1995. World Youth Day in Manila. I remembered not being able to join the 5 million people welcoming the Vicar of Christ, Pope John Paul II, but I vividly recall that upon seeing the Pope’s face in TV, I cried. I couldn’t exactly pinpoint the reason why but I guess anyone who would have seen the face of Christ would feel the same. Tears of pure joy. I kept that instance in memory and planted that desire in my heart to one day be part of the millions of Catholic Youth that will be so close to encounter Christ.
June 2010. It occurred to me that maybe the next year, my childhood desire of being part of the World Youth Day may actually happen! It was a Sunday at Tito Anton’s house when Ate Patti mentioned how beautiful the newly renovated St. Andrew’s Cathedral in my diocese was. It was a fleeting comment amidst the planning for the Diocesan Youth Day but I didn’t quite understand why it stayed on with me throughout the day. I was initially planning to hear mass in my parish that afternoon but a nagging thought led me to the doors of the Cathedral at 5pm the same day. I still remember feeling puzzled and drawn to visit Nuestra Senora del Buen Suceso (Our Lady of Good Events) [take note of Mama Mary’s title :)]. Immediately after the mass, I went before the image of Our Lady and prayed. At that moment when I touched the glass that separated me from the miraculous image, I felt a wave of peace fill my heart followed soon after by great joy. I will go to World Youth Day. The Diocesan Youth Day will be blessed. I will meet Jesus and Mama Mary in Madrid! I sat down on the pews before her image and I asked Mama Mary if what I felt was real…if it was an answered prayer for something else. I was moved to tears. I will be going to Madrid!
The next day, I talked to my boss and opened up the idea of getting a leave for more than two weeks for WYD. Without batting an eyelid, she said that it was possible if I’d get approved. I proceded in writing a letter to my department head and three months later, her secretary nonchalantly wished me a safe trip to Madrid! AN APPROVED LEAVE! If I was employed in another institution, I will probably be denied. I will be definitely going to Spain! Imagine me jumping up and down at 9pm behind the nurse’s station! Looking back, I now understand why I had to wait for a job at NKTI instead of going to MMC. THANK YOU NKTI FOR BEING A WONDERFUL EMPLOYER 🙂
April 2011. I had to raise $434 for the WYD registration. I was so near the payment deadline and I only had half of the registration fee at hand. I felt the pangs of despair slowly gobble up the traces of hope I had left in my heart. Was I meant to go to Madrid? Two days before the deadline, a co-worker broke the news: THERE WAS A BONUS FROM THE HOSPITAL. I rushed to the cashier, eager to receive the envelope and see how much it contained. IT WAS JUST ENOUGH TO COMPLETE MY $434! Down to the very last peso. I immediately rushed to the chapel and said a prayer of thanks! I had airfare to worry about now. I was a step closer to Madrid!
August 2011. I am writing this barely two days away from my flight to Spain. I just paid my airline ticket three days ago with the help of generous people I’d mention later on as I continue to write my day to day encounter with God in Madrid. My daily prayer list goes to these wonderful, wonderful people who I hope to repay someday with something tangible. I still have an Php18,000 debt to pay later on because of the airline ticket but I believe God will still work miracles up until I land my feet in Spanish soil. Still, I AM GOING TO WORLD YOUTH DAY.
Yesterday was surreal. Attending the preparatory session with almost 100 of my fellow Filipino delegates was an awesome experience. All the more did I get convicted to live out my Catholic faith! As I write this, I can’t even close my eyes to sleep in excitement to share with the people I’ll meet in Madrid how great my God is! To wrap the session, I even got to experience His overflowing mercy through Confession…something I yearned for to accomplish for a week to no avail due to my hospital schedule. Amazing. Thank You Lord for always, always reminding me how Your love will never outshine any sin that tries to separate me from You! To cap the day, I spent the remaining hours of the night with wonderful, wonderful friends I sorely miss but will get to be with for two-long weeks!
It started with a desire. But if I learned one thing from this whole faith experience is that delight must come first and foremost. “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” Ps 37:4.
THANK YOU LORD. YOU HAVE BEEN AN AWESOME PROMISE-KEEPER. THANK YOU MAMA MARY FOR WHISPERING THAT MESSAGE OF GOOD NEWS AND HOLDING MY HAND ON MOMENTS WHEN I FELT THAT I HAD TO GIVE UP THE DREAM. I NOW KNOW WHAT YOU MEANT WHEN YOU SAID I WILL MEET YOU IN WYD…YOU WILL ALSO TAKE ME ON A SIDE TRIP TO FATIMA, PORTUGAL! FATIMA! IT HAS ALSO BEEN A CHILDHOOD DREAM TO SET FOOT IN THE SAME SOIL WHERE LUCIA, FRANCISCO AND JACINTA SAW YOU!
TWO DAYS MORE. MADRID, HERE I COME. 🙂
(Lesley Ann Rosal, Nurse)