1: SPAIN | Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 At 6:15am, my mom and dad and I left for the airport. I started to cry because I don't like flying! On the plane, I sat next to Holly. In the Texas airport, the workers made me check my bag because they had run out of room on the airplane! Elliott and Tyler had to check theirs too. In New York, we finally got on the plane to take us to Spain! I sat next to Alfredo and we enjoyed some free wine! | VIAJE! | ¡Buen
2: Wed., August 10th, 2011 Upon arriving in Spain, Elliott found his luggage, but Tyler and I didn't! A few hours later, with the help of Alfredo to translate, we found my luggage and united with the Diocese of Tulsa.
4: We met our host, Maria, and traveled to the small village of Torralba, stopping once at a Don Quijote themed convenience store. | EL CAMINO A TORRALBA
6: LA BODEGA - VEGA ZACATENA In Torralba, we met our host families! Mine is a family very similar to my own! Saturnino is my father, Paqui is my mother, and they have two daughters around my same age, María Jose and María Ester! We have been using Spanglish to speak to each other and it has been great! After settling in, María Ester and I went to get frozen lemonade. I met Ester's best friend, María Bolaños. Afterwards, we met back up with the group and toured a vineyard. Finally, we ended the day by touring Torralba and enjoyed authentic Spanish singing and dancing. Late in the evening we ate dinner and came home. A great first day!
8: SANTISIMO CRISTO DEL CONSUELO | Thursday, August 11th, 2011 Today we woke up and went to the main church for morning prayer. I went with my mom. We said morning prayer in English and in Spanish! Then, we toured the three churches in Torralba.
10: There is only one priest, Father Manuel! Mass is celebrated in the main church. The other two churches are used for prayer and other activities.
13: el mercado | After that, we toured the local market. It was funny to see people selling underwear on the streets! I bought a pair of sunglasses for five euros. Next, the entire group met up and went to the swimming pool! I met some new people at lunch. We ate 'macarones y melon'. Then, we went to my dad's work. He is a carpenter. I tried to explain what my American dad's job is, but it is hard to explain that he makes airplanes that don't fly!
15: PATIO DE COMEDIAS Afterwards, I took a shower before heading to the theatre! It used to be a castle, but part of it was destroyed during a Spanish Civil War. The stage was used for many things, including disco! It was very interesting to see holes in the ground used for keeping food and wine cool. My favorite part was the 'casserole balcony'. Back in the day, men and women were supposed to be separate so they sent the women to the balcony. The sound of their shoes tapping on the wood sounded like a casserole boiling! After the theatre, we sat in a circle and Paula translated questions we had for each other. It was very interesting to see how much we had in common! Then, we went to Mass. After Mass, we ate with our host families around 9:30 pm. They sure like to eat late! Paqui made criquetas. At first, I thought they would be serving me crickets! I told them that and they thought it was hilarious! Finally, we watched the boys play soccer and played a life-size board of Trivial Pursuit. ¡Qué divertida!
16: BOLAÑOS Today we woke up very early for Mass. Then, we went to the town of Bolaños by bus. We met people from Haiti, Spain, the United States, and Brazil. There were four translators: French, Spanish, English, and Portuguese.
19: We prayed together and walked to an unknown destination. It was very joyful and there was much singing and dancing! Several miles later, we arrived at a church dedicated to Our Lady of the Snow.
20: We were given free time to explore the culture of Spain. I tried many new foods, decorated a mask, made a bracelet, learned two new games, and learned how to wave a flag. Afterwards, we ate lunch and had more free time. We had fun teaching each other songs (They taught me the Spanish version of "I'm a Little Teapot"!) and playing telephone. The results were really funny when playing with two different languages! My favorite phrase was when "I have a paper shirt" was translated to "I have a paper soul!"
23: Later, we went on a tour of the church. It was built after Mary kept a promise to protect the people of the town. After that, we played water games, attended Adoration, ate dinner, and went to a concert and dance! We were all dirty and tired, but we had a lot of fun. It was amazing to see strangers who don't speak the same language come together and enjoy themselves. We truly belong to the Universal Church!
