This is Joanna: an answered prayer wrapped up in person!! During the last months i fervently asked God to send me a kindred spirit, a friend who would inspire and encourage me, and this past summer He answered my prayers so beautifully. When i met this girl i knew i had found the friend i asked for; she was God´s way of telling me “i listened to you, my child”.
Some weeks ago she texted me this quote: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought that no one but myself” which sums up how our friendship looks like. As soon as we started talking we realized how much we had in common. From our mutual love for humanity, psychology, writing and traveling to our almost identical taste in movies, books and nearly everything else except for food (she is not an avid eater like me which i have no problem with cause that means more for me).
Joanna is smart, hilarious, sweet, bold, loving, driven, truthful, independent, loyal, adventurous and strong (not to mention she is incredibly pretty). She loves watching series, nature, traveling and she recently started playing badminton. She has been my personal translator and comedian and is one of the best chess players in the world. She has big dreams and an even bigger heart. She is a deep thinker and a great listener who constantly tries to become the best version of herself. I could sit and listen to her wisdom all day. One of her friends made fun of us saying we should win the Guinness World Record for sending the “longest voice notes in the world”. And the truth is, there is nothing as exciting as listening to her voice.
The other day we were talking about death and she shared some of the most inspiring words i´ve ever heard. She said she could even die now because she knows she would be reunited with her Father. She said it without hesitation, it came straight from her heart; a fearless heart which is rooted in God and reflects it in the way she lives her life.
Joanna, thank you for speaking truth into my life. Thank you for being real and letting me be real with you. Thank you for loving me and filling me with affirmative words. Thank you for listening to my endless stories and letting me talk for hours about my favorite book. Thank you for believing in me and supporting my crazy dreams. Thank you for welcoming me into your family. Thank you for always making me laugh. I hope one day you realize how incredibly beautiful you are. I am proud of you. I am proud of your authenticity, sincerity, loving heart and the way you seek God and truth all the time. You truly are a role model for anyone.
I can’t believe that only 3 months ago I didn´t know you. It´s simply AWESOME how God made us the bestest of friends in just a few weeks. I know we will continue to walk through life together and live many adventures, whether it is making figures in the snow, volunteering in Africa, living in Greece or anywhere in the world.
I can’t wait to see where your faith and love for God will take you. I can’t wait to see how many lives you will touch, how you are going to change the world. Thanks for being such a good influence in my life and inspiring me so much. You are proof that God hears our prayers and i feel so blessed to have you in my life. There is no one like you in this world. You will always be my beloved KINDRED SPIRIT. 💛 💜 💛 💜
My life is full of sins, but if i told you about them all i could probably make an entire book! Yes i know, it is terrible. It is a part of me i wish didn´t exist or at least nobody knew. But i want to be open and honest and show you the very imperfect person i am. And for that i´ll tell you about a sin that has been especially hard for me to deal with. I hope you are sitting down, drinking a cup of coffee in the comfort of your house, in case you get terrified while reading the very sinful story of my life.
The story starts with a boy. He was new at school and he easily turned into a friend for me. He was so very fun and intelligent and most of all he had a sensibility i never saw in a guy before. After some time of knowing each other we went camping with school and he told me he liked me in a more than friends way. Unfortunately, even though i adored this guy, the feeling wasn´t mutual. I saw him as a very good friend, just that.
Time made us more than good friends, we shared a bond that is hard to describe. We made a lot of fun of each other but we also spent hours having the most meaningful conversations on the phone. But even though we were very good friends this guy didn´t really give up on loving me as something more. I remember sometimes i wished i could make him happy but i guess i was too afraid of love. So we continued like that… we lived many incredible things together and shared the deepest parts of our hearts. But time passed by, and sooner or later this guy would end giving up on me (how not?). He started a relationship with one of my friends and i was actually very happy and relieved. But things didn´t go as good as i thought. His girlfriend wouldn´t like him to talk so much with me, so our friendship started to suffer a bit. It was so very hard for me cause i didn´t have any another friend that was quite like him, but i had to hide my feelings and try to continue with my life.
