By Emily Anderson
One in a series
I’ve noticed that the night before any big event, I am typically restless. The restlessness comes from excitement, nerves, a bit of anxiousness and normally from my lack of packing. Tonight is no different. Tomorrow (Sunday) evening, I set off to World Youth Day 2011 with seven teens and two other chaperones from St. James Parish in Falls Church, Va. No amount of prep truly prepares someone for World Youth Day; there’s always an element of surprise, excitement and once again nerves.
One of the greatest gifts I get in my life is to journey with teenagers as they come to know and love Jesus Christ in a real way. World Youth Day is so often the catalyst for this. There’s something that happens (perhaps the Holy Spirit?) when all those young people from all over the world come together and stand in the light of truth. They are the witnesses that the world is so desperately yearning for.
In the midst of a million people, God speaks to each pilgrim and for many teens the things that once seemed to be unreal or unbelievable become both. This is my prayer for World Youth Day, that in the midst of the crazy and the crowds and the nerves and the seemingly endless lines, my teens are captivated by the Lord and the things he’s asking of them and where he is calling them. Speak Lord, your servants are listening.
Emily “Em” Anderson, 28, is the director of youth ministry at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, Va. She is excited to be traveling with seven teens and two other adults from her ministry. This is her second World Youth Day, having trekked across the world to Sydney with 10 teens for World Youth Day in 2008. She enjoys laughing, singing at the top of her lungs — rather badly — praying liturgy of the hours and planning her next party.