24: Sat. August 13th, 2011 Today we slept in and went to Mass at 10. Afterwards, we played more water games at the Paseo. We also went on a scavenger hunt! Afterwards we went to the pool and had lunch...it was seafood rice called paella. Mmmmm! I tried many new things including muscles, crawfish, and an octopus-looking thing. We bought ice cream and it was messy! I signed the Oklahoma flag that we are giving the church as a gift. Then we went back to the house to (quickly) shower before watching a movie! | After that, we went to the main church for Adoration and Mass. Ester and I went home to change into cute outfits and we did our hair and makeup. Dinner was a "bar-b-que" or as the Spaniards see it...a plate of meat, meat, and more meat! There was singing and dancing. I was tired by 9pm, but still went to "Maria's Disco Bar" with the group. I drank a "calimocho" which is a mix of red wine and coke. We danced until 4 am, which was considered "leaving early". Spaniards never seem to sleep!
26: SUN. AUG. 14TH, 2011 Today we went to morning prayer at 10 am. Afterwards, we were free to spend the first part of the day with our host families. We went 30-40 minutes away to some mountains. There was a little church and a spring of fresh water. After that, we went to a national park! There were ducks and lots of tadpoles. The scenery was beautiful! I took a lot of pictures. We went back to the house and I tried cuttlefish for the first time! My family gave me a book, a rosary, and a fan so I would never forget them. Then Ester and I left for Mass!
29: We traveled to 'campo de Cristiana', a place covered in windmills! There were about 195 priests, 4 bishops, and a seminarian celebrating the Mass with 10,000 Catholics from different countries. My favorite two parts were 1. The procession of the Jesus and Mary shrine statues and 2. During the Mass, a dark cloaked figure came down the aisle and several girls jumped out of it wearing white dresses with gold sashes. They twirled ribbons and threw flower petals up in the air to celebrate the Gospel reading. It was a unique cultural event! I think we should feel the same excitement for every Mass! Finally, we went back to the disco bar in Torralba and I bought a coffee drink. It was great! I look forward to one more morning with my friends in Torralba! | campo de cristiana
30: Mon. August 15th, 2011 Today we went to the church at 10:30 with our bags packed. Father Manuel invited us inside and gave a speech. He said that it was ok to cry and the community was very blessed. Even though we will be apart we are still a part of the Universal Church. He invited us to return and said if we didn't he would see us again in heaven. Many people, including me, were crying. We took lots of pictures and gave each other hugs. We also presented Alfredo's host mom and Alberto with thank you gifts. Finally, we got on the bus to go to Madrid. We arrived 3.5 hours later and walked to a school gym. We set up our things (mattresses are hard to blow up!) and received tons of free World Youth Day things!
31: ¡sí, sí, sí! ¡nos vamos a | MADRID!
32: We set out to buy food and drinks and then went to a park. We broke into small groups. In the park, we met the Missionaries of Charity. They are sisters from Mother Teresa's order! There were many neat things, including an Adoration tent and an epic row of confessionals. The park was so beautiful! There was a pond and fountains. We even saw Spongebob and Minnie Mouse! While we were walking around, we were stopped by EWTN and did an interview for them. Then, we rode the Metro to Dominoes where we received a free medium pizza and a drink. Afterwards we went back to the school and Brenten helped me repack my bag. Although the showers didn't work, we went to bed happy and ready for the next day. | PARQUE DEL RETIRO
34: Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 Today we walked to a church named Cathedral de la Almudena Recuerdos. It was beautiful...there were so many people there! We went shopping for souvenirs.
