• Steph Unger

City of Ingles… I mean Angels

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

Well it’s 12:30am here in Panama City and after a full day of travel (we left LA at 6am this morning and arrived at our hotel at 10:00pm) I finally have the time to sit down and fill you in on our two incredible days in LA.

We arrived in LA on Jan 16 and drove straight from the airport to Santa Monica Boulevard and while we were keen to check out the more well known attractions like the beach and the pier… nothing had prepared us for the sight of the seagulls. Santa Monica seagulls are out of control massive! Like our Aussie seagulls are about as big as one of these monsters heads… but I digress. It was delightful to visit Santa Monica and would have loved to spend more time there, however the rain and the cold made it pretty uncomfortable for most of us, so we headed off to Hollywood.

Seeing the Hollywood sign was of course fantastic, as was seeing the star for Barbra Streisand, though I’m not entirely sure the rest of the group were as excited by this as I was. Again the rain and cold made the afternoon a little dreary but on the whole we all managed to stay awake all day, check out Hollywood and get settled in our accommodation.

Speaking of our accommodation. We stayed in Poverello of Assisi Retreat Centre run by four incredibly delightful nuns from the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception including Sr. Mary-Jesus. Sr Mary-Jesus is definitely one of a kind. She’s a tiny elderly powerhouse of a nun who just lit up the room everytime she entered. She won the hearts of each of us with her kindness and cheekiness. We were so well looked after by these spirit-filled women and are very grateful to them for all their hospitality.

While we were only in LA for two short days, we certainly crammed a lot in including a basketball game where we got to see the Clippers V Jazz. Turns out the Aussie player Joe Ingles plays for the Jazz so we really turned up the support for him! We cheered and shouted the entire night, hoping that after all our efforts we would get on the big screen and boy were we rewarded for our efforts! I am happy to report to you, our pilgrim companions, that we did you proud as we shouted Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi and waved our flags on that big screen… not once but twice. I can’t believe a group of 33 people can make that much noise, but I tell ya, when we saw our smiling faces up there on the screen we could not contain ourselves! Oddly enough, the basketball has definitely been an absolute highlight of the trip so far, from pumping the Aussie music in our bus to keep us all awake and energised on the way (naturally Horses and You’re The Voice made it to the playlist), to cheering for a fellow Aussie and soaking up the atmosphere… the basketball just seemed to be one of those experiences that brought us all together and is one memory that won’t be fading anytime soon.

Lastly (as my eyes begin getting ready for bed), I need to make mention of our first pilgrim mass. Father Stanley, our wonderful spiritual director led us in Mass yesterday drawing our attention to the writing on the altar stone “Deus meus et omnia mea” meaning “My God and my all”. What a fitting way for us to begin our pilgrimage by reflecting on our reason for being here in the first place… for our God… our all. While we each walk our own journey’s and have chosen to embark on this pilgrimage for our own reasons, we are all here because God called us and we said yes. All the rest that goes on around us from the insanely large seagulls to the moment when 33 individuals scream together as one proud bunch of Aussies to coming together around the eucharistic table… all of these moments are made possible through our God our all.

So, as we leave the City of Ingles, I mean Angles, and start to look toward the next couple of days in Colon Panama, please continue to think of us, and pray that with each passing day we find the time to simply be and listen to our God, our all, and what ever it is that God may want to show us, say to us and make known to us.

Fr Stanley and the Sisters Jacob and Sr Mary Jesus The Pilgrims in LA

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