“World Youth Day” is not only a “day”!!

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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. 

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Deus Meus concert.
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Kayaking adventure.
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Singing and dancing at the Missionaries of Charity.
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Friends in the train.
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Holy Mass.
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Learning the “Belgium dance”.
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Works of Mercy: feeding the hungry.

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.

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Millions of people united in Love.                                                                         Photo credits: @jornadamundialdelajuventud

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!

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We are called to bring light to the world!
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Our group during the Night Vigil.

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”!!!!! 

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Singing, dancing, cheering… all the time.

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.

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The colors of the world.
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Brazil, Germany, Poland, Israel, Canada, Ireland, France and Mexico all together having fun.

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!!!!!!

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Jesus, on the center of our lives.

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.

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My new family.

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. 💛

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Filled with joy. This is the youth of the Pope!!!

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!!!

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What traveling alone has taught me about God!!

“The journey is written in her soul, it follows her passions and her heart. Its road is build up by dreams and hope, its map is build up by stars and clouds. Her final destination is God.. so no matter where she goes, she knows she wont be too lost, she will eventually be where she needs to be, and meanwhile…she will enjoy the scenery”.

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I am a “born traveler”. Nope, i havent traveled the whole world, not even a bit close (even though i would love to). But i firmly believe i was born as a “traveler”. In fact, i know very few people who would say no to travel, mostly all of us dream about traveling as much as we can, cause seriously, is there anything more amazing than that???

Sometimes i think about the moment God created me and i like to imagine He took the “traveler label” for me and printed it on my heart. I know God rejoices when i travel, for i feel a happiness that no explanation could ever describe.

There is nothing as exciting as traveling with the people you love the most. The trips i´ve done with my family will forever be on the top, but lately im learning to travel just by myself.  People often ask if it is boring or scaring for me to travel alone. So in order to answer that, i must explain why i LOVE to travel this way and how much it has taught me about God:

I like everything about it. I love travel days. I have no problem on waiting hours and hours on airports, in fact, i get excited about that. I love to be there. I love to watch the people around and create stories on my mind of how their trips will look like. I love to meet people there. I love to imagine how the city outside may look like. I love to see how true love just swirls all around as i witness the most lovely and emotional goodbyes. I LOVE IT ALL.

I love airplanes (even dream of being a flight attendant one day). I love the feeling when the airplane takes off. I love to stare at the cotton candy clouds and dream while i look at them. I love how somehow the strangers that sit next to you end up having the deepest conversations with you. I love the apple juice, the peanuts, and all the airplane food. I love how many thoughts can pass through my mind during the hours of flight. I LOVE IT ALL.

I love when we finally land and the relief of knowing my suitcase arrived. I love how, as soon as i take a step into the airport i see how faces have totally changed now. I love the feeling of knowing i am at a new place while i listen to new accents and smell new scents. I love when there´s someone excited just waiting for you and i also love when there´s actually no one waiting for you. I LOVE IT ALL.

I love EVERYTHING i do as soon as i go out of the airport. I love to see the old and new buildings, the streets, the cars, the restaurants, everything that my eyes can catch while the taxi drives. I love to take a bus or a train or the subway even if i probably will end up getting lost. I love to see how there´s always someone who will tend me a hand. I love to plan the places that i´ll visit and i love to forget about the plan and do the most spontaneous things. I love to get on adventures and rejoice in the beauty of the places. I love to know i can laugh and sing out loud and no one else would care about. I love to take lots and lots of pictures and make videos for my family that months later i will be embarrassed at. I love to visit the touristic places and i love going to the unknown ones.

I love listening to other languages and trying to guess from which place they are. I love to taste the traditional food and… basically eat as much as i can. I love exploring the museums and diving into the country´s art. I love to listen to local stories and legends and immerse myself into a new culture. I love hotels (even the ones that look like taken out from a terror movie) and i love the warmth to be received at a home. I love that postcards are possibly the only souvenir i can afford, because well, there´s nothing i enjoy more than writing and sending them. I love to wake up really early and sleep really late in order to do as much as i can. I love to imagine all the adventures the day may throw to me. I love the unique sounds and music every place has. I love to wake up every morning and thank God for be doing what i love. I LOVE IT ALL.

