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Madrid - Second Week

19 August 2011

So much has happened.

Arrived at our Madrid accommodation and all is very good. Air conditioned comfort with great breakfast. The food continues to be fabulous and the weather in the mid 30s plus. Water is drunk continuously. All healthy.

Boys were given free time in the afternoon today and some ran into a peaceful, noisy, large anti-pope protest but all is okay. Dave, Angus, Shannon and Will were prevented from getting to the key station and were separated by a police block. They caught the very crowded train from the next station.
Tuesday saw a great start to Madrid with an outstanding Australian gathering. We had fantastic praying, singing and ceremonies that kept all interested and a buzz. Our own James and Sarah (Oblate Youth) were featured in front of 3,000 plus. Highlight was the puzzled reaction of handicapped pilgrim when his face was shown on the big screen. Great song was taught to the pilgrims who enthusiastically embraced “God doesn’t make junk”. This was followed by the opening mass. This unfortunately was just too big and with a few technical problems was not a great experience. The crowd was so huge that we could not see the altar except on screen and there were thousands who were trapped up side streets were even worse off. Despite waiting 15 mins there was no Eucharist that reached us and often there was no sound to the screen. The music was heard which was delightful.

Today, Wednesday, saw us go in different directions. Most went to the famous Art Museum (and Art students were given time to write numerous notes on the original painting that they were about to do an assignment on) and another group went to the Royal Palace, where we were fascinated by the changing of the guard. We also went to the Cathedral. After 2pm the boys were given free time but always staying in groups of three or more. Many hit the shops but an absolute highlight was enjoyed by Dwight, Connor, Tishan and Lachlan when we saw a 1 and a half hour performance of Carmen in a flamenco, tap dancing and ballet style. The energy, the sense of Spanish culture and emotion of theatre was brilliant.

The boys have also talked about the sermons of Fr Slawek Plonka OMI. I was present for an intense conversation between Nick, Angus, Lachlan, Lawson and Tishan where they revealed how much they were touched by our community masses. “Be grateful” was the bottom line. Fr Slawek was laughing so much, then cried and he interacted during the sermon. He said that WYD has been the hardest part of his life (sleeping on concrete floor, heat and long walking – boys have not complained) and how grateful he was when he saw the bed in Madrid. Then he talked about the Oblate Conference when the disabled Chinese group got up and performed a rather simple amateurish miming of a song and were received with rapturous applause. How he shook a boy’s hand to find only a few fused fingers and realised again how grateful he was for his complete body. There are so many positive uplifting messages coming from our experiences and it is my prayer that the boys will come back knowing Christ better and willing to contribute more. Please pray for us.

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