Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Second Weekend in Gaming

The weekend of October 25-27 I decided to stay back because I needed to catch up on sleep lost over ten day followed by being sick and I had two papers to write. I went to bed at 8pm on Thursday night and didn’t wake up until 7am the next morning. It was wonderful! I sat up and started writing my Nursing Philosophy and almost missed breakfast because I was on such a role defining Person and Health. After breakfast I put my pajamas back on and got back in bed and kept writing about Environment and Nursing. I was late for Mass because I lost track of the time and at 11:55am realized Mass started in ten minutes and I wasn’t dressed and hadn’t brushed my hair.
After lunch, Hana, Cheris, Rose and I went for a walk behind the Kartause and did some photo shoots of each other in sunlight with the pretty fall colors behind us. It was a perfect day because the sunlight was warm but the air was crisp and refreshing. I came back to my room, put my pajamas back on and got back in bed to keep writing my Nursing Philosophy. I took a fifteen minute nap and then started writing my term paper for Human Person.
I went to dinner with Rose and Cheris and then Cheris and I stopped by the RD office to ask Scott if we could have a bonfire. He said he would set the wood out for us at 7:30 so we could have our fire at 8pm. By the time Cheris, Hana, Rose and I got out there, Scott and Matt had already started the fire so they hung out with us while some of us had chocolate or peach wine. Angela and Amelia joined us and when Scott left, we all sat up on the stone wall and sang songs and told creepy stories. It was a perfect night for a bonfire because the air was cool but the fire was blazing hot and there was a thick mist that slowly descended on the Kartause.   
Saturday morning I was up at 7:30 to go to breakfast in order to make communion fast for 9am Mass. I did homework the rest of the morning until lunch and then did homework all afternoon. After dinner I did a little more homework and then tried to go to sleep at 8:30. Rose and Cheris came and knocked on my door around 8:45 to invite me to eat apple pie with them and the LCI students. It was super delicious! I got back to bed around 9:30, but with the EU time change, it was really 8:30.
Sunday morning I was up at 6:30 but it felt like 7:30 because it was already light out. I did homework until 11 when I had to go meet Shannon’s mom and grandma who were coming in with some other parents. I ended up handing out roses to all the moms who came. After brunch I did homework until Mass at 3:00. When Mass was over, Rose, Hana, and Cheris went over to the creek with me so I could jump in since I hadn’t creek jumped yet. It was really cold but it was totally worth it! Hana and Cheris also jumped in and we called in the Princess Jump because we were all in our Sunday clothes. 
When Marissa came back from her travels, we tried to go find her parents. We looked for them in the Keller and then we went to the hotel desk to call their room. No one was there, so we had to figure this out on our own. It was a good thing we had both read Nancy Drew growing because we knew what to do in this situation. One of us watched the door to the Keller while the other one stood on tip toe to look at the room sheet that was laying on top of the desk. We found their last name and room number (see, recreational reading does pay off!) and then went up to their room. They weren't there, so we went and ate in the Mensa and then went back to check the Keller. We found them eating with another couple so we sat with them an visited. It was quite a nice evening.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lourdes Thoughts

Going to Lourdes for ten-day was one of the best experiences of my life. It definitely changed my life to see the suffering of other and to see the joy they have in that suffering. It was so inspirational to work with my peers and see their selfless love and willingness to serve. Watching Chuy and Justin play with Makayla every evening and looking at her while they hung on her every word was precious. Seeing the way Mike and Joseph bonded with Gabe and took care of his every need was beautiful. Watching Andrew and Casey anticipate Fr. Menei’s needs to make sure he was able to celebrate or concelebrate Mass from his wheelchair was unbelievable. The way that Grace so tenderly cared for Janet and the love she showed her made me want to cry. Seeing Mary Grace and Cecelia assist Joan and Judy was hysterical because by the end of the week you could see that they knew what was coming and whether it was a word they said that would remind the ladies of a song or a story they had probably heard thirteen times already, they still listened with an eager smile and attentiveness. Being able to watch Ben, Chuy, and Peter waiting to assist anyone with wheelchairs was very special and watching the way Peter respectfully called each of the female pilgrims Miss so-and-so was absolutely inspiring. Watching Joanie push her little cart around and to the pilgrims drinks, snacks, and blankets with Becca, Angela, and Marissa, Melanie was so sweet because it showed that even the smallest things can mean a lot to people. Seeing how Keri was nervous about going into the baths but then eagerly volunteering to take a shift in the baths was really amazing. Turning around and always seeing Shannon smiling and offering to do anything always made my day and seeing Domi and Grace on the cleaning crew in their green aprons always made me smile.
One of the things that struck me most about this week was how everyone was able to give so completely and willingly of themselves. It’s like St. Bernadette digging for the spring. The students gave and gave and gave of themselves and then when you thought they couldn’t give anymore, they dug a little deeper and found some more to give just like when St. Bernadette was digging and digging for the clean water.

People have always told me that when you go on a mission trip, you go into the trip thinking you have so much to give but you come out of the mission having received more that you ever could have given. I feel this way about the Lourdes mission in that I gave all that I had, but what I gave is nothing in comparison to what the pilgrims gave me. The lessons they taught me in how to love and how to open up and trust people are lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I feel so blest to have had this opportunity. 

Lourdes - Day 9

Saturday morning I was up at 4:30am so that I could finish packing and catch a taxi at 5:30. We had our last French breakfast (thank goodness!) and then Angela, Mike, Fr. Matt, and I all left in the taxi. We waited at the airport for a few hours and then got ready to board our plane. I was falling asleep while we were waiting at the boarding gate so once we got on the plane and took off, I fell asleep. I kept jerking awake because I guess my body still thought it had to stay awake. We landed in London and then we had to go through immigration. The officer asked me a zillion questions and then asked Angela and Mike one question and stamped their passports. He asked me a few more questions and I was convinced that he wasn't going to let me through, but then he stamped my boarding pass and let us go. We had a four hour layover so we ate at the same café we sat at during our last layover.
Our last flight was fifteen minutes early which gave us enough time to get a taxi and make it to the train station on time. We purchased our tickets and boarded the train but when the ticket collector came around, she told us we had the wrong tickets. We were on the right train, but we had bought an OBB ticket not a Wien Westbanhof ticket. None of us had known there was a difference, but she was so nice and explained our options to us and then sold us a ticket to stay on the train.
There was a little boy on the seat in front of me and he was so adorable. I couldn’t get him to smile at me but after about half an hour, he started playing with me through his reflection in the window. By the time we reached our station, he was laughing and giggling and finally smiling at me! It was too cute and his parents got a kick out of it too.