But you know what? The thing i love the most about traveling is definitely the people. I love to meet other travelers and make friends around the world. I love to get to know people´s stories and the adventures they have been on. I love the strangers who come to help when im lost and bring calm with a simple and genuine smile. I love the people that join me on adventures and those who make me feel as a member of their family. I love people who teach me new languages and different ways of living. I love the ones that start conversations and bring uncontrollable laughter to my days. I love to experience the most sincere hugs and tears when i have to say goodbye to them. I love all the people i meet; people that make me believe in the goodness of the world. I LOVE IT ALL.

Maybe it doesnt sound like this but the truth is there is no place like home to me. I love my country, my family my friends and what i do here, but every now and then i just need a little escape. It is written in my soul, i need to take adventures to truly know where i belong. My wish is that i could always have people who wanted to come with me, but i will tell you why i will always chose to travel even if there´s no one else who wants to join me.

I travel because i want to get out of my comfort zone. Because i force myself into awkward situations that probably someone else would solve if i was at home. Because it pushes me to unfamiliar situations. Because it challenges me. Because i have to deal with things. Because it reminds me i should never be arrogant and makes me see how dumb i can actually be. But also because it shows me that im capable of more than i usually think. Because it helps me to have confidence in me, to believe that even though i have the worst orientation skills or a very forgetful mind in the end i will be able to do it. Because i like to get surprised by everything that is thrown my way. Because it helps me to learn a lot about myself.

I travel because i love the world and i want to taste every bit of it. Because i want to learn that there are a million ways to live, to dress, to speak and to eat. Because i want to be reminded that my way isnt necessarily “the way”. Because it teaches me that “different” isnt bad, that different is exciting, challenging and growing. Because i love the opportunity it brings to see the world and realize there is so much more out there than what i´ve always known.

I travel because i can get the chance to meet wonderful people. Because it shows me that no matter how different people may seem we all are very similar inside and we all want the same thing: to love and be loved. I travel because through it i can experience this two things to the fullest. Because i can give away and receive love in the most unexpected and sincere ways. Because i love to find people with different beliefs and views of the world that help me to learn and grow more. Because it teaches me how valuable every single person is. Because it reminds me i can find friends anywhere. Because it teaches me the beauty of missing someone; the beauty of having someone so special to miss.

I travel because it teaches me things i could never have thought otherwise. Because it teaches me new ways of thinking and doing things. Because it reminds me that it is okay to say “i dont know”. It teaches me to be humble and let myself be taught by others, as well as shows me i have also some things to share with the world.

I travel because it gives me life-long memories. Because it shows me the importance of collecting moments, not things. Because it changes the way i look at the world. Because it teaches me that in every single place i can find a home.

I travel because it teaches me how much i can enjoy my own company, how wonderful it is to spend time alone. Because it teaches me not to take things for granted and appreciate what i have. Because it tests my patience and frustration tolerance. Because it shows me that it is okay if sometimes plans fail. It gives me perspective and flexibility. Because i love to experience new things. Because each place i go always gives new lessons to me. Because every time i travel my heart grows bigger and loves more and more the people and the world.

But above all, i love to travel because it reminds me about GOD. Because it helps me to trust in Him and remember that i will always be at the right place at the right time. That He will send me exactly where im needed and where i need to be, and that no matter how long it takes i will eventually get where i should be. Because it helps me to test and strengthen my faith. Because it makes me be amazed and feel grateful for His creation. Because it makes me see He is all around the world, in each place i go and each person i meet.

Because i can experience diversity and that teaches me a lot about God. A God who could have created all of us the same way, make every country, every landscape look the same, but didnt. A God that didnt do it the easy way, a God who loves us so deeply that took so much care in making each place and each one of us. I love to travel because i adore to get lost in His creativity. And because i want to go around the world to share my love for Him.

So the answer for those who ever wondered if i feel scared or lonely when i travel like this will always be NO. I´ve never felt that way because the truth is i have actually never traveled alone, for God has always ALWAYS been there with me. That´s what traveling alone has taught me about Him. 💛


NOTE: i wrote this post inspired by a travel i will embark myself to, so i probably wont be very active here. But to all my blogger friends, i wish you will have a lovely time, and i cant wait to know about it when i come back. I will have you on my mind!!!