The rendezvous for send-off was Sunday 10th of July at 10:30 hours at Saint-Etienne (St Stephen) parish in Braine-l’Alleud. It’s a send- off for Europa and Come & See.
The three Missionaries of Africa who took part in the Come & See are Simon Gornah, Ghanian, Jean-Noel Baraka, Congolese and I, Evans Chama, Zambian. That Sunday, we rose earlier than usual so as not to be late for the send-off. We took the train from Brussels Central Station to Braine-l’Alleud. Already on the train we could recognise some familiar faces that we had seen during a week-end of preparation in April in Wavre. That made the send-off much homely as we were not a group of strangers. We had at least seen one another before which made it a lot easier to develop some relationship necessary to live this week-long pilgrimage. We were hence not foreign to one another. In this case, I can affirm that the week-end of preparation was, among others things, helpful in preparing us to dive into this spiritual adventure as a family and as friends.
Tools for the journey
At our arrival in Braine-l’Alleud, even before the send-off, we received tools: a hat, a booklet of songs for the WYD, a booklet for Come & See route containing reflections on the beatitudes, questions for personal meditation and the programme for the week. We had also the Magnificat that contained the reading of the mass as well as morning and evening prayers.
Before the midday bite, we had a little send-off ceremony after which the Europa route got on the bus for Amsterdam while Come & See remained to begin its program.
Initiation in technical service
For the group Come & See the send-off day was mainly to prepare for the activities of the entire week. It involved mainly three groups: the actors of the four vigil prayers. It consisted of acting out biblical events either the encounter of Jesus with Zacchaeus or with the sinful woman.
The second group is the choir that prepared songs and the interlude music for the vigil. The same choir sung at mass that we celebrated every evening.
The third group was technical service. I was part of it. This involved putting in place sound system especially the different microphones: for speakers, singers and for the instruments. The light system was mainly installing spotlights.
While the choir was out for the rehearsals as well as those for the prayer vigil, we too had a full initiation. We began with how to unroll and roll the cables. It’s quite different from what I had known and done before. There’s a way of doing it that has to be respected. It’s quite different from celebrating mass or following a theology lecture. Yes, I had to repeat several times unrolling and rolling the cables before I finally got it. Indeed, it pays when you allow yourself be guided.
In fact, we made the full installation in the parish church, Saint-Etienne at Braine-l’Alleud, as if preparing for a performance, as one participant remarked, “I don’t understand you made all the installations in Church and I was waiting to see something but then you dismantled everything.” All that was a preparation of that we would be required to do every day during the week: installing in preparation for the vigil and dismantling afterwards.
Other activities after the send-off
Apart from the three mains services I have mentioned above, there were other activities that involved everyone. For example there were certain songs that we all needed to know, namely the official song of the WYD. Besides, there were also some dances that we needed to learn. One of them was a Hebrew dance entitled: “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony.” There were other songs also like the one we used for flash mob during the evangelisation in the streets.
By the end of day we were thoroughly tired since just after the send-off we swung into action. We were only saved by families that came to pick us as we could not keep them waiting for long time. The send-off Sunday was special. It was the final for Euro 2016 and we looked forward to the march. However, to watch or not depended on the family that received you.
Happily for me, I lodged in a champion family. Indeed, I unknowingly prepared long before hand. That made it a lot easier for me to be fully on the side of the family that welcomed me. The football results injected spices in my stay in the family. I invite you, look out for the next post on the champion family where I spent the night.