I am sitting in the middle aisle on the first leg of a flight to Lima Peru that will eventually take about 25 hours, stopover included. Around me and spread throughout the plane are about 100 travellers - 15 and 16 year old students from Sydney Catholic schools, some of their teachers and other very good and committed people all of whom work to make the lives of these young people better. And they do make them better.
The plane left about an hour late.
It is a smooth flight but it is cramped here in the middle seat of the middle aisle of the Qantas 747 and hard to write on my iPad. The two young people on either side of me are from Clancy Catholic College are very friendly and excited, like the other young people on the journey. I gave up my seat for a while so they could chat with their mates. I was happy to walk around and talk to the few people I know. I am back in my seat now and have have watched two movies, one I had seen before and another I hadn't - both good. In one of them I saw a part of me own life experience in it. Movies like that are journeys too that travel with you long after they are over.
(PS I cant upload photo or video until i get a reasonable internet connection. That will be a little way away yet...)
I am underprepared for what lies ahead, even though I don't know what actually that will be. The students have spent time on their WYD formation program in the months preceding and I expect that will make them better prepared than I am but it still won't get them ready for what they will see and hear and feel. How could it? They are travelling to a place do different to the one they know and will spend time with very poor people. They will also be in crowd of around 5 million people for a Mass that will bring WYD in Rio to a close. They are going with open hearts and a desire to make a difference to their own lives and the lives of others. That is journey worth being on.
The first part of the trip ends in Santiago Chile. There is a 10-hour wait for the 3-hour connecting flight to Lima Peru. Then we will see where he journey moves to from there. For us all...