All the rest of our connections went smoothly and we finally arrived back in Gaming at 9:44pm. We were so happy to be back safe and sound! 

Lourdes - Day 8

Friday was our last day with the Pilgrims. We were up again at 5:30 to get ready and eat to be over to help them at 6:45. The student volunteers had to hurry the pilgrims along because we were going to grotto Mass at 8:30. We got everyone situated in their wheelchairs and we lined them up just to the side of the altar in the grotto. It was a cool, crisp morning and we were all bundled up. Our priests concelebrated the Mass and the student volunteers sang, read, and served Mass. Afterwards we were able to walk behind the altar and touch the grotto rock and see the spring where Bernadette dug in the ground.
I left Liz with Mark so that I could go to the last medical meeting. Nurse Carol and nurse JoAnn shared their career path stories with us and it was really amazing to hear all the things they have done throughout their career. I had a chance to talk to nurse JoAnn afterwards and she was so sweet, kind, and encouraging. I will definitely carry her words of advice with me throughout my career about standing up for life, the patient’s beliefs, and my own beliefs even if people don’t agree with me.
After the medical meeting I volunteered to help Fran finish the water project. North American Lourdes Volunteers ships Lourdes water to their office in Syracuse to use during virtual pilgrimages and to give away to people. During the week, they guys had filled 36 jugs of water that each weighed about 66 pounds. They had then put nine on a wooden palate and wrapped them all together in plastic wrap to get them ready for shipment. Fran and I had to put the shipping labels on top and put more plastic wrap on top to keep the labels in place. It took a lot of work because we had this clumsy huge roll of sticky plastic that we were maneuvering around between the palates. We finished up just in time for lunch and headed over to the caf.
When I came back from lunch, I played with Makayla for a while. We ran around and spun in circles, she played on her mom’s phone on my lap, we went and found Chuy, and we watched out the window for butterflies. It was so much fun to speld time with a cute little girl. When the rest of the pilgrims finished lunch they all had a departure meeting. Everyone was given a chance to share something of their experience during the week and there were many stories from the pilgrims of how wonderful they thought the volunteers were. Most of the volunteers thanked the pilgrims for giving us the opportunity to serve them. It was really inspiring to hear everyone thanking everyone else for everything they had taught them.
After the departure meeting we all got ready to go out to the grotto. We stopped by the candles and were given the opportunity to meet St. Bernadette’s great, great, great, great, great, great nephew. He doesn’t meet with anyone and no one knows he works the candles except for North American Lourdes Volunteers so it was a very special privilege to meet him. He is deaf, but he has St. Bernadette’s eyes.
We continued on our way and went over to the stations of the cross that were recently put in. They are large stone carvings and they are beautiful in the sunlight. We brought all the pilgrims in front of each station and Fr. Menei, Fr. Matt, and Fr. Walter all took turns leading the stations. We sang a praise and worship song at the end and then slowly meandered by the river back to the Accueil.
For dinner, some of the pilgrims ate at the Accueil and some ate at restaurants in town. After I finished cleaning up, Hana and I headed back to Ave Maria so she could get the friendship bracelets she had made for the pilgrims. We stopped and got raspberry ice cream on the way back to the Accueil and made it back just in time to scoot through the rosary procession before they blocked it off.

It was time to say goodbye to the pilgrims and adult volunteers. We had all grown so close over the past week and knew so much about each other that no one wanted to leave. Hana was so sweet as she gave each pilgrim a bracelet and I went around with her to say good bye. They were all packing but of course they all stopped to say goodbye. We had a great laugh with Paz, Ms. Goldman, Linda, and Grace the kitchen volunteers when they wanted to take our pictures. I was laughing so hard I was crying. I got to say goodbye to Gabe and take a picture with him and then he wanted another hug. He was so precious. Unfortunately I didn’t get to say goodbye to his Aunt Liz, but I left a message with Pam for her. After we said all our goodbyes, Hana and I picked up the sack lunches for the student volunteers and headed back to Ave Maria. 

Lourdes - Day 7

Thursday morning we were up early to assist the pilgrims as usual. When everyone had eaten breakfast, we headed out for a tour of town to visit some of the places Bernadette had lived. We stopped at a little tiny museum and saw a model of what the town used to look like, something Bernadette had embroidered, her handwriting, and her shoes. Then we headed into town and saw the mill their family lived at when they were better off and the jail they moved to when they were evicted from their mill. We also showed the pilgrims door where St. Bernadette ran to when she was told by Our Lady, “I am the Immaculate Conception”.
After the tour Liz, Gabe, Mike, Joseph and I went made our way back to the Accueil and stopped at a little shop so Liz and Gabe could get rosaries and postcards. We brought them back for lunch and then the pilgrims rested in the early afternoon.
While they were resting, Marlene, the kitchen staff, and the second shift for lunch (“the guys”) had set up a little “thank you tea” for the student volunteers. We were served bread and two kinds of cheeses that Bernadette would have eaten and then Marlene told us the proper way to make a cup of tea:
1) pour boiling water into a cup to heat the cup, then dump out
2) pour boiling water into a cup and place tea bag in water – do not squeeze
3) remove tea bag without squeezing
4) place sugar cubes in and let them dissolve – do not stir until dissolved
5) add milk and stir
6) enjoy!
The tea time was quiet enjoyable…mostly because I sat with Gabe. The cheese was gross though.
After tea time, the pilgrims prepared to go to Mass with an Anointing of the Sick Service. It was a Mass just for us in the St. Joseph’s Chapel and it was so beautiful to see the pilgrims line up for the anointing of the sick. Most of the student volunteers were crying because it was so beautiful. Following Mass, we lined up two by two for the Eucharistic Procession. It started outside across the river from the grotto and wound its way around to the underground basilica. It was so powerful to see the sick pilgrims get down on their knees to beg God for a miracle and thank him for answering their prayers.

After dinner, there was a talent show for the entertainment of all present. For Act I, the students sang songs, did skits and told jokes. Some of the pilgrims even got up and sang or told stories. A group of French people came in and they sang some African songs and had their faces painted black. Apparently each year they dress as a different nationality and sing songs for North American Lourdes Volunteers. Then we had Act II which was basically an open floor for any impromptu talents. It was great fun and it provided a lot of laughs. After the talent show, there was a departure meeting for the students before we had to hurry back to Ave Maria before the doors locked at midnight.

