be at the church by 7:45 or we were not going on the bus. But, then this morning when we were all waiting at the church steps with our group we see Fr. Daniel and his host family arriving at 8:05! We all had a few laughs after that one. ANNOUNCEMENT:  I am sorry folks but there will be no pictures today do to technical difficulties, we only have an Ipad at the moment and we cannot load our pictures from the cameras. Anyway back to the story... We all gathered on the church steps and took pictures and said good-byes with our hostfamilies. We then received ANOTHER t-shirt from our Jacerei friends, for we now have been given 4 t-shirts and will receive another official wyd shirt tomorrow in our pilgrim packs.  After we received our gifts we had to board the bus immediately. And as soon as we were all on the bus the Brazilians broke out in song! They sang us a farewell in Portuguese that was very touching.  We then left.  Now is the very boring part of the story, until lunchtime of course. We talked and we slept. I actually got to talk with Father Steve from Duluth. He was very nice and we talked for quite some time. We then arrived at the Aparacida. Here I will let another WYD Pilgrim share. Please welcome Deacon Kevin Breen!

 It has been a wonderful experience and we all have met many generous and gracious people.  My host family was Arrigo and Lourdes.  Every morning Lourdes was up early to fix a traditional Brazilian breakfast of assorted breads, cheese, smoked meats, and of course the always present mango.  Their parish of Paroquia Imaculada Conceicao, all welcomed us with great joy, with parties both Saturday and Sunday evening in the church square, right in front of the church.  One of the high points so far was being able to serve as deacon at the 7pm Sunday Mass in a church built in the late 1700's; proclaiming the Gospel in English to a Brazilian congregation; translated by the Pastor to Portuguese, with a Ukranian Catholic priest who also speaks Portuguese AND a priest from Minnesota concelebrating the Mass.  It was certainly a GREAT example of our Universal Catholic Church!  This morning we had a tearful goodbye to all our host families and parishioners, and boarded the bus to Rio.  After a long drive today we arrived in Rio this evening and are resting for our further adventures in Rio and welcome Pope Francis.  God Bless all our friends and families at home; know that you are ALL in our Prayers!  Boa noite!     

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Second Day

Ola again!

The youngest pilgrim from the Holy Family pilgrims has returned to blog about Day 2!
We can't believe that we have been in Brazil for 2 full days already. It feels like we have been here for months. Our new families(don't worry we still have family in Michigan!) are sooooo awesome! It is so sad saying goodbyes :( For tomorrow we will take a busride to Rio de Janeiro(5 hours long unfortunetly...) But I am probably boring you with all that. I guess that it is time to share with all our friends and followers day 2 in Brazil!

  The day started out with a good 8 hours of sleep(for me, the others had abou 9 to 10 hours) which is always good to do after a long plane trip with 2 hours of sleep(max) from day 1.  For now I will be talking about my day since every pilgrim is in a different host family(don't worry the others come in before lunchtime). Then I had a very delicious breakfast but not entirely healthy. I had chocolate cake Brazil style, meat with baked bread, Brazilian cookies, and Guyava juice(very very good :D) Then Mama Papa Oksana and I went for a walk by the lake... wait a minute I didn't introduce my "sister" yet. One of the members of the Ukrainian group travelling with us has joined me in my family that's us up there and yes that's her on the pink shirt. Down by the lake we fed the geese, I found them to be very greedy.

 We were shown the many different local animals and there names in Portuguese. They also showed us the many diverse trees in Brazil, which is funny because the people of Brazil are also very diverse like America. The stereotype bronze skin perfectly athletic Brazilian is very misleading. There are people of all skin color, heritage, and many different dialects. The main thing they have in common is that they all speak Portuguese extremely well, unlike us Americanos. Anyway.... back to my totally awesome day in Brazil. After the walk in the park(hehe) we went to the Brazilian Farmers Market, they don't call it that, in fact they have a very hard time trying to say the word "Farmer".

Then we were introduced to Brazil's famous Guaranita which to me tasted like a cross between Cream Soda and Ginger Ale with a little bit of cherry thrown in(If you ever get a chance to try some I highly reccomend it). And not only did we drink Guaranita but we also got to try some handmade sugar cane juice(everything non alcoholic). Top right that is the machine that makes it. Even I found it to be exsessivly sweet, but it is much better with lime added because the lime tones the sweetness down just enough. And after our trip to the market we drove to this beautiful church were we prayed the Angelus(a very common prayer that is said at 12:00) And here is where the others come in, we also met eachother in the market huddled around the beverages. Here is a picture of the church, a picture is worth a thousand words right? The one on the right is Bethany in the adoration chapel. I liked it alot because the Eucharist was literally inches away from where we were allowed to kneel.
 The man you see talking to us in the picture on the left is a deacon at this small church. He explained to us about the Parasita and the appiritions of Mary in Brazil. Right after his speech he taught us an African song that if translated went kind of like this: Mama(Mary) embrace me Mama hold me... and I was not privaledged to get the full translation after that. And next was a very special Brazilian Barbeque that they prepared just for us American Pilgrims, they love us that much!

 On the left is Jacqueline and a member of her host family. I just want to say here how much I love Brazilian food :D But, what heppened next suprised me.  As soon as everyone was done eating they broke out into dancing! It suprised me because the room where we ate in was very cramped. That didn't stop our hosts though! They cleared a space and made everyone get up and DANCE. 

Now we played soccer, or as the natives called it: Football! Unfortunetly I do not have any shots on my camera of us playing sports, the other pilgrims do though. The main reason behind that is because I was very invloved myself. Patty got a video of me scoring a goal! But, I must say those Brazilians are very tough to play against.

 Moving on. We then went to our homes and took showers and slept for a bit. When we were fully prepared we went to the 7:00 mass.
And the church was soooo full that people had to stand up all along the sides and back of the church, and it was a very big church too. We got to be in the prossesion in! It sure feels different to be a celebrity. 
The Mass was so unique and spectacular. It was in a mixture of Portuguese and English, on and off.  And after the Mass our Brazilian hosts THANKED US for allowing them to host us! They gave us each a gift with a t-shirt, 3 c-ds from their incredible choir, a small Brazilian flag, and a candy native to Brazil! We then took pictures with EVRYONE. It was really amazing(if you can't tell, I am running out of good descriptive words to define how "out of this world" we were treated in the past two days)

And to top things off, it is only 8:40 in my story! I still have an hour and a half's worth of AWESOME to go! And once again after Mass had been said and pictures taken, we walked outside to join the festival. I was told by some of my new Brazilian friends that they only have this Festival 3 times a year. On Christmas, Easter, and when an important event transpires. Well we got to see the Festival for two days in a row! We must be special:D I don't have any pictures of the festival part 2 because I was too busy enjoying it ;) There was singing and LOTS of dancing, special foods were cooked and drinks sold, more of that delicious Guaranita! And then we went back to our host family homes.

I must now say good night for it is 1:39 in the morning here and I have to get up REALLY EARLY to go to Mass: "Boa Noite"(trust me it's harder to say than it looks.) and I will next be blogging from Rio de Janeiro! Chão!

- John Yokus WYD Pilgrim Rio de Janeiro 2013

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The First Day

Ola everyone! 

  My name is John Yokus I am one of the pilgrims to World Youth Day from the Church of the Holy Family and I will be sharing with you our wonderful first day in Brazil.

The World Youth Day pilgrims:
The Girls. (The men are taking the picture)
have finally arrived in Brazil! And we are so excited to tell everyone how awesome our pilgrimage has been so far! The flight from Detroit to Sao Paulo had no problems and everything went smoothly(except for sleep depravation, but hey that is normal right?) 
When we got off the plane, we hopped on a bus that took us to the city of Jacarei (in the state of Sao Paulo)  where we are currently staying. Now to tell you the most amazing part of today :D When we got off the bus we were instantly enveloped by the really friendly locals who looked more excited than we were!
Me and my "adopted Mama"
Warm welcome!
They already knew our names and had assingned us families to stay with. And right after the introductions were made we were ushered into the breakfast hall were they had prepared a marvelously delicious feast from Brazilian foods. And after we had eaten we were driven to the city park were thousands of pilgrims gathered to hangout and get to know eachother better. We learned phrases like "Vi Brasil!"  Brasil´s soccer chant, and "Obrigado" which means Thank You.

And after all that fun we went to visit our host families for a few hours. Which meant showers and food (maybe even a little coveted shuteye) for the pilgrims  :) I can´t even describe how kind and awesome our new families were... It was a little overwelming.

  The last part of our day was a Fiesta. Ohhhh my was it truly spectacular. There was Music and dancing, unfortunetly due to the lighting and my camera´s low battery the dancing shots was slightly blurry. Everyone danced and had fun while attempting to sing the native songs.
And now it is time to bid you Adeus and "Boa Noite"! 
We will post again soon-
John WYD Pilgrim