This is a bit of an odd post but here goes. After we came back from the North we decided to get rid of all the 'cold weather' baggage - which wasn't that needed anyways. So we donated a huge bag of clothes to the Hanoi archdiocese - which was right around the corner from the hotel, and we gave a suitcase full of clothes to the hotel manager who was happy to pass them on. Give it away! Travel light!
Then in the evening when we ventured out to find some dinner, we heard some truly lovely singing from the Cathedral and got drawn to go and see it. It turned out to be the end music of mass, and soon a huge crowd started to file out of the church. We were right at the front door listening in, when suddenly we heard a happy voice saying 'Hello! Hello!'. It was our friend Maria from Sapa. It is hard to dscribe how unlikely this was - we had maybe five Vietnamese friends at that point, all hundreds of miles away and we bumped into one in the crowds of Hanoi.
Maria was having a few days off from working at the Sapa home stay, was in Hanoi, and had come to mass before taking the night bus back north. We gave her a big hug, and showed her the lovely picture we took of them all before they went to another worker's wedding. (Maria is the person looking lovely in the red dress).
Once Maria left for dinner, we stayed and watched the people still file out. It appeared there was something special going on since people were lingering by the door and taking pictures. We noticed a man with a bishop hat and realized this was a dignitary.
There were hundreds of people crowding him, taking selfies and presenting children for blessings. As he was just about to leave, I heard them mention that he is Italian and I quickly told Dante so. He made his way to him and we all got blessings and good wishes.
It was Monsignor Leopoldo Girelli, Papal representative to Vietnam! I have been so deeply affected by the constant love and humanity of Pope Francis, that meeting his direct representative felt wonderful - and somehow doubly so after we had just made a gift to the church earlier in the day. A special moment for us all.