Lourdes - Day 6

Early Wednesday morning the medical students were up early again to assist the pilgrims in getting ready for the day. When all the pilgrims had eaten and were seated comfortably in wheelchairs, we headed off two by two to the underground basilica for the international Mass. The basilica was built in the shape of Noah’s ark and it was massive. It was so weird to stand there and actually get a visual of just how big Noah’s ark was. The Mass itself reminded me of the Vigil Mass for the March for Life because at this Mass there were so many priests and people present.
Following Mass we all exited and had a group picture taken in front of the rosary basilica. The pilgrims were able to visit the grotto again for a little bit, but then they had to go back for lunch. After lunch the pilgrims prepared for their visit to the Piscines. Fran gave a talk about what they could expect and none of them hesitated at all when she asked who would like to go and who would prefer to stay.
The pilgrims visit to the Piscines was one of the most beautiful things I experienced all week. Watching the eagerness on their faces even as some of them were lifted onto broncardiae was so inspiring. It was also very emotional because one of the pilgrims had a tender shoulder and while she was being lifted on to the broncardiae, her shoulder was bumped and she started crying. Her assigned student volunteer tried to comfort her, but the doctor took over because the student was crying so hard. Even though the pilgrim was in so much pain, she was still very eager to go into the baths.
I stayed with Liz and pushed her wheelchair into the room where people changed and then the ladies working the Piscines took over while I undressed. Some of our students were working in the Piscines that afternoon and Ginny happened to be in the room we were in. The head lady asked if I spoke English and then directed me to a chair where Ginny would hold up the blue sheet for me. It was really special to have a friend there helping you. Liz had her turn in the bath and she came out smiling. She was so happy! The ladies switched jobs after Liz went in so Ginny was watching in the actual room where the water was when I had my bath. The water didn’t seem as cold this time, but it was still very chilly. The ladies had me sit down on my own rather than lowering me down and pulling me up. I was so blessed to have the opportunity to visit the baths twice. I met Liz outside and we prayed the rosary together with Desiree and another pilgrim while Liz waited for her nephew Gabriel. When he came out, we all went and visited the grotto and then Liz had me take her to the English confession building. I waited outside for her and when Liz and Gabe were ready, Mike, nurse Irene and I took them up to the Crypt where there was adoration and a relic of St. Bernadette. The crypt was in between the rosary basilica and the Immaculate conception basilica but instead of taking the huge ramp up, we took a smaller side path.
We stayed at adoration for about twenty minutes when Gabe started getting sleepy. When we got to the door, we noticed it was sprinkling out and we didn’t have any umbrellas or rain jackets. Liz didn’t mind the rain because she “wanted as much water from Lourdes as she could get” and I gave my rain jacket to Gabe. We brought them back for dinner and the rain pretty much held off while we were walking outside.

After dinner the pilgrims prepared to go to the rosary procession. We lined up two by two again and we were at the head of the procession right behind the Mary statue. Eight of our male student volunteers were privileged to be able to take turns carrying the statue while four of our female student volunteers carried candles near the statue. Apparently it has been five years since Franciscan Students have carried the statue. All the pilgrims had candles and you could hear how strongly they were praying the rosary. The pilgrims in wheelchairs were lined up in front of the basilica while the rest of the procession would around behind us. At the end of the rosary procession Liz and I went to the grotto and spent some time there. The grotto is absolutely beautiful after dark. We stopped at the taps before we went back to the Accueil so Liz could wash and drink the Lourdes water again. 

Lourdes - Day 5

Tuesday Morning I was up at 5:30 to shower and get ready to head out to help the pilgrims with their morning routines. My pilgrim didn’t need any assistance so I stood outside her door so I could walk her to breakfast. After breakfast, we escorted the pilgrims upstairs for their orientation meeting. We all had to say our name, where we were from and the students said their major and the pilgrims said why they were here. It was really inspiring to hear others stories of why they came to Lourdes and how long it took them to get here.
After the meeting, Pam took the medical students to register with the medical bureau and they we went to lunch. After lunch, I happened to be sitting in the hall playing with Makayla and Carol the nurse came out and asked for four nursing students. I volunteered and she brought us into their meeting about any medical issues that had come up during the past twenty-four hours. It was very interesting to hear the doctors and nurses communicate.
When the meeting was finished, we assisted the pilgrims to the ground floor (which was actually the zero level) and taught them wheelchair, watour, and chaise bleue safety. We got everybody situated and then we headed out two by two to visit the taps and the grotto. All week I was paired with Liz so I pushed her wheelchair or pulled her watour which was such a beautiful way to serve her. We stopped across the river from the grotto and Marlene (the president of North American Lourdes Volunteers) gave a talk about St. Bernadette and her life. We all had Voxes and ear buds so we could all hear without Marlene shouting. After her talk, the pilgrims all washed at the water taps and drank of the water and then we made our way over to the grotto. For many of them it was their first time visiting the grotto and it was a memorable experience to watch their faces when they saw the grotto and the statue.
After spending some time in the grotto, our group made our way over to the St. Joseph chapel which was reserved for us for Mass, but another group was just beginning Mass so Marlene directed us all to the Immaculate Conception Basilica. We had to push the pilgrims up this huge ramp because the basilica was on the top of two other basilicas so we had two people for each wheelchair and three people for each watour. We made it up to the top and got everyone situated inside so Mass could start. It was a beautiful Basilica and it had windows depicting each of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother to Bernadette.

Dinner was served for the Pilgrims back in the Accueil and I was on dinner clean up again. I stayed around to help out with odd jobs and visit with the pilgrims and then Cecelia and I decided to go to the rosary procession which had already started. We found some of our pilgrims and volunteers so we joined them during the third mystery. We wound our way back and forth with the rest of the procession in front of the rosary basilica and sang and prayed the decades of the rosary. It was so beautiful. We helped the pilgrims back to the Accueil and then made our way back to the Ave Maria. 

