When the Pope arrived here in the Philippines, I wasn’t excited at all. I envied the people who were posting about all their excitement on Facebook, Twitter and other things they did, just to express their happiness on the Pope’s visit. There was a point, when I asked myself, why? I realized maybe because I am one of the delegates for the UST Youth Encounter, that I am 100% sure of meeting the Pope. I did not experience any difficulties in getting a slot, unlike others, who had to go through a lot of interviews, essay writings, background checks and things like that. But for me, less effort meant less excitement.
On Saturday night, my sub-group leader told me that I still have to go to our Home Office at Shaw, just to meet with the other delegates, so we would all go to UST together, even though I just live next to the university. There was an increase in my excitement as I went to the meeting point. When I arrived at the Home Office, the excitement of my co-delegates was so contagious that it made me jump, smile, and squeeze the arms of every person I bumped into. Hindi na ako mapakali and I’m glad that my mood shifted from low to high. After a long jeepney ride and a tiring walk from Nagtahan to UST, we arrived there around 1:30.
We just waited along the streets of Espana, knowing that the gates will open at4pm. Some of us were eating, talking to eachother, singing, even SLEEPING on the kalsada and some of us were playing on their smartphones. I belong to the group who used their smartphones to kill time, which causes it to hang and not function properly. This made me sad because that was the only way I could take pictures from the event since I did not bring a camera with me. I prayed, “Lord, sige. Hindi ko naman na kelangan ng evidence eh. Alam ko yung joy na makukuha ko from seeing him is enough. Kaya sana Lord, makita ko siya ng malapitan.” After almost 4 hours of waiting, the gates opened and another 6 hours later, there was Pope Francis.
People were excited! They were cheering, shouting, running to the barricades to see him up close, while I was left in the middle of the quadrant. I wasn’t able to see him up close. I was so far from the barricades and some of the delegates blocked the view. It was only his nape that I got to see, I was so sad. But I still remained focused on the program and his message. I was affirmed but still sad.
When the program ended, some of us decided to go home, while some of us decided to go on to Luneta for the Papal mass. I was really tired of standing and I wanted to go home, but one of us was saying, “minsan lang ‘to. Kaya tara na.” She was actually right.
Without the expectations of a closer glimpse on the Pope, we still went to Luneta. We walked from UST up to Quiapo and stopped for lunch. We felt the tiredness in each one of us. Some of us were getting headaches because of the rain. After we ate, we took a pedicab so we can still catch up on the mass. When we arrived at Finance Road near Luneta, where there was already a bunch of people waiting for the mass to start. We decided to go to the other place with less people.
We formed a human chain so we wouldn’t lose each other. It wasn’t easy, a lot of people were annoyed with our idea. My member was hurt by someone we passed because we didn’t want to let go of each other’s hands. I, too, was hurt because of the same reason and it made me let go of the persons hand in front of me. Our line was broken. We lost track of the people ahead of us. I was so close to crying, knowing it was all my fault because I let go of the hand. But God is really good, we found them again immediately and we continued walking until we found a place with less people. But some of us we’re not content with our place, and we wanted to take the communion. So again, we held each other’s hands and walked until we found ourselves in a spot, where we could see the Quirino Grandstand. We stayed there until the end of the mass. But one of us forced us to go to a more convenient place, closer to the LED-Screen. We were not expecting to see Pope Francis anymore but when the emcee said that the Pope will go around to give His final blessings we were filled with hope. We were jumping out of joy when we saw on the LED that the Pope’s mobile was coming our way. Tears were shed as he stopped in front of us to kiss a child. Those were the most emotional 10 seconds of my life. Even after that close encounter, tears were still coming out of my eyes. It was indeed a memorable encounter.
After the encounter, we prayed. We were reminded that all the efforts we exert in going to Quirino were worth it. “Vale la pena!” as they say. Maybe I really was not meant to see Lolo Kiko at UST. It was God’s plan to bring me to Quirino and to see the pope there. God reminded me of 3 things from this event.
First, He will answer your prayers at the right time. Remember, I prayed to see Him up close at UST. I was so sad when I didn’t, but God granted me that wish in Quirino. Timing is really important. You really just have to wait.
Second, excited or not, you will still feel His love. I felt that love from my buddy, the people I got the chance to be with, the policeman, who gave me his raincoat and from the other people who attended the Papal mass despite of the rain. God’s love is so evident.
Lastly, every sacrifice you make will always be worth it. I remembered my 2015 prayer, “Lord, take me out of my comfort zone for me to experience the fullness of Your love.”
This whole Papal Visit is proof that God really heard my prayer. I thank Him for using Pope Francis as an instrument of hope. True enough, he brought sunshine into our lives. ☺
Shared by Ate Dhei Puyaoan
North and Central Luzon Mission Volunteer