Saturday, October 23, 2010

Final Post

Hey Everyone!

I finally got around to loading all my pictures from the Camino to a Picasa folder online.  You can feel free to check them out HERE.

Thanks again for following me on this journey.  Please continue to pray for me.  You all will be in mine.

God Bless,


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Good morning folks!

I made it home Wednesday evening at about 8 after a layover in Newark.   Both the flight to Newark from Madrid and the one from Newark to Charlotte were uneventful and pretty smooth. 

It's hard to believe that the Camino is over; it was wonderful, but it is nice to be home.  God worked big time in my life and even since I have been home I have started seeing the fruits of the Camino.  There is a renewed trust that I have in Him and His will for my life, not just in regards to what my vocation is going to be, but in regards to life in general.

I want to thank all of you for following me on my journey, but most importantly I want to say thanks for your prayers.  Everyday required a trust in God and a perseverance that would have been hard to come by if not for your prayers.  Jason and I were amazed to see God working not only in our lives, but also in the lives others on the Camino.  Although we didn't witness any Saint Paul kind of conversions, we saw God working in the lives of many of the people that we met from Amy the Brit to the little trail angels that He sent to guide and encourage us.

The pains from the walking are for the most part gone.  There are some lingering ones if I sit in one position for a while and then get up too quickly, but they are to be expected after the legs were used to walking all day for a month.  My shoes held up better than expected, although they don't really have much if any life left in them after 500 miles.  The guy at the shoe store said they usually advertise them as 400-500 mile shoes, so into the yard-work bin they go.  Also, one of the cool benefits of walking 500 miles is that your body thanks you by shedding some of the unwanted baggage collected over the years--in total, I lost about 15 pounds over the course of the trip, so now comes the task of keeping it all off.

Again, I really can not thank you all enough for your support.  Know that you will all continue to be in my prayers as I move forward from the Camino.  Please continue to pray for me. Much love.


p.s. Also, I am trying to compile all the pics from the trip, so if anyone would like to see some of ones not posted on the blog, please let me know.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fatima to Madrid

Hey everyone.

We are now in Madrid after taking a night train--10.5 aweful hours of cramps and little sleep--and are at the Best Western near the airport.

Fatima was wonderful.  I was priveleged to be able to go twice before, but this was undoubtedly my best visit.  We arrived on Saturday evening and settled into the Domus Pacis, which I recommend to anyone going to Fatima in the future.  The rain, unfortunately, followed us to Fatima so we had to dodge the scattered downpours as we made it around the town.

On Sunday morning I went over to the Irish Dominican Sister´s convent and caught the tail end of their Sunday mass.  Afterwards, I went next door to their convent in order to visit two sisters with whom I had become friends during my previous visits.  I wasn´t sure if they would remember me, but they did, and had been keeping me in prayer since my last visit!  Their names are Sister Lucia and Sister Jacinta--good Fatima names :-)--and they are two very holy and prayerful ladies. 

We talked for about an hour and a half about life, the shape of their order, families, and the rosary.  Their example of prayer and faith was awesome.   They have given their lives totally to our Lord and to praying for the world and are just so incredibly joyful.  You leave the convent kind of on a spiritual high after talking with them.  They gave me a couple bags of rosaries and prayer cards and books and stuff when I left, and only asked for prayers, no donations!

I went the next day with Jason because it turns out that Sister Lucia is from the Alexandria, VA area where Jason is going to be stationed this year on his pastoral year.  What was even cooler was that Sister Lucia´s sisters were in to visit this week and got there on Monday, the day we were visiting, and I think they go to the same parish where Jason is going to be stationed--crazy! No coincidence there.  We spent a couple hours talking again with them and hanging out.  We also met an awesome old Irish priest, probably 85 or older, and talked to him for a little bit as well.  He has as much life in him now as He did at his ordination.  Just a great example of a priest.

We had been planning on heading out kind of early in order to get to Lisbon at a good time so we could get to the shrine of Saint Anthony of Padua--not Italian if you can believe it, but actually born in Lisbon--but we ended up staying in Fatima until about 4pm.  Our Lord and Lady had other plans.

