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/

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