I did, and for many months it more or less worked. We just talked some insignificant words when we were around. It was hard but it was okay, this guy deserved to be happy with her. But slowly, we both started to talk a bit more again, we were both happy but it was difficult trying not to cause any problem for that. For some moments i said to myself it wasn´t right to be close to him and so we would stop talking again for several months. But eventually we both came back to each other. It was a cycle and i didn´t know how to get rid of that. I guess my heart wasn´t so strong.
There´s so much more in between these years, but i guess you are wondering what all of this has to do with my sin. So i´ll go to the point. He broke up with his girlfriend and came back to me. I was so scared and confused, and we both tried to stop it, but our hearts didn´t seem to listen to that.
I worried a lot over that and carried it alone cause i knew it wasn´t something good, i couldn´t share it with anyone. It was a time of so much confussion. He said i should start living and give a chance to love for once in my life, so after so many doubts i decided he was right. I also deserved to be happy and to love someone.
Some days it felt really good, but some days i felt as if we didn´t deserve to be happy together. Not because we didn´t love each other but because there was someone who could get hurt through it. But unfortunately i was so very weak and unmature that i couldn´t stand that.
We just couldn´t believe that after 3 years we still had feelings for the other one, so i started to think maybe he was “the one” and finally took the decission to give it a try. We both agreed that this would take a very long time, we would wait for at least six months (we were both going to live abroad for some time) and after coming back we would tell our friend and start with all that.
It wasn´t a very good plan, but i tried to make myself feel better thinking things like “no one chooses who to love” or “we can´t fight against true love”. I know they were just excuses to keep me sane, but i believed them and so they worked most of the time.
But this plans never took on march. Unfortunately (or maybe luckily) our friend got to know it and so everything crashed. I remember i was out of the city while it happened so i didn´t know anything about that. When i came back and realized what happened i brought into tears and didn´t stop crying for a week. I felt so so ashamed and sad that i didn´t know what to do. We never did anything serious and we just saw each other like 2 times after he broke up with her, but anyway i knew it wasn´t something to be proud of.
The worst of all is that i realized instead of just me being sad (like it was previously), i ended up causing the three of us so much pain. For days i didn´t feel like myself, and my family didn´t know what to do to make me feel better. I felt so broken and i didn´t understand how something so “innocent” and pure as love could cause a situation as disgusting as that. I felt as the worst person alive.
After some days i knew i had to face what i´d done. I talked to my friends but i knew there was no way to justify it. I felt they would all hate me from that day on. I thought my life was not going to be the same after that. And i must confess that in some way i was right. I felt like a different person, i felt embarrassed of myself and so unworthy of God´s love. For many nights i couldn´t sleep and i prayed i could go back on time to erase all that. But i obviously couldn´t; the people i hurt was already hurt and i couldn´t forgive myself for that. It was a sin made out of love, but it was still a sin. It took years and lots of prayer to start forgiving myself.
I still would change things if i had the chance to go back on time, but as hard as it may sound, i don´t know if i should. It has burdened my heart for a very long time, but it is also a part of me now. Not because that´s the person i am, but because of it i can choose to never be that person again.
For a long time i let my sin define me. I labeled myself as a “bad friend”, “horrible person”, “weak girl” or any other negative adjective i found. But now i know all those labels weren´t right. The only label we should identify ourselves with is as “humans”. That´s why i don´t see “good” or “bad” people. I just see people. I see humans who make mistakes, but who also have goodness inside of them.
So what i want to say to you is that our sins don´t define who we are. Sure they mold and shape us, but they will never determine us. Even though i still pray every night i wouldn´t have caused pain to anyone, today i can say i am trying to learn to be grateful for my sins. Of course it is still something i regret and a part of me i´m very ashamed of. But thanks to that sin i´m totally sure i would never do something like that again!
So as weird as this could sound, i learned to love my sins because they remind me i am a human. I love my sins cause they make me understand better the sins of others. I love my sins cause they taught me my true friends still see me as a friend, not as a sinner. I love my sins because i know they make me fight everyday to become a better person and remind me about the unconditional love God has for all of us.
I must admit that some times i still think of my future husband and get afraid of telling him this cause i think nobody would love me after knowing that part of me. But please. Don´t let your sins scare you and stop you from living your life. Even though there will be people who unfriend or reject you, be sure you will also find people who will see more in you than that. People who will think you are still worthy no matter how big you have sinned.
