Another dream has come true! Finally I join the World Youth Day (WYD) event! I have dreamed to join one since I was in high school, this dream was held until the time has come and I considered myself ready to join this event. The WYD 2016 was held in Krakow, Poland. At first, I didn’t so interested in Poland, until I realised that it’s the homeland of many great Saints and this year is the Year of Mercy. I discerned about this again, a WYD with the Mercy as the main theme, on the Year of Mercy, on the land where the Divine Mercy was founded, oh man, I really can’t missed this one! I decided to join the Indonesian Pilgrims Group rather than solo traveling this time.
After such preparations and long count down, finally the day has come. We flew with Turkish Airlines. We stopped by in Istanbul, Turkey. Due to bad political situation during that time, we decided not to go to down town. Then from Istanbul, we flew to Warsaw first, before going to Krakow, because we will have the Days in the Diocese. The Days in the Diocese was held on July 20 – 25 and the WYD itself was on 26 – 31 July 2016
Days in The Dioceses (DID) in Warsaw
At first, I didn’t expect much from this DID. I thought this would be a boring days far from the main event in Krakow. But amazingly a week in Warsaw for DID was a great week! We stayed in a local family in Marki, a 40-minutes-drive-away suburb nearby Warsaw. So we didn’t exactly staying in Warsaw, but we often visited Warsaw.
With a friend, Prischella, I stayed in the Kolbuk family, who has 3 boys (age 10, 7 and 2.5) in their house. Arrived at their beautiful house near by the parish church and their warm welcome, soon I felt comfortable staying with them. Kasia, our young Mom in this house, is a French teacher. And her husband, Slobek is a Database Engineer who works in Warsaw. Their boys were shy at us in the beginning, trying to get along with them is not easy, added by the language gaps. With the oldest son, who still can understand simple English, I communicated with yes/no question.
From this generous family, I can imagine how my future family would be and understand more about the marriage vocation, especially the Mom role. I saw how tight it is to be a Mom of 3 kids, raising their sons who each of them has different personalities and uniqueness, facing the drama of the older boys and answering the non-stop babble of the toddler. Wonderfully, they still opened their house for the strange pilgrims and day-and-night cooked the meal for us.
Talking about the meal, I, personally who love western food much more than Asian, found the food served in the family and also sold in the food stall are yummy. Though many other Indonesian friends started to miss Indonesian food when they were there, I am the other way around, missed the western food now after going home.
Besides the family, we also got many new Polish friends, who worked as the volunteer to help the pilgrims. The differences between Indonesian and Polish didn’t separate us, it drew us closer to know each other more. The volunteers in Marki Parish accompanied us along the DID, we visited several places like the Museum, churches and the Indonesia Embassy in Poland. They are young yet so patience in helping us. The warm-hearted and sincerity of Polish makes me adore the Polish!
In DID, we were exposed to the history of Poland. Being a history lover, Poland is so rich for me. The history of how it finally accepted as a nation, the great tragedy of Nazi civilization and how the past events has formed this nation and has affected the life of the people nowadays and how God’s interventions (through St. John Paul 2 and Mother Mary) has saved this nation have been a brilliant story for me.
So the days in Marki have been awesome, we visited the Jewish History Museum (here we learnt how Jewish could come to Poland and how they were diminished by Nazi), the historical sites in Ossow (we listened to the survival story of Fr. Ignacio Skorupka who fought against the communism), the Parish of Divine Mercy (here we met with St. Faustina bone relic and had the Divine Mercy Prayer at around 3 PM and watched the play about St. Faustina), we had the festivals on the bright summer days with other countries, in which we danced and sang and most of the time looked for the shades to avoid the sunburn. We learned to dance Polonez and Belgium Dance several times until we are good at it. At night, we had the gathering in the Parish to celebrate the Mass and dance again. Every Mass in DID is a multi-language Mass, such as Latin, Polish and English.
At one of the festival we attended, I found a hidden field in which has the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. So, I stopped by and relaxed under the shades while praying. Such a rare moment I can have in my life. In the festival of nation, every country performed something on the stage. Meanwhile they performed, we, Indonesian, did our dance among the crowd, Poco-poco dance, it’s so interesting that so many people joined us to dance and also some of our friends performed the Indonesian Dance on the stage and succeeded to steal the attention of all.
On the last day in Warsaw, our family took us to Warsaw for another walk. I love Warsaw a lot, it’s a beautiful city. Then at night, we had dance with the family and also appreciation night to the parish volunteers. It was a heart breaking moment, since we had built such a close bond and we should separate soon and not sure whether we could meet again or not in the future.
Then we moved to Krakow. In Krakow we stayed in family again, but not exactly in Krakow, but in Wadowice, another city not far from Krakow. Though the distance that we should take every day, I still considered to stay in Wadowice is such a blessing, because Wadowice is the birth place of St. John Paul 2. The nearest church is the Basilica of Presentation of Blessed Mary which has a Door of Mercy and beside it is the Family House of Wojtyla Family. In the Family House of Wojtyla, we can found some things left from the family of St. John Paul 2 and detailed story of St. John Paul 2 life.
