We´re back from the Home of the Mother Boys´ Summer Encounter in Leon, Spain! For all of us who are able to participate, the Home of the Mother Summer Encounters are, each year, a great event in our lives. It´s an unforgettable experience which has a big impact, on both a human and spiritual level, on all those who take part.
The Home of the Mother has held these summer encounters for more than 30 years now, and every encounter, every year, has definitely born fruits for the Gospel, though we will find out how many only in heaven (we´ll let you know when we do find out...).
This year the encounter was held in Bierzo de León, in Peranzanes, Spain, and was, yet again, another unforgettable experience. We enjoyed the company of 50 boys from five different countries. There were a lot of new faces and all of us were able to enjoy a healthy atmosphere among us, along with delicious food.
During our campfires, we shared the wide variety of talents that God has given each one of the boys: with skits, jokes, magic tricks, shows, and songs – all of which highlighted each person´s wit and skill, enriching each one of us.
We greatly enjoyed the grandeur of the nature which surrounded us, though it was demanding at the same time, with the uneven surfaces and rocks, all of which seemed insurmountable - until we actually did overcome them. That´s what happened to us the day that it started to rain, and the clouds rolled in all around us. We were as far away from camp as possible, right at the top of Puerto Carral (a beautiful hike, with a bird´s-eye view looking over our campsite). It rained so much and we were so far away, there was no way that we could get back home in time. We knew that we would get back soaking wet, but that didn´t take away our joy. We said, ¨What should we do with these five minutes that we have until the storm hits?¨ Everyone unanimously cried, ¨Snack!¨
And then something incredible happened: we blessed our snack, singing to God and Our Lady all the while, offering up to them the deluge that was heading our way. All of us were united in singing, without anyone complaining, and all of a sudden – almost without our realizing it – the clouds disappeared. The sky cleared and we went back down the path, both joyful and dry, thanking God for having taken care of us as He did the young people who took part in WYD in Madrid last year: it started to pour while they were at Cuatro Vientos with Pope Benedict. Do you remember? There the young people started to sing to Our Lady and they cried out, "¡No pasa nada: estamos con el Papa!" (A cheer the young people shouted, meaning that they didn´t care about the rain since they were with the pope). We also sang to Our Lady and she protected us in Leon, as she will always protect anyone who calls on her with faith and without complaining, as we did that day in Puerto Carral.
What else did we do? Well, it was a really close game when we had a scavenger hunt in the woods, with clues and hidden signs that led the boys along a path, as the teams raced against time. But it wasn´t just being fast that counted, also one´s creativity in responding to the riddles.
We had a lot of fun playing sports on the various fields, both in Peranzanes and wherever we found a field on our hikes – we even played capture the flag where our tents were set up. Thanks be to God, no one got hurt! However, the most popular activities were the night games, swimming in the mountain rivers, and exploring the mills and waterfalls, which were hidden amidst the gullies and streams and covered over by trees which formed tunnels over the river, making a genuine passageway with its branches. Having to go against the current, made them real hikes through the breathtaking Bierzo rivers.
This year, there was a suprise, a novelty that everyone gladly accepted: English. Every day we had time to work in small groups of 5-8 boys, accompanied by a Servant Brother who is a native English speaker, either from the USA or Ireland. That way the boys were able to spend time listening to and speaking English. The campers had a great time, since they were able to practice this new language in a fun way, being taught by native speakers through conversations, games, songs, stories, tales, challenges, and other activities. In the middle of nature, the Bierzo horizon was opened up to the English-speaking culture.
We were also able to have Jesus, Our Lord, the Son of God, present among us in our encounters. It was an honor for us to be able to receive His blessing every day: in the Eucharist, through listening and meditating on His word in prayer, and accompanying His Mother by praying the rosary. We were even able to pray a candlelight rosary one night. Unfortunately, all of the pictures of the event came out blurry, so the memory lives on only in the hearts of all those who took part in the encounter. If you want to see it…come with us next year!