Just imagine if we never sinned. Maybe we would consider ourselves perfect and never try to become better. Maybe we would never surrender to God. Sins help us to be humble and realize that God is so much bigger than any mistake in our lives.
I hope after reading this you won´t be too scared of the person i am. I honestly wish no one knew this part of me, but i wrote it down praying that this ugly and sinful story will make you feel better in some way. It´s not a post to encourage you to sin, but it is a post to encourage you to forgive others and forgive yourself. We all sin, but we can´t let sins define who we are. I don´t want you to go months and months without sleeping, hating yourself or going through the hell i lived that time (thinking you actually deserve all that).
Instead, just think that if even God forgives you, why wouldn´t you forgive yourself? Our sins are there to remind us we need to go in the other way. Don´t stay inside of them, open the door and let them go away, and work hard everyday so they will never ever come back again.
You are so much more than the mistakes you have made. Don´t get stuck in your sins, the beautiful thing about life is that we can always grow and change. We all have a past and have made mistakes, but as i said.. it is the past and God forgives us every day.
P.S. I want to say sorry to anyone i have ever hurt. Even though i can´t erase my acts, it is because of you that i want to try again and become a better version of myself.
I am so thankful for everything my “yellow road” has brought and taught to me. I´m thankful for the people i have connected with; the people who have shared their struggles, dreams and fears with me.
Every time i read from you i wish i could hug you. I wish i could change your situation and take away any pain you feel. I wish i could do more. And sometimes i worry the only thing i can offer you is my words.
But i believe in the power of community. And i believe something wonderful happens when we join together in prayer. Miracles happen. Fear somehow turns into hope.
My dear yellow readers, i want to know…are you struggling with something? If you answered yes, let me tell you one thing: You are NOT alone. I deeply care about you. I don´t know what season you are going through, but i am here to talk. Tell me anything. Tell me everything. I want to stand with you and support you every step of the way. It´s been laid in my heart to pray more for you.
My dear yellow worldseeks to be a safe place where we can talk real and share our vulnerabilities. Where strangers become friends. Where you encounter other people you can relate to; people who believe in you and lift you up. I want to create a supportive space. That´s what i am here for.
So i opened a new “prayer corner” especially dedicated for you. If you have any prayer request, wether it is for you or for someone you love, just let me know. Never hesitate to write me. I promise i´ll read. I am here for you.
From all the pictures i have taken in my life, this is definitely one of my favorite ones. Not because how it looks (or because i´m obsessed with dragonflies) but because how much meaning it has inside.
I would love to say i captured it on my first shot, but the truth is it took me a little bit longer than i thought. It involved several time, failed shots and slowly getting close, for she obviously got scared and flew away when she felt me coming closer to her. But the fact is during the process i had the chance to learn a lot about dragonflies and admire how gracefully they fly.
Now that i look back to that moment, i realize the situation also applies to my every day life. There is people that remind me about this dragonfly. People who are so difficult to catch. People that captures my sight but the closer i get, the less i can look at them, just as it happened with the dragonfly. Sometimes people try to hide.
I really love people and always want to know who they are inside, but when i meet someone that seems as if he/she will never let me get close i may feel like giving up. But then i remember this picture and how glad i am i didn´t give up. I remember how at the end, patience made me connect with the dragonfly in a deeper way. So i try to do the same with the people i am surrounded by.
I choose to stay longer. I try to learn from them… how they feel, how they act, how they do life. I try to show them i´m not coming to hurt but simply to appreciate them, and so, they slowly let me get close. I can finally see them in their whole splendor and discover what a precious thing they are. But in order to do that i have to take my time, i have to learn to be patient and kind, i have to learn from them and let them feel that in my presence they will be safe.
So whenever you encounter with people like this in your life, try to get close. Even though it may be easier to simply go away, you can´t imagine how much beauty you may be losing if you ignore them. So be patient. People (like dragonflies) are always worth your time. Give yourself the chance to appreciate them, you will be surprised with the results.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God isn´t content with using the same mold to create all of us. In fact, i like to think in order to paint this big canvas we call “world”, God uses a different color to create each one of us.