Lourdes - Day 4

Everyone was up early again on Monday for French breakfast! We headed over to the Accueil and broke up into our small groups to learn more about our jobs. We had a medical meeting with nurse Carol and she discussed the patient pilgrims and their medical needs with us. It was very informational. We all had lunch and then we started setting up for the Pilgrims. We went to the Guadalupe house and when we got there, we waited outside for a few minutes. Suddenly Rose started running through the group saying “I am the Immaculate Conception!”  She ran up to this door and knocked on it and Pat came around the corner and was pretending to be the priest who didn’t believe Bernadette. The door that Rose had knocked on was the same door that Bernadette ran to and knocked on to tell the priest that the lady had said “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
We went into the Guadalupe house and brought out suit cases, boxes, bags, chairs and carts to bring to the Accueil. We looked like the craziest group of people walking through the streets of Lourdes with suit cases, bulging bags, grocery carts, and trays. When we brought it all to the Accueil, we had to sort it out and put it all away. Everyone was helping so the process went rather quickly which was great because the Pilgrims were arriving around 4pm.
All the volunteers were waiting outside with wheelchairs and signs and we were practicing our welcome sing. There was so much excitement amongst the students that I don’t think we could have been more excited. The bus finally pulled up and we all started waving and clapping and singing Salve Regina! We brought wheelchairs over and greeted the pilgrims as they came off the buses. The girls brought the pilgrims to their rooms and the guys brought the luggage up and delivered it to everyone. We all made our way upstairs for Mass in chapel that John Paul II celebrated Mass in when he stayed in Lourdes. At the beginning of Mass, the volunteers all made their oath of service and received a pin. It was a beautiful little ceremony.

A few of us left Mass early to set up for dinner and then pilgrims came down to eat. I headed off to eat in the caf so I could be back for my dinner clean up shift. We cleared tables, washed tables, and swept…basically a bus person job! I stayed around until about 10:30 to help with random jobs and to deliver messages to some of the nurses. It was a long day but we were all so happy the pilgrims had finally arrived. 

Lourdes - Day 3

Sunday morning we had a French breakfast that consisted of…bread. That’s it. Bread, butter, and jelly. Oh, and coffee, hot milk, hot chocolate, or tea. We went to Mass and then headed off to an orientation meeting. We learned about what we were going to be doing throughout the week and what jobs we had been assigned to. After the meeting we had lunch and then Shannon and I went into the rosary basilica to pray and look at the mosaics of the mysteries of the rosary. We headed back for some more meetings and we had formation which consisted of learning proper terminology for the week such as “pilgrim” not “patient”, “service” not “work” and so on.
Fran then shared with us what an experience in the Piscines would be like because our group had an appointment at 3pm. We walked over and all quietly prepared ourselves. We went in and were split up among the different rooms to wait our turn. When I went in the head lady was so sweet. She didn’t really speak English but I knew what she was trying to tell me because Fran had told us what she would say. She told me to give my heart to Mary and then pointed for me to walk down the steps. The water was up to me knees and it was freezing cold. I kissed the statue of Our Lady and then the girls tipped me back into the water and pulled me back up. The water was so freezing cold I couldn’t even breathe. They asked me if I was okay and I told them I was. I went back to get dressed pulled all my clothes on over my wet body. I wasn’t cold at all even though I had just been dipped in icy cold water but I went and stood in the sunshine outside with everyone else. It was a very special experience to be able to take a bath in the water.

We all walked over and visited the grotto and then we were free to do whatever we wanted. I went with Desiree to the Adoration chapel and we spent some time in there. After dinner, we had wheel chair training 101 where we learned how to safely help a pilgrim into a wheelchair, watour, chaise bleue, and broncardiae. We also learned how to maneuver them and when we would be using them. We were all very tired so we headed back to the Ave Maria and got a good night sleep. 

Lourdes - Day 2

Early Saturday morning, we boarded our plane in the dark and took off for Lourdes. We landed in Lourdes around 9:30 and we were so happy to finally be near our destination. Everything was in French (duh!) so we were so confused and couldn’t read or understand anything. We waited for Mike and asked him his plans and he said he didn’t know what he was going to do so we all decided to try to find a map so we could walk to Ave Maria – the place we were staying that houses Lourdes Volunteers. We couldn’t find a map anywhere so this sweet old lady who spoke a little English was able to tell us that it was a 45 minute bus ride and we could catch the bus for 2 Euro right outside the door. We went down the stairs and waited an hour for the bus. The bus dropped us off at the train station after 20 minutes and we had directions from Pam to walk to Ave Maria. I led the way and it was so easy because the directions were so detailed. We got to the Ave Maria but couldn’t check in because it was only 11:30ish so Mike, Angela, and I walked around the little town.
On our walk through town we came across a fort, a market, and a gazillion little shops that all sold the same everything! We also came across a graveyard where Bernadette’s family and friends were buried. We saw the Soubirous Family grave and the Abadie family grave which was really special. After we visited their graves we went into the center of town and found a shop that had cheap crepes. Mine had jelly on them and they were pretty good.
After our lunch we walked through the shops to find the cheapest little water bottles for Lourdes water and we looked for rosaries. We ran into the first group of our friends and they told us of their adventures in Paris and the train station. They also told us that everyone else was coming in at 11:30pm and that Pam was going to meet them there later. Mike, Angela, and I walked over to Ave Maria and checked in and then I met up with some of the other girls to walk around. I had two croissants that were so flaky and delicious! I went back to Ave Maria to wait for Pam who was supposed to me coming in at 3:30, but when she wasn’t there at 4:10, I decided to go walk with the other girls because I was getting sleepy. I was sitting in the lobby waiting for Pam and I looked at the time and it was 4:08. Suddenly I jerked awake and looked at the clock to see how long I had been sleeping for. It was still 4:08 so I was good go!
Pam showed up at 5:00 and the group of about ten of us went to Mass with her. After Mass we walked down the path that Bernadette used to take to get to the grotto. The path zig-zags down the side of the mountain in the shape of the letter M. After we walked down the path, we made our way over to the grotto. It was so beautiful and peaceful. There was a big event where Pope Francis was consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart so there were big screens set up in the grotto so people could watch it.
After we spent some time in the grotto we went to dinner in the St. Michael cafeteria. We got to choose a salad, a cheese, and dessert, and the main dish. Throughout the week there were some interesting options for salads ranging from green salad, to hardboiled eggs, to coleslaw, to fish, to grapefruit. Cheese choice was pudding, a slice of swiss cheese, cream cheese, brie cheese, or yogurt. The desserts were very delicious and we could choose from fruit, chocolate and cappuccino mousse, pudding, apple tart, and flan. There were always two options for the main course and we had chicken, fish, chicken cordon bleu, grilled cheese and ham, quiche, and meatballs. They also served intestines but Pam told us not to eat it…not that I would have tried it. The also served pasta or rice and cooked veggies.
After dinner, people hung out and walked around some more. We tried to go to the rosary procession but they weren’t having one because of the consecration. Most people headed to bed around 10:30, but I stayed up with a few others to walk to the train station with Pam. She had received a text that said the train was 30 minutes late, so Pam took Grace G, Mike, Angela, Fran and me out for hot chocolate with whipped cream. It was so good! We walked the 15 minute walk to the train station and everyone was waiting there for us. I got my bag from Marissa and we all walked back to Ave Maria. There were boxed lunches waiting for all of them because they had missed dinner so we went over a few things with them and then I headed up to bed.
By the time I made it up to my room, it was 1am. I had been awake for 27 hours straight! I was so ready to brush my teeth and go to bed especially since we had to be up for breakfast at 7:30 the next morning. 

