I am starting off with my borrowed car, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side. It is helpful that all cars are like that. But I feel strange. Attention at the right side, they have priority, also on the roundabouts, Speed in cities – 5o km/h, outside the city – 100 km/h unless indicated otherwise. First motorway 1, then 2 and then main road 27. I left Aucklad in rain but the sun soon began to shine, like it should during the holidays. The destination is Hobbition in the Matamata region. I park in th e city centre and leave for an almost 3 hours’ guided trip.
We leave with the bus at 11.45, only to change for the next one about half an hour later – we go to the farm of Alexander brothers, where Hobbiton was built – first for the Lord of the Rings and then for the Hobbit.
It’s here that Peter Jackson in Septermebr 1998 found a place that ideally fit the vision of Middle Earth as described by Tolkien: hills, lake and the party tree. In March 1999 the army of New Zealdn came to this place to prepare it for the arrival of the film crew of 400 people. Roads, technical infrastructure andbuildings were needed. It took them 9 months. In December 1999 filming began that took 3 months.
It is really a giant undertaking. I take a lot of pictures but I know that they will not do justice to reality. When I look at the houses, I remember the scenes from the film. This is where the journey began, up there Sam met his daughter who ran to meet him, down here Gandalf travelled with his trolley, it’s here that Bilbo spoke on his birthday and disappeared.
The guide poses some theological questions. I make a short speech to the group who listen attentively. I remind them that Tolkien was an ardent Catholic. Let them know how much they owe to the Catholic church.
It’s time to go back. But it was worth having a look. To be continued. Now I move southwards. where a big cmmunity of native inhabitants of New Zealand, Maoris, live.
My stay in New Zealand begins with a small acclimatiziation. Last night, even though I was awaked by a cloudburst, I tried not to get entirely out of sleep and I kept trying to get back to it, explaining to myself that here I am on holiday and I should get some rest. It’s the first morning in many weeks when I don’t need to be in a hurry.
Today – the highlight is my youngest Sister’s Birthday. Round anniversary, so even more special. Today I’m also going to have my cassock cleaned – it got a bit worn-out from travelling. I should also buy some warm clothes, because I didn’t manage to pack my suitcase for all seasons of the year. And here it’s November-like weather. When I was leaving Poland, the snow on the Warsaw pavements stayed behind. I landed in the middle of hot summer in between, and now it’s already autumn. Time passes by so quickly. I only must have lost the spring somewhere on the way. 🙁
But the first objective of today was to visit Lord Jesus present in Eucharist. Today, as on every Thursday, in one of the local parishes there is the exposition of the Holy Sacrament. So we turn up for adoration.
The church on the top of the hill has in it a window located right behind the altar. From that window you’ve got the view of the whole vicinity.
It’s the first time I’ve seen such an idea for the chancel design. You have to look at the world outside through the Altar and Lord Jeusus. As if He didn’t want to stop our sight just on Himself, but invited us to see the world through His eyes. The Church is not the place of flight from the “bad” world, but the place where we learn to see the world from the right perspective.
I liked it here a lot. I was happy to stay here and adore the Holy Sacrament. I didn’t feel like leaving this place.
For tomorrow I’ve scheduled a day of prayer and reflection. Until the evening, because then I’ll celebrate the Mass and give a talk to the local Polish community. But before that, I want to spend some time face to face with Lord Jesus. I need it after so many meetings with people. I need to tell Him about all that happened. And this possibility of seeing the world through the Lord – inspired me greatly.
I’ve seen the Southern cross today. The real one! Truly, it was only for a while because then the clouds came again. But I’ve seen it. It’s real. Now the sky is sully covered with clouds again. It was as if I had been meant to see the proof that I’d reached the South.
I experienced a sort of shock because when finally we started landing in Auckland and went below the cloud level, beautiful sun changed into pouring rain.
