Yesterday afternoon I met with most of the parents of the kids who want to come on the pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia (with a four-day layover in Honolulu).
My initial plans were to take two adults and nine kids, for a total group of twelve, mainly for logistical purposes. However, the interest among the kids has both amazed and startled me. I have right now twelve or thirteen kids – whose parents approve - who want to come! I thought I’d be good to get five!
To this moment I am baffled by the response of the parents.
They don’t seem at all concerned that I can’t give them yet a real cost of the trip.
They don’t seem at all concerned that we’ll be gone twenty-three days for a five-day event.
They don’t seem at all concerned that their children want to go to the other side of the world.
In fact, they had only two questions for me.
First, they wanted to know what Australian winters were like since we’ll be there then. I didn’t know.
Second, they wanted to know it would take for me to bring all of the interested kids, as opposed to only nine. Again, I didn’t really know.
And I still don’t.
I’m still rather taken aback by it all and I don’t know what to make of it. It’s all happening so suddenly and yet falling together so nicely and easily.
This evening I met for three and half hours with a neighboring pastor who I am working with to organize the pilgrimage (actually, he’s doing most of the work, but the Hawaii bit is mine).
I think my concerns are a bit unreasonable, which isn’t all too unlike me. I find myself wondering why it is that so many of the kids like me as they do to want to come in such numbers. I find myself thinking back to the evening of the freshmen orientation when, standing at the edge of a deck overlooking a lake from which the kids could jump twenty feet into the lake, I was standing with a semicircle of a dozen freshmen boys talking with them about sin (by their own choice). I wonder why at basketball games when I enter the gym why it is that, from time to time, the kids start chanting, “Father Daren.”
I’m not very much like the kids. I don’t like sports (with the exception of soccer). I don’t listen to a bit of the music they do. I have no really idea what’s on television. I don’t really know very much at all about their world, except for the longings of their hearts.
I know this doesn’t really have anything to do with organizing a trip, but it is one of the things I keep wondering about (I think I’ve wondered about it on the blog before somewhere).
My other main concern has to do more with a lack of control over the whole situation than anything else. Strange as it may sound, I worry that everything is coming together so smoothly. I don’t know why, but I do. I ought to simply be grateful that is (and I am), but it does seem odd. I suppose I need to remember what Pope Benedict said about the call of Peter: Jesus offered Peter no answers, but simply called on him to trust.
I’m not sure how many kids I want to take. If I take all of them I will need another chaperone, by Wednesday night. If I only take nine kids, how do I chose who I bring?
I think I know what the Lord is asking of me in this case, but your prayers would be greatly appreciated. I hope to have come to a decision by the end of the day on Wednesday so we can get everything really moving along on Friday.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Saint Francis of Assisi,
Saint Clare of Assisi,
Saint Anthony of Padua,
Saint John Bosco,
Pray for me!