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The Roofed Wrangler

Hello friends!

It’s been a while since my first blog post, but I am here to tell you about the best experience of my life!

The week of September 17-24th I decided to visit Washington D.C. My boyfriend, Erik, is doing an internship up there and I wanted to visit and tour a city I’ve never been to! This was a big deal for me because most of the time that I was spending there I would be alone fending for myself. Those who know me know how much I value independence! Erik had to work most of the day so I went sight seeing, Uber riding, restaurant trying, and street performer viewing! This was a dream come true! Not only did I have the opportunity to spend time with Erik, eat from food trucks, and visit some excellent museums, but I was absolutely BLESSED that I was able to see our beloved Pope Francis!

On Wednesday September 23rd, I awoke early from my bed and walked down Constitution Ave. to get a spot for the parade. Unfortunately, Erik couldn’t get the day off from work to come and see the parade, so I set off alone. I was so worried that I hadn’t left early enough and that I would be stuck behind a HUGE crowd, unable to see anything. I knew the security checkpoints opened at 4am to start letting people in, but I did not have the will power to wake up that early. I left at around 6:45 that morning and prayed that the line wouldn’t be too long.

The walk to the parade route was not too bad…only about 35 minutes! The closer and closer I got, the more and more people I saw wearing home-made “Welcome Pope Francis” shirts and waving the Vatican flag! People set up booths selling buttons, t-shirts, flags, and more! I saw the line for the security gate and was filled with excitement. The line was not as long as I had expected! I increased my speed and eagerly took my place in line.

I started people watching since I had about another 30 minute wait for my turn through security. I saw people carrying flags from their home countries, posters, and things they were hoping to get blessed. While I was waiting, there was a man standing on the sidewalk, about 20 yards away from where I was standing, with a megaphone and a sign reading “COULD THE POPE BE THE ANTICHRIST?”. There’s always one, am I right?

Anywho, I finally get through security and try and find a good spot. As I had worried about, there were already so many people! There were camera crews there for so many different news stations and people trying really hard to get noticed by them. I thought if I went more towards the end of the parade route, there might not be as many people. Thankfully, I was right! I found a spot in the middle of the last leg of the parade route and ended up making friends with two families that were traveling together to see the Pope. Each family had five kids ranging from 3 to 14! They were incredible people to get to know, and by making friends with them they let me be at the front of the crowd for the parade!!!! What a blessing!!

We had to wait for about three hours before the parade started, but when it did you could feel the excitement from everyone around you! I felt like I was participating in “the wave,” except it was with everyone’s excited yells coming closer and closer. First came the police on motorcycles, then some in SUV’s, and then there he was: Pope Francis in the world famous Popemobile! I could not contain my excitement! I started yelling, becoming part of the wave of voices, and before I knew it there were tears leaving my eyes! He was coming closer and closer! He was waving and smiling to everyone in the crowd, and everyone was smiling and reaching back. When he came right in front of the area that I was standing, he stopped waving and instead, he blessed us. Two times he blessed us with his hand, then continued to wave again.

I couldn’t believe it. I originally thought that I wouldn’t be able to see Pope Francis, none the less be BLESSED by him!! I know that this might sound crazy (trust me, I almost don’t believe it myself), but I know in my heart that I made direct eye contact with the Pope when he passed by and blessed us. The moment it happened my heart was filled with so much love. It felt like Pope Francis looked at me to say, “I love you” – or better yet, God saying it to me through that experience with our Pope. I was in tears, tears of so much joy and love! I had struggled a couple days prior with God’s infinite love for me. How it just doesn’t make since that He could love me when I sin again and again! That day I heard Him loud and clear, and what a refreshing, exciting, and emotional way to hear it.

I wish I could describe in better words this remarkable experience, but as I have said before, I don’t always have a way with words. If there was one thing that I would want you to take away from my experience, it is the fact that God loves you so so so much!! He tells us every single day of our lives, sometimes we need a bigger push to realize it. The perfect example is in the Mass, and in the Eucharist. He has given us DAILY bread to receive, the Bread of Life, the Bread of Love.

God is so good!

With all my love,

Vanessa

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About the Author:

Vanessa Benitez
"Love is among the greatest gifts you can give to others, but is blessed with more graces when given to yourself."

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