In the first episode (last Monday), the participants visited a Buddhist temple. It struck a nerve with Simon. He liked the peaceful atmosphere there Jesus-like. Spontaneously he began to pray: Dear Jesus, end the war in the world and, please, give us peace.
Simon is not the only participant who has a strong bond with Jesus. Anne-Sophie has been a permanent fixture as an altar boy in the Mariaparochie in Lebbeke for eight years. We visited her and her parents Annemarie and Luc for a chat.
What feeling do you have left Down the road?
Anne-Sophie • I still get happy when I think about it. I wanted to participate to push my limits, and I did: walking through a waterfall, petting an elephant, going on a trip without my parents. I have also made friends for life. We stay connected through a WhatsApp group.
Mom and Dad were worried, but there was no need.
I was all set for the adventure.
Has the journey changed you?
Anne-Sophie • I didn’t become a BV, huh. I remain Anne-Sophie.
Annemarie • You have grown in independence, haven’t you?
Anne-Sophie • Ah yes. I only take the bus now. I used to take the dial-a-bus, but it never came. Then I panicked. Now I know what to do: I just call Mom. I have a smart phone.
Luc • You have also learned to be more flexible.
Anne-Sophie • Normally I plan my activities two weeks in advance. That gives me peace. But in Thailand we were always told what we were going to do on the day itself. I also always take a notebook with me when I travel, a kind of diary. There I always write in the evening what I have experienced. But in Thailand that had to be done in the morning. I often had to adapt, but it actually worked out on its own.
I’ve also learned to let go of things, for example that I fell when we went through that waterfall.
I was upset for a while, but in the end it’s just a minor incident. When I was allowed to video call my parents, I realized that I was especially happy to be there. Still, I’m really happy!
Luc • Anne-Sophie now also takes the floor more often, I notice. When we are together with family, she spontaneously starts talking about her journey and all that. She used to do that much less. I also think it’s fantastic to see that they stimulate each other to develop further. In the first episode we saw that Bob understands English well. Now Anne-Sophie also wants to learn English.
Anne-Sophie • I’ll need it next time I go to the Special Olympics.
Right, I heard you won a medal in Greece?
Anne-Sophie • Correct. With cycling. I cycle 10 km on the exercise bike every day and we regularly go on bike rides. It’s one of my biggest hobbies. I also do dancing, jazz and ballet. Next year I want to participate in the world games in Berlin.
Annemarie • The Blijdorp day center supports her in this. It is also through this way that she does voluntary work in a library and a residential care center. I would never have dreamed that such a thing was possible! The center guides her very well.
We also feel really supported in the parish.
When the pastor asked if Anne-Sophie wanted to become an altar boy, we thought it was too ambitious. But he insisted: Anne-Sophie was allowed to participate. And she feels very good in the group.
Serving Mass, what does that mean to you?
Anne-Sophie • Carry candlesticks, kneel, ring the bell. I think those are fun tasks. I do it for God.
Annemarie • And the people in the Church appreciate it, they say. That is also not unimportant.
At the end of the mass last week, the pastor talked about ‘Down the Road’ and asked for a round of applause for Anne-Sophie. That was amazing.
Anne-Sophie • Yes! It is also a very nice group. Joran is the coordinator. He also organizes fun outings. We once went to Bellewaerde. But first we visited the Basilica of Dadizele. Everyone was allowed to make a wish. My wish was to Dieter Coppens to meet in person. But actually that had already happened then, because we had just returned from our trip (laughs)!
How do you pray?
Anne-Sophie • To God, to Jesus, to Mary. That doesn’t matter to me. (Thinks for a moment