Lourdes - Day 1

Ten Day break started on October 11. Angela and I got on the bus outside the Kartause at 7:06 and we were on our way to Lourdes. Finally. We were with a group of four other girls who were headed to London as well, so we all stuck together until we arrived in London.
          We made all our train connections and I actually got tickets for all the trains I rode. Imagine that! Ha! Instead of sleeping, I did some homework on the trains to get ahead in writing assignments. It was snowing when we got to Salzburg so it was freezing cold but it was so pretty! Anyways, we got to the London airport five hours before our flight left, so we got some lunch and hung out in the café until bag drop opened so we could get our boarding passes stamped. After we got our passes stamped, we went through security and then waited to board our plane. Mike D’Amico showed up and left his bag with all of us girls, but then we walked off and wasn’t back by the time we were boarding the plane. We didn’t think he was going to make it, but apparently he was one of the last people to board. Thank goodness!
          The flight went very smoothly. It was a cloudy day so once we were above the clouds, it was very sunny. It looked like we were flying over the Antarctic because the clouds were so fluffy they looked like snow and the sky was blue above them.
          We went through immigration just fine and then found a café to eat dinner. I had this super delicious ham and sharp white cheddar cheese sandwich on a baguette. We talked for a while and then I took a two hour nap leaning on the table while Angela watched our stuff. When I woke up, I got some tea because of course you have to have tea when you’re in London! Then we moved to the bag drop area and Angela stretched out on the floor to sleep while I watched our stuff.
          We had some breakfast at 3am at the same café and then went to the bag drop to get our boarding passes stamped. We made it through security just fine and waited for an hour and a half before we could board our plane. 

Oktober Fest

         The weekend of October 4-6 was Oktober Fest. A lot of people were really into it, but I was busy studying for midterms and it wasn’t really my thing. A lot of the girls dressed up in traditional Austrian dress and everyone, including people from the town of Gaming, came to the Kartause where there was a huge white tent set up. There was music playing and people eating pretzels, drinking beer and smoking pipes. I went over and hung out for a little bit until the smell of the smoke gave me a headache. When I got back to my room, my clothes and hair smelled like smoke even though I hadn’t smoked a pipe. It was an enjoyable evening and it was fun to watch other people having fun. 

Adventures with the Pipps - Week 2

          On October 3rd, Betaile was not able to go to the Pipps, so I went by myself. Mrs. Pipp asked me if I would take the kids to the park which I agreed to do but then I told her I didn’t know how to get there. Of course the kids knew how to get there so I just followed them. The boys rode their bikes and Gianna walked with me while I pushed Damien in his little bike/stroller.
          They played in the park with the local kids for about an hour until David had had enough and told them all we were going back. We headed back and within two minutes of the ten minute walk back, Damien was fast asleep. I pulled him out of his bike and carried him while Gianna pushed his bike/stroller back. We put him in his crib when we got home and the boys went outside or in the basement to play with the other Kartause families. Gianna and I went outside so she could jump on the trampoline and then we woke Damien up from his nap.

          We took him outside and Gianna and Joshua played with the Carenno boy on their front porch. Mrs. Pipp was supposed to be back around 4pm, but it was going on 4:45 before she came back. She was so apologetic and said she was mortified that she had accidentally stayed so long at Ms. Schofield’s house. I told her not to worry and that I’d been having a great time with the kids. I helped her start dinner for their family while we talked about the most random things and then I headed back to the Kartause around 5:15. 

