Wednesday, March 16, 2011

LA Congress 2011

This year the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress is scheduled during our spring break. EJ and I decided to attend the congress as chaperones for the Immaculate Conception Church Youth Group (ICCYG). Much of this trip will be re-living our childhood along with supervising 12 youth. The highlight of this trip will certainly be the Youth Day (Thursday) but the Disneyland Experience, Universal Studios, and Medieval Times will be great as well. Follow me for the next few days as my spring break unfolds.

Day 1: (Monday) Today we arrived in LAX and was craving for an "Animal Style Double-Double" from In & Out. After checking in to our hotel, EJ's classmate, who lives in LA, picked us up for a night of great company. For dinner, we ate authentic Korean food in a small hole in the wall restaurant. I have been craving Bi-bim-bap since the semester started. I definitely had to eat that in the Hot Pot version. Our night ended with boba drinks down the road.

Day 2: (Tuesday) With only four hours of sleep, our day started with meeting the ICCYG at the airport. They rode the red eye from Lihue, Kauai direct to LAX. The youth were enthusiastic for their full day of Disneyland with only very little sleep. This was the first time I went to Disneyland.

Day 3: (Wednesday) Today was our Universal Studios adventure.

Day 4: (Thursday) We woke up very early to get into the line at the Anaheim Convention Center for Youth Day. Before our two hour wait, we stopped at seven eleven to grab some coffee to wake up. I was looking for spam musubi's, bento's, and fried saimin. Unfortunately seven eleven franchise only served donuts, banana's and breakfast burritos. It was 530am when we got to the Anaheim Convention Center. There was already a line forming at the doors. We were able to get in line at the beginning of the 15,000 youth gathered. Tried from a short sleep, the ICCYG were excited to experience their first Los Angeles Youth Day. The doors were opened at 730am and our group latched to each other as we moved into the arena. There was a perfect spot that Uncle Blu remembers from previous congresses. We followed as he dashed on in the first level of bleachers. He was right! The seats that we got were the best view. None of this nose bleed action that I have experienced in the past. Jessie Manibusan roused up the crowd with music. He shared to the youth the meaning of being "Church".

I have attended the LA Congress in the past but never made to the Youth Day portion. This was my first LA Congress Youth Day. After the great singing, the first inspirational speaker was Justin Fatica of the Hard as Nails Ministry. That ended the opening sessions. We decided to take the morning workshop that was in the arena. Our first speaker was Judy McDonald on the topic "Finding God in All Things."

Before Lunch, Archbishop Gomez celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass along with many brother bishops, priests, and deacons. At the end He said, "This is amazing." The Youth Day was Archbishop's introduction to LA Congress.

After Lunch, we attended the session led by inspirational speaker, Fr. Tony Ricard. Hearing his version of the creation story was moving to all present. As expected, Fr. Ricard motivated the youth with his message to "Shut up and Listen."

The closing ceremony was led by Jesses Manibusan.

Day 5: (Friday) Day of play at California Adventures. Don't worry we all had tofu(meatless) for lunch.

Day 6: (Saturday) Today, Ej and I decided to spend our whole day exploring through "Catholic Costco" (Catholic Costco is the 250+ exhibitors at LA Congress). For lunch we had an opportunity to meet and greet all the Hawaii delegates at Ihop. After lunch, we continued our exploration. We attended the Young Adult Mass in the afternoon.

Day 7: (Sunday) Our Spring Break is coming to an end. As we sat in the terminal for Alaska Air, I began to reflect on my vocation. My experience this spring break has taught me to live life to the fullest.

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