Unfortunately, we as humans tend to think our color isn´t as bright, delicate, beautiful or important as those around us, and in doing so we stop ourselves from pouring out the unique color we have inside. It´s true that our color may be different from the other ones, but that´s exactly what God planned. In order to turn this world into a masterpiece He needs the exact tone only YOU can give. So don´t get frustrated if you can’t add the same colors others add; instead be proud that you can add your own essence… a special color no one else can.
Just imagine if blue felt jealous of green; so upset cause he can´t paint the trees and the grass that he would forget to paint the sea and the sky. Or if yellow was so focused on becoming pink that would forget to make the sun shine. If all colors wanted to be the same our world would lose so much beauty in the act.
Now think how every color is needed to make a painting work. In the canvas, colors don´t compete; each one has a purpose and together they bring harmony to it. 🎨
So next time you are doubting of your beauty or your worth, just remember about this. God was creative enough to give you a unique color, a specific purpose that only you can fill. Don´t underestimate it. What you have to offer is greater than you believe. Your color is precious. The world would not look the same without your hue. Please make sure to paint it as only you can do.
Meet my friend Kay. One of the most beautiful souls i know, and a woman who perfectly exemplifies why #everypagematters. Kay´s favorite things include drawing, music and going around with her wheelchair. She loves purple just as much as i love yellow and laughing is one of her supernatural powers. She lives in the present moment and appreciates when others are around. She may not have a perfect life (just like all of us) but she doesnt complain, instead she tries to make the best out of it every day.
I asked her what makes her happy, without knowing her answer would be a big lesson for my life. She answered she is the happiest during “brushing teeth time”. Let me explain. She lives in a residence with many other women, but most of them have several problems which unable them to do many things by their own. Brushing their teeth is one of them. They require help, and fortunately i had the chance to be useful during their routine a few times. Surprisingly this routine brought excitement all around, most of the women waited on line for their turn and some of them even tried to fool me so i could brush their teeth twice. They seemed to have so much fun.
Meanwhile, Kay patiently waited on her wheelchair with a toothpaste and dozens of toothbrushes on her lap, so every time i finished with someone i would go back to her to get another toothbrush for the next one. She was so helpful all the time and made sure every single friend passed before she brushed her teeth. This simple act made me know her in a deeper level. I learned how much it means for her to serve and realized how for this ladies getting their teeth brushed could turn into the highlight of their days. This made me understand how much a bit of attention, a gentle touch, a simple act of service could mean to the people we are surrounded by.
Soon, brushing their teeth became one of my favorite times of the day too, not only because i could have closer contact with each one of them, but because the radiant smiles they gifted me afterwards cant be compared with anything else.
Kay showed me the importance of letting ourselves get excited by the simplest things among our days. She taught me the pleasure it brings to put others first, to share a bit of our time to help and how we all can give love to the world in the most unexpected ways. Even though it could look as something useless or silly, we cant imagine how something as simple as holding a toothpaste can make a difference, we just need to offer ourselves.
I must say after that, brushing my teeth has never been the same. I used to make it as a part of my routine without really being present on the act; always in such a rush that i never took the time to reflect on that. But after meeting Kay i decided to change my mind. Now while i brush my teeth everyday i try to use it as a time to give thanks for all that i have, as a time to remind myself i can find joy in the simplest things, as a time to remember that i need to offer my smile.
I am so thankful with Kay for reminding me God is present in the daily things. And i pray to always remember her bright shining face as she rejoiced on her new nickname: “the toothpaste lady” as i called her. To remember about the joy of selflessly giving our time and of the greater mission God has called us to do, to proclaim and honor Him in the middle of our every day acts.
Thank you Kay for letting me be your friend and for giving love to the world, in your own particular way. 💛
Im very happy to say i´ve been nominated again to this lovely award.This time by my dear and fellow blogger Mind the Dog Writing Blog.She is a kindred spirit and you should definitely follow her.
The rules consist of:
Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget.”
Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
Nominate five or more blogs that you feel deserve the award.
Inform the people you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award, and provide them with a link to your post. Don’t forget to create 10 questions, give or take, for them to answer. Notify your nominees and provide a link to your post so that they’ll know what to do.
So here are 10 random facts about me:
Unlike most of the people i know, i really like spiders and actually consider them as a sign of good luck.
If i had to choose something to eat for the rest of my life it would probably be popcorns or gummies. I cant get tired of them.
