Full of hope and openness, I arrived in Rio de Janeiro to attend the World Youth Day (WYD) and of course, to see Pope Francis. Never did I expect that the Brazil experience would be more than seeing Pope Francis. It was while walking along Copacabana beach when I heard a little whisper, becoming so loud telling me.. “It’s not only about seeing Francis, it’s about seeing My people.”
Here are Top 10 reasons why WYD made me fall in love with God again:
10. One answered prayer. I have 3 wishes this 2013. One of them is WYD. Thank you, Jesus, You brought me there. It was truly a special experience I will always keep in my heart.
9. Samba. I love dancing. I thought I knew how to do the samba (since ballroom dancing with my mom taught me a lot).. but no! Brazilian samba is quite.. difficult, but yes, I was able to do it.
8. Rio everywhere. The place just captivates me.
(8.1) They have tissue paper everywhere. I am a tissue paper addict. I think I could have been accused of tissue paper hoarding while preparing for this trip. Only to find out: everywhere in Rio, there’s tissue! And, guess what, I got a special trip to a tissue paper recycling factory, thanks to my hosts!
(8.2) Petropolis. Oh man, I wish I could live there. The weather, the view, the cathedral. Everything is just amazing. And they have a Catholic university, which is awesomely cool!
(8.3) Nossa Senhora Aparecida Parish. My host parish for the Semana Missionaria (Missionary Week) — the priests, the mass, the people — was lively. And oh, falling in love with God is easy because He showed me His face.
(8.4) The Media Center. This has got to be the coolest WYD media center I’ve been to by far.
7. Alone as YouthPinoy in a group. I was able to make new friends. Really good, good friends who made a big impact in my life. Our group, ECY Philippines 4, taught me a lot — from being a good buddy, to being patient, to just going on and giving your life to the Father. To the priests who were with us, Fr. Sandy, Fr. Vhon and Bishop Pat, you inspire me. To our heads, Doc Elgene and Venus, you’re amazing. To Chris, who was with us too, thanks for being my buddy. To everyone, from Antipolo to Parañaque, you guys, were inspiring all the way. Special thanks to Ate Carmela for the last night in JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro. I’m looking forward to more coffee and conversations with you.
6. The food. Oh man, I think I could live in Brazil. The beans, the slabs of meat, the barbeque, the “ovo frito.” Everything. You.made.me.hungry.
(6.1) The coffee. I am a coffee addict. Everyone in my family is. And I believe God has been sending me to places where coffee is the best! From Kenya to Brazil.. Man, I love everything about it..
5. My “international aunt.” I love you so much. You’re the first one who looked for me when I arrived in Piabetá. Thank you, for always giving your all to make me understand, for just showing me that Love is the universal language.
4. My family in Petropolis, Piabetá and Rio. I was at home because you made me feel at home. In your house, I felt like I was in heaven. Thank you for taking good care of me, for inspiring me with your dedication and love for the Father.
In Rio, we stayed at an institute for the blind and what struck me so much was that in every face I saw, I saw Jesus. Time spent there were moments of pure grace that I cannot describe. My heart was moved with passion and it made me really renew my commitment to do His will more.
3. Ana Daflon, Joice Lima and all the Lindaaaas… I look forward to meeting you again, to go to church with you again, to dance with you again, to just have fun with you again. Ana, thank you for taking us around Petropolis; Joice, for taking us around Rio. Oh, girls, I love you so much. So, so, so much.
2. Murilo Daflon. My prayer partner. Thank you for praying with me and for those coffee conversations. You inspire me in so many ways, brother. As I renew my commitment to the Father, I pray for yours. May God always grant the desires of your heart. Continue to chase your vocation and carry your cross. I know God loves you deeply and He will always whisper His words to you. Listen with all your heart and soul. Keep on writing and singing songs for Him. Your voice is His voice not only to me, but to everyone who hears it.
1. Christ the Redeemer. Lord, for not letting go of me. For speaking so clearly that everything is just pure grace. Once again, You changed my life and are, I believe, making a better woman out of me. Lord, for loving me and for selectively choosing me and placing me in the place where you wanted me to learn and love you more. Everyday is a moment of falling in love with You. Your words, Your songs, Your love is just unconditional that having that taste of heaven during the whole celebration of WYD was magical. For not giving up on me, Oh Lord, thank You. Together with Your most Holy Mother Mary, I love you.
And of course, I saw Pope Francis. I prayed with him during the vigil. His messages are all about the Father. And love for God is just evident in his eyes — truly, an inspiring man.
Live His grace. Be missionaries.