Poland Pilgrimage

          The weekend of September 27-29 the school took most of the Gaming campus to Poland. It was a very intense weekend. I really enjoyed it because I actually had a little bit of an understanding of the place we were visiting courtesy of family read-alouds and high school historical fiction about World War II.
          Thursday night around 7:30pm, everyone boarded the busses they had already signed up to be on and we were on our way by 8:15. It was estimated to be a nine hour bus ride so we all settled in for a nice long ride. Of course we started out with the rosary and then Sr. Sarah Rose started the movie Karol about Pope John Paul II. I was in the very back of the bus with Rose and we had extra leg room! It was awesome! I was also next to the window so I leaned against the window and fell asleep after about an hour on the bus. We stopped in the Czech for 45 minutes (by law) so the bus drivers could rest and I got out and walked in the parking lot for two minutes so I could say I was in the Czech Republic. After we were back on the road, I slept for a while until the bus stopped again but once we started moving, I fell asleep.
          We were scheduled to arrive in Czestochowa around 5:15 so we could walk to the shrine to see the unveiling of the Black Madonna, but the road was closed so we had to take a long detour. Everyone on the bus was hoping we were going to be able to make it in time and as soon as the bus door opened, we hit the ground running. Literally. Sr. Sarah Rose was leading the way and she took off running and we all followed. We ran down the street about three blocks, ran across this huge street and up the sidewalk towards the shrine. When we looked up at the shrine, it was lit up in the darkness and surrounded by all this fog. There was a star shaped light on the top of the steeple, but it looked like the star was floating because the steeple was surrounded by fog. We had stopped running at this point, but we were still walking at a fast pace. Everyone was so excited because we knew we were going to make it for the unveiling. When we got in the chapel, we all stood as close to the front as we could. It was very quiet until these trumpets and horns started playing this gorgeous song and the unveiling began. I wasn’t able to see because I was off to the side, but apparently this cover that was over the picture was slowly raised off of the image.
          The image itself was absolutely beautiful. More beautiful than any picture of it could ever be. It was surreal to actually be there in front of the image and to look up at the Blessed Mother and see the scars on her face. It reminded me of the picture that Fr. David had at St. John Gualbert’s underneath the arm of the cross.
          After the unveiling, we all walked to the nearby hotel for breakfast and we stayed in the restaurant for about an hour trying not to fall asleep. We headed back to the Shrine because we were scheduled to have Mass around 9am and we wanted to walk around before Mass started.
When we got back to the shrine, we all got down on our knees and followed the path that went behind the image of the Black Madonna and in between rows of relics. There are grooves worn in the floor because so many pilgrims have gone behind the image on their knees. We visited a lot of side altars dedicated to different saints, an adoration chapel, a room with very different depictions of the Stations of the Cross, and a relic chapel that was underneath the Sacred Heart Chapel. We couldn’t go into the relic chapel, but we could see into it and see all the relics. There were the typical bone chips in reliquaries around the room, but there was also full out femur bones enshrined in the reliquaries. It was really cool! 
          We went back to the chapel with the image of the Black Madonna and Fr. Ron said Mass for us in English. Inside the chapel, there are rosaries, crutches, canes, walking sticks for blind people, glasses, leg and arm braces, and holy medals all hanging on the walls to witness to the miracles people have received. After Mass, we visited the gift shop and lit candles for our intentions. Rose and I walked around outside and saw a statue of Pope John Paul II and the Stations of the Cross they have outside. We walked into town with Ginny, Finley, and Becca, but didn’t come across anything exciting so we headed back to the buses. We had a sack lunch on the bus as we continued watching Karol and made our way to Auschwitz.
          When we got to Auschwitz, you could feel the mood change among the students. Mr. Wolter had us split up into groups and once we were all situated with a headset, our tour guide started us on the tour. There are no words to describe what it was like to walk through that camp. It was very emotional, but at the same time, it was so emotionless because you did not know what emotion to respond with…silence, regret, sorrow, peace. It was just so numbing. We walked through the rooms where the prisoners slept, the hallways they were marched down, the bathrooms they used, the pathways outside where they were lined up, the places where they were tortured, the cells where they were killed, the gas chambers, and the house just outside the camp where a Nazi leader and his family lived. We saw rooms filled with human hair, shoes, luggage, glasses, combs, tooth brushes, razors, and clothes. We saw cases that displayed prisoners ID papers and a hallway with pictures of the prisoners with their date of birth, date of entrance into camp, and date of death. When we were in the gas chamber, our tour guide pointed out that the room we were standing in was often filled with two hundred people or more when they killed the prisoners. There was about thirty of us in our group and we were standing in one half of the room. If we were in an American room, we probably would have been considered a safety hazard because there were so many of us in such a small space but the Nazis would cram one hundred or more prisoners into the same space we were standing in without thinking twice about it.
          It was a brisk day and walking around outside and through the cold buildings made me chilly. I was also hungry because a peanut butter sandwich and apple doesn’t go too far when you’re constantly on the move. It really made me think as I was walking through the camp just how privileged I am. Here I was wearing a cami, a tee shirt, a sweater, a rain jacket, jeans, socks and sneakers after I had eaten yogurt and cereal for breakfast and a peanut butter sandwich and apple for lunch with plenty of water and I was thinking about how cold and hungry I was while I was walking through a concentration camp. What?! It made me realize just how much I have and how much I can still complain with all that I have even when there were people walking down the same dirt roads I was walking down wearing practically nothing and eating next to nothing not even a hundred years ago. That’s the self-centered American mentality for you.
On our tour we were also able to see the cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe was starved and the building where he died. After we walked out of that building and while we were waiting for the rest of our group to come out, we stood by the post a Nazi watched at near the railroad tracks to make sure no one tried to escape. It was odd because while we were standing there in the cool, cloudy afternoon it felt like there was new hope and life being breathed into the camp. Almost like spring. There was no more pain and suffering to be had there. Only people to be remembered and lessons to be learned.
We got back on the buses and drove in silence to Birkenhof which was 5 minutes away. There we saw the platform where the people brought into the camp were told to leave their luggage and were sorted between those sent straight to the gas chambers and those sent to work. We saw the buildings they slept in and the triple level beds they put people on. We also saw the remains of the underground gas chambers. Our tour ended by a memorial and all the Franciscan students prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet together.
When we got on the bus, people tried to process what they had just seen but it was all so overwhelming. It definitely took some time to really comprehend what we had just experienced. We were taken to our hotel for dinner and then I headed up to my room to do some homework and go to sleep because it had been such a long day.
Saturday morning we had breakfast at the hotel which consisted of a buffet of eggs, bacon, bread, ham and cheese, yogurt, cereal, pastries, and mini croissants. Needless to say I stored away a few of those croissants in my stomach. We got on the buses to go into Krakow for a tour which started while we were on the buses and then we got off and walked around. On our tour, we saw the castle, the castle church, a building where John Paul II studied, and we stood on this corner where you could see six churches that were separated by only a few buildings. We went into one of the churches and saw the spot in a pew where John Paul II often prayed. We were able to kneel there for a minute and pray. It was a very special opportunity. We made our way into the center of Krakow in time to see the trumpeter of Krakow play his trumpet at 11am. It was totally amazing to think about when we read the Trumpeter of Krakow as a family read-aloud and to be able to actually be there to hear the Trumpeter of Krakow. It made me remember coloring pictures while mom read the story and how I used to think if I could go anywhere I would go see Poland and see where the Trumpeter of Krakow was… and here I was listening to the Trumpeter. Unbelievable!
When our tour was over, we walked around the souvenir shops and then Marissa and Michaela and I found this little restaurant where you filled up your food and paid by the ounce…or gram or whatever form of measurement they use. I had pierogies (I think they were potato), potatoes, and a potato pancake. It was actually pretty good. After lunch we walked down by the water and went to see the dragon breath fire.
Around 2pm we got back on the buses to go to the Divine Mercy Shrine. When we got there, we went straight to the Shrine so we could be there for the Divine Mercy Chaplet. The nun who was leading it said it in three (I think) different languages including Polish, English, and something else I didn’t recognize…not that I can recognize any other language.
After the Mercy Chaplet, we went to a conference room where the sweetest little nun gave a talk about Sr. Faustina and the Divine Mercy. It was so cute because Sarah the RD and a student were standing in the back and sister stopped her talk and said her heart couldn’t bear to watch them stand. They very quickly sat down to make the nun happy. It was so funny! After her talk, everyone visited the gift shop and bought rosaries or Sr. Faustina’s book or pictures of the Divine Mercy because everything was so cheap.
Fr. Ron said Mass for us in the Divine Mercy Chapel and we were able to venerate a relic of St. Faustina that is under the Divine Mercy image. After Mass, the bus dropped people off in Krakow if they wanted to spend the evening in the city and get dinner and it also went back to the hotel for those people who wanted to go back. I opted to go to the hotel because apparently Krakow isn’t as safe at night as the other cities we’ve been in and they were recommending people travel in groups (no, duh!) and preferably have a guy with them. I had food in my back pack so I was planning on eating in my room.

