So This is High Season

Last week the realization finally came: Huh, so this is what high season is like! Even though this is our third summer living in Santiago, it’s our first full high season (the first summer we moved here in July and the second summer we were in the US).

And wow, even though it’s only June, what a season it’s been. Here are some highlights:

The Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago has a bag check where pilgrims can leave their packs for a few hours. One Saturday I volunteered and took in all of these bags, even helping one mom carry in her bike trailer to leave with us (left). It’s fun to think that each pack represents a pilgrim, a homeland, a story, and a journey:


In May we hosted Matt and Steve from Wheaton College. They’re the leaders of this year’s Youth Hostel Ministry group, and they walked the Camino for 5 days and then stayed with us before moving on to Budapest. This is Matt and Steve before they headed out on the Camino:


Also in May we hosted a group from Alabama. The leader of the group was Phillip (below left). His family is originally from the Basque region of Spain, and his vision is to open a B & B somewhere along the Camino. The team pursuing this dream – Phillip, Josh, Staci, Seth, and Laurie – visited Spain and walked some of the Camino, explored available real estate, and met with others involved in pilgrim hospitality. We had a great evening with them.


In June, Lydia Smith was in town for screenings of the Camino Documentary. The first time we met her was in October of 2011. If we saw you last summer in the US, we probably showed you a 6-minute trailer of the documentary. After years of hard work Lydia recently finished producing the film, and it’s now showing in festivals. Lydia lives in Portland, OR, and we live here, but when we’re together we have deep conversations and fun times:


When I stopped by the Pilgrim Office’s hostel to drop off flyers for the Camino Documentary screening, I met Pio (right) at the front desk. He was volunteering as an Amigo in the hostel, and when I asked if he was Chinese he shared about the Chinese/Filipino/French/Spanish/Irish life he’s had. Then he introduced me to Wen-Xuan, a young Taiwanese guy who had just walked into Santiago that morning after starting a month earlier from St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France. We got to speak Chinese, Spanish, and English together:

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Then last week it got really crazy. When Kim, a friend of our pastor Rob, walked into Santiago from St. Jean she contacted us and we had coffee. We liked each other’s company so much we ended up hanging out twice more in our apartment.

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Then Scott (left) emailed totally out of the blue. He’s the pastor of a church in Lincoln, NE, and had heard of Pilgrim House through mutual contacts. We met up with him, his wife Debby, and their son Daniel the next morning. They had walked from St. Jean as well. We got to show them Pilgrim House and talk for a while, and it was a blessed time of connecting:


With teammates Anne and Gale in front of Pilgrim House:


That same day, in the evening, we connected with Rick when he came to find us at our son R’s soccer game. He’s a friend of Andrew, the former ITeams Australia president, who walked the Camino back in October/November of 2008. Rick also walked from St. Jean, and as we watched R’s team lose 8-1 we heard all about his Camino. Then, on Sunday, he came to church and we hosted him for lunch afterward. Rick is an author (Mentoring Matters) with a neat vision for mentoring developing leaders.

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Nate drove Rick to the airport for Rick’s flight to London and brought back Gayle, who flew in from the US. Her husband, Mark, is senior pastor of the church where Nate’s dad serves as associate pastor. He was on the Camino, on the way from St. Jean, and would meet Gayle closer to Santiago. Yesterday Mark made it to Santiago, and there was celebration all around!


So it’s been a busy May and June! As one of our mentors once said, “Be the welcome center before you have a welcome center.” The Lord is definitely making that happen, and we – as well as our teammates who’ve had lots of planned and unplanned pilgrim time – feel blessed to have connected with so many pilgrims in Santiago these past few weeks.


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