I´ve had mices, fish and dog as pets. But the craziest thing i had was 5 donkeys i had to take care of during the time i lived on Israel. And they completely stole my heart.
I love reading and every time i finish a book i need to do a “special ritual” for it. Meaning.. i have to find the perfect place, time and mood to do it. Guess you can see a book is a serious thing for me.
Im obsessed with maggi and soy sauce. I could add it to everything.
I usually cry over proposal videos.
There´s something about the old times that fascinates me. I would like to live inside a Jane Austen book.
Sometimes i talk/do weird things while sleeping.
Airplanes drive me crazy (in a very positive way).
Now, the questions i´ve been asked:
What initially inspired you to begin blogging? What motivates you to continue?
I always say it was God… with a little help of some friends (who suggested/encouraged me) and my passion to pour out whatever is on my heart. As well as my desire to build an authentic community where i can be honest and opened with everyone who cross my path.
How did you decide on theme, subject matter, or topic for your blog?
Actually, i dont even know which is the “style” of my blog. I guess it´s simply writing about the things that go through my mind and heart…. mainly focused on God, who is the center of my life.
Do you maintain other blogs? If so, what are they?
Nope. At least not now.
Aside from blogging, what are your hobbies?
I have many hobbies, and never ever get bored. I especially enjoy reading, traveling, dancing, being with my family and friends, watching movies, baking, taking pictures, exploring nature, drawing, talking on the phone, visiting museums, singing and listening to music, learning… and so much more. I love to try new things, as well as using my creativity to create stories on my mind. But i guess most of all i love meeting people.
What are a few of your most cherished memories?
Probably many of them come from trips with the family, where i got to know more about my origin/history as well as enjoyed new places and laughed a lot. Also from school where i had so much fun with my friends. Ballet classes and presentations, as well as the time i was in love.When i lived on Israel, which was an absolute dream and every single time i go on missions.. those are probably my favorite ones.But most of all, i enjoy the simple daily moments, enjoying the company of those who are around me as well as my time alone with God.
What’s your favorite time of day and why? Favorite time of year and why?
This is a very hard question….i love mornings because it is always a new start, fresh and filled with unfolding opportunities. But evening has also something magical on it, it´s the time where i can do the things i like… and nights, nights are for dreaming and planning so i really like them too. And about my favorite time of the year… i think its December because there´s Christmas mood all around, and nothing makes me happier than that! But i love spring, summer and fall so much!!!
What is your existential philosophy? Are our lives fated? Destined? Coincidence?
I believe God created all of us with a special mission we have to fulfill among our lives. I think everything has a purpose which can make us learn and grow… and about love, i am a hopeless romantic so yes, i believe in destiny. I think God already wrote down my love story, i just need to wait for His perfect timing.
What is one goal you are currently working towards?
Honestly, finishing my career is one of my most wished goals right now. But also continue learning and find what God wants from me and how can i contribute to make this world a better place. As well as, growing in my writing passion and of course.. traveling.
What are some things you have done wrong? Right?
I have done soooo many things wrong. But probably what i regret the most and unfortunately constantly repeat is getting upset and wasting time over things that aren´t really important.
Thanks again for nominating me. Now.. it´s my time to nominate some bloggers.. but i decided to leave it freely this time. I honestly think everyone deserves this award and would like to read and learn about you all. So you can answer them (and make sure to tag me so i can see it) if you want. Here are my questions:
Is there any painting that represents you/your dreams?
If you could meet someone from the past, who would it be?
What is your biggest fear in life?
How would you name your “biography book”?
Which is your favorite recipe? (would love if you share it so we can all try it)
What´s the best compliment you have ever received?
Which book you think everyone in the world should read?
CHILDHOOD CANCER. One of the most terrific combination of words. One that now is printed in my soul, but which i honestly wanted to hide away from years ago. This two words scared me a lot. I simply couldnt understand why such beautiful and innocent creatures could suffer so much. It all sounded so wrong. I couldnt listen about that without wanting to hide. But God had different plans. He set on my heart the desire of getting close. So i did.
I started volunteering on a hospital with cancer kids. Soon, the checkup routines, medicine names, chemotherapies, kids throwing up or battles against eating food became familiar to me. But that is just the surface. That is not what childhood cancer really means. That is not what my children have taught to me.
