Monday morning we were up before the sun to start our journey back to Boston. Having been warned that our bus would pick us (and the other pilgrims from Boston on our flight) up at 6:00am and if we missed our flight we’d be unlikely to get another for at least a week, our entire group was in the lobby by 5:30am! As these things go, there were bus issues and we didn’t board until almost 6:45am, but as they demonstrated throughout the pilgrimage, our group took everything in stride.
The crowds that greeted us at the airport were daunting at first, but we made it though security and customs without issue. We made it to our gate – and we were still singing!
Finally, it was time to board the plane and head home!
We were blessed to learn, upon arrival, that not only did all our luggage make it back to Boston with us, our bus driver, Sandra, was already at Logan waiting for us. And as Sandra told us, the kids were just as joyous (if a little more tired!) on the bus ride back to St. Paul as they were on the ride to the airport a week earlier!
During the bus ride, we took some time to share what stood out to each of us as the biggest thing we were taking away from this experience. As always, your pilgrims were incredibly thoughtful, articulate, and honest in their reflections.
Something that stood out to the adults on the trip was how close the group remained. Despite the very normal issues and irritations that can surface during a 10-day trip in close quarters (as anyone who has been on a family vacation can attest!) these kids remained patient, kind, and supportive of each other, and returned both spiritually enriched and with even stronger bonds.
We cannot thank all of you who supported us, financially and spiritually, enough. At the beginning of the journey, when the kids were writing their postcards to their sponsors, they were visibly moved to realize how many parishioners – many of whom they didn’t even know – had made this trip possible for them.
This pilgrimage was not always easy; there were many moments, especially on some of the very long, hot, and crowded walks, when doubts about being able to continue would creep in. But all of the pilgrims spoke about feeling the strength of the Holy Spirit – and the prayers of the people back home – supporting and guiding them when they started to feel weak. We literally could not have done it without you.