Expectations on the Camino

November 7, 2019
Isabelle Watkins, United Thank Offering Intern

As I boarded the eight-hour flight to Madrid, I had no idea what to expect of the UTO Pilgrimage. I did not know much about Spain, I did not know 95% of the people I’d be traveling with, and I did not know what exactly I would get out of a pilgrimage. My lack of knowledge left me without any expectations, and therefore, I was a blank slate, ready and willing to learn, experience, and grow in all of the ways God wanted me to. For that blank slate, I am deeply grateful. Over the course of 10 days, I learned more than I could have ever possibly imagined.

Traveling with Bishop Carlos Lopéz Lozano, I learned immense amounts of knowledge about Spain – its history, culture, and food, as well as the hardships and growth of the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain.

Traveling with pilgrims three times my age, I learned about life – what it looks like to truly love and care, how incredible human ability to overcome adversity is, and what pure joy comes from a conversation without smartphones or Wi-Fi (crazy!).

Traveling to grant sites, I learned about UTO – the unbelievable hope that support from UTO instills in organizations, the power of faith in a Church that was nearly destroyed during the Franco regime, and the endless gratitude that UTO has impressed upon me and hundreds of grant sites across the world.

Before arriving in Spain, I had zero expectations. I did not expect to continuously learn and grow. I did not expect to cry in awe over the work of UTO. I did not expect to forge friendships with individuals 50 years my senior. And I certainly did not expect to eat so much delicious cheese.

After returning home from Spain, I am truly grateful for the lack of expectations and the beautiful ways in which God chose to work during this pilgrimage.