Yesterday we were able to get a slow start as the first thing on the schedule was a bus tour at 2 pm. Small groups split off and explored the city, while others stayed in the hotel to rest. Our small group of 11 walked over three miles from our hotel toward Old Town with hopes of seeing the Chopin museum. Unfortunately, we didn't walk fast enough and when we arrived we needed to find lunch before grabbing taxis back to the hotel. Lunch was fantastic. They had English menus and many people ordered different kinds of peirogis. From fillings of meat, spinach and cheese, to blue berries with sweet cream. They looked delicious, but because I my diet is gluten and dairy free, I had mixed sausages (white sausage which I thought was more like kielbasa and a regular sausage) over a bed of sauted onions. Many of us at the table also had an apple mint lemonade, though it tasted more like minty apple juice than lemonade.
Since the bus tour was going to drop the rest of the group off near Old Town, and we were running a bit behind, our group missed the bus tour and walked from lunch to meet the group. We were able to stop in a few churches on the way. The Church of the Holy Cross stood out as a favorite of mine. Intricate stained glass in many of the windows.
Through out the streets there were musicians and street performers. Everyone is celebrating World Youth Day and St. John Paul II. I picked up a few pamphlets about Warsaw and St. John Paul II which I look forward to reading.
For dinner, our travel agency held a welcome bbq with the other groups using the agency that traveled here from the US. Sausage, chicken, steak, peirogis, salad, fruits and desserts were available. There was water, but bottles of apple juice (I'm sensing a theme here) were more common.
After dinner, we heard from Chris Stefanick. He shared stories about the Polish resiliency following WWII and the communist rule. "Culture outlasts dictators," he said. It is easy to see the culture across the city as we have seen it. Chris also talked about the lives of St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Faustina, and St. John Paul II. "Heroic souls are only chiseled out of the rest of us by suffering." He also reminded us of our grandmothers and the grandmothers generations back that prayed for us.
We walked from the meeting hall around to the church. The delegations from Orlando, Boston, Conneticut, Bridgport, St. Petersburg, and ourselves from Baltimore shared a blessed time together in adoration. Many people took the opportunity to got to confession as well. Priests sat around the outer edges of the church and we were able to go as we felt called.
Much love and peace to everyone back at home. More to come soon!
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