I feel so blessed and lucky to have been able to attend the World Youth Day in Portugal with the MFC community. It was a journey of self-discovery for me, and there was a lot that I learned during my 2 weeks there.
There were many hardships during the pilgrimage. During my arrival, we were informed that some of our luggage was delayed as they were still in Brussels. We weren’t going to have it for a few days. It was a shocking situation for me as I was part of the few without my luggage and I felt as if it was going on a rough start. Leaving the airport, the weather was cold and dry. Very unexpected as I was told it was summertime in Portugal. At this point, I was exhausted and simply asked ‘why?’
And throughout the experiences I experienced in Lisbon and Leiria, God was answering my question, ‘why’. My kind ates lent me what I didn’t have and were by my side when I was at a point of struggling. Our luggage eventually arrived later. I am forever grateful to the people that God sent to me to help me. I couldn’t help but shed a few tears at the willingness and warmth they provided me and each other with.
‘Be not afraid’, was what the Pope shared to us youth at the Vigil, and it will forever leave a mark on my heart. It is such a striking message for me especially with all that we endured to finally get to this point. The whole journey, I was afraid. I was really afraid of what would go wrong, what would happen. And it felt like God was personally talking to me and telling me, ‘Sabine, do not be afraid and rely on me.’ Even if I was only listening to the translation on the radio, it was such an overwhelming feeling I couldn’t help but be absolutely starstruck at that point. That was the highlight of my experience.
Aside from my hardships, I found the Lord through the little things as well. Meeting people from around the world who shared my faith, who spoke with me about their stories. It felt as if I was being affirmed that my own experiences and my journey in faith was going at its own pace. In our faith, we should not be ashamed of the state of our belief if we are doing our best to improve. The community spirit that the WYD stirred within me made me feel less isolated. That is my main take away from this experience, although it is simple, it is to be confident in your faith, rise out of your comfort zone, always do your best to improve and get to know Jesus better. I’ve become a brighter and a more open person thanks to my experiences.