36: Along the way, we ran into many people we knew...even another group from Tulsa! We stopped at a place called Gino's for lunch. I ordered spaghetti. We sat with a girl from the Czech Republic named Bety. We also took advantage of the free wi-fi. Wahoo! We had a HUGE surprise when our friends from Torralba walked in the door! I couldn't stop smiling! We walked with them to the Opening Mass. It was very toasty. I followed along in my Magnificat book. We left early when Catherine, Joe, and Jake became very sick. There were many people, causing transport problems too. It was definitely a time of difficulty, but Alfredo and I did our best to "offer it up"! I'm so grateful for the challenges in my life so that I can be more thankful for the things I do have!
38: Wed. August 17th, 2011 Today, we didn't leave in time to go to the catechesis, so we went shopping with Paula. She took us to the Spanish version of Forever 21! After shopping for a while, we ate lunch at Burger King. Not exactly exciting, but a great opportunity to offer it up! The line was short and there was air-conditioning so most people were happy! Then we went to a place with a beautiful view. Elliott fell into some bushes! We had time to see some relics of St. Therese of Liseux. She is one of my favorite saints and the church was so beautiful!
40: Next, we walked to the park from the Metro Station to meet with Father Joe and Father Mike. We went to the vocation fair where I was interviewed by Life Teen for their website! They asked me about myself, about World Youth Day, and if it was my first time attending. They also asked me questions about the culture. They threw me for a loop by asking what does the Eucharist mean to me? I said, "It's Jesus!" After the vocation fair, we went to go get dinner. | PARQUE DEL RETIRO
43: I split off with Alfredo and went to an amazing concert. The first band was Mexican and had us singing and dancing. Then, we heard a phenomenal talk and listened to a soprano sax player. Next, was an American named Danielle Rose. She had a beautiful voice! Danielle said that Mary always said "Yes" to God, when He asked her to be the Mother of His son, and when He was taking His son back to heaven. The songs were breathtaking! Our friends from Torralba came and we had a fun time spraying and throwing things at each other!
45: THURS, AUGUST 18TH Today, we woke up very early to camp out and wait for the Pope's arrival. We were one of the first groups to arrive and thanks to Alfredo we snagged a front row spot. I was a little frustrated when some Spanish strangers edged their way to the front, but tried to make the most of the situation. Canadians sat behind us. They were so nice! The anticipation was building. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. We were about to see the Pope! Finally, we saw helicopters flying overhead and pace cars coming. Then we saw him. POPE BENEDICT! I took pictures and started crying. The Father Figure of the Church was 15 feet away! I couldn't stop trembling out of excitement. I knew the whole experience was worth it for that one moment.
46: Then, we took lunches to go and went to the Plaza Cibeles to hear the Pope speak. We sat, saving as much room as possible. There were so many people! Some of them were rude, but we still had fun anyway. We got very lucky and found an empty Metro train. We couldn't find anywhere by our housing that accepted meal tickets, so we paid money at a place called the Wok. It was weird ordering Chinese food in Spanish! I ordered a pineapple. It's the best one I've eaten since Hawaii! Overall, my favorite day in Madrid! | PLAZA CIBELES
48: Friday, August 19th Today, we kept the same groups. We left early in the morning to go to Catechesis at the Pepsi Center. I went to confession with an Australian priest. It was awesome! We had praise and worship, then Catechesis, then Mass. After Mass, we got on the Metro and ate at a coffee and tea restaurant. We did a little shopping, and then headed toward Cibeles to hear Stations of the Cross with the Pope. We walked a ways in the hot sun and backtracked to find a better spot. On our way, we found a group from Torralba with Laura in it! Alfredo and Scott went ahead, but we stayed behind with our friends. We played games, took photos, and traded postcards. I even gave Laura a dream catcher. She was so excited! A great last day with the Diocese. Can't wait for the vigil and Mass with the Pope!
