Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing. [James 1: 2-4]
I am thrilled to report that I survived the Camino de Santiago [the Portuguese Way]; 120 km with my backpack. The camino was filled with excitement, pain, conversations with strangers, God’s beautiful nature, animals (including cut little baby animals), laughter, sleeping on the ground, and even frustration.
Daddy God was working in all of us as a team and individually. I love the unity that He brought in us as a team; returning to the base was a little bittersweet, as we were so happy to be back into our own space not having to share with strangers, but we missed all of us being in one room. Staying in the albergues could have been a terrifying experience, but we truly made the best of it. I think my favorite part of the albergue experiences was our very “teenage” moments, texting each other about the “snorchestra”. Even with the snorchestras playing each night, I still was able to get to sleep just fine, although many nights I woke up through the night.
As for my camino experience, it all started full of joy. I remember the first day just being so excited to see what God had in store for me. As crazy as this may sound, I was even excited to face the pain. Before the trip even began, I remember having a conversation with Daddy God about him taking care of my feet. I didn’t want to worry about blisters and any other issues – I wanted to finish this camino.
The first day was beautiful. Daddy God showed me so much beauty through His nature: flowers, trees, animals, and even through bugs. I was truly enjoying every thing He brought to me, as I walked practically ahead of the group. I learned, early, that I am quite the fast walker. At every stop, I remember being so excited to see everyone, to reconnect, and to see how everyone was doing. There was one stop that one of my “sisters”, Ale, tried to push off my hug as she made this comment, “there is no way someone can be so happy doing this camino.” I laughed it off, and hugged her tightly through her attempts to push me away. Later, Daddy reminded me of this comment, and of the verse that I continue to repeat as I walked:
The joy of the Lord is my strength. [Nehemiah 8: 10]
Anytime I began to feel a bit of tiredness or pain from walking with my backpack, I remember repeating that verse. It literally became my verse for the week, as the difficulty of the walk increased.
I was thankful for Ale’s comment, as it helped me to hold on to that joy that God has placed inside of me. I was rather glad to have been seen as being too filled with joy, than being filled with complaints, to be honest.
As the days continued, and the camino continued to get difficult, some of our team began to “go down for the count”. Injuries occurred, which caused some of our teammates to have to drop out for a day, and some for days. Some were able to continue, but took a smaller backpack with just food, and left their big bag in the van. I am happy to say, that I was in neither category, but this also became a problem that God brought up to me, that I am having to get worked out of me.
One day, as I was ahead of the group, climbing up one of the big hills, I let Daddy have it. First of all, I found myself staying away from the group because I couldn’t bear to be around, what I called “weakness”. I couldn’t see my team through loves eyes, I only saw weakness, and it made me sick to my stomach. To me, they were quitters, they were weak, they were not what I wanted to be nor what I wanted to be around. My pain was excruciating; I wanted to quit too, but I knew I had to fight it because I am stronger than that [I thought to myself]. I found myself getting very angry at them, until finally Daddy shut me up!
“Maiya, you are NOT them, and they are NOT you. I have a purpose for them, just as I have a purpose for you. Why does it matter if they don’t finish, or if they have to get extra support. You are going to finish, even fighting this pain, because I am with you and will be with you every step of the way.”
He then brought me this woman, by the name of Claud, who began to talk to me about enduring. “Many times when problems arise, people will look for the easy way out, and take it. This causes them to not know how to deal with the problem, so the problem returns, and sometimes returns bigger than it initially was. I am proud of you for continuing on, as you are learning to deal with this “problem”.”
It was after our conversation, and when we separated, that God brought me to James 1: 2-4. This wasn’t the first time He has given me this verse either (I guess I need to have it memorized). Daddy God had me in a process of learning how to overcome a problem, of pain in this situation, so that endurance can be produced and my faith can continue to become stronger.
Friends, I wanted to quit so many times. My knees felt like I was being stabbed in them; both of them! My feet SCREAMED for me to just stop. My lower back and my hips were in so much pain, that releasing my backpack was always a moment of the Little Mermaid singing. I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. My Daddy encouraged me to keep going; I am stronger because of it!
I did finish first, with Graham right by my side. We were walking buddies during the last stretch, with Nate and Lilian about 30 minutes behind us. The arrival to the Cathedral in Santiago was such a reward in itself, but knowing that I fought through the pain was even better. It wasn’t just about finishing, but also about listening for what Daddy wanted to speak to me. The different encounters He blessed me with were so sweet; He really took #MeetNoStrangers to another level.
I even found myself being pushed out of my comfort zone at a small church in Santiago. We were asked to share some testimonies at a friend’s church, which ultimately meant we also lead worship. Well, that is when I found myself up front helping to lead worship, and even leading part of a song. The nerves that hit me beforehand were insane!
The discomfort didn’t stop there either. I was also challenged to share my testimony in Spanish, and since I am a woman of challenges, I of course had to do it! It was my first time sharing anything in Spanish, which made me so nervous, but I thank God that I was able to get through at least 90% in Spanish, until frustration kicked in.
I love the way Daddy loves to push me. Growth is happening here, and I love it!
If you would like to see ALL the pictures from the trip, send me a message and I will share the link with you.
You can also find some update videos on our Youtube Channel
- Greece: June 23rd, we will head out to work with refugees.
- Spain: In July, we will come back to work with children, to host a kids camp! yay!!
Lesson I have learned: Stop worrying about someone else. God has a purpose for everyone, and the way that He chooses to work in them, is for Him to worry about, not me!
My encouragement to you: Face any problem head on while holding Daddy God’s hands. Listen for His voice to tell you how you will get through it! PRAY FIRST!
Please know that I am ever grateful for your partnership in this adventure, whether it be through prayer (please read the “get involved” page), finances, text messages, social media posts, or letters (if you need my address, PLEASE message me). Thank you for supporting me as God is growing me as a disciple of His If you would like to financially support me in any way, please click the button found on the Home page, or send me an email. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
MEET NO STRANGERS shirts are still available to purchase. Get a shirt, wear it, and share your stories. Allow God to use you to be His voice!
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