Tag Archives: world youth day

world youth day update, day 5 and final bits

i’m in aukland, new zealand, as i write this, on my way home. i flew in this morning from sydney, and am spending the afternoon with my good friend tash mcgill, before flying overnight tonite to l.a., and on to san diego.

my last day in sydney was reasonably uneventful, and really post-world youth day. i wrapped up my 24 hours of silence, got picked up by an a buddy who i know from hong kong, who now lives here. he drove me out to where i had an appt in the ‘burbs, and we had a leisurely coffee together and talked about the church in australia.

then, as i blogged in my post about the small world, i met with the owner of our largest ys product distributor in australia. i assumed i would chat with him about increasing the number of ys titles they sell, and stuff like that. but before we met, i’d checked out the youth ministry section in the large anchor store below their offices, and was blown away. it was about the best youth ministry section i have ever seen in a christian bookstore. three entire shelving units, plus part of a fourth, fully stocked with multiple copies of loads of ys books. 90% of the titles were ys books.

so, there didn’t seem to be much of a reason to talk to him about increasing our ys titles. instead, we talked about adding some ys/koorong co-sponsored one-day youth ministry training events. they’re excited about this idea, and i think we’ll do it next year.

after lunch, i took the train back to sydney; and in the evening, had a wonderful dinner with the 24 year-old president of world youth alliance. it’s an org based in nyc that works to educate and rally young voices around ‘dignity of human life’ issues. they work directly with the u.n, the e.u., and other political groups, and have offices in 5 regions of the world. all their staff are under 30. sounds like they do really cool stuff, and there might be some complimentary stuff with ys. oh, and we ate a wagamama, which is one of my favorite restaurants in the world. liesl and i stumbled across wagamama in london a couple years ago. subsequent to that, i’ve had a couple friends become fans. i think there are only a couple in the states, but they’re in the east (boston, i think?). best noodle bar ev-ar.

later, i saw the dark night, in a kick-butt aussie theater (big chairs, tables between them, a bar that serves in the theater, giant screen and awesome sound). and, now, here i am going home.

a few final pics, completely random…

here are two of me on the sydney harbor bridge (one, extremely dorky, i might add!):

and, here is a big freaky bird i saw walking around a park in the city, which i took a picture of for my bird-loving friend, scot mcknight:

and, finally, here’s me here in aukland, revisiting my love for the new zealand “latte bowl” (yes, that’s a coffee):

monday morning check-in, on, uh, tuesday

ok, so i forgot about my new practice of the monday morning check-in yesterday. but here’s the funny thing: i’m typing this in aukland new zealand, and it’s tuesday afternoon here. but it’s still monday in the u.s. so while this post will go live tuesday morning in the states, it’s being written on monday (even though it’s tuesday where i am). yeah. sure. whatever.

the weekend that was: yeah, world youth day, in sydney. blogged a lot about it, so won’t more here. really wonderful weekend — so glad i came here for it.

where i am at the moment: aukland, new zealand, on my way home.

on my to-do list this week: i have one day in the office this week again (wednesday), so it will be a massive catch up day. i think we’ll have an announcement to make, and i’m sure i’ll have some stuff to do with that. we were planning on camping thursday through sunday, but i talked to jeannie today, and i think we’re going to cancel that for a few reasons, not the least of which is that — this sucks — my whole family has discovered they have lice in their hair. don’t know where it came from — max was clearly the carrier, as he had it the worst. jeannie had to shave his hair off – poor little guy (he loved his long hair). i’m just hoping i don’t have them!

moving update: we had a couple more showings, and an open house over the weekend with good traffic. we’ve continued to go back and forth with one of the previous low-ball offers. we’ve countered, they’ve countered, back and forth. we’re within 5 grand of each other now, so i think it’s likely this will happen, and we’ll be in serious “bust a move” mode, trying to find a house and move within 40 days.

procrastinating about: i have so much to catch up on. i feel like i’m on my tip-toes to keep my nostrils above it all. so i don’t know that i’m really procrastinating about anything; but i’m still dropping balls, i think.

book i’m in the midst of: the book of general ignorance

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: matt maher

next trip: assuming our camping trip is off, my next trip is in a week, to grand rapids, for a zondervan leadership team retreat.

how i’m feeling about this week: canceling the camping trip feels good — it was feeling like i wasn’t going to have time to breathe. but i wish i had two weeks in the office with no other commitments.