51: P.S. The procession of the Stations was breathtaking. It was worth the probably 8-hour wait. There were protesters, which is why the procession took so long. The first float/statue of the Virgin Mary was ornately decorated with silver and gold It was probably a $5 million dollar float! The candles really lit her up and I couldn't keep my eyes off of her! We had time to stay for two stations before returning home. | PASEO DE RECOLETO
52: Sat. August 20th, 2011 Today we said our goodbyes and packed our bags before heading over to Father Joe's hotel. He said he wanted to spend time with Alena, Elliott, and I because he hadn't seen us yet. We went with Father Joe and Father Mike to the little town of Segovia by fast train. Our first stop was the Patronato del Alcazar de Segovia. It was a huge castle that reminded me of Hogwarts! Then, we went to a cathedral. I thought it was interesting in some churches you have to pay to turn the lights on the statues! We went to lunch next at a fancy outdoor restaurant named Restaurante Meson Mayor. I wouldn't want to be a waitress there because they had to wear suits in the hot sun! I ordered water and cheese croquetas. They were delicious! Then, we visited the aqueduct before heading back to the train station by taxi.
54: We went back to the hotel where we met with the rest of the group. We bought a ton of waters and set out for the World Youth Day vigil! When we arrived at the gate, we noticed it was closed. The Policia said that the capacity was full and that they had oversold the tickets. We had to wait until 11:00 for a chance to maybe get in or we could go home. They even suggested we might be able to watch it on a big screen at a soccer field. The group was upset and frustrated. Somehow, I remained calm. A few months ago, I said that this Mass was the most important thing no matter what. Now however, I was open to God's Will. If He didn't intend for us to go to this Mass, then I knew he had a bigger vision in store for us. After several hours, as I was about to pray for God's Will to be done, the Policia began to let us in! At that moment, dust blew and it began down pouring! We ran to D8, threw our things on the ground, and covered up with a tarp. We had to yell at each other because the wind was so fierce! It reminded me of weather in Oklahoma. We prayed and then shortly later the weather stopped. We thought it was great fun! We pitched our sleeping bags and talked and traded with people from different countries before falling asleep under the sky. It rained a little, but thanks to our Milo blankets, we all slept sweet and sound!
55: CUATRO VIENTOS
56: SUNDAY, AUG. 21ST Today, I woke up at 5:30am when Elliott called. He had been sick so he was just now meeting up with the group. The Policia wouldn't let him in, so he had to sneak in through the gate! We found Torralba and visited them one last time before Mass began. I couldn't find the English translation on the radio, so I switched it to Spanish and let Alfredo listen to it instead. The Mass was hard to follow because my book didn't have the Spanish responses. It would have been nice to be closer to the stage so we could see, but regardless, we had a good Mass. We spiritually received communion because the storms destroyed some of the communion chapels. The Pope blessed our items, and announced the next World Youth Day is in Rio de Janiero, Brazil! After Mass, we finished trading our items, waited around for a bit, went to the (disgusting) bathrooms, then left. We got a real taste of what two million people feels like when we waited in line wallpaper close for the Metro for two hours! It was impossible to keep the group together.
58: Luckily, we all arrived back at the hotel ready for showers. (Surprise! Fr. Joe and Fr. Mike had booked rooms for us. We were so grateful!) After an hour-long shower, I relaxed until it was time to go to dinner with Fr. Mike and Fr. Joe. They took us to a nice restaurant. I shared Mexican Quesadillas and a salad with Fr. Joe. Afterwards, we went out for gelato. It began to rain. I quickly stopped in a shop and purchased Madrid cards and a purse. We went back to the hotel. Alfredo and I went to the top of the hotel and took pictures from the balcony. We talked about the highs and the lows of the trip and about Catholicism in general. We have bonded so much during this trip! Afterwards, I went back to my room to pull an all-nighter before the plane rides home. I also prayed for the repose of the souls of Fr. Jorge and a Kenyan seminarian from our diocese who were both killed in a car wreck. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace, Amen.
59: Mon., August 22nd Today, we woke up bright and early to go to the airport. It was kind of funny because my feet had gotten blisters so I decided to wear the hotel slippers through the airport! It was great seeing everyone's families meet us at the airport! Overall it was a wonderful journey of faith. I am so glad I was able to take part in such an extraordinary event.