Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Pope in Jordan

Seamus received his First Communion when we were living in Beijing. There were about 15 kids participating. Afterwards we all had a little buffet lunch over at Dragon Bay Villas.

Awwwww. There he is on his big day, with baby Kyra. Photo credit goes to the amazing Jennifer Davis - if she's posted near you, you must hire her to do a family photo shoot.

Aidan celebrated his First Communion here in Amman, three years ago. There were about 20 participants. Afterwards we had a potluck in the church basement.

Kyra's First Communion was yesterday. There were about 1,400 kids participating, according to the Jordan Times. 40,000 tickets to the event were distributed.

You see, the Pope himself came to Amman to preside over Kyra's big day. He might have had other reasons for being here, who knows? The main thing is, he led her Communion mass.

It was awesome and awful all at once.

I'm not the most religious person out there - religious education has always been my husband's domain - but I'm Catholic, he's Catholic and we're raising our kids in the Catholic faith. So to have the Pope show up on our daughter's big day was a pretty big deal. And not just any old Pope - I happen to love this guy and everything he stands for.

Still, it was a long, long, loooong day. We left for the Sports Stadium at 11:15am - this for a mass that wasn't scheduled to start until 4:00pm!

Ainsley wanted to go, but STJ invited her to go shoe shopping instead, so she spent the day with STJ and friends while the rest of the kids and I battled the mob scene. She watched the Pope on television while we roasted on the field and braved overfilled toilets. 

I had tickets from the Embassy and tickets from our church, so at the stadium entrance, I needed to make a choice which to use. Obviously I needed to stay with Kyra and the church folks, but the boys wanted to spend their day with Embassy friends. My friend Mrs. Slitherin offered to let them sit with her kids, so off they went to the other side of the stadium, and I didn't see them again until sunset.

Kyra and I sat and sat and sat some more, not 75 yards from the stage, until the mass finally began.

When Pope Francis came in on his Popemobile - not bullet-proofed at all, but wide-open to the crazies - the crowd went nuts, screaming and cheering and rushing the security line to try to get closer. It was remarkable, the level of affection and excitement surrounding his entrance. When Bart and I went to a mass of Pope John Paul's, in Armenia, years and years ago, I don't remember such a frenzied level of excitement. This was madness. 

It was great, because until that moment, Kyra really didn't get what the big deal was. "Who's the Pope?", she actually asked us a few months back when we told her what was going to happen. (So much for religious education!) but when she saw the crowds screaming as Pope Francis smiled and waved, she finally grasped it. She actually wanted to run to the rails with the rest of the crowd, but I was pretty sure she'd get trampled, so I made her stand on a chair to watch instead.

Anyway, it's done. We were told there would be a group photo for the communion kids and the Pope, and I was disappointed when that didn't happen. But otherwise, it was a great experience. I haven't quite wrapped my head around the whole thing, but I'm going to post this anyway because my husband is back in Baghdad eagerly awaiting the pictures. We were so bummed that he missed the big day - Kyra was asking to Skype with him all day long.

After the service, around 7 pm, we went to STJ's house, where the Slitherins reunited us with the boys. STJ ordered pizza and helped Ainsley to pick out flowers and a cake for Kyra. Qais stopped by to join the celebration too, which thrilled Kyra, who is not-so-secretly in love with him.

Below are the pictures, in no particular order. 

My baby is growing up.

Her nana made the dress and veil. 

Aside: he's two inches taller than me now.
No zoom - there's the stage. But lest you think I'm going to gloat about my super- awesome seats, I should point out that the Pope spent the majority of the mass at the back of the tent, and we couldn't see him at all.

Mother-daughter selfie...

The kids are up there with the Slytherins, the Cantaloupes and other Embassy families, in the shady section. Shade! Talk about VIP seats. In the foreground you can see just a few of the children waiting to receive their first Communion.

Look close - there's little Kyra, looking for her mama in the sea of white gowns.

The moment when the Pope came in. I was watching her reaction instead of looking at him.

There he is, in his Popemobile. Can you see him? I really do need a zoom lens.

I'll probably post a few more pictures later this week. But for now, and for their daddy, this is what we have.

Good night everybody!


Popster said... [Reply]

Watched the whole celebration on You Tube. It was awesome.

Mom and daughter both too cute for words.

Sadie said... [Reply]

So cool! What a fun experience, and one to remember. He really is an awesome Pope :-).

Nomads By Nature said... [Reply]

What a unique experience and memory! Awesome Pope too!

Please. Write your own stuff.