During my time there i have witnessed the moment in which kids got informed about their cancer diagnose for the first time. I have learned the unpredictability of our lives. I have heard kids telling me they are having a good day when in fact i know their bodies are hurting a lot. I have learned about optimism. I have seen kids becoming the happiest when someone comes to visit them. I have learned how much it means to share a bit of our time.
I have heard kids whose legs will be amputated talking about how fast they will “run” with their wheelchairs. I learned about having a good attitude and accepting what life throws to us. I have seen kids receiving anonymous donations or gifts. I have learned about authentic solidarity. I have had dozens of “bad hair days” and then encountered sweet little girls proudly showing me their shaved heads. I have learned about perspective.
I have seen kids walking their first steps with prothesis. I have learned about courage. I have seen children faces radiate while sharing with me their biggest dreams. I have learned the importance of pursuing our passions. I have heard kids telling their parents they will get cured without hesitation. I have learned about determination.
I have held their hands while the nurses come close with a syringe. I have learned we can always overcome our fears. I have told and listened many life stories. I have learned the beauty of sharing with others who we are. I have seen parents hiding their tears just to make it easier for their kids. I have learned to sacrifice for love. I have celebrated a free cancer kid. I have learned what true happiness is.
I have seen pain disappeared with joy. I learned laughter is the best medicine of all. I have seen some of those kids turning now into volunteers. I have learned how hearts can grow and give away love after going through so much pain. I have seen the fear in a child´s face. I have learned about the power of comforting others with a hug. I have seen the happiness of a child when getting letters from a loved one. I have learned about the important things in life. I have seen kids unexpectedly getting cured. I have learned the miracle of prayer.
I have listened many kids telling me they cant wait to simply go back to school. I have learned to not take daily things for granted. I have laughed and laughed with them. I have learned a bit of humor can make a difference in your whole day. I have sat in beds which suddenly turn into “spacecrafts” “boats” or “sleeping beauty” ones. I have learned to see the world through children´s eyes. I have cried over the loss of kids. I have learned that death is hard but it is only a “see you later” and not a “goodbye”.
I have seen the doctors and nurses caring and loving the kids. I have learned what vocation means. I have seen the littlest bodies enduring so much pain. I have learned about strength. I have seen parents crushing in the aisle. I have learned what complete surrender to God meant. I have heard kids giggling and talking with the other hospitalized kids. I have learned how easy it is to start a friendship.
I have seen kids being cured and go back to their “normal” lives with the most loving and positive attitude and biggest smiles. I have learned what it means to be proud of someone. I have heard some of the best jokes inside those rooms. I have learned kids can turn any place into a feast.
I have met the most wonderful volunteers. I have learned what it means to serve. I have heard kids thanking God for a day with a little less pain. I have learned about gratitude. I got to know the best kids in the whole world. I have learned sometimes the best friendships come in the smallest packages. I have seen kids and parents trusting and offering all to God. I have learned the real meaning of faith. I have seen kids fighting with all what they are to be alive. I have learned why i simply cant ever give up.
I´m amazed of how much my heart has grown since i first started going there. How much this children mean for me now. I realized that the best thing i can do while i live in this world is to share my time with others.
But most of all i have learned about love. Love from the nurses and doctors who work daily to help the kids and cure their diseases. Love from the parents who eat nearly nothing and uncomfortably sleep on a chair without even complain, always staying next to them. And of course, love to God in the most genuine way, even when suffering is involved or things seem unfair. I have learned cancer can cause a lot of pain, but it cant kill friendship, love, faith or hope.
The pain this children and their families go through still breaks my heart, it is simply too big to fully understand. And most of the time, it hurts me to think there´s nothing i can do about that. But even if we cant take away their pain, there are many ways in which we can help. Donating, volunteering, getting informed, visiting and collaborating with organizations, researching online, praying, spending quality time with them, learning about its symptoms and promoting how to detect it earlier, offering your ears to parents who are in need of speaking their hearts out, donating your hair to make wigs or talking about it so more people get aware of this topic are just some of the things we can do to help.
September is the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, but the truth is every single day there are kids fighting with this, being diagnosed, losing their lives. So we cant stop it here. We must continue to raise awareness the rest of our lives, while they fight to live theirs.
