East LA Day 1, 2017
Saturday Morning. An early wake up. So early, that many members were disoriented. Without the sun being up, the phone tree wasn’t able to grow and metaphorically photosynthesize. At 5:30 however, other headlighteers picked up the slack and began making calls of their own with varying levels of joy ranging from songs to confusion to apologies. All in all, everyone was excited and raring to go. The gang clambered into the cars. Six in one and six in the other. Sleep crept back in on some members almost immediately, and sickness overtook others, but as we breathed in the Idaho air, the whole crew was ready. In both “mom rockets” a game of questions was held. Everyone was asked their favorite superpower, who their confirmation sponsor would be if it could only be a member of the current Carroll student body, the best conversation they’d had this week and why, what their dream job would be, what would they do if money wasn’t an issue, how they’d met each person in the car, and many more. For many of these questions, there was a silence that filled the car. Each person had to think and was forced to examine just what these individual questions meant to them as we broached these subjects of personal faith and hopes and dreams. How God is active in our lives and what does he want from us. Are we being called down the right path and with the right people and how would we know. As the questions and answers flowed back and forth, the conversation heated up, and the bonding tightened. The jams were cranked and “Polaroid” by Imagine Dragons emerged as the unofficial theme song of the trip. Breakfast consisted largely of the numerous snacks in the cars and lunch was Jimmy Johns in Ogden, Utah. We enjoyed the fabulous food and people of Ogden before hitting the road and shuffling the cars once again. We met up with a beautiful family of two brothers and their kids and wives. They had so much love within them. Even the little ones who couldn’t speak. They touched us to a point that for many of us later that night, they were the high point of our long car ride. We really felt blessed to be around them and share our meal with them.
We hit the grand state of Utah late in the day. Known for its Mormons, beehives, and Jazz. We showed up to mass five minutes before starting. The perfect amount of time for every vanmate to relieve themselves in the Parish bathrooms. The mass and sunset upon conclusion were both absolutely gorgeous. If there was a moment for many of us where we saw God that day, it was in that moment. The mass was done flawlessly with the priest bringing up a killer Lenten homily, and the parishioners being so nice to us and offering us books to take with us from their tiny tow. When we left the church is when we saw it. A gorgeous array of reds and oranges splayed across the sky and each cloud sprayed with bright pink hues. The peace and feeling of wonder at the grandeur of God’s goodness that many of us felt in that moment was one many of us wouldn’t forget. We made our way to the local shopping mart and happened upon some chicken and pasta with some salad fixings for our dinner in Bryan Head. Bryan Head was a beautiful ski resort tucked into the side of a mountain with a spacious condo with too many TVs. The meal was incredible with very touching centerpieces and very lively “happys and crappys”. These happys and their following crappys really touched on the day for us and the moments we shared. It allowed us to live in solidarity with each other. Learning what each of the people on the trip valued in their day. Where they found joy, and where they moments of desolation. Those who did not cook the dishes, washed them, and those who did cook the dishes, lounged in the living room after dinner. We had our daily recap of where we saw Jesus and readied our bodies for the night and the day ahead. After all, we had gotten lost on our way to our room. Who knew what misadventures tomorrow might hold? And what did today really mean for us? For most, it was an excellent beginning to our trip, an affirmation that we’d made the right choice in coming, and a hint at what God had in store for us in the future.