The luggage I collected was wet. And getting into the car of Jacek, my roommate from the school years in Warsaw, living in New Zealand for 24 years, was also in jets of rain. The journey from the airport was like travelling through rainy Warsaw so I felt like home at least for a while, meaning: almost all the time in a jam. Well, not quite like home because here you always always drive the wrong side of the road. We arrived home after dusk. A typical autumn day – because here it’s mid-autumn now. And it doesn’t look like the weather’s going to change much. Who’s coming to New Zealand at this time of the year? Perhaps people from the Sahara?
Anyway, I’ve landed and gone through VERY scrupulous examinations whether I wanted to transport dangerous articles. In the customs declaration you have to declare everything, even running shoes. Paper control happens three times, and then follows searching through the luggage. In my case it was enough to put the luggage into the scanner. The penalties are enormous, so when in doubt it’s always better to note something down instead of risking. I am looking at people who have their luggage searched. The Customs Officers simply go through everything and if they find any food, they take it away. I am informimg you because when I read sites on New Zealand, i’ve never found anything of this kind on the fora. Neither did I know that I was supposed to fill in customs declaration to Australia twioce, when I was enetering and when I was leaving. They really treat it seriously.
Tomorrow there’s a free day. It’s time to give my cassock to the laundry (because it’s much worn because of all these travels) and to visit the Holy Sacrament. J
The first trip is only on Saturday, I am collecting my car tomorrow.
The good news is that I can tell you the fortune. I am 10 hours ahead of you. Here it’s midnight. I’m going to bed.
I certainly had to meet people whom I got to know, for the most part, in Omaha at EP 1 or EP 2 or Love&Life Unlimited Conference. 16 people came to the meeting and this was an opportunity to get to know each other, share experiences and make a short speech.
In the second part of the meeting we were joined by Bishop Carlos Briseno, bishop suffragan of the diocese of Mexico, reponsible for Vicario Episcopal, II Vicaria. In this administractive district pf Mexico 1.5 million people live and 250 are there to help.
Bishop Briseno is a great support for the development of NaProTechnology. His Bishop’s House has become a place for meetings and discussion. That’s why he’s invited us again for the meeting.
During this meeting and the following one, in a smaller group. I was able to present the assumptions of our Programmes. The Bishop liked very much the idea of permanent training for married couples and he decided to visit us during our TU+YO=NOSOTROS what you could read about in the entry after the Programme.
Today I will have the longest flight in my life. Even though I shall have changes, I will spend 24 hours in the air : Mexico to Los Angeles (5h), then to Sydney (15h) and finally to Auckland in New Zealand (4h).
Although I feel tired after this intensive stay in Mexico, I am very happy. I have never been that far away and I have never flown for so long. Because of time zones I lose one day: I fly on Monday but will arrive only on Wednesday. Now I am 7h behind you, as from Wednesday I will be 10 h ahead of you.
See you on Wednesday, if God allows it. I am leaving some entries and pictures from Mexico so that you can have some fun until the next meeting on-line.
With my prayers, “Padre Jota” – for the last moments
I’m surprised almost all the participants arrive on time. Both Sunday thematic parts – “Dialogue and Communication” and “Sealing the Gift of Intimacy” – quickly go by. In the meantime,we decide to move the meal till after the Mass, thanks to which I have time to pray over each couple individually. Unfortunately we are not able to do that for all.
I celebrated the Mass together with Padre Cristobal, that is Father Krzysztof, a Polish missionary, who has worked in Mexico for the last 20 years. We got to know each other at the meeting with Bishop Carlos Briseno Arch, who wanted me to help Padre Cristobal get acquainted with the Programs. So he has been with us for the whole Saturday and Sunday. It was thanks to him that we managed to meet another Polish priest here, Fr Tomasz from the Aptostolic Nunciature.
After the Holy Mass with the renewal of marriage vows we returned to have a meal, during which we were visited by Bp Briseno. He took part in the final session of sharing testimonies and he was really encouraged on hearing the participants’ feedback. He sees a great need for pastoral work with families.
It was so difficult to say goodbye… A couple of pictures more, and we all have to go to our destinations.
