Through the glory of God, I participated in WYD Brazil, 2013. Here is my experience. I was 18 years old and had participated for three years in my neighborhood Church’s Youth Group. We faced many difficulties getting to WYD since in that year the socio-economic situation in Venezuela worsened.
After registration opened, our group of seven pilgrims successfully fundraised to attend the event and pay for travel. However, the travel agency scammed us and did not actually buy our tickets. When there was no hope, we managed to solve the issue the day before our travel. But we missed the opportunity to apply for additional funding, since by Venezuelan law, one can only request travel money a month before a trip, with tickets already purchased. A priest friend of ours encouraged us to live the experience and travel anyway, without a cent in our pockets, since he felt that God in his providence wanted to give us a beautiful gift, so we did. After many difficulties we reached Magé, where we realized that our host families at the Parish, knowing our situation, organized themselves to help us. We really did not have to pay for anything. The testimony of that Church, receiving us with warmth as though we were as part of its own family, filled me profoundly. We did not lack anything, on the contrary, we were showered with love, hugs, and testimonies of the love of Christ.
At World Youth Day, I was motivated by the words of the Pope, I said to Jesus, “I want to serve you, I do not want to remain ‘stuck’ in history,” and so it was for me. After WYD, I joined the missionary community “Alegría y Esperanza”(Joy and Hope), which I have been in five years. Three years in, I began the process to join the Consecrated Life. By the grace of God, I was sent on mission to Costa Rica in 2016, where I had the beautiful opportunity to receive pilgrims at home and to be like Christ who receives with love, just as I was received with love and able to participate in my encounter with the Pope. Truly, the Lord gave me beautiful gifts that World Youth Day. I am already eager to know what He will give me in Panama.
Estefany Mendoza, Venezuela