It’s a bit rainy out today with the temperature much cooler than the past week. Definitely jacket weather today. Just had a great hotel breakfast with Erik Gonzalez, a fellow guide. He’s off to meet his group, and I have a few minutes to get organized before I meet mine.
My group is from Granite Bay, CA, and they are great, 60 strong. We did some area familiarization yesterday to show them the grocery story, post office, money changing place, laundry, and then the beach. They had spent several days with families in a place called Petropolis, and apparently many of them had a wonderful time connecting with local families. The families didn’t have “much”, but they gave what they did have. It was a great lesson in giving and hospitality that made an impact on my group. After some beach time, they relaxed and prepared for a trek through Copacabana to an 8 pm Mass with their bishop, Bishop Soto of Sacramento. The gospel was about Mary Magdalen and her search for Jesus. Bishop Soto reminded us that we are like Mary, constantly searching for Jesus throughout our day. There are days when my search is cursory or not at all, and other days, my search is frantic. Yesterday was also the first day, so it was crazy at times. I found that Mass was quite and centering, and it reminded me how important that Mass is to me. Like a vitamin, it’s necessary to my soul.
A couple of funny stories happened, too. First, I was walking down the street and some folks asked ME for directions! I actually knew where the metro stop was, so it was good. Second, Deacon Gervan, who’s a Brazilian studying with the Diocese of Nashville, was looking for his cousin who happens to live in Rio. Now Rio is a pretty big city, so they were on the phone trying to figure out where the cousin lives. As it turned out, Deacon Gervan was calling from the 11th floor of a building and his cousin lived on the 5th floor…same building! Small world.
It was great to see the Pope arrive via tv yesterday. It was an impromptu arrival, so we weren’t there to see it, but it was powerful nonetheless to see it on tv. People were watching at all the local tvs as if a soccer game was being broadcast! Neat to see so many tuned in. Tonight is the opening Mass on Copacabana beach with the archbishop of Rio, so that should kick things off in a mighty way. Our hotel is close, so that’ll be a plus. Off to meet my group in a bit then doing some exploring.