On the way back from seeing the Sisters, we ran into a lady from England who had just finished the Camino with her husband and were going to be in Fatima for the 13th.  She has been all around the world doing mission work with her husband, and visiting almost all the major Marian shrines. The kicker: she isn´t Catholic.  She is Anglican, but very much on the edge of conversion.  She believes all the messages of Our Lady, but has a hard time with not being able to find the rosary in scripture.  We explained how the Bible says that in regards to traditions, not everything that our Fathers in faith wanted us to do is written in the Bible.  She also explained that part of her problem with the Rosary was that saying the Hail Mary´s over and over was like--to use her terms--verbal diarrhea, saying the same thing over and over in a mindless trance.  We then explained what the point of the Mysteries was--a meditation on the life of Christ, not a prayer solely exalting the name of Mary.  I then gave her the Scriptural Rosary book that I had brought with me on the Camino, and had almost thrown away because of getting soaked and seemingly ruined during a day of rain--Jason said "no, man, lets dry it out"--part of Our Lady´s plan.  She was incredibly thankful and basically said that she needed something like that book and had never heard of it before.  Needless to say, we were pretty blown away after talking to her.  Her name is Pam.  Please keep her in your prayers.

Alright, well we are resting now in the Best Western and are ready for our flights home tomorrow.  I can´t believe it is time to go, but at the same time I am very much ready to be back.  Unfortunately, we won´t get to check out Madrid because of the National Holiday today.  Everything is either closed or crazy, so we are just going to be recluses today.  I get into Charlotte in the late evening after a layover in Newark.  I look forward to seeing you all very soon.  Much love.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bon Dia!

Hey everyone!

Greetings from Fatima, Portugal!

We made it to Fatima earlier this evening after a 7 hour bus ride from Santiago, and are now at the Blue Army's Domus Pacis Hotel. 

The bus ride was long, but not too uncomfortable.  The legs have been used to moving a little bit more, so there was a little soreness, but nothing major.  It was crazy leaving Santiago--not so much in the sense of business and bustle, but just that even since our arrival on Thursday, time has flown.

It was great this morning though before heading to the bus station.  We woke up early and tried to hit up a cafe for some caffeine and a croissant, but everything was closed.  The Cathedral however was not, so we made it up there for one last time at the tomb of St. James and also for Mass.  We saw a Korean girl at Mass who came up to us afterwards and asked if we remembered her.  We met her on our first day of walking in the rain and wind a month ago.  She told us today that she had remembered our request for prayers that day and she said she had been remembering us in prayer since then.  Still kind of blows my mind!  We didn't even get her name before she walked off with friends, but she will definitely be in my prayers.

We also had a mini reunion this morning with about 10 or so people we had started walking with or had met up with along the Camino.  They were all in line or going to get in line to get their Pilgrim Compostela and then head into the Cathedral for Mass.  Kind of bitter sweet looking back on it.  For the most part, I will not see any of those folks until, hopefully, we are in Heaven together.  Well, there was one last "Buen Camino", the callsign and greeting of all pilgrims, and then we were off to the bus station.

I don't have enough time right now to write about what I learned in the parting ways of all the camino friends and acquaintances, but it along with all the other lessons I learned was very special.  

So, Fatima.  We are going to the international Mass in the morning at 11am, so maybe a little bit of sleeping in is in store, but maybe not.  Some of the more beautiful and intimate Masses usually happen in the Basilica early in the morning in the side chapels at the tombs of the shepherd children, so I may head down to one of those.  Pray for good weather.  It has been raining gatos and perros since we got here and it kind of slows you down a little.  Anywho, I have brought all your prayers and intentions with me to Fatima, so be assured of my prayers while at this holy place.  I look forward to seeing you all soon. Much Love.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Hugging the Saint

Hello everyone,

We received our Compostela (certificate of completion) today from the pilgrims office in Santiago.  We also received our final two stamps of our trip on our pilgrim credentials.  Throughout the journey to Santiago we stopped in many towns, large and small, and at each one we received a stamp that was unique to either the town, bar, church, or albergue where we stopped.  I had just enough room for one final space on my credential, which I will try to upload in a future post, and then a spot next to my name certifying completion of the Camino.  It was pretty cool to get the final stamp and the Compostela, but I think I am still trying to process the fact that we are actually done with the journey.

It is hard to believe that exactly a month ago, today, we began our journey, not quite sure of what it was going to bring us.  I think it will be the type of thing that will hit me once I arrive back home and I can process it there.