world youth day update, days 3 and 4

my time here in sydney has continued to be wonderful. saturday, the lifeteen staff and i climbed the sydney harbor bridge. i have pics, but forgot the disc in my room — i’ll post them later. it was a very cool experience for a couple reasons. first, it’s a fun excursion, and a gorgeous view of sydney. but to make it more cool, we climbed the bridge when it was closed to car traffic for the world youth day pilgrimage. tens of thousands of teenagers from around the globe were trekking from north sydney, across the bridge, to the spot where the saturday evening prayer vigil would occur. so our view, as we climbed, was of thousands of teenagers walking in pilgrimage. it was really a wonderful and joy-filled sight.

after a bit of rest, i made my way out to the huge racecourse where the vigil was taking place. it was seriously nuts. best guesses are that over 200,000 where there (they say 500,000 were there the following day for the closing mass). i don’t know if i have ever seen so many people stretched out in one place. youth groups were spread out all over the place with sleeping bags, as they all spend the night there in vigil. for the portion i was there, there was a large program taking place on a massive stage (with truly world-class sound and visual support — jumbo-trons all over the place, and perfect sound everywhere).

the program involved teens from all over the world sharing a short testimony about god’s work in their lives. each of these teens spoke in their native language, so i could only understand about one in every five who happened to be speaking in english. but i could get the gist of all of them, and it was very moving. i think the one that moved me the most was the girl who spoke on behalf of deaf teenagers, in sign language (but an australian translated into english). she spoke about how being deaf has been a gift in her life — it was truly beautiful.

after each of these testimonies, the pope read a short prayer, then everyone in the entire place sang a short chorus — a verse that had been written for world youth day. when they sang, they lifted up lit candles. have you ever seen 200,000 candles being lifted into a dark sky while teenagers sang words like this?

receive the power of the holy spirit
receive the power to be light unto the world

it really took my breath away.

but at some point, as i was walking around, observing kids with their candles, watching them sing, i noticed that i was completely in spectator mode. i stopped in front of a jumbotron and watched for a bit. when the song came around, i listened, and realized it was dumb that i wasn’t singing along. so the next time the chorus started up, i opened my mouth and started singing.

and i instantly started crying. it was just such a stunning experience, singing those words with hundreds of thousands of teenagers, accompanied by a choir and orchestra made up of teenagers.

here are a couple photos…

there is really no way to capture the magnitude of this thing. this picture shows about 5% of the view from where i was standing the moment.

these were the scenes i saw repeated a hundred-fold as i walked around. teens standing alone, or in groups, singing, listening, praying (and of course, some of them just chatting).

sunday, i had a nice breakfast with matt maher, the worship leader. then i entered into 24 hours of silence. i slept and read and prayed. mostly just in my hotel room.

world youth day update, day 2

have had a wonderful 2nd day here in sydney. the adoration (worship) last night with matt maher and the lifeteen gang was beautiful. the kids were pretty rowdy, as could be expected. but, of course, that also meant they threw themselves completely into worship. but the coolest moments where when a bishop (from lexington, ky) processed in carrying a cross (actually a monstrance, which is a new term for me — it’s a cross with a consecrated host in it), and the thousands of teenagers knelt in complete silence — i mean TOTAL silence — for about 10 minutes. it was a beautifully holy moment.

today, i tagged along with a few lifeteen peeps for a bit of sightseeing in sydney. we went down to the harbor and walked around for a bit. then we went on a small jetboat ride in sydney harbor. fantastic and fun! it was one of those jetboats that does 360-degree spins. we got totally soaked, despite wearing ponchos. but it was a total blast, and we got a great tour of the harbor and all the sights.

afterward, we made our way to the sydney opera house. man, that thing is even more amazing up close.

we walked around inside for a bit, and found they were about to have a spanish mass in one of the auditoriums, so went to that. the whole thing reminded me of the “every tribe and tongue” reality of the kingdom of god. there we were, a small group of americans, sitting in the sydney opera house, listening to catholic mass being said in spanish, completely surrounded by teenage pilgrims from spanish speaking countries around the world. very cool.

we had lunch as a waterside cafe, which had a perfect view of the downtown skyline, the harbor, and the harbor bridge.

then we walked over to the bridge. on the way, we joined the tens of thousands of teenagers from around the world who were walking through the city as part of a massive city-wide stations of the cross. lots of groups were carrying flags from their countries. again, i was reminded of the worldwide community of faith — it was hard NOT to be reminded of this!