Staying in Tatar family who barely speak English, has made my live-like-local experience complete, their youngest son, Mateuzs, can speak a little English and Google Translate was really helpful, the simple Polish we learned from the previous city is tested. The Papa and Mama in this house kept on talking to us like we understood them, we only can answered with ‘tac’ (which means yes) no matter what they said.
Almost each day when we stayed in Wadowice, I visited Krakow. With only some friends we walked our own way, we visited the Wielizcka Salt Mine, one more UNESCO Heritage Sites which I hunted around the world. It’s amazing down there that it had an underground chapel and it’s such a huge place to be in 250 M under the sea level. Meanwhile we queued to the Salt Mine, we met many friends, we exchanged souvenirs and Facebook.
When taking the train back we were so tired until suddenly a group of Brazilian join our seats and they started to sing out loud. Greeting and introducing each other soon we sang together. The fatigue we felt was gone because of the spirit of joy they shared. After getting back to the city central, we accidentally met a Indonesian Volunteer who has lived in Canada. We had dinner together. That’s how the WYD had united the young people from around the world.
We went to the Opening Mass in Blonia Park. The way to Blonia Park at first was felt so long, it took 30 minutes walk from the city central. We had the Mass with the Archbishop, but we didn’t understand the language. It was so important to bring radio, because the translations were aired through radio frequencies. The returning walk from Blonia Park was terrible. Huge crowd of hundred thousands young people walked together then reaching the same train station. With some friends, I took the express bus which was shared ko Suryadi, who is a Volunteer.
On the other day, with the big group, we visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi Concentration Camp, another historical important sites that I really wanted to go. Under the bright sun, we walked along the Camp. Reading the details of how Nazi killed the Jewish made us only can offer our condolences at this site and to the history. No smile I could have when taking the photo. Every step I made was done along with Hail Mary inside my heart. Been in the real site and know more about the situation, the heroic action of St. Maximilian Kolbe has truly amazed me, that a man would give up his life for another people whom he barely knew. Under the tension and inhuman treatment they had, he still have a mind to help people, instead of saving himself. With the knowledge of all the Nazi and Communism regime in Poland, I wonder how St. John Paul 2 would still survived as a Priest that time, it must be a complete protection from God on him.
After that, as my plan, I would like to join the Life Teen event : Night of Mercy. We already got a new friend inside who has prepared our seat. Unfortunately, when we arrived there, the Tauron Arena which it took place has been full. Sadly we have to return back to the city central and didn’t meet our friend. Well, we walked around the Krakow Old Town in night, the old city at night is so beautiful, added by the multi-color and multi-cultural crowds who kept on singing and greeting each other along the way. Instead of having Matt Maher concert and Bishop Barron talk, we had another great thing : adoration in Basilica of St. Mary, the most beautiful classic church in Krakow.
The next day, I decided to go to Tauron Arena again for the Jason Evert talks. This time my Indonesian friends didn’t accompanied me to there, but Albert, a friend from my community (Domus Cordis) but in another part of the world (Sydney, Australia), whom we planned to meet yesterday was there too. I met him and we attended Jason Evert session. Finally I watched Jason Evert talk live, after years watching his talks only from laptop screen. Getting out of the arena, we had lunch.
While having our lunch, a Sister greeted us and we greeted her back. She asked where we are from and we said from Indonesia (and Australia). Surprisingly she is also an Indonesian who grew up in Australia then moved to United States. I could see the happiness she felt from meeting her motherland people. We took photo, but she didn’t have any email or phone. I asked her address to send her the photos later
After the afternoon session, together with Albert, we explored the churches in Krakow Old Town. Again, another dream comes true, I met Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati through his relic which was moved to there from Turin. Although it was crowded and we only can see in short time, we prayed in front of his relic. Then, we looked for another church in which has the St. Therese Lisieux relic. Wow, I didn’t know that she’s here also! We found her in the ‘Silence Zone’ – ok it truly describes her I guess.
At the afternoon, it’s time for Papal Welcome at Blonia Park. Albert and I stood not too far from the entrance, considering the huge crowds we would face when going out after the event. We stood along the protected way. We waited around 1 hour until one moment the police cars came together with a tram. What? A tram? Oh no, I just remembered that the Pope will come with Tram to the Blonia Park. We saw the tram and only saw His Holiness shades in a glance.
The next day, I went to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy and Sanctuary of St. John Paul 2 alone, because my small group members have our own destinations today. Finally on the 4th day in Krakow, I decided to have confession. I had it in the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. I also took some time to enjoy the silence and drew myself into prayer. I let the repeated song of ‘Jesu, Ufam Tobie’ echoing in my heart. I had my personal reflection here, on how I should and I only could to trust in Jesus for the rest of my life. He has been good to me, He has granted all my wish, even the silly ones. How can I not trusted my life to Him? The word ‘Jesu, Ufam Tobie’ has never been the same again after this pilgrimage. Soon after arriving at my room, I looked at this image which has been put on the wall of my room.