Over the last years i have met the bravest and most adorable superheroes in the world. Some of them changed their capes for angel wings, but for me all of them still live. In my heart they will forever and always be alive.
My little warriors, i wanna thank each one of you and your parents with all of my heart. Thanks for letting me come in during such a difficult moment in your life and treating me like family all the time. You have taught me there is no disease stronger than our hearts and smiles, and that this life is worth any fight!! Thanks for being my teachers. Thanks for painting my heart with gold. I ought you so much. And i promise i will never stop being your voice. I WONT LET YOU FIGHT THIS BATTLE ALONE.
There is something about sunflowers that always make my soul sigh. I love their yellow tones and the way they grow, so tall and strong as if they wanted to touch the sky. They are my favorite flowers, not only because they are inordinately beautiful but also because i can learn a lot from them.
In spanish they are named “girasol” (turn to the sun) cause they literally need to turn towards the sun, otherwise they cant grow. And i think the same happens to us; we also need “rays” to grow, and those rays come from God. But, when we stop seeking God, when we focus on our problems, our past, our mistakes or what we dont have we cant grow. It is when we keep our gaze towards Him that we remember how blessed we are and we start to grow.
When sunflowers feel they arent getting enough rays of sun they need to turn around. They continually move cause they trust the sun. So just like sunflowers, we need to trust in the “Son” and turn back to God when we arent receiving enough light.
Of course sometimes it´s easier to stay in our place, sometimes we feel afraid from the things that happen in our lives and we paralyze. But the truth is, when we choose to stay in our comfort zone we get far away from our “sun rays” and we dont grow.
We need to let ourselves be led by God; sometimes it will require difficult moves but we need to trust the purpose of the direction He is leading us to. Cause it is through it that we will be strengthened, that He will make us develop into something as majestic as sunflowers. For me, they are nature´s poetical way to express adoration and faith. And i love that in fact, they look themselves like the sun, with each of its petals resembling the rays. So just like them, i also want to resemble the Son, i want to be firmly planted and in constant search of the light.
Today marks a month since i came back from Poland, where i attended the World Youth Day!! My friends and family have been asking if i´ll make a post about my time there, but to be honest i´ve been avoiding writing this down. Not because i didn´t want to share it with you, but because i feel there´s nothing i could ever say that would make justice for what i experienced those days.
I don´t know if you ever felt that way about something…but somehow i feel scared of reducing such a wonderful, deep and spiritual experience into simple words. But now i have come to realize that even if i can only share a bit of it with you, it is worth it. It doesn´t have to be perfect or complete, it just needs to be honest. So i will speak out of my heart and share with you some impressions from my WYD time.
I must start saying the trip was absolutely perfect in every way. The fact that it involved things like waiting one hour in line for simply taking a shower, using a backpack as pillow and sleeping on the floor, walking miles and miles for getting breakfast, waking up early and sleeping very late, collide with massive crowds and doing a big effort to fit inside the bus or tram, sweating a lot and constantly looking like a mess don´t change this statement at all.
I know it could sound as if it was a tough or uncomfortable experience, but let me tell you one thing…while i was there i didn´t think about this at all. God was so evidently present during this time that those little things were completely blurred.
Beyond that, the trip consisted of all i could dream of and more… things as meeting wonderful people from all around the world, attending a multitude of masses, eating insane amounts of chocolate, ice cream, apples and bread (and more bread), visiting breathtaking places, watching sunrises and sunsets, learning about history, kayaking, renewing my baptism vows, singing and dancing without control, showing up on TV, trying the most delicious food, visiting museums, listening to local legends, speaking out my heart, living in different homes, going to the sea, learning new songs, taking photographs, visiting historical places and cities, seeing the Pope, going to concerts, enjoying the sun and the rain, praying in the most sincere way, visiting our Lady of Czestochowa, meeting a talented “catholic illusionist” and watching his show, having the most wonderful polish “parents” and “grandma” in the world, learning words in different languages, meeting a dear friend i haven´t seen for so long, laughing deeply and encountering with God…..just to mention some.
In fact, i could write a whole book about it, but if i had to sum up my trip i would define it using one simple word: FAMILY!!!! The trip made me feel i belong to something larger and greater than i will ever know, and trust me, there´s nothing as powerful as being part of a family brought together by God.
