They did it! Eleven of our youth (six young men and five young women) from our centers in Juarez, Mexico, traveled to Panama to attend World Youth Day in January. They worked hard raising funds for the trip by selling burritos at events and holding yard sales, and they met every Sunday for months to plan and pray. But even with all their hard efforts, they admitted that it often felt like they would never actually go.
However, early on the morning of January 21st, they boarded the plane to fly to Mexico City as a stopover before Panama. None of them had ever flown before and they marveled at being on an airplane.
Upon arriving in Panama, our group was overwhelmed with the gracious hospitality extended to them by their host families. Many Panamanian families had volunteered to welcome visiting youth and chaperones into their homes and each pilgrim was treated like an honored guest.
At the all-night vigil, they slept on the dirt ground with only plastic garbage bags to sleep on, since no one in the group had a sleeping bag. But that did not damper their enthusiasm or delight in being with young people from all around the world singing and praising God.
On the way back, one of the chaperones asked them what they learned from this pilgrimage. The youth responded, “We really didn’t think it was possible for us to go to Panama. But now that we did it, we see that with God all things are possible.” “We want to get more involved with our ministries, like going to the jail to visit the prisoners.” “We see that when we work together and trust God, we can do ‘impossible’ things.”
Summing it up, they all agreed, “We will never, ever forget this experience. It was life-changing!”