When I got back to my room and told my roommate I was planning on eating on my bed, she told me she has misophonia where she can’t stand the sounds of other people chewing so she would just hang out in the bathroom when I wanted to eat. By the time I was ready to eat, so had her headphones on so I asked her if it was still going to bother her and if she wanted me to go in the bathroom. She said it would bother her, so I went into the bathroom to eat. It is quite difficult to sit on the lid of the toilet and balance bread, an apple, and chocolate on your lap while your peanut butter is on the edge of the tub. I watched myself in the mirror the whole time I ate my picnic dinner in the bathroom.
          Sunday morning we went back to Krakow for a Latin High mass at the castle church. We ended up standing in the back because it was so crowded. The priest was giving the homily in Polish, but he insisted that Fr. Ron give a homily in English for us. After Mass, a group of nursing majors and two other girls went to the church where a vial of John Paul II’s blood is kept. We had to wait to go in because Mass was going on, so we prayed a Mercy Chaplet while we waited. Someone asked why this church has the vial of blood and Cecelia was like, “when he was here, he nearly cut his finger off on a window, so they got a vial and scooped his blood up.” Some of the people thought this was really cool and I was thinking, “that sounds really unlikely because how do you scoop up blood off of a window” and then Cecelia burst out laughing and told us all she was kidding. We eventually got into the church and were able to pray and touch our rosaries to the glass case that housed the vial. We went back into the center of Krakow and got some lunch and then slowly made our way back to the bus.
          The buses took us to Wadowice where we had two hours to see whatever we wanted to see. We were able to visit the church where John Paul II received the sacraments and where he often went to pray. We also went to the tiny museum that had his baby clothes, his different priestly robes, his ski and snow clothes, and some of his certificates. It was really awesome. We went to the local bakery and had a Pope Cake which apparently was something John Paul II recommended. It was this pastry type dessert that had this creamy filling that tasted like whipped cream and it was really good. Some people said they had a stomach ache because it was so sweet, but I didn’t think it was too sweet. Maybe it’s because they had specialty coffee too.
          We left Wadowice and headed to a hotel two hours away for dinner. Dinner took forever because the staff was so slow in serving everyone but we finally were back on the road headed to Gaming. The last part of the trip was so long because everyone was so tired and my back was killing me from sleeping on the bus. We got back to the Kartause at 2:58 am and I literally went straight up to my room, put my pajamas on and went straight to bed. It felt so good to be back in my bed.
          The Poland Pilgrimage was a very intense weekend full of amazing opportunities. It was definitely my favorite weekend because it had so much meaning for me and it made me feel close to my family and Polish friends. Poland was such a beautiful city and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go there with so many friends! 

Adventures with the Pipps - Week 1

         September 26th was my first time doing ministry to moms with the Pipps. I went over with Betiale and was introduced to all six of the Pipp children. Their names are David - 15, John - 13, Daniel - 10, Joshua - 7, Gianna - 5, and Damien – 1.5…and they all look alike so it’s great fun to try (key word: try) to keep them straight! Mrs. Pipp invited us to stay for dinner because the AMDG guys were coming over and they were having Chili. I don’t know any of the AMDG guys, but Betiale does so we decided to stay. I helped Daniel do his homework and then helped David tidy up the house. Then I watched Daniel and Joshua build a lego helicopter while they were supposed to be watching Damien. Needless to say the lego helicopter took priority in their mind so I kept Damien busy.
          All the Pips who go to confession decided to go so Mrs. Pipp left me and Betiale at the house to make cookies with Joshua, Gianna, and Damien. The AMDG guys showed up before Mr. and Mrs. Pipp came back, so Betiale and I entertained them. The chili was so delicious and Mrs. Pipp had made homemade cornbread with Pooh butter – honey and butter like Pooh bear.

          It was so much fun to be around a family and Mrs. Pipp kept apologizing because Damien was fussy and Joshua wasn’t listening at all. I told her that I have seven younger siblings so I’ve seen it all and not to worry. She was relieved and then very impressed when I told her that they’re all homeschooled. She said she has a lot of respect for my mom for being able to do that! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Budapest, Hungary

