The Lord has a plan for each one of us. Each of our plans have many sufferings and sacrifices, but also more blessings and graces than we could ever imagine. I would have never imagined that one of the blessings that he had in store for me was to make the pilgrimage to World Youth Day.
I first heard about World Youth Day on Holy Thursday 2010. Liz Kunkel, Sister Silvia, Sister Sara and I were driving to the cathedral in Peoria for Mass. The sisters and Liz were all talking about this event coming up next summer. It sounded really cool and everything, but I had no clue what they were talking about. I didn’t want to sound stupid so instead of asking everyone in the car I texted Liz who was sitting right next to me in the car asking her what World Youth Day is. She texted me back, and I thought it sounded amazing. I felt the desire in my heart to go to World Youth Day. Although I felt the desire to go I didn’t think I would actually get to go. But, though the grace of God and intercession of Blessed John Paul II I’m leaving in three days to go on this pilgrimage.
When I first signed up to go I was extremely worried about coming up with the money in order to go. The sisters reassured me saying that if I really am supposed to go God has a plan of how I am going to get there. Throughout the school year I was able to take part in many fundraisers for World Youth Day. It was a blessing to be a part of these fundraisers. I met a lot of very generous people. I thank God for their generous hearts because it is by their sacrifices not only of their money, but of their prayers as well that I have to amazing gift of going to World Youth Day.
God has put the desire in my heart to attend the WYD pilgrimage. He has blessed me with a job, supportive parents, family, and friends. My tita sold tons of raffle tickets for me as a fundraiser. When she gave them back to me she was sorry because she wished she could have sold more. God bless her! She sold more than I ever had the guts to ask for. God has blessed me even through donations from other individuals I may not even know that well. God is so good! And I truly thank everyone who has helped us along the way through their donations, offerings and prayers. I wish everyone could go. God has blessed me with beautiful people and has shown me love. I know all of us will come back and share our blessings just as we received them. As the Sisters have taught, God gives us gifts to give back.
When I first heard about the World Youth Day trip I thought it sounded pretty cool, but I never expected that I would actually be going. I had very briefly considered it, but quickly dismissed the idea due to the financial obligation and missing the start of the school year. The deadline passed and I thought nothing more about it, but then a couple weeks later there was a last call to sign up.. Ever since then, this has become my total leap of faith year. I am not the kind to make hasty decisions, but within three days after the opportunity presented itself again I just decided to say yes. Beneath all the doubts and insecurities, I felt like I was supposed to challenge myself and all my fears. That's why it became my leap of faith. I had no idea if I would be able to afford it, among several other obstacles, but I figured it would all work out in the end. When I told one of my friends about the decision, she responded by saying, "That is so unlike you!" She thought that I always had everything planned out, and it surprised her that I would make such a big decision without being able to anticipate the possible outcomes. She was happy with my decision, and I will never ever forget that conversation. Since then, I have faced some of my fears and grown in so many ways: public speaking, friendships, faith, and my thoughts and actions are just a few examples. I have noticed a lot of subtle changes in my life, and I know there are many more to come. As much as I am looking forward to this journey, I know that it will be an extremely challenging and emotional one. Leap of faith: ready, set, go!