As for now, we still have 5 days or so left in Europe and we aren´t going to let them go to waste.  We just got back from a trip to the bus and train stations in Santiago where we purchased our tickets to and from Fatima, Portugal.  We are leaving Santiago tomorrow morning by bus and arriving in the early evening in Fatima.  We booked a room at the Domus Pacis, the hotel of choice for the Fatima Peace Pilgrimage coordinated by The Te Deum Foundation every summer.  We leave Fatima on Monday evening for Madrid via Lisbon.  We bought night train tickets to Madrid but unfortunately didn´t get a bed, so I am going to have to pop an ambien :-)

We are off to grab a little bit to eat before meeting up with a Slovenian couple who we met on the Camino.  They are a great couple and a lot of fun to hang out with, so we are going to go get some dinner with them.  The wife is particularly funny with her frequent use of "I keel you" when speaking to her husband.  Pray for them.  They, like many people we met, are fallen away Catholics who because of ridiculous stuff have been pushed away.  Their priests have preached some pretty terrible things from the pulpit in regards to charity towards one´s neighbors.  It has to do with the wars and strife that have been a problem in the region for the past 20 years and the hatred between the countries.  Anywho, because of this being preached, and some other things, they haven´t been to Church on a regular basis in a long time.  Pray for them.

Alrighty, thanks for continuing to check out the blog.  One more week or so before I sign off.  Looking forward to being back home.  Much love.


Thursday, October 7, 2010


Hey Everyone!!

I am writing from an internet cafe a couple of blocks from the end of our journey, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.  We arrived at about 11am after a good 4.5 hours or so of walking from Arco doPino, and made it just in time for the 12pm Pilgrim Mass.

The walk in was pretty pleasant.  We started at about 6:45 with our flashlights leading the way.  We weren´t missing much in regards to scenery since the nearby hills and mountains were covered in a morning mist which turned out to be an all day mist/rain.  We made it to the Alto de Gozo which sits about 5km just outside of the city and overlooks the town of Santiago.  Unfortunately, because of the incoming clouds there was not a lot to see at the time.

We then started the hike down the mountain and into Santiago proper and were met with our first real rain since the Hurrican on Sunday.  This did not keep us from walking.  We pushed forward and began to see bigger groups of pilgrims crosswalks and knew that we were getting close.  Less than around 45 minutes after starting down the mountain, navigating our way through crowds of locals and pilgrims, we finally arrived at the Cathedral. 

We have not, however, completed the pilgrim portion of the journey.  What we have to do--once the lines and craziness die down--is the go to the pilgrims office, show them our credentials that are now full of stamps, state our purpose for going on the Camino, and receive our Compostela--our certificate of completion.  Hopefully we don´t run into trouble there.  Apparently, people have been driving the Camino by car, getting stamps in their credentials, and then getting their Compostela in Santiago.  What´s the point?! Anywho, because of those people we had to make sure to get enough stamps so that we don´t get extra questions from the "port authority of Santiago" :-)

Alrighty,  I am at a computer that allows me to upload pics, so I will post some at the end of the entry.

Much love,


Getting into Galicia



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To Santiago!

Hey everyone!

Tomorrow is the big day!  We are right now in Arco do Pino, about 20km outside of Santiago and are anxiously awaiting the trip into the city. 

The trip should take a couple of hours tomorrow morning and get us into the city in time for the pilgrims Mass.  We are not quite sure what the proper protocol is for pilgrims in regards to what we need to do once in the city.  Some have said to go straight to the Cathedral, but if we do that then we can´t bring in our bags.  Some have said go and secure lodging because of how packed the city is going to be. So, we are going to kind of play it by ear and see what tomorrow brings.

I will find a good computer in Santiago in order to upload pics and stuff, especially the ones from tomorrow.  We are expecting good weather and are very pleased with that after the dead hurricane or whatever the heck came through a couple days ago.  Really, it has been a big story on the news and did some pretty significant damage.  We decided to go ahead and do a 30+km day today in order to put us in good position for tomorrow.  We didn´t want to have to walk on Friday because the weather is supposed to be pretty nasty, so hopefully we will have some sunny skies.

Alrighty, well I am off for now.  Tomorrow to Santiago!