Thank you for your prayers,
Renewal of Marriago Vows
Part of the couples taking part in the Program in Mexico City
Evetually, 14 couples turn up at the Program. They’ve been married for 7 to 30 years. They came here, because they were invited by Beatriz and Pepe. Only 4 people had met me before in Omaha, so definitely the presence of so many people here may be owed only to te trust they had for the organizers. They heard no direct testimony from others. I talk to some of them before the beginning of our retreat and I’m impressed with their knowledge of English and the openness to take part in something entirely new.
The standards of organization goes beyond all imagination. Even Wrocław [the Family Support Foundation’s divsion in South-West Poland – comment from the translator] will have to work hard before they catch up with Mexico. I will not describe all the details, as you can see much on the photos (you know, such small things as the waiters wearing professional uniforms, tables in the garden, candles, beautiful sun and warm weather, etc). I’m not sure if we don’t have to organize a delegation to hold an on-site visit and examine the quality of preparations – some serious group from Wrocław or some other Foundtion’s associates? 🙂
I’ve been learning that the pace of life is different here, and so is the noton of “punctuality”. But they say the more south you go, the more interesting it becomes…
The lectures are welcomed with more than enthusiasm. After all, this is Latinamerica. People are passionate about things. And those comments: “Padre, this is amazing that the Program was created in Poland, but it describes exactly our own reality.”
The day is coming to an end. When I’m writing this post, the Coach Couples are holding Workshop 4 and in a moment all participants will start the last part scheduled for today – Individual Couple Dialogue combined with a romantic dinner: with candles, good wine and wonderful music. That seems to be possible only in Mexico. So far. People are waiting in Brasil and Columbia, too. 🙂
For several reasons we had to move the continuation of the pilot Program to early-afternoon hours. But we managed to meet. On Wednesday we went through the remaining four thematic parts of I+YOU=WE.They are relevant in Mexico, too. We discover that nothing has to be changed or adjusted; married couples experience similar problems all over the world. We can also admire how universal the teaching of the Church is in proclaiming God’s truth about marriage.
Both couples who take part in the pilot, Eli & Armando and Beatriz & Pepe have been married for similar time. The first couple are parents to four kids, the other one – to two. What they share is that they decided to put the values first in their lives. They also have in common that things haven’t always been easy for them and they’ve got a lot of life experience to build upon.
We needed one more meeting to discuss the workshop part – which will be run in Spanish, so we had to make sure everything was clear. And I had my moment of happiness, too, because the first Mexican couples liked the Program a lot. Even though they’re a bit afraid, they look forward to the weekend version of the Program they will be coaches at.
We take our time to make everytjing ready – to plan the meals, print out the materials, ensure there will be enough coffee for breaks, etc. Many people have their contribution in those preparations. There’s a lot to thank Heaven for.
Yo+Tu=Nosotros begins tomorow morning in Mexico, i.e. this afternoon Polish time. We commend ourselves to your prayers.
When Jesus saw His Mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her,“Woman,[a] here is your son,” 2 and to the disciple, “Here is your Mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)
Worshipped in so many different representations, always showing herself akin to the culture She is coming to visit, She’s offering you this kind of proximity which binds together closest members of a family. And if you have never known the loving presence of a mother, she heals you to be able to experience it. Her Son wanted you so much to be part of His Family.
Our Lady of the Snow, Illionois
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Our Lady of Częstochowa, Queen of Poland
And here someone took a picture of Her in the company of St Elizabeth:
Since many couples are going to the weekend version of the Programme, there is no other option but to make a pilot version for the trainers. Unfortunately we have only time during the week, after work, late at night. At least the first meeting will be like that. We start just before 8 pm. Two subjects are foreseen: “Idealistic visions and reality” and “Respect and accepting the differences”. For the first time I will run the programme for two couples only and as a whole, together with the workshop part. It reminds me of the beginnings 6 years ago, when the first programme was created. We were only beginning to create the first team so we had to think about everything.
Luckily for us, English is a foreign language also for the listeners, so poor vocabulary and grammatical constructions make our task only easier. I think about Trainers with so much gratitude for their commitment, competences and availability. Now, when I run the workshops for the first time for many years, I appreciate once again the blessing of team work. It would be so difficult to run the programmes on my own.
We’ll be finishing late. Tomorrow – to be continued.