Last July 13, our CFC-FFL missionaries left for Brazil to attend World Youth Day. For each of them, it was an experience of a lifetime!
MANIFESTATION OF HIS LOVE FOR ME
A World Youth Day Testimony by Donalyn Culala, CFC Kids for Family and Life Fulltime Pastoral Worker
World Youth Day is a dream come true for me. It was my heart’s desire to go to World Youth Day that’s why when they announced the event I really claimed it that whatever happens I will be there. I don’t know how, if I’ll have the amount needed to be there but what I was just so sure I will see Rio.
My journey going to WYD was a test of faith for me. Reality kicked in: how will I go? Do I have enough money to pay for it? But one thing was for sure: God was there for me. If He really wanted me to be there, He will make me go to World Youth Day 2013. Indeed, all my questions and doubts were answered and I felt His love for me through the people around me who helped me out.
Before I left for Brazil, I spent my whole day with my family. We went to Mass because it was a Sunday. We ate lunch, went grocery shopping and bought the things that I will bring to Brazil. Family Time is one of my favorite times. That’s why I’m very happy when I heard that we will have hosts family.
I had many “firsts” in this journey. It was my first time to go outside Asia; it was also my first time to travel for more than an hour; first time to eat lunch, breakfast even dinner at the airplane; first time to go to America; first time to be away from my family for more than two weeks with limited communication; and it was my first time to attend the World Youth Day.
When we arrived in Maua, where we had our Missionary Week, we already met our host family. It felt great to be welcomed in a foreign land and be part of another family. There was so much happiness and love. We had our Missionary Week at Paroquia Nossa Senhora da Guia de Pacoibaba with the pilgrims from Venezuela and Panama. Communication was one of the problems we encountered because there were differences in dialects used: English for us Filipinos, Spanish for our friends from Venezuela and Panama and Portuguese for Brazilians. Even though we had a hard time communicating with each other, it was not a reason for us not feel God’s love for us through them. We gained a lot of friends, we
experienced the culture in Brazil (their Capoeira and their famous dance, Samba). Brazilian food was amazing. Two of my favorites are their “Farofa” and the “Guarana Drink” that you will only find in Rio de Jainero.
I already experienced a lot in our Missionary Week but it didn’t end there. The week after, we went to Rio de Janeiro for the main event: the World Youth Day 2013 proper. We stayed at Paroquia Sao Francisco Xavier where we had another host family. In the World Youth Day proper, we – the YFL Subgroup, were blessed and privileged to be chosen as the service team in one of the English speaking catechesis site. It was three days of serving our co-English speaking pilgrims. This was also the time that all the Asian pilgrims gathered together for the Asian Youth Gathering. It was nice to see all of them. We had our Opening Mass with Pope Francis at Copacabana Beach, where we also had our Way of the Cross, Prayer Vigil and the Closing Mass.
One of the highlights of that week was when I saw Pope Francis. It felt like I already saw Jesus Christ face to face. The feeling was unexplainable, I can feel his holiness and I had so much peace in my heart. I cannot contain the feeling of so much awe of God’s love for me. It’s like my Father, my God was carrying me in his arms and just making me feel that I will always be secured in His love. That kind of love made me realize that He is enough for me. His love gives me strength to share His goodness and greatness to other people. I want to make them feel that God loves them the same way He loves me. It shouldn’t just end with me; I should share His Love to other people. The theme of the JMJ2013 is “Go and make disciples of all nations” Mathew 28:19
Even though we had problems with communicating and understanding each other, we have one language that binds us together. It is the language of love – the love of God. Everything will always start and end with love. Anything and everything will happen because He loves us. World Youth Day is a great manifestation of His love for me. It is a once in a lifetime experience that will change my life forever.