Monday, July 14, 2008

World Youth Day 2008, Pilgrims.

We have had an eventful week. This time last week we were preparing for our pilgrims from Norway and Byron had a job. Over the next few days we went through a roller coaster of emotions, fun and excitement with the arrival of Sabina and Angela and the shock of Byron becoming unemployed. The timetable of World Youth day events that I got swept along with was exhausting and on one hand kept me very busy and my mind very occupied but on the other left Byron home alone most days and he spent most evenings without company.

We said goodbye to Sabina and Angela today and we are looking forward to taking a deep breath, ignoring the piles of washing and messy tip of a house and sitting down with a bottle of wine to talk and plan for the future.

There were so many fun things that we did last week but I just wasn't in the mood to blog "Happy stuff" Rather than trying to write up each individual days events I thought I would give you a quick summary and post a few of my favourite photos......

Day one, Tuesday: Hung around waiting for a phonecall to collect our pilgrims, called into St Michaels collection point and watched a coachful of Norwegian teenagers pull up, found our pilgrims, Sabina and Angela and said hello, got sent away while they registered, returned an hour later having gone to a local Mc Donalds for a snack and a play, home, shower, meatballs and spaghetti, pilgrims snoring by 7pm.

Day two, Wednesday: Pilgrims up and dressed and fed by 8am! Spent the day at Blackbutt reserve with a detour to Kotara shopping center for a little retail therapy and to buy a basketful of food for a picnic, back to Blackbutt for the "Koala Encounter", home, showers, lasagna and salad, off to Norwegian language mass, pilgrims snoring by 8pm.

Day three, Thursday: Another early start, off to Caves beach with newly unemployed Byron in tow, back to Warner's Bay for lunch by the lake, home, showers, chilli tacos with all the extras, off to another 6pm Norwegian mass, then on to a 6.30pm mass practise for Sian and Rhiannon at the nearby St Paul's High School, back to Norwegian mass to pick up pilgrims, back to High School to check on Sian and Rhiannon, quick trip to local shops to buy essential WYD 08 tops for Sian, Rhiannon, Sabina and Angela for the following nights mass, back to St Paul's High School to collect Sian and Rhiannon, home by 9pm, Mr B already asleep in bed, big round of hot chocolates, pilgrims snoring by 9.15pm

Day four, Friday:
Pilgrims delivered to St Paul's High School for "Social Payback" i.e. setting up the hall for that nights big youth mass. Byron, myself and kids hide out in a local Starbucks and have a much needed caffeine/hot chocolate hit. Ran into shop to swap Sian's top for a different colour (she wanted the same as Sabina!) Back to St Paul's to collect pilgrims, all back home early afternoon, got stuck into a massive load of pilgrims laundry, Byron cooked a huge plate of sausages on the barbie and we ate at 4pm and head out for big St Paul's youth mass where Sian and Gemma were Alter Serving and Rhiannon and Sophie were in the choir. Sat in brilliant seats (just behind Bishop Michael) thanks to Monica getting there crazy early, Home by 9pm, all snoring by 9.15pm.

Day five, Saturday:
All jumped in car and drove to Fassifern train station. Got the train into Newcastle for huge Coroboree (? spelling, I think it is an Aboriginal word for a meeting of people) saw two whales off the coast and got a photo (get your magnifying glass out and look at the top right corner!) Took time out to stand on a deserted beach as a family and reflect on what a beautiful place we live and appreciate that there are far worse places to be when you are unemployed. Walked on to the crowded Newcastle Foreshore, met up with the Connelly, Fleury, Scanlon and Meek families and had a great day watching international pilgrims singing and dancing. Invited our friends back to our house for Pizza, Got home 5.15pm friends arrived into filthy messy house 15mins later. Ordered pizza, went to collect pilgrims from another Norwegian mass, supposed to finish at 6.30pm, finally got them out of church and into car at 8.15pm, raced to Domino's pizza and collected 7 rubbery pizzas, home, all stuffed our faces, pilgrims wandered around in a daze while all hell broke loose and eight wild, overtired kids ran amok through the house, grown ups drank numerous bottles of beer and wine and Paul played guitar! Eventually all our friends left about 10pm, pilgrims snoring by 10.05pm.

Day six, Sunday:
Another early start, off to Myuna Bay for a day of Mass, BBQ and Bush dancing. I was asked to stand in for the professional photographer who had failed to show and spent the day taking over 800 photos of the mass and festivities! I got dragged up on stage as the tokenary Irish Pilgrim to play the Bodhran! Home by 6pm, had left over Chilli, showers, kids and pilgrims snoring by 8pm. Byron and myself snoring by 8.05pm!

Day seven, Monday:
All up before 7am, mad rush of packing and helping pilgrims make packed lunches for their journey on to Sydney. Drove to St Michael's church and waved goodbye to Sabina and Angela, got home and sat with Byron drinking numerous cups of tea while kids ran around and played.

 for tonight, hopefully kids will be in bed as early as possible and Byron and myself will open a bottle of red, catch our breath, take the phone of the hook and talk about the future.

If I learned one good thing this week it was from the wonderful Bertilia, Monica's pilgrim from the Caribbean.

No matter what problems happened while she was here she always had the same answer...

With a great big smile and arms held out wide, her wonderful rich caribbean voice would boom out full of joy and laughter and say


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