One of the most special moments for me was during the last mass (with at least two million people standing by my side) when the WYD hymn started. I was singing in spanish (and the bit of “polish” i learned) while some people next to me were singing the same song in english, german, french, portuguese and other languages i couldn´t even recognize.
As the hymn went on i closed my eyes listening to the people around, and i thought to myself “this is how heaven must be like”… people from every race and tongue united as one, singing and worshiping God. It was the most beautiful melody i ever heard, because it was created by a family which, despite all the different languages, was singing with the heart.
I think for an instant in my life i knew exactly what 2 million people were thinking about, what 2 million people wanted. I became one with them and realized we were seeking the same thing: we all wanted to encounter with Christ!! Words will never describe the love, peace and faith that i experienced there… it was sublime!
The trip constantly reminded me that even though we may have different cultures or languages we all belong to the same family. It reminded me how easy it is to break the ice with just a simple smile; how singing, cheering, dancing and high-fiving are universal ways to bring people together; how any place can turn into a party (especially if there are mexicans in the act); how every meeting is a “spark of friendship”!!!!!
But what amazed me the most, is that i´ve been reminded how alive is our Church and how many young people have the same desires that i have. It reminded me the joy that being a catholic brings, that even though some people may see religion as something “boring”, “cold”, “rigid” or “old”, there is nothing true about that. World Youth Day reminded me how alive we are and how faith should be a celebration all the time. When i was there i could see young people everywhere and the streets were filled with excitement, music, colors and waving flags all the time. Every single place was swirling joy. You cant imagine how awesome it was.
That´s something i miss a lot now that i am again at home. The first days back at university were a bit strange… I was walking in the aisle, wondering when will somebody come to give me a pin, a prayer card, friendly words or a high-five… but there was nothing like that. I must say it was hard, most people didn´t even look to the eyes; people seemed uninterested about their own “brothers and sisters” around.
World Youth Day atmosphere is what i dream the world would always be like; people going out there smiling to “strangers”, cheering each other and seeing friends in everyone. For me, that is exactly the spirit of catholicism, the spirit i dream we would always outshine. But the truth is that our attitude is not always reflecting that. The joyful testament of faith we all manifested in the WYD is not always what we share in our own place, where we constantly let individualism reign.
I know we are immersed in a world that can easily vanish this cheerful faith, but we can´t let that happen. We can´t let our routines make us forget the call that Pope Francis made to all of us. We can´t “vegetate”. Not anymore!!!!
What we are called to do as a Church is to make everyone experience this supreme joy we experienced in the World Youth Day. We need to be friendly and merciful, live our faith with enthusiasm, keep our hearts young and make everyone know they are loved; not only during this “big events” but in our daily lives.
So, after a month of coming back i feel confident to say World Youth Day didn´t end for me yet. Actually, it has just begun!!!! Now, more than ever i am convinced that together, as a family, we can be the change we wish for the world. I´ve been encouraged by the Pope to bring love and hope to the world. I´ve been blessed to live this experience so now i am called to share it with the world, to spread God´s message just like the apostles did 2000 years ago.
So, to all of those who were there too, and also those who weren´t there but share the same wish, i pray you experience the WYD spirit in your heart for the rest of your life, that you wont let it die. I pray that this wont be just a trip that forms part of our memories, but a constant way of living our lives. I pray that we stay firm in faith and don´t let the world take away our enthusiasm.
Cause the truth is, we will never change the world just by going to the WYD or to the church, in order to change it we have to BE the Church. I pray that we all exemplify and let the world know that our Church is not old. That we remember our Church is young and alive, and that it needs our joy!!!!!!
My trip to Poland taught me a lot about the power of community, and it is safe to say that I left a piece of my heart in this country that i call now “home”. I’m amazed, inspired, and incredibly grateful for the people God placed around me.
So to all my new “family” members…Dziękuję!! THANKS!!! I honestly can´t think of anything better than exploring the world, celebrating my faith and spending intentional time with people as amazing as you are. You have impacted my life more than words can dare to explain. Thank you for teaching me so much. I pray with all my heart that our family will be evidence of GOD´S MERCIFUL LOVE.
Note: I want to make a big shout out to Sergio Platonoff, my wonderful and talented friend who took most of the pictures posted here and captured the adventures of the trip. Thank you for letting us keep these memories!!!