Catholic is a minority in Asia, except in Philippine. For me, a part of me being an Asian never help me much to be a Catholic. Christianity and Asia was not related together that much, that was my opinion.
But yet, Asia has stepped up together and held Asian Youth Day, and this year, is the 6th Asian Youth Day.
Youth Day – in general
First time I heard about youth day was in 2008 – the World Youth Day in Sidney. I had no clue about what was that, what were we going to do, and I was not interested at all – I am young and Catholic, and so what?
But when a friend ask me to join a world youth day, my first youth day, this time my curiosity failed my ignorance. It was World Youth Day 2013 in Rio, Brasil. The impression left in my heart is I am not alone. Millions of youth being Catholic made me realize we are His beloved church. This is time for the youth to do something for God, to go and try to make disciples of Him. The spirit I felt that time was: what I am going to do?
Before world youth day, I never knew that a youth day could change myself into the way I felt after. Maybe it was the spirit of new friends who pray in the same way around the world, one of a kind experience to be meeting many cultures to be joined in one faith. It was a glorious time in my life.
Asian youth day after world youth day making me questioning what is the difference? But visiting a new country seemed interesting, and Korea has always been a dream country to be visited in my list, so I applied.
Ten days in this 6th Asian Youth Day has changed me again. This time, is not only about how I see next thing to do – my future as a Catholic, but also about how I see things that happened previously – history of me being Catholic.
Preparation of 6th Asian Youth Day
A lot of briefings to be attended, tasks to be completed, preparation to be done, and challenges to be passed made me taking note – going to AYD is harder than WYD. I remembered stressed out one time because I had to googling here and there searching for facts about Catholic in Kazakhstan for my assignment.
Four times briefing, about 10 assignments, visa problems, and also performance preparation to welcome Pope are things we had to go through before we could pack up and flied to the land of the morning calm (I’ve checked, that is a nickname for Korea).
All Indonesian participants also gathered in Electric Museum in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, East Jakarta, before heading to Incheon. We spent a special day reviewing back our preparation, what we had learned so far, rehearsed the special performance, and got to know each other deeper. Yes, there were 74 of us, from all around Indonesia. But it took no sweat to become close to each other.
That night, we ended the day by lenten mediation to contemplate the last 7 words of Jesus. I heard it so well and stucked in my heart, the saying of Father who lead the mediation (I tried to translate it):
“I am proud, that Jesus finished His struggle by death on the cross, and not by jumping off the cross to show His power and honor. As He died on the cross, the church instead lives and exists until now. He stood the suffering until the last breath, and inspired His disciples that martyrdom always brings hope instead of death. Yes, there’s always hope in martyrdom.”
It completely answered my wonders and questions. If God is so powerful, why wouldn’t He showed that to the world? But then I know, jump off from the cross would be a shortcut and showed no hope.
Thanks to the assignments by the committee, I became knowledgable about stories of martyrs in Indonesia and in some Asian countries. Therefore, before I had a chance to complain about the assignments, it soon came to me that I am aware more about Catholic by completing them.
I realized, there was a high price had been paid for us to be Catholic, to pray and worship as Catholic peacefully. There were those people – who paid by their blood and sacrificed by their lives for us so we could make cross sign begining from our forehead, shoulders, and ends in middle chest, without threat to be killed. They became martyr hundred and even thousand years ago so the church they had faith on would be continue; Faith, that has been started since Jesus was crossed, died, and then be risen.
And now, it’s our turn to flash back and recalled their scarification, to learn from them who gave their lives for God, and to continue their example. To wake up, and to see the glory of martyrs shines on us.
Days In Diocese: “You are lucky”
Before the main event, every participant in Asian Youth Day would experience 4 days 3 nights with Korean family. We called this as “Days in Diocese”, where we spend our days in Korean culture, seeing places representing the beauty of Korea with its historical value, and making friends from different countries and different cultures.
I had a very special experience in the day when I arrived in Korea. I got Jeju for my days in diocese group, so after arriving in Incheon, I have to transfer to Gimpo Airport to continue to Jeju.
When I arrived at Incheon, there’s someone who told me: “You are very lucky to get Jeju. It’s very beautiful.” I felt so happy and thankful.
Then, when I was arrived in Gimpo and ready to board to Jeju, another Korean who became a volunteer told me, “You are very lucky, Jeju is very beautiful.” Second time hearing that, I was amazed and felt even more thankful.
And when I landed in Jeju, I met a sister. As we shook hand, she said: “You are very lucky.”
This time, I felt a struck and for a second I got such a warm feeling surrounded me that made me captivated. I could only say, “thank you” to the sister. Deep inside, I thanked Jesus. I heard it like He told me by Himselves, that I am lucky, that I am blessed.
That night I remembered times when I questioning Him about life, about things I’ve done wrong and felt sorry, about times when I wanted to avoid everything, and to hide.