Back to the story, we supposed to visit these 2 Sanctuaries in order : St. John Paul 2 first, then Divine Mercy later. But the tram I took leading me to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy first. So, to go to the Sanctuary of John Paul 2, I had to take a long walk returning to the initial place. During the walk to the second Sanctuary I was almost give up, but then I tried to walk for a while. If I can’t find it, that’s it, I will go back – that’s what in my mind. I tried to walk with the direction of Google Maps, but then my conscience didn’t say that it’s the right way. I greeted a stranger, a middle-aged woman and she showed me the way back to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy and from there I restarted from the train station. I gave her a souvenir as present, she was so touched that she refused it at first, but then I said to her in Polish ‘prezent’ which I already learnt.
Then, I walk in the right the way, I walked together with a small group of Nuns and a young girl from Australia. While walking they pray the Divine Mercy Rosary. I reduced my pace and then joined them in the prayer. At the end of the prayer we introduced each other and soon we arrived at the Sanctuary. Inside the Sanctuary of St. John Paul 2 was put the Blood relic of this cool Saint, which was used on his Canonization day. I was so happy that I decided to keep walking though my legs are tired.
After visiting the Sanctuary with one of my friends, Shani, we walked to the Wawel Castle. The queue was so long that we gave up to enter the Cathedral. Then we went back earlier to Wadowice to join the Way of Cross from far. It was a great decision to join the event in Blonia Park from afar. The crowd was too dangerous. From there, we enjoyed the amazing Way of Cross. Why amazing? Because in each station, there was a simple play or dance to describe the stop. I love it so much! It’s the best Way of Cross I have ever had in my life.
On the night in Wadowice, we had celebration in our families. My family was joined with the other family and we had a home farewell party. We drank Polish beer and vodka and had song battle. Polish sang, then Indonesian sang. It ended up so late yet we had to wake up early tomorrow morning, leaving Wadowice and saying goodbye to this small quiet city.
The main closing event in WYD is the Vigil Night with the Pope. We walked to the Campus Misericordiae for more than 3 hours. With my small group, Shani, Willy, Felix and an Indonesian Priest, we walked and along the way we prayed the Divine Mercy and also Rosary Prayer. We brought our sleeping bag to sleep under the stars that night. Reaching the Campus quiet late, I didn’t enjoy the whole Adoration, but we still got the closing blessing through the Blessed Sacrament given by the Pope. After that, musical concert was held. In Campus Misericordiae, we met Albert again. We spent the night together, sharing about the community stuff and how’s the life in our own city. Then, together with Albert I hunted for the Door of Mercy which was built in this Campus Misericordiae, but unfortunately we couldn’t go into it. Then we looked for Adoration place and then we found one right in my sector, near by my sleeping area. Well, the short Adoration completed my whole tiring day.
The next day was Sunday, we had a Mass with the Pope. Before getting the Mass started I woke up early and tried to find the way to the Door of Mercy, but unfortunately I couldn’t find it. Instead I was near by the protected road and realized that people gathered there to welcome the Pope. Soon I stood in a good place among the crowd, and Pope Francis in His Pope Mobile passed in front of us. A short moment to see the Pope from close distance. Then we had the Mass. Since I didn’t bring the radio, I was clueless on what the Pope said during the Mass, but at the afternoon, the article of the Pope Homily was shared already.
Then we went back to Krakow, another crazy walk and long queue of train and tram we should face. Again with small group, we decided to take the train. Unfortunately, the train to Krakow was not working, so we should take the train to the other way, farther way. We stop at a train station which has been so far, thinking that we will take the express bus from there. But the volunteer said that the express bus might not work, so we decided to take the taxi which has been in front of us. I chose the taxi with the least branded car. The driver agreed to bring us to Krakow. Again with the help of Google Translate, the taxi driver took us to the nearest way to the city central. When arriving in Lagiewniki, we paid the driver. He gave us discount. We gave him a Rosary and then he started to hug my friend who sat in his side with teary eyes. Again, the encounter with local people is always the touching moment.
Albert was there to meet us again to say farewell. I didn’t know whether when or how we could meet again. We took the last official picture for the documentation for our community and said farewell. In this pilgrimage, my heart was broken for 2 things, first by ending the wonderful WYD journey in Poland and then by the farewell we should say to the new friends we met here. Then the Indonesian Pilgrim group started our way back to Jakarta.
Final Thank You
I would like to say thank you to all the volunteers in Marki, other volunteers we met along the way, the Indonesian Pilgrims group, Kolbuk family, Tatar family, Shani, Willy, Felix, Siska, Puput, ko Suryadi and Albert who have scratched new colors in my life through our encounters in this WYD Pilgrimage.