CONTENT STREAM FOR Sandy Vavra

About Sandy Vavra

Sandy Vavra serves as the Elgin Ride Event Director for the Ride for Refuge, as well as Resource Development Coordinator for International Teams.

Footsteps on the Way

Here’s an example of a short-term team from Wheaton College that engaged with our team in Spain while walking on the Camino de Santiago.

Last summer four Wheaton College students walked the Camino de Santiago for 14 days. Alley, a member of the short term team, reflected on her experience.

“The Camino  is a sacred space – it’s hard to leave and be unchanged by the experience. Our group was most affected by the way the Lord showed up in personal times of need, and how He brought us each through our own physical and spiritual trials,” said Alley. “Personally, I was injured pretty badly during my time, what I later found out was a tear in a tendon in my left foot. But the Lord gave me just enough strength each day to make the hike, and it was in the pain that I was able to slow down and reflect on the ways that He was speaking to me. The Camino was a constant conversation with teammates, other pilgrims, and most importantly, with the Lord. We found God in the mundane, in the times where all we could think about was taking the next step on the path.”

Alley continued, “We traded in loneliness for solitude with the Lord and pressed into worship as we were surrounded with creation. The community that is formed on the Camino, and the sense of solidarity that you as a pilgrim have with other pilgrims as you walk, especially after you finish the journey, goes unmatched to anything else you’ve ever experienced.”

The reasons pilgrims walk are as diverse as the pilgrims themselves, yet there is a common theme. About 95% of pilgrims report walking the Camino for spiritual reasons. They’re at a unique place of reflection and searching, and their time on the Camino can be intensely introspective and profound. Many pilgrims need a place to process their pilgrimages once they arrive in Santiago, and through the Pilgrim House Welcome Center, ITeams workers and volunteers invite them in. The team celebrates their journey and encourages them to share their stories and go deeper in their personal and spiritual reflections.

Nate Walter, the team leader, views Pilgrim House as a “continuation of the Camino,” where pilgrims can gather together, find time and space for reflection, and continue to engage in significant conversations. Many pilgrims say they love the peaceful and friendly atmosphere Pilgrim House offers.

As for Alley, she reflects, “In the same way that the cobblestone outside the cathedral leaves pink craters on the palms of your hands as you sit in the plaza amidst wearied, accomplished travelers, so too this journey, the people around you, and the city of Santiago leave imprints on your heart. Our time on the Camino de Santiago and at Pilgrim House, will never be forgotten.”

To learn more about how you can be a part of a short-term team, contact stteams@iteams.org or visit our website http://www.iteams.us/short-term-teams-2/

READ MORE

Medical day miracle

If you’re anything like me, being sick is not something you love. Usually when you’re sick, you’re surrounded with loving people, warm blankets, medicine and anything else you need. Many of the oppressed we work with around the world don’t have those luxuries. Read how a short term team made a difference in the lives of people who don’t have the assurance that they’ll have what they need when they’re sick.

A short term team recently visited one of our communities that offers four medical days each year in its refugee center. This short term team consisted mostly of nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals. The timing of their visit coordinated beautifully with one of these days when scores of refugees arrived looking for medical help.

Local doctors and nurses were also donating their time that day. The short term team provided technologies and medications that were not readily available in that community. As these medical professionals worked alongside each other, they provided medical assistance and hope to many families like this one.

One little boy and his family had found their way to the refugee center after being on the refugee highway. He had been sick for months.

This family was undocumented, didn’t know the language, had no money for medication, and didn’t even have any friends to help them. When they visited the local clinics, they waited in line for hours only to be thrown out because they were foreigners.

When the family took their sick little boy to the medical day, they discovered his illness was something quite simple and could be treated by taking one medication for seven days. This refugee boy was helped because a short term team from the US worked alongside local professionals who were also donating their time and skills to help others from a completely different country.

This boy’s life was changed. He and his family also heard how Jesus not only can heal a body, but can heal a soul as well.

The short term team continues to think about how they can engage more deeply by helping meet some of the needs of the local doctors. They are working on a mobile clinic project where a medical team could go to the cities and places where the refugees live and meet medical needs more than four times a year

To learn more about how you can be a part of a short-term team, contact stteams@iteams.org or visit our website http://www.iteams.us/short-term-teams-2/

READ MORE