Hearing “you are lucky” three times in a day was sensed like Jesus was there, answering all my questions. And He made me to choose to believe in those words. I am lucky, I am blessed.
For sure, I am lucky and blessed to be in Jeju. My family is the loudest one as I had 6 other roommates: 3 girls from Japan, 2 girls from Korea, and my Indonesian friend, Rira. My hostparent also had 4 children: 3 girls and a boy. So there were 13 people under one roof where I stayed. It was such a blast. We would talk about everything until so late, laugh together – and, drink soju together.
I also meet wonderful friends in my group. Well, every one I met in Jeju seemed so wonderful. There’s no time to be not thankful. Even all the staff, they were all so kind and wanted to give the best for every one.
Please allow me to pass this story. The first day after we arrived, one of my Indonesian friends got sick and couldn’t eat anything. She seemed to be sick before the departure day to Korea, and got worse that she needed more advance intervention in hospital. So, one staff drove us to the nearest hospital. There, the doctor in charge said that he needed to observe the patient condition and got her some laboratory tests. So, not only the staff drove us there, she also waited and accompanied our sick friend until she could be discharged from the hospital.
Meanwhile, she asked another staff to pick me up and drop me to join my group again for city tour. Moreover, she politely refused when I said Indonesian team wanted to pay the hospital bill. I was speechless about how they showed their care to us…
After leaving hospital, I thought I would catch my group up somewhere in the city. I was told that my group would join other group for today’s city tour because we had only few members. But when I was dropped in a cafe near the church where we had the opening mass, there I knew that they all were waiting for me. Yep, they didn’t go first to somewhere and let me catch them up later; but instead, they waited for me. They even left me a sandwich so I could have lunch. I was more than surprised for all the kindnesses.
But kindness didn’t stop there. That day I had with me a backpack that filled with medicine. A Korean friend in my group, he pointed my backpack and told me to gave it to him. I told him it was okay for me to carry it, but he didn’t take no for answer. And for the whole day, he carried my backpack. Even when he was tired, he said that his shoulder was okay; only his leg that was not okay. But he still didn’t let me to carry my heavy backpack. If I remembered those kindnesses again, I felt God wanted to prove me that I am blessed. That day was a super day that I would never forget.
We went to natural museum, to historical site of former central government office, played Korean traditional game, took a lot of pictures, laughed together, stopping taxi, strolling along the street, ate Korean street food, enjoying ice cream, soaked our feet in cold water, crossing a bridge, relaxed in a small pavilion, and ended our day eating chicken and drinking beer. If it sounded like a perfect day, then yes, it was truly completely a perfect day! 🙂
Jeju is famous for its beauty. I could feel that when they showed us around. We went to the famous Seongsan Ilchulbong – a lot of tourists were there although that was not a weekend. But we still could enjoy the site because it was a very big place. And no matter where we looked at, we could only sigh for its beauty and had a good time.
I was impressed a lot with Jeju’s beauty. But on top of all, I mostly touched with their April 3rd history. The history was about Jeju people wanting unification of both Koreans but the third party that became alliance with each Korea didn’t like the idea. Even government of Korea itself didn’t support them and instead labeling them as red party, and killing them as if they’re something to be eliminated. It was a complex history that I didn’t really get what was happen actually. And I’m sorry if I have mistaken in retelling the story. When I asked my Korean friends, I understood that April 3rd was a really really really important part of the history for them.
My deepest sympathy goes for the victims… I learned a lot, particularly from how Jeju’s people accepting the history. It hurt them but didn’t leave them in agony. Instead, it has lead Jeju to be island of peace.
Peace, that’s what I got during my days in dioceses here. I learned from their history how to appreciate who we are, what we have, and where we come from. Only from accepting those, could we have peace.
Another moment that remained in my heart was the opening mass in Jeju. The gospel was about Jesus calming the storm. And bishop of Jeju who celebrated the opening mass said clearly in his homily: “Remember what Jesus said: have courage”. Have courage. This 2 words was an alarm ringing in my heart. I used to avoid things that made me not comfortable or trying to please people and instead ended up wanting to shut myself down. Just like Peter, I often met the storm, got afraid, and hide – or run.
I couldn’t solve my issue just like that. But now that I heard the alarm, I guess I could try what Jesus has said to me through the bishop. To have courage to enter the storm so we could have peace – walk up on the storm, and perhaps dancing on it. 🙂
And, speaking about dance… one night in Jeju,we all gather for the culture performance, we all dance together there. It’s amazing to see culture from another country, cheering on them, then performed our own culture and was cheered on. Not only dancing and singing, we also met crazy man who became host the night who made us laugh all night long. I could feel that fun was really in the air. Every body was having a good time, and all we wanted to do was smiling, laughing, and clapping hands.
In Jeju, I met a very special friend. I could sensed that she didn’t speak English very well. But she tried every possibility to communicate with me and every one she met who didn’t speak Korean. I could feel she is so sincere and generous.