It happened in Kenya, at Mariapolis Piero in Nairobi during the Easter holidays. It was the first international congress for the children of the Focolare, the Gen 4 girls who came from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
How was it possible to bring children together from countries which, just a short time earlier, were at war with one another? How would it be possible to overcome the great physical distances where there were no connections? How would they find the money to pay for the expenses?
There was only one great motivation that enabled them to overcome all the obstacles: the discovery that these children had made of the Gospel, their desire to get together and share their experiences of putting it into practice and the joy that it brings.
“The Gospel is the nicest book. . .” was the main focus of the congress that was based on the experience already had before arriving at the meeting. The Gen4 are already in the habit of living the “art of loving” that can be found in all the sentences of the Scriptures that speak about love: Love your neighbor as you love yourself, love one another, love even your enemy. . .
Many of the young girls wrote personal letters to Jesus: “It was all a great success!”; “I’m very happy because of this congress. Jesus, help me to know what you want from me now”; “Dear Jesus, thank you for all that you did for me”; “I give you all my acts of love. I want to be like you, so help me to do as you do”; Dear Jesus, I’ve learned that we should love others as we love ourselves, that we should share our things with those who have not”; “I helped my sister to fold her clothes. Then my Kenyan friend helped me to fold my clothes. So, I thank you”; “Thanks for giving us life. I love you as I have never loved anyone before. . .”
This Holy Week immersed in such intense mutual love was truly an encounter with Jesus, from Good Friday when they tried to have an attitude of consoling those who are suffer, the poor, the marginalized. . . until Easter when they held a great feast, together with the citizens of Mariapolis Piero and some of the parents from Nairobi. In a glowing atmosphere of joy, the Gen4 expressed through their songs and dances, the immense happiness that the presence of the Risen Lord in their midst had brought to all.
Maria Voce, president of the Focolare Movement had written to them: “These will certainly be very beautiful days during which you will be able to know Jesus better, along with some important moments in His life. Open your hearts to Him, Gen4, and say to him: ‘I love you, Jesus. Thank you for all that you do for me and for everyone. Teach me to always love more and more, like You do.’ He’ll certainly help you and you’ll return home happy and ready to take his love and his joy everywhere.” And so they did.