I was sitting with Valentin just inside the door of La Fuente del Peregrino. We kept the doors open late offering coffee, tea or water to pilgrims walking the path to Santiago in Spain. La Fuente is a refuge where they can stay the night, 75 km out, but so far that day everyone had continued down the road. A lone pilgrim, backpack in tow, ambled painfully toward us. As I walked out to meet him he asked, "Es un alberge? Can I stay here?" I invited him in to take off his pack and sit down. He had pushed his limits, was exhausted and thankful to find a place to rest. Charlie is retired from the military and lives in Texas. That night we served him a hot meal, gave him a bed and breakfast in the morning. During the week we served on project, the goal was to serve the pilgrims as if they were Jesus - agape love in action. The stone farmhouse is two hundred years old and has been a refuge since 1999. The pilgrims we housed were from the US, Spain, Hungary, Austria, Israel, Canada, Germany, and Japan. Why were they walking the Camino that ends at the Cathedral of Santiago where supposedly the remains of Saint James lie? Surprisingly, many weren't catholic. They walked for tourism, sport, to accompany a friend, or for "spiritual" reasons. There were scores of nationalities and a wide range of ages. At least 50 Koreans passed by, much to the delight of our student from Korea. There were 13 on our team, many students choosing to serve during their spring break. Silas also went with us, and what an experience it was! We were a tight knit group serving Jesus together, cooking, cleaning, welcoming, helping in any way we could. Pilgrims left smiling, taking pictures with us in front of the fountain. They called it an oasis, lifting and encouraging their spirits on their journey. Many left with a brochure containing reflection questions tactfully pointing the way to Jesus, who is the Way.
Valentin came over to our house for some discipleship. When he went to ride his bike home, it was gone! Another bike stolen (this makes 4), so frustrating! May happened to relay this information to our colleague Trent, who was walking home. Seeing some guys suspiciously passing a bike around he called me to ask what Valentin's bike looks like. Clever as can be, Trent approached them saying he was supposed to meet someone to purchase a bike. He surreptitiously took video of them, then bought it from them for 50 euros. The look on Valentin's face when he saw his bike again was priceless! He and Trent promptly went to the police with video in hand, arrests were made, and Trent had his money back the next day. If only stories could end this well more often!
- for a great experience serving pilgrims on the trail to Santiago.
- that Valentin's bike was recovered!
- that the pilgrims who stop at La Fuente del Peregrino would be led to Jesus as they walk.
- for new student leaders to step up, and for continued momentum in campus ministry.
- for the "Programmer's Summit" being planned in July, with Cru techies working on a project in common.