My name is John Peter (JP) Christensen. I am sixteen years old and I have been an altar server since I was nine years old at our parish. During this time, I have developed a deeper appreciation for the mass and love for the Eucharist. This was part of what led me to want to be part of World Youth Day; to continue to grow in my faith. This experience exceeded all my expectations. From the time we got on the plane and at the airports there was an excitement and joy in the atmosphere. There was singing, chanting and a great anticipation. In Panama, despite the thousands of youth together cramped into a city; everyone was of one mind. There was praising and dancing on the streets and everywhere we went. There were gestures of hospitality and kindness expressed all around.
The Holy Spirit could literally be felt. It manifested itself as a euphoria that captured everyone we met as in one voice we chanted “La Juventud del Papa”. I had the privilege of meeting youth from all over the world, bishops, clergy, etc. Despite our different backgrounds we were a united body through our common faith. This became very evident specially during the mass with our Holy Father, Pope Francis. I have come back with a renewed fire and my love for the Mass and Eucharist grew even greater. I am already getting excited about the next World Youth Day in Portugal. I encourage all the youth of our parish to pray and consider going to the next one. My mother once told me that once you have an encounter with Christ, your life can never be the same again.
In Panama, I can say beyond any doubt, I had an encounter with Christ!