tonite, i’m going to another worship event with matt maher and hillsong united. it’s an outdoor event, and they’re expecting about 150,000 to attend! tomorrow, we’re climbing to the top of sydney harbor bridge, which should be a kick!

world youth day, day 1

arrived in sydney (via san francisco and aukland) late thursday morning. it’s thursday evening as i’m writing this, which is weird, as it’s only wednesday night in the u.s.

i’ll try to post impressions each day while i’m here.

i met up with the lifeteen folk at the hotel. man, they are just such wonderful people. i feel like there are some similarities in the journey they’ve been on over the last few years, and the journey ys and i have been on. we had to figure out how to move beyond a wonderful and charismatic founder, and so did they. we were often perceived as arrogant (and often were), and had to move to more of a place of humility and serving youth workers, rather than thinking we had the answer to everything and were god’s gift to youth ministry; lifeteen has gone through the same kind of change. but the thing is, when i’m around these people, i’m blown away by their humility, graciousness and love. i aspire to be more like them. god’s spirit is so evident in their lives, in every conversation. i often feel like a spiritual lightweight around them. this is good — it puts me in a learning posture, open to what god can teach me and do in me.

we walked down to the sydney harbor and had lunch at an outdoor spot. thousands of teenagers from around the world are everywhere, and it’s just so cool. the pope was arriving by boat in sydney harbor around that time, but we didn’t stay for that, as we had to head back for the load in and sound check for the lifeteen worship night tonite (it’s a eucharistic adoration — i blogged about being a part of one of these at the lifeteen conference a few weeks back). my friend matt maher is leading worship, and lifeteen’s president, randy raus, is speaking. the event is in an arena that holds 10,000, and it’s sold out. should be an amazing evening, as 10,000 teens from around the world worship god together. i’m pumped to be here, and it’s cool to not have a role, so i just get to participate.

monday morning check-in, 7.14.08

the weekend that was: my fam drove from detroit to niles, michigan/south bend, indiana, where i officiated at the wedding of my niece on saturday. great time — a mini-family reunion. i forgot the jacket to my suit in my in-law’s closet, and had to have my father-in-law drive it to the brother of my brother-in-law, who was coming the day of the wedding. he arrived 20 minutes after the wedding was to start. we would have started, but he also had one of the grandmothers. yesterday, we drove to chicago to start a 48 hour family vacation here. jeannie and i lived here when we were first married, so it has lots of nostalgic stuff for us. sunday afternoon and evening, we stopped for a vienna beef chicago dog, checked into our hotel (a cool little boutique hotel just north of the miracle mile, called the hotel indigo), walked around on michigan avenue and did a little shopping in water tower place and h&m, got a scoop of ice cream at ghirardelli’s, went to see blue man group (good suggestion, tony), then to gino’s east for a half-cheese, half veggie stuffed pizza.

where i am at the moment: chicago. what a great city.

on my to-do list this week: a few things to monitor back at ys (via blackberry, primarily, and hoping for a big announcement this week), but the main thing this week, post-chicago trip, is my trip to sydney for catholic world youth day.

moving update: busy week! we had 6 or more showings, and 2 offers (both ridiculously low).

procrastinating about: finished a feature length article on ‘balance’ for journal of student ministries, and my monthly column for youthwork magazine, but still haven’t touched a keyboard for another chapter on my middle school ministry book.

book i’m in the midst of: true story: a christianity worth believing in, and The Yellow Leaves: A Miscellany (by Frederick Buechner/.

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: coldplay: viva la vida.

next trip: sydney, australia, tomorrow (through next tuesday). i couldn’t get a decent flight into sydney (probably something to do with 1,000,000 teenage pilgrims coming!), so i’m flying chicago to san francisco, then to aukland, NZ. then i have a separate flight to sydney.

how i’m feeling about this week: stoked! can’t wait to experience world youth day.

out for two weeks

our family flies to michigan this morning. we’ll be with jeannie’s parents for a couple days, then down to southwest michigan for the wedding of my niece (which i’m officiating), then to chicago for a couple days just for our family (museums and such). from chicago, jeannie and the kids will go back to southwest michigan to join my parents at a cabin for a couple days, before going back to detroit to fly home. but i’m flying from chicago, through aukland, new zealand, to sydney, australia, for catholic world youth day (which is really more than a day!). i’ll post more on that, i’m sure.

blogging might be a bit light for the next two weeks — i’m not back in san diego until the evening of the 22nd.