The weekend of September 20 – 22, Marissa and I decided to go to Budapest. This was our first time traveling without the school so we had to figure everything out on our own. We got on the public bus outside the Kartause at 7am and rode into Scheibbs. Once we got to Scheibbs, we had to find out where the train was coming in. There were some other girls there who had traveled the weekend before so we just followed them. They told us we would get our tickets on the train, so we got on separately from them and checked with the conductor to make sure that we were on the right train. We sat down and the train left the station a few minutes later. It was really exciting! We were sitting on the train waiting for someone to come along and sell us a ticket, but no one came through on the 45 minute ride, so when we got to Pochlarn, we just got off! Then we realized that we weren’t standing at the right platform for our train that was coming in in two minutes. We could see the right platform, but it was across the tracks and we didn’t see any way to get over there. We were panicking about missing our train, so we looked both ways, jumped down on the tracks, ran across, and climbed up on the next platform. Probably totally not legal, but we didn’t see any other way…until we got over there and found out there are stairs that go underground.
In any case, we made it on the train to on time and waited once again for someone to come through and sell us a ticket. A ticket collector came through once, but I was busy looking at the itinerary I had printed out from OBB and Marissa had Nutella all over her hands from her mid-morning snack she was in the middle of, so he took one look at us and kept walking. I think he passed over us because he thought the itinerary was a ticket, but Marissa thinks he passed on because of her state of affairs.
We made it to St. Polten on time, got the tickets we had paid for over the phone (in the RA office thanks to Scott), and got on the train to Budapest. Once we were on, we realized we were in the wrong section so we had to wait for the next stop to get off and get back on. It was a hassle, but we ran and made it back on.
Once we arrived in Budapest, we waited until people had cleared out and then we got off and started looking for Csaba. I recognized him and then he saw me and came over and gave me and Marissa a hug. He was so welcoming! He drove us to the Regina Pacis Community where we were going to be staying so that we could meet the people there and get the key. The sisters greeted us with two kisses on the cheek (definitely not American!) and smiled at us because they didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Italian, Hungarian, or Spanish.
After we put our bags down, Csaba took us to his house to meet his family and have lunch even though it was 3pm. His family was so happy and welcoming and made us feel at home even though we couldn’t really talk because they don’t speak English. His wife had made us a meal of fruit soup that had pears, cherries, and I think strawberries in it. It was super yummy. We also had sparkling water that had elderberry syrup in it. It had a distinctive taste, but it was really good. Then they served us a main dish similar to chicken pot pie that had rice, chicken, vegetables and cheese it in. It was really delicious. Then we had mashed chestnut with whipped cream for dessert. It was so nice to have a home cooked meal after about a month of Mensa and hotel food!
Csaba then took us to the Buda Palace and on the way he told us about the Buda and the Pest side of Budapest. We took some pictures at the Palace and were able to have a great view of the Pest side across the river. Then we went to the Hospital in the Cave which was a hospital during World War II that was literally in a cave. There was a lot of medical equipment and wax figures in all the different rooms. It was really interesting especially since Marissa and I are nursing students. After the tour of the hospital, he took us to dinner at a restaurant that apparently the Mission takes all their guests to. I had a ceasar salad that had a very creamy dressing.
After dinner, we went to Mass at a church that was in a cave. It was a little church that had different sections in it so that people could attend Mass, or pray on the side. The Mass was in Hungarian of course, so we got to see how well we know the English version of the Mass. When we left the church, we hiked up the hill that the church is on to this big monument that overlooks the city. It was absolutely gorgeous. The city was all lit up and there were even fireworks in the distance. We hiked back down the hill and took a shortcut down a slide that was part of a playground, but it was wet so our pants got wet.
Csaba took us back to the Regina Pacis House and we went straight to bed because we were so tired. The beds were very comfortable and so warm that I didn’t want to get up the next morning! We ate breakfast with the community at 7:30 and they serves us potatoes, eggs, and these sweet, dense corn muffins. They also had warm milk and espresso, but I only had the warm milk with sugar. Marissa was having a great time trying to communicate with them with the Spanish and little Italian she knew, but I was completely lost so I just enjoyed my milk. I realized that what I dislike about traveling I like about living in the states is that when I don't understand someone or someone doesn't understand me, I can grab any random person and to help me communicate with someone. Here, if I can't get my point across or if I can't understand someone, there's no one else around to try to help me understand. If you don't understand someone, you just don't understand.  
Around 9:00, Csaba came to pick us up so that we could visit the MSPTW Mission in Budapest. The Mission is absolutely beautiful. It is such a clean, bright environment. They have an exercise room that has ropes to climb on, a study room with a couple of computers, a big kitchen, showers, table tennis, and the office. Of course there are pictures of the mission in Peru and I recognized a lot of the kids from the pictures my siblings took in Peru. After our tour, we visited the Missionaries of Charity who were a few blocks away and a sister gave us a tour. We were able to venerate a relic of Mother Teresa which was very special. We also saw their classrooms where they use the Good Shepherd method. It was really interesting!
We went back to the MSPTW Mission so that we could meet the superior and have lunch. We had a great conversation about home schooling and Catholic colleges, and he asked us if we would be willing to do an interview which of course we agreed to! We had a lunch of rice and beef stew, and at the end, some of the boys came in. We ended up playing a round of table tennis with them which was really fun!
Csaba then dropped Marissa and I off on the island in the Danube river between the Buda and Pest sides so that he could go back and work at the mission. We walked on the island for 4 hours, did a photo shoot at these ancient ruins, saw a wedding party, ate blackberry and cappuccino ice cream, and people watched. It was a lot of fun. Csaba came back to pick us up and asked us if we were still willing to do a radio interview that his superior had set up for us.
We drove around and finally were able to find a parking place near where the interview was going to be. This interviewer asked us a question which Csaba interpreted for us and then interpreted our answer back to her. It was a great experience. She asked us how we had learned about home schooling, what our experience with home schooling was and asked us to discuss the college we were currently going to. Of course she asked us the typical questions about having friends (or no friends as the assumption goes) and being sheltered. I think Csaba said they’re going to use it for publicity and at their conference.
After the interview, we went back to Csaba’s house where his wife had made dinner for us of chicken thighs, mashed potatoes, and a salad of lettuce, corn, carrots, and tomatoes. His little girls were so entertaining during dinner and it was so nice to be eating dinner with a family again. After dinner I was able to call home and talk to some of the kids and mom. While Marissa was talking to her mom, Csaba’s little girls brought out their memory game so I played with them. I leaned that Banana is pronounced Banan in Hungarian. Super funny, right? After the game, which everyone got involved in, they turned off the lights for prayer time. They had a little candle light lit on their family altar and Csaba played his guitar and sang “My All in All”. We prayed the divine mercy chaplet partly in Hungarian and partly in English, and then they sang the Salve Regina. It was very beautiful.
Marissa wanted to go shopping, so Csaba took us to the store so we could look at clothes. It was fun to try on Hungarian styles of clothes but what really stuck out to me was how narrow their clothes were but how high the numbers for sizes were. I ended up buying a purple shirt and a purse with a zipper on it to use for traveling. We went back to Regina Pacis and I was fast asleep within thirty minutes.
The next morning we had the same breakfast, as the day before but we got to meet the three girls of the family who lives there. They were so sweet! Marissa was trying to speak in Italian and Spanish to them, but I was completely lost again! It was really precious to watch the nun playing with the girls because that just isn’t something you see in America.
Csaba and his family came to pick us up at 10:15 to take us to the Budapest-Keleti train station. While he parked the car, his wife helped us exchange our money back into Euros and find our train. We said good bye and got on the train. We waved good bye to them and then they left.
On our train from Wien Westbahnhof to Pochlarn, we were waiting to get a ticket and the ticket collector came around and asked us where we got one, where we were getting off, and charged us 65 Euro. As it turns out, that wasn’t a ticket…that was a fine because we didn’t have a ticket. It was alright because we probably would have spent somewhere near that anyways if we had bought tickets for the trains…which we have yet to figure out where to get them. On the last train from Pochlarn to Schiebbs, we met up with a group of about twenty other Franciscan students, and once we got to Schiebbs, we got on the bus back to Gaming with them and heard all about their adventures.

Traveling to Budapest was definitely a learning experience. It was so nice to have Csaba there to show us around and make sure we had some delicious, healthy food. It was such a privilege to be able to visit the Mission and the Missionaries of Charity and be able to share our experience of home schooling with the community in Budapest. It was totally worth every minute and I can’t imagine any other way I would have liked to have spent that weekend.