Here I stood; in the midst of the excited energy I received from the crowd I was surrounded by. After ten long yearning years, my wish had been granted and it seemed that out of nowhere I stood in the bustling streets of Madrid, Spain. No doubt, it simply was too much to grasp with one blink, and even after I bore my eyes into everything possible in sight, it still appeared magical. I had partaken in attending World Youth Day 2011, a youth oriented Catholic Church event, in Madrid, Spain with my little church of Saint Anthony’s in Hughson, California. Brazil, Egypt, Portugal, Mexico, France and Scotland were strolling on the street. A number of tongues spoke excitingly around me. Strange, new, interesting, faces filled with wonderment captivated my attention.
For seven days, we hurried around Madrid, attempting to grasp the city’s history and streets that bustled with the natives relaxing in the evening heat sipping coffee in the outdoor patios of the restaurants. Our days were filled with talks, mass, and adoration that helped us to grow spiritually in our faith. We ran into faces from across the world, and this thrilled me.
As someone as social as I, this was more than an experience of a life time. I do not believe I could ever express how truly blessed I have been to have experienced something as incredible as this. To find yourself in a whole new world is one thing, but to find yourself in a whole new world with people that you love, with others from across the world to come together and find common ground in the upmost thing that you adore, is another. All the pilgrims, chaperones, and youth ministers gathered on the last day to prepare for a prayer vigil with Pope Benedict XVI.
After a few miles walk we arrived to the camp site Cuatro Vientos. We arrived at eleven in the morning and camped out until the evening for when the pope would arrive. For eight long, extremely, dry hours of heat filled with sweat, unappealing food and blessings of cold sprinkles of water thanks to the fire trucks, we waited for the Pope. In the meantime as we waited, we settled in our camp spot, and simply hung out. We relaxed, played games, chatted, napped, read, enjoyed music; we looked around at the people beginning to settle in their spots as well. On the left of us were Italians, and on the right of us were Chileans.
The Pope soon arrived on the tabernacle and began to commence his speech. However, interruption overcame it as a horrible thunderstorm overcame the site. His speech was put on hold as he was guarded to safety and us pilgrims were left to endure-to some and enjoy for others-the rain we were experiencing. The rain was a gift. We were almost literally fainting of heat during the day and with many prayers, our wish was answered. During this thunderstorm many sought shelter in their sleeping bags and tents, but not I. I danced, I sang, I took in the rain. It was simply beautiful to feel the rain pour on your skin and face as a welcome from a long trip. As crazy as it sounds, the wind made me feel as if the Lord was with me. I felt his presence. I laughed in happiness for this wonderful feeling that captivated my heart. This experience gave me more than I could ever ask for. I mean, how many people can say they danced